Trip to Denmark and Turkey waste of money

“Waste of money to go to Denmark and Turkey” sounds the critic from the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency. Sunday 22 members of the House of Representatives’ Legislative Council flew to Denmark and Turkey to conduct a study on whether to keep the current logo of to Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) or to change it to a red crescent to better reflect the country having the world’s largest Muslim population.

The price tag for the Denmark trip is over Rp 660 million, with the trip to Turkey costing Rp 636 million, data from the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (FITRA) shows.

“Their excuse to fly to those two countries, Turkey and Denmark, just didn’t make any sense,” Fitra coordinator Uchok Sky Khadafi said on Wednesday. “Why do they have to visit the two countries only to determine whether to keep the Red Cross logo?”

Rather than spending taxpayer funds on the trip, the government should have sought input from the public on whether to change the logo or not, he added.

Taslim Chaniago, a member of the council who did not go on the trip, which he deemed “unimportant,” said changing the logo came with safety considerations for the aid workers entering dangerous areas under the auspices of the Red Cross.

The National Mandate Party politician said that the logo was an internationally recognized symbol that provided a measure of protection for aid workers entering conflict-ridden areas.

“If the logo is replaced with a new one and then you enter a conflict-torn area, people might not recognize the [new] logo,” he said.

House Deputy Chairman Taufik Kurniawan, however, supported the proposal to change the logo to a red crescent and denied that the visit to the two countries was solely for that purpose. He said the council members would be conducting a comparative study related to Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) bill deliberation during the visit.

According to Sebastian Salang, executive director of legislative watchdog Formappi, the logo of the PMI was not big of a deal and the PMI bill itself was not on the priority list of legislation for this year.

“This is a sectarian issue which has nothing to do with the bill’s deliberation. Besides, the House should focus on other bills that are of greater relevance to the public,” he said.

He said that if the lawmakers were serious about deliberating the bill, they should have focused on the PMI’s structure, authority and functions.

“If they take the logo so seriously, it indicates their stupidity and narrow-mindedness,” he said.

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