|Home > South-East Asia >> Indonesia|
Earlier this year, in April 1998, the Swiss Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, became entangled in a diplomatic and humanitarian scandal of international proportion. Together with the French and Bruneian Embassies, it handed over 27 refugees from the Indonesian province of Aceh, who had sought political asylum in those embassies, to the Malaysian police. They, in turn, handed the refugees over to the Indonesian diplomats, who sent them back to their homeland on the Northern tip of Sumatra.
These refugees are only a small segment of the illegal immigrants from Aceh, who have fled to Malaysia by boat, since the liberation struggle of the Acehnese people against the Indonesian state broke out in December 1976. The armed struggle has been subdued by the Indonesian armed forces in 1978.
Yet, Aceh is still in a state of war, with the notorious Indonesian army's special forces, Kopassus, controlling most of the towns and country site and carrying out human rights violations comparable to East Timor and West Papua. Between 1989 and 1991, some 2,000 civilians were unlawfully killed, according to Amnesty International's conservative estimates. Tapol and Acehnese refugees whom I have interviewed in Sydney, however, believe that the death toll of the ongoing Aceh liberation war is closer to 10,000.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees strongly criticized France, Switzerland and Brunei Darussalam for handing the refugees over. The Swiss government promptly hit back at the UN complaints saying that the intruders used force and did not ask for asylum. A Swiss spokeswoman said that the 14 Acehnese had forced their way into the embassy grounds with tear gas grenades and had struck two guards. The ambassador had called the Malaysian police when they tried to smash the embassy windows to get into the building. She further stated that "the Indonesians" had not been willing to speak or negotiate and "if they were really refugees among them, none of them expressed a wish for asylum."
That statement, coming from a European diplomat whose country prides herself for being the host of several UN agencies, and in particular the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, seems to be a very weak excuse. Because while the Swiss, French, and Bruneian embassies handed over those Acehnese refugees to the Malaysian police, eight Acehnese who succeded to enter the US Embassy compound by scaling a wall were still safely protected by the US diplomats, and were negotiating with the UN High Commissioner on Refugees, to hand them over to the that agency.
According to a representative of the Aceh National Liberation Front (ANLF), those who entered the diplomatic missions were among 105 Acehnese illegal immigrants who escaped from the Lenggeng detention centre in Malaysia on March 26. They had coordinated their entry on that Friday into the diplomatic compounds and were seeking political asylum.
A week before, 14 Acehnese drove a truck through the gate of the UNHCR office in Kuala Lumpur to seek asylum. The UNHCR had been interviewing these Acehnese refugees to determine whether they deserved political asylum, when the occupation of the other four diplomatic missions took place. These attempts by the illegal Acehnese migrants to seek political asylum were desparate efforts to avoid repatriation to their homeland.
Malaysia, under pressure from Indonesia, had used the economic crisis as an excuse to repatriate 545 Acehnese refugees, by considering them simply as "illegal economic immigrants." They had previously been held -- together with other Indonesian illegal immigrants -- at the Lenggeng detention camp near Semenyih, about 40 kilometres from Kuala Lumpur. They were repatriated to Indonesia, after the inmates had clashed with their wardens on March 26, 1998, when eight inmates and one Malaysian police were killed.
The prison uprising itself, some stated, was triggered by news that they would be repatriated to Sumatra, as had been the case of more than 1,000 Indonesian immigrants from various parts of the island, accross the Malacca Straits, a month before. That was part of a joint agreement between the Malaysian government and Suharto's last Minister of Labour, Theo Sambuaga, to repatriate 12,000 Indonesian illegal immigrants from Malaysia.
Meanwhile, 247 inmates escaped during the Lenggeng prison riots. Inspired probably by the frequent embassy occupations of East Timorese youth activists in Jakarta, nearly fifty of them tried to seek political asylum by invading the UNHCR representative and the four embassies.
