Jakarta. A heavily criticized and costly new office building planned for Indonesian lawmakers promises to have every available comfort, including a swimming pool, a gym and spa facilities, the lead architect said on Tuesday. Budi Sukada, who heads the team overseeing the design, told the Jakarta Globe that the facilities were in accordance with city bylaws that “a building occupied by more than 500 people must provide public facilities and social facilities.”

However, he stressed that unlike similar facilities in five-star hotels, designers were aiming at the functionality of the pool and the spa “for health” reasons. “We know the lawmakers sit in meetings for hours, so they need facilities to get their blood flowing,” Budi said. The architect denied rumors that the lawmakers’ spacious, 120-square-meter offices would include bedrooms.

They would, however, have en-suite bathrooms and meeting room lounges for guests, as well as work space for staff members and experts, he said. But House Speaker Marzuki Alie, from the ruling Democratic Party, said the builders were “talking rubbish,” as they had never reported the planned amenities to him. Marzuki said he would summon them to ask for a clarification, and promised the building would have no such facilities. “The design still can be changed.”

Pramono Anung, House deputy speaker and a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said lawmakers would never approve of such facilities in the office tower. The talk of “recreation facilities is not true,” Pramono said. He also criticized the planned 120-square-meter office suite for each lawmaker as being too large, saying that his current office of 70 square meters was more than enough to accommodate him.

Political analyst Yunarto Widjaja, from Charta Politika, lashed out at lawmakers, saying that going ahead with the office’s construction in spite of public criticism constituted a betrayal of their real masters — the people. “The public clearly rejected the plan because of the House’s poor performance so far. They should follow what the public desires,” Yunarto said. “This new building is proof that lawmakers, and the House as a state institution, are politically deaf.”

Legislators have refused to bow to public criticism and cancel the plan but have agreed to cut the budget to Rp 1.3 trillion ($144.3 million) from the initial Rp 1.8 trillion. The tender for the project begins this week, with construction expected to begin this year.

(source : Markus Junianto Sihaloho & Kinanti Pinta Kirana | September 01, 2010 (Jakarta Globe) )