Subject: Unmasking the interests behind the pro-Jakarta militias
Date: Sun, 29 Aug 1999 23:45:58 EDT
From: Joyo@aol.com

Sydney Morning Herald 08/05/99

EAST TIMOR

ABRI Inc: Unmasking the interests behind the pro-Jakarta militias

Business interests are behind Indonesia's fight to hold on to East Timor, reveals George J. Aditjondro.

THE fighting between the Indonesian-backed pro-integration militias and supporters of independence in East Timor cannot be understood fully without taking into account the substantial holdings in the province of the former Indonesian president Soeharto and his family.

These interests include 564,867 hectares of land. They are holdings that CNRT, the umbrella organisation of the East Timorese resistance movement, has made clear it would seize if Timor becomes an independent state.

The Soeharto landholdings stretch from the western border to the eastern tip of East Timor and include 50,000 hectares of timber plantations allocated to Bob Hasan, one of the Soeharto family's business operators, and tens of thousands of hectares of sugarcane plantations on the southern coast controlled by Soeharto's children.

The best marble deposits in Timor, at Manatuto, are owned by Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana, Soeharto's eldest daughter, who also has a monopoly over coffee production and export from East Timor, through a company of hers in Dili.

These Soeharto interests are closely intertwined with the business interests of generals who had served under Soeharto during the invasion and annexation of East Timor, and other military operations.

Batara Indra, an Indonesian conglomerate backed by retired generals Benny Moerdani and Dading Kalbuadi, who co-ordinated the operation that led to the killings of five Australian-based journalists at Balibo in 1975, controls the sandalwood forests of East Timor and the production and export of sandalwood oil.

Batara Indra also exports Buddhist statues to Taiwan and Catholic statues to Italy, made from East Timorese sandalwood or marble.

Most of the hotels and the only cinema in Dili are owned by Batara Indra. The large construction firms in Dili, involved in all major infrastructure projects - including building the irrigation canals and ditches for Indonesian "trans- migrants" - either belong to Moerdani's Batara Indra Group, or to the Anak Liambau Group of the Jakarta-appointed Governor of East Timor, Jose Abilio Soares.

The Governor's family is also closely involved with the Soeharto family's businesses. Gil Alves, a brother-in-law of Governor Abilio, operates the alcohol sticker monopoly of Soeharto's grandson, Ari Haryo Wibowo, also known as Ari Sigit.

Alves is also involved in a drinking water company, Aquamor, and a textile company, PT Dilitex, that are closely linked with Siti Hedijanti Harijadi, Soeharto's middle daughter who is married to the sacked General Prabowo Subianto.

Looking at the leading figures of the pro-integration forces in East Timor, it is not difficult to find their links to the Soeharto family or to their own property interests in the province.

Top of the list is Governor Abilio, once a protege of Prabowo when the latter was still head of the Indonesian Army's special force, Kopassus. Basilio Araujo, the spokeperson of the pro-integration forces, is also the deputy head of the provincial investment board, the body that decides who is allowed to invest in East Timor.

Even the current army commander of East Timor, Colonel Tono Suratman, has Soeharto connections. His family are the co-owners of a pearling company, PT Kima Surya Lestari Mutiara, with Prabowo's wife. This company has pearl diving operations offshore from Flores and Lombok, west of Timor.

Due to its high-level connections, this Suratman-Prabowo joint venture was allowed to operate within the boundaries of the Komodo National Park, in Flores, without even paying any royalties to the Nusa Tenggara Timur province, where the park is located.

The entire top brass of the Indonesian Army and civilian bureaucracy in East Timor are closely interlinked with Soeharto's former inner circle, which has in turn been taken over by his successor, B.J. Habibie.

Even the Indonesian Armed Forces commander, General Wiranto, has Soeharto connections, since all the army charities which are now under his patronage are co-shareholders of many of the Soeharto family's timber concessions and telecommunication companies.

The Soeharto family's interests in East Timor may be small compared with their holdings in the rest of Indonesia, but their holdings in East Timor include the three onshore oil wells that were discovered in the '60s - the Suai Loro in Covalima, Aliambata in Vikeke, and Pualaca in Manatuto. And between those three wells lie vast untapped oil reserves.