The head of the UNHCR liaison office in Kuala Lumpur, Gottfried Koefner, demanded information from the Malaysian and Indonesian governments on the fate of those returnees, before deciding if the 22 Acehnese who were temporarily hiding in the UN and US diplomatic missions deserve asylum. The prison uprising in Malaysia also had negative repercussions for people in Aceh proper. A 30 year old woman, Cut Sari, who used to send Acehnese workers to Malaysia, was immediately arrested by the Indonesian security forces in Arun, Aceh Pidhie, after the inmate uprising. She was detained for two months. When she was released in mid June 1998, her entire body was full with wounds and bruises that her own husband nearly could not recognize her, and she had to be hospitalized to recover from the torture wounds and psychological trauma.
Cut Sari's case, however, was just the beginning of a new series of human rights violations in the wake of the repatriation of Acehnese illegal imigrants from Malaysia. Indonesian human rights groups in Sumatra have so far received reports about 196 victims of human rights abuses from those returnees, including cases of seventeen women who had been severely mistreated (YPBHI, 1998; Meunasah , July 16, 1998). So, the April events in Kuala Lumpur tells us how ridiculous, unresponsible and inhuman was the decision of the Swiss, French and Bruneian embassies to refuse asylum to the Acehnese refugees who "invaded" their embassies.
This story also indicates how strongly the Swiss Government values Swiss trade with and investment in Indonesia, that it did not hesitate to turn down its humanitarian responsibilities to refugees and civilian casualties in armed conflicts. Responsibilities enshrined in the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which were, ironically, pioneered by the successors of the famous Swiss, Henry Dunant.
Finally, this story also indicates to what extremes the Swiss government went to please the Indonesian government and avoid a diplomatic row with the Malaysian government, had the Acehnese refugees been granted asylum in their diplomatic compound.
There are reasons for this undiplomatic Swiss gesture: the two repressive South East Asian regimes -- Indonesia and Malaysia -- , have shown to be wonderful hosts and business partners of one of Switzerland's largest multinational company, Asea Brown Boveri (ABB).
As far as Malaysia is concerned, ABB is the main contractor of the notorious Bakun dam in Sarawak, and has been criticized by environmental groups in Europe and the U.S., who have threatened to take shareholder action against ABB if it keeps involving itself in disastrous large dams in many developing countries.
In Indonesia, however, not much has been written about this multinational company, formed in 1988 from the merger of the Swedish ASEA Group and the Swiss Brown Boveri Group. Hence, this paper is an introduction on ABB's close association with the oligarchy constructed by Suharto during his 32-years autocratic rule.
The first ABB agent is the Cipta Cakra Murdaya (CCM) Group, which consists of 34 companies, with around 25,000 workers. Two CCM companies have special business arrangements with ABB, namely PT Abdibangun Buana, which mainly deals in power plants, and PT Asea Brown Boveri Sakti. The latter company, which deals in transmission systems and electrical appliances, is a joint venture between ABB (40%) and PT Abdibangun Buana (60%). Although Murdaya Widyawimarta from CCM and Goran Lindahl from ABB only signed the two companies' joint venture agreement and article of association in ABB's headquarters in Zurich on October 28, 1995, they had actually been doing business since the early 1980s. ABB's second powerful Indonesian agent is the Indonesian government's Coordinating Body of Strategic Industries (BPIS), which was headed by then Research and Technology Minister Dr B.J. Habibie. BPIS's link with ABB is through PT ABB Energy Systems Indonesia (ABB ESI), a joint venture between ABB (80%) and two BPIS companies, PT PAL Indonesia (the Navy shipyard) and PT Barata Indonesia (a heavy equipment and railway train manufacturer).
In April 1995, ABB invested US$ 35 million in this joint venture, to turn it into the production and service centre for power station components for the South East Asian region, especially in the field of combustion engineering. It has factories in Surabaya (East Java), Medan (North Sumatra), and Palembang (South Sumatra).
