JAKARTA - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has strongly rejected Australia's attempt to hide an alleged multi-national corruption case that implicates him, as suggested by whistleblower website WikiLeaks, and has asked Canberra to be transparent in the investigation.
"We are shocked by the report by WikiLeaks. Given the facts I have obtained [concerning the 1999 banknote printing in Australia], the report is hurtful," Yudhoyono told a press conference at his residence in Cikeas, West Java, on Thursday.
WikiLeaks released a document on Wednesday that it claimed to be a court order issued by the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne on June 19.
The court, according to the document, banned any form of disclosure or publication of information concerning 17 current and past heads of state of Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, their relatives and other senior officials in connection to court proceedings on the alleged multi-million dollar briberies.
Three of the 17 individuals are Indonesians, namely Yudhoyono, former president and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) leader Megawati Soekarnoputri, as well as former minister and PDI-P politician Laksamana Sukardi.
WikiLeaks has suggested that the corruption centers on alleged inducements made by officials of Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) subsidiaries Security and Note Printing Australia (NPA) in order to secure contracts for the supply of Australian-style polymer bank notes.
"Such a policy by Australia to hide [alleged involvement] of certain non-Australian individuals is something that I am not comfortable with because it could instead trigger suspicions and accusations," Yudhoyono said.
"I am aware that this kind of report can go viral very quickly and, at the same time, is also very sensitive because it relates to the honors and dignities of me and Megawati," the President added.
Yudhoyono acknowledged that in 1999 Bank Indonesia had made a deal with the NPA to print 550 million Rp. 100,000 (S$11) banknotes. The central bank was a non-governmental independent body that held the sole authority to print banknotes, said the President.
"Neither Megawati nor I were yet President in 1999. But my point is, whoever the President was at that time, the decision to print the banknotes in Australia had nothing to do with the government and the President," Yudhoyono said.
The court document also states that the purpose of the order is "to prevent damage to Australia's international relations that may be caused by the publication of material that may damage the reputations of specified individuals."
However, analysts believe the report could instead hamper the healing process of the Jakarta-Canberra relationship that was hurt following reports in November last year that Australian spies had tried to tap the phones of Yudhoyono and his inner circle.