The Soeharto family has also made preparations to venture into the Timor Sea oil reserves. Last year, it set up a new oil company in Perth, Genindo Western Petroleum Propriety Limited. The company is headed by Bambang Trihatmodjo, Soeharto's middle son.

Bambang and younger brother Tommy also own two Singapore-based oil and gas tanker fleets that operate in the seas between Indonesia and north-east Asia. No doubt they would be eager to be involved in a similar trade between the Timor Gap and those same Asian customers. Bambang is also co-owner of PT Elnusa, which is involved in building base camps for the oil companies and related petrochemical industries in Timor.

Tommy, in addition to his tanker fleet, has his own air charter company which has been waiting to take advantage of the wealth that will flow from the Timor Gap, where three wells - Elang, Kakatua, and Kakatua North - have been producing 33,000 barrels of oil per day since July last year.

And many of the Soeharto clan business partners in Indonesia's oil and gas fields, such as Mobil Oil, are also active in the Timor Sea, which could lead them into further joint ventures in this part of the world.

This is why the Jakarta oligarchy - with the strong support from their East Timorese collaborators - are so keen on undermining a free and fair vote to determine East Timor's future political status.

Behind the militia tactics in East Timor there is a strategy to partition East Timor into a western half that supports continued links with Indonesia and an eastern part that would be allowed to become independent. Such a partition would roughly follow the lines of the "oil-rich" and "oil-poor" parts of East Timor.

An alternative strategy would allow the entire territory to obtain its political independence, as long as the landholdings of the Soeharto family and their East Timorese collaborators were to be respected by an independent East Timor state, and not be seized by the new government or by the rightful traditional landowners.

Dr George J. Aditjondro is a lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Newcastle. His new book, Is Oil Thicker than Blood? A Study of Oil Companies' Interests and Western Complicity in Indonesia's Annexation of East Timor will be published by Nova Science in the US this month.

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May 5, 1999

[Final DRAFT of article for publication in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald [Australia] later this week]

Unmasking the interests behind the pro-Jakarta militias

By George J. Aditjondro

Last Wednesday, 5 May, the autonomy proposal of Indonesia for East Timor was signed in Jakarta and Lisbon. In three months time, the East Timorese will cast their votes in a UN-supervised 'direct ballot' whether to accept or reject that proposal. A rejection, will automatically return control over the territory to Portugal, to continue the decolonisation process aborted by the Indonesian invasion, more than 23 years ago.

Unfortunately, thousands of Indonesian troops and Indonesian-armed militia forces are currently roaming the streets in the towns and villages of East Timor, to force the people to accept that autonomy proposal, after killing hundreds of villagers and refugees in Alas, Liquica, Dili, and other places during the last six months, and injuring hundreds of others.

During the Bali summit with Acting President, B.J. Habibie, Prime Minister John Howard failed to emphasise to his counterpart the urgency to disarm those thugs and to withdraw the Indonesian troops, to create the necessary conditions for the UN-supervised ballot. Or, for that matter, to guarantee the safety of the UN personnel on the ground, which will include at least fifty Australian police agents.

On the subject of these militias, our media tend to provide an image, as if the presence of these military-backed militias, simply reflect some splits within the ranks of the Indonesian government. Namely, between the good-willing Indonesian civilian president, Dr. B.J. Habibie, and the difficult-to-read Indonesian armed forces commander, General Wiranto. Or, deriving from Foreign Minister Alexander Downer's famous comment, divisions between "rogue elements" among the Indonesian army in East Timor, and General Wiranto who seems to be 100% behind the transitional president.

This image is, I believe, very inaccurate. It completely overlooks the economic interests of the Jakarta oligarchy on the island of Timor, which cause this closely knit clique of former and active army generals and their families to abuse the fears of a handful of East Timorese leaders, who themselves have stuffed their pockets during their more than two decades of collaboration with Jakarta. Let me now briefly outline those business interests.

First of all, East Timor is the Indonesian "province" with the second largest landholdings under control of the Soeharto family, namely 564,867 hectares. CNRT, the umbrella organisation of the East Timorese resistance, has made it clear, last March, that they plan to seize the millions of dollars worth of these properties, after independence has been obtained (Sydney Morning Herald, 30 March).

