Jakarta. Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto didn’t show up in a crucial hearing with the House of Representatives’ Defense and Foreign Affairs Commission with the country’s military budget high on the agenda on Monday.
And he was not the only notable absentee in the hearing, as Army Chief of Staff General Dudung Abdurachman also failed to attend.
“Today’s hearing is very special because we are going to discuss Defense Ministry’s budget, which is the biggest among other [ministries],” Rep. Nurul Arifin of Golkar Party said.
“[Prabowo] owes me an explanation,” she added.
It appeared that Prabowo was unable to join because he was asked to accompany President Joko Widodo at the State Palace during a visit by Philippine President Ferdinant Marcos Jr., according to his letter read by commission chairwoman Rep. Meutya Hafid.
As for Dudung, he was on official duty to Sumatra, while the chief of staff of the Navy and the Air Force were present to join Armed Forces Commander General Andika Perkasa at the hearing.
“The commander is here but not the army chief of staff,” commented Rep. Helmy Faishal of the National Awakening Party.
The hearing continued behind closed doors but there is no immediate confirmation if lawmakers and the top defense officials have reached any deal.
In a separate hearing, the Legal Affairs Commission agreed on a Rp 4.9 trillion rise in the Attorney General’s Office operation budget to a total of Rp 15.6 trillion for 2023.
The same commission also approved a Rp 1 trillion increase in the Justice Ministry budget to Rp 19.5 trillion.