|Subject: Soeharto's assets abroad must be seized
Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 06:40:33 +0930
Jakarta Post 29 September 1998
Soeharto's assets abroad must be seized
JAKARTA (JP): A scholar and prominent critic of former president Soeharto, George Junus Aditjondro, urged the government on Monday to call on friendly foreign states to confiscate all assets in their countries linked to Soeharto.
"Let's just start with a practical step by urging friendly governments to freeze the assets, confiscate them, sell them and return the money to the Indonesian people," George said on the sidelines of a seminar on democracy and human rights at Hotel Indonesia in Central Jakarta.
The government should do this if it is "sincere in its intentions to overcome the crisis, provide essentials to the poor and investigate Soeharto's wealth," he said.
George returned here to a hero's welcome on Sunday. He is here for a week-long visit, his first to the country since he left for Australia in 1995. In 1994 he was put on the police wanted list for allegedly slandering Soeharto.
On Monday he said his present status with the police was uncertain. On Saturday he had told The Jakarta Post: "What's important now is that my passport has been returned to me." The government confiscated his passport on April 13, 1997, but the Indonesian embassy in Australia returned it to him shortly after Soeharto resigned on May 271, he said.
George, who lectures on the sociology of corruption at Australia's Newcastle University, is well known for his research into both Soeharto and Habibie's wealth.
George said that among the family's overseas property were five houses in London owned by three of Soeharto's six children -- Sigit Hardjojudanto, Siti Hardijanti Rukmana, Siti Hediyati Prabowo--and his half-brother, businessman Probosutedjo, worth an estimated £2 million (US$3.3 million), five houses in the United States, several in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands and a sprawling ranch in New Zealand owned by Soeharto's youngest son, Hutomo Mandala Putra, or Tommy.
He also cited a forest concession in Surinam controlled by Soeharto's half brother, Raden Notosoewito, a luxury cruiser belonging to Tommy berthed in Darwin, Australia, and several gas shipping companies owned by Bambang, Sigit and Tommy in Singapore. Soeharto's eldest daughter, he said, owned the operational rights on 300 kilometers of toll roads in Malaysia, the Philippines Myanmar and China.
"This list is only a small part of the assets of Soeharto's family ... that are partly or entirely in the possession of the family of the world's third richest head of state," George said.
He said precedents had already been set which could allow for the family's overseas assets to be confiscated, citing international action against the overseas wealth of former Philippines leader Ferdinand Marcos and the former Zairean president Mobutu Sese Seko.
George, 52, plans to launch his new book, The two peaks of corruption, collusion and nepotism in the new order regime: from 30eharto to Habibie on Thursday.
Regarding the possibility that he might be among people holding information on Soeharto's wealth who will be questioned by the Attorney General, George said the latter could just read his book. If he had only given his information to the Attorney General, he said, there would have been little chance of the public exerting any control over the investigation.
"What is happening now is that Habibie and Ghalib are dancing to the beat of Soeharto's drum," George said referring to Attorney General Andi Muhammad Ghalib, head of a government team assigned to investigate the source of Soeharto's wealth.
Meanwhile, Antara quoted Moslem scholar Nurcholish Madjid as saying on Monday that the government should hire a foreign private investigator to oversee an investigation of Soeharto's wealth because that would lead to a more objective and impartial outcome. (byg)
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