These landholdings stretch from the Western border to the Eastern tip of East Timor, consisting of a 50,000 hectares timber plantation allocated to Bob Hasan, one of the Soeharto family's business operators, to tens of thousands of hectares of sugarcane plantations awarded to the kids on the Southern coast, stretching from Suai to Viqueque and to Los Palos in the district of Lautem. In addition, the best marble deposits in Manatuto, has been awarded to Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana, Soeharto's eldest daughter, who also has a monopoly over coffee production and export from East Timor, through a company of hers in Dili.

These Soeharto interests are closely intertwined with the business interests of other generals who had served under Soeharto, both during the Seroja Operation to invade and annex East Timor, as well as in other military operations. Batara Indra, an Indonesian conglomerate backed by Ret. Generals Benny Moerdani and Dading Kalbuadi, the mastermind behind the killings of Australian-based journalists in Balibo and Dili, controls the sandalwood forests of East Timor, and the production of sandalwood oil for export to produce sandalwood perfumed soap in France and sandalwood powder for incense sticks for export to East Asia. Batara Indra also exports Buddhist statues to Taiwan and Catholic statues to Italy, made from East Timorese sandalwood and marble.

Most of the hotels and the only cinema in Dili, are owned by Batara Indra, while all the large construction firms in Dili, which are involved in all the large infrastructure projects, including building the irrigation canals and ditches for Indonesian "transmigrants", either belong to Benny Moerdani's Batara Indra Group, or to the Anak Liambau Group of the Jakarta-appointed governor, Jose Abilio Osorio-Soares.

Supply of cement is now problem to all those contractors. Because two companies close to the Soehartos are their main suppliers: the Djajanti Group cement factory on the island of Seram, north of Timor, which is headed by a son of Ret. General Try Sutrisno, Soeharto's former vice president, and the cement factory near Kupang on West Timor, which is owned by Ret. General Arnold Baramuli, whose son co-owns the alcohol sticker company of Soeharto's grand-son, Ari Haryo Wibowo.

The governor's family is also closely intertwined with the Soeharto family's businesses. Gil Alves, a brother-in-law of Governor Abilio, operates the alcohol sticker monopoly of Ari Haryo Wibowo, also known as Ari Sigit. In addition, as the chairperson of Yayasan Hati, a charity of former East Timorese collaborators during the Seroja Operation, Gil Alves is also involved in a drinking water company, Aquamor, and a textile company, PT Dilitex, which are closely linked with Siti Hediati Haryadi, Soeharto's middle daughter who is married to the sacked General Prabowo Subianto.

Now, looking at the who-is-who of the pro-integration militia and their leaders in East Timor, it is not difficult to find their links to the Soeharto family, or, to their own land-grabbing practices in East Timor.

On top of the list is certainly Governor Abilio Osorio-Soares himself, formerly a protegee of General Prabowo Subianto, when the latter was still the top person in the Indonesian army's special forces, Kopassus. Then you have Basilio Araujo, the spokeperson of the pro-integration forces, who graduated from the U.K. and is the deputy head of the provincial investment board (BKPMD), the body which makes the decision on who is allowed to invest in what field and where in East Timor.

Next follows to former district heads in the border area, Joao Tavares, who had been involved in the border raids under then Colonel Dading Kalbuadi, and who as bupati (district head) of Maliana, took over many landholdings vacated by East Timorese who fled to Australia and Portugal. On the same level is Rui Lopes, the former district head of Covalima, whose hobby, apart from collecting landholdings, is also to collect horses and cattle. On a visit of Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana to Suai, the capital of Covalima, Rui Lopes took Mrs. Rukmana to see the old oil wells in Suai Loro, south of the capital, near the coast and near one of Rui Lopes' horse stables.

Even the current army commander of East Timor, Colonel Tono Suratman (born in 1952), smacks of Soeharto connections. His family are the co-owners of a pearling company, PT Kima Surya Lestari Mutiara, with General Prabowo Subianto's wife. This company has pearl diving operations offshore Flores and Lombok, west of Timor. Due to its high-level connections, this Suratman-Prabowo joint venture was allowed to operate within the boundaries of the Komodo national park, without even paying any royalties to the Nusa Tenggara Timur province.

