JAKARTA. House of Representatives speaker Setya Novanto said on Monday that it was not due to any personal interest on his part that he recently met with US business tycoon Donald Trump, one of the Republican candidates vying for the US presidency in 2016.
“Personally, I don’t have any interest in Trump’s effort to become US President,” he said as quoted by Antara in Jakarta on Monday.
The lawmaker from the Golkar Party was speaking at a press conference to clarify the reasons for his meeting with the Republican presidential candidate, a meeting that has drawn debate over the ethics of Indonesian lawmakers.
Setya explained that he met Trump after he attended the 4th World Conference of Speakers of Parliament in New York, together with several other House members.
“After the conference, I met with Trump, a figure I’ve been acquainted with since a long time ago. The meeting was outside of our official agenda. It was spontaneous,” he said.
“It was just a meeting with a friend who coincidentally is a businessman involved in investment activity in Indonesia,” he went on.
Setya further explained that the meeting was initiated by Trump. He said Trump had called him and asked him to take the time to visit him at Trump Plaza. The lawmaker said the meeting took place at 1:30 p.m. local time on Sept. 3, on the sidelines of the speakers’ conference.
“We had a break until 3 p.m. I then used the break time to meet Trump at his building,” he said.
Setya claimed that his discussion with Trump was dominated by talks on investment in Indonesia. “One topic of discussion I deemed very important was the current condition of Indonesia’s economy which has experienced a slowdown. [The economy] has to grow, and one source of growth is investment,” said Setya.
He said results of the House delegation’s meeting with Trump received positive responses from the US-ASEAN Business Council, at which, the lawmaker claimed, he was given an opportunity to talk and encourage American businesspeople to invest in Indonesia.
Setya said that after their short meeting, Trump went to the building’s lobby to hold a press conference while he and other House delegates were set to return back to the speakers’ conference.
“After the press conference, Trump saw us, as we were about to leave the building. It was then that Trump introduced me as the House speaker to the press conference attendees,” said Novanto, who also denied rumors that Indonesian media mogul Hary Tanoesoedibjo had been involved in setting up the meeting.
Separately, House deputy speaker Fadli Zon admitted that Hary played a role in facilitating the meeting although he insisted that the House delegations press appearance with Trump was spontaneous.
“If ‘facilitating’ means helping to arrange the meeting and to contact related parties, then, to some degree, it is true,” said Fadli as quoted by tempo.co on Monday.
Setya said he did not think that the meeting violated the code of ethics for House members. He said, however, he would be cooperative and adhere to any investigation being held by the House’s ethics council.