Yudhoyono 'taken in by Blue Energy hoax'
Sat, May 31, 2008
The Straits Times
JAKARTA - INDONESIA'S President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been chided for apparently being taken in by what experts are calling the Blue Energy hoax.
Blue Energy is the work of Mr Joko Suprapto, who claimed to have created fuel from water. Mr Joko, who has been labelled a charlatan by some observers, managed to secure a meeting with Dr Yudhoyono, who was eager to pursue the Blue Energy project.
Some scientists and lawmakers have since dismissed the so-called invention as a hoax, saying the President was deceived by Mr Joko, who never published articles about his so-called Blue Energy in scientific journals, as claimed.
Officials at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta have dismissed Mr Joko as a charlatan, saying his scientific claims are unsubstantiated. They also said personal information provided by Mr Joko and his work have turned out to be false.
The university turned away Mr Joko when he approached officials there in 2006 seeking their endorsement for Blue Energy.
'Hydrogen is a source of energy. In theory, it is possible to separate hydrogen from oxygen in the water, but the process is very costly and technologically very difficult,' the head of Trisakti University's research centre, Mr Dadan Umar Daihani, said here on Thursday.
Early last year, Mr Joko, a resident of the East Java regency of Nganjuk, secured a meeting with Dr Yudhoyono, and piqued the President's interest.
Dr Yudhoyono, eager for alternative sources of energy amid skyrocketing global oil prices, offered support for the claimed invention.
'In times of energy panic, any idea for alternative energy will be swallowed,' Mr Dadan said.
The President named the fuel 'Blue Energy' and appointed a special adviser, Mr Heru Lelono, to head the project.
A research centre was built in Cikeas, Bogor, just 3km from Dr Yudhoyono's private residence. Some 10 billion rupiah (S$1.5 million) was allocated for the project, a lawmaker said.
As Indonesia was preparing to host a major UN climate change conference in Bali last December, Dr Yudhoyono visited the centre three times to examine the 'fuel' resulting from Mr Joko's work, before seeing off a convoy of cars to make the drive to Bali using the fuel.
Blue Energy was then exhibited during the conference, which was attended by more than 10,000 people from around the world.
Since the close of the conference, there has been no news about Mr Joko until his family reported him missing in March. After 13 days, he was located in a hospital in Madiun, East Java.
The Presidential Office has never issued a statement about the matter, although lawmakers and scientists have urged the government to explain the mystery behind Mr Joko's brief disappearance and what has happened with his invention.
Lawmaker Alvin Lie of the National Mandate Party (PAN) said the House of Representatives would seek an official explanation from the President about his involvement in the project.
Mr Effendy Choirie of the National Awakening Party (PKB) demanded the government protect the President from charlatans and prevent them from feeding Dr Yudhoyono false information. He said it was Dr Yudhoyono's aides who allowed people like Mr Joko to get close to the President.
'The President should strengthen his office's capabilities to screen information from the outside, as it is very dangerous to establish national policies based on inaccurate input.
'In this case, he could set up an office for scientific and technological affairs,' said Mr Kusnanto Anggoro of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.