Lest we forget, Francisco Lopes da Cruz, the head of the new "Timor Lorosae Front" is also not free from Soeharto family connections. Two years ago, together with another East Timorese collaborator, the Lissabon-based former Fretilin leader, Abilio Araujo, he has been promised to become a shareholder of a new cement factory to be built in Los Palos, using the electricity from a new hydropower plant to be built in the vicinities. The Indonesian counterpart of this cement factory is Budi Prakoso, whose brother, Setiawan Djody, was involved in Tommy Suharto's Lamborghini deal. The patron of this proposed cement factory is Mrs. Rukmana herself, Soeharto's former de facto foreign minister.

In other words, the entire top brass of the Indonesian army and civilian bureaucracy in East Timor are closely interlinked with the former inner circle of Soeharto, which has in turn be taken over by his successor, Habibie. Even Wiranto is not free from Soeharto connections, since all the army charities which are now under his patronage, are co-shareholders of many of the Soeharto family's timber concessions and telecommunication companies.

One may ask, though, isn't East Timor such a small piece of the economic pie, compared with all the other Indonesian provinces? The answer is yes, because the Soeharto family still control nine million hectares of landholdings all over Indonesia, as large as the island of Java. The bottom-line is, that the landholdings in East Timor overlap with the three known oil wells from the Portuguese time, namely Suai Loro in Covalima, Aliambata in Viqueque, and Pualaca in Manatuto. And between those three wells lie vast untapped oil reserves as well.

The Soeharto family had also made their preparations to venture into the Timor Sea reserves. Last year, a new oil company was set up in Perth, called Genindo Western Petroleum Pty. Ltd., which is partly owned but directed by Bambang Trihatmodjo, Soeharto's middle son. Bambang and his younger brother Tommy also own two Singapore-based oil and gas tanker fleets, who are plying the seas between Indonesia and Northeast Asia, and who would eagerly be involved in a similar trade between the Timor Gap and those rich Asian customers. In addition, Bambang is also co-owner of PT Elnusa, which is involved in building a base camp for the oil companies and related petro-chemical industries on either West or East Timor.

Tommy, in addition to his tanker fleet, has his own aircharter company which has been waiting to chip into the Timor Gap wealth, where three wells -- Elang, Kakatua, and Kakatua North -- have already been producing 33,000 barrels of oil per day since July, last year. And many of the Soeharto clan business partners in Indonesia's oil and gas fields, such as Mobil Oil, are also active in the Timor Sea, which could lead them into further joint ventures in this part of the world.

This is why the Jakarta oligarchy -- with the strong support from their East Timorese collaborators -- are so keen in undermining a free and fair vote to determine East Timor's future political status.

After signing the autonomy package, the Habibie-Wiranto government has received a further boost to support the militias, in a more official way. Under the pretext of "socialising the autonomy package", the Jakarta-appointed governor has already allocated Rp 6 billion (roughly A$ 3000) for each district. Now, the Interior, Foreign Affairs, and Defense Departments have received a further blessing from Habibie to allocate funds to the pro-integration factions in East Timor, and turn a blind-eye in how they are going to "socialise" that autonomy package.

Learning probably from Milosevic's stubborn tactic to partition Kosovo, I believe that behind the militia tactics in East Timor there seems to hide a strategy to partition East Timor into a western half which support continued links with Indonesia and an eastern part that would be allowed to become independent. A partition, that would roughly follow the lines of the 'oil-rich' and 'oil-poor' parts of East Timor.

Or, a strategy that would allow the entire territory to obtain its political independence, as long as the landholdings of the Soeharto family and their East Timorese collaborators would be respected by an independent East Timor state, and not be seized by the new government or by those properties rightful, traditional landowners.

So, without a strong UN peace keeping force, and without the disarming of pro-Jakarta militias and the complete withdrawal of Indonesian troops, I am afraid that one of those scenarios may be materialised.


Dr. George J. Aditjondro is a lecturer at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Newcastle. His new book, "Is Oil Thicker than Blood? A Study of Oil Companies Interests and Western Complicity in Indonesia's Annexation of East Timor" is going to be published by Nova Science in the USA, this month.

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