In addition, several branch offices of ABB are also mentioned on a 1994 list of contractors and suppliers of the Indonesian state aircraft company, Industri Pesawat Terbang Nusantara (IPTN), another BPIS company which Dr. Habibie formerly directed. Those branch offices are ABB Trading (U.S.) Inc. (300 Lakeside Drive, Suite 2470, Oakland, California, U.S.A.), ABB Metallurgy AB (S- 721 66 Vasteras, Sweden), and Asea Brown Bovery Power Electronics (PO Box 6555F-65101, Vas, Finland).
Now to the CCM Group. Its major shareholders are Murdaya Widyawimarta (born as Poo Tjie Gwan in Blitar, East Java, on January 21, 1941) and his wife, Siti Hartati Tjakra Murdaya (born as Chow Lie Ing in Jakarta on August 29, 1946). Their original company, PT Berca (Best Engineering Contractor & Agencies) Indonesia has been a major supplier of electric installation equipments to the Indonesian state electricy company, PLN, since the early 1970s, due to their closeness to the late Ir [Engineer] Sutami. Sutami, who was Suharto's first and longest serving Public Work Minister, perceived building large dams as acts of patriotism, for which paying social sacrifices is the rule of the game (Aditjondro, 1998a: 32-33).
Murdaya Widyawimarta's wife, Siti Hartati Tjakra Murdaya, is an aggressive business women of her own rights, who owns PT Hardaya Aneka Shoes Industri (HASI) and PT Nagasaki Paramashoes Industry (NASA). These two companies produces Nike shoes in Indonesia by exploiting low paid women workers. Exporting its cheaply produced Nike shoes to 82 countries, the Murdaya shoe factories do not have such an excellent record, as far as workers' rights is concerned. Only after 10,000 HASI workers striked in April 1997, did the company agreed to pay the government-regulated minimum monthly wage of Rp 172,000 (around US$ 8.60 at that time).
The strike began on Wednesday, April 23, after the HASI owners had asked the government for an excemption of the new minimum wages regulation, saying that the extra US 20 cent would be too hard on the factory. However, after the HASI workers' demonstrations were internationally supported by US anti-Nike activists, the factory owners agreed to pay both the minimum wage and an attendance bonus to which workers in the factory are entitled.
As is the practice of many Indonesian top business people, who refuse to respect the rights of their workers to unionize and bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions, Mrs. Murdaya has not hesitated to have retired Indonesian military officers on her payroll. His presence must have made made PT HASI director, J.Y. Park, comfortable, as Park, a Korean, spoke frankly to The Wall Street Journal about his 35 Korean staff: "Korean people are very hot-tempered." To the Far Eastern Economic Review (another Dow Jones publication) he said: "Most Koreans are very hot-tempered, shouting, yelling and hitting" (Nike in Indonesia , August 1995). So, now wonder that Murdaya's Nike workers also lost their temper and took their complaints to the streets.
After accumulating their capital from their corrupt electricity businesses and exploiting underpaid female sport shoe workers, the Murdayas joined the deforestation bandwagon by investing in coconut plantations in East Kalimantan and North Sulawesi, and in logging and plywood in Central Sulawesi and East Kalimantan, through joint ventures with powerful business partners.
Their ebony logging and processing operation in Palu, Central Sulawesi, PT SES (Sulawesi Ebony Sentra), is a joint venture with Suharto's golfing buddy and business operator, Bob Hasan, and Suharto's youngest son, Tommy, while their East Kalimantan plywood factory, PT Intracawood Manufacturing, is a joint venture with a state forestry company, PT Inhutani.
Siti Hartati Murdaya, who claims to mediate up to three hours a day, heads the supervisory body of Perbudhi as well as the state-supported association of Buddhist scholars, Keluarga Cendekiawan Buddhis Indonesia (KCBI), although she herself is not known to have carried out scholarly work on Buddhism and the Indonesian society. In addition, she also heads a charity, Yayasan Paramita, which cooperates with Buddhist monks (bikhsu) and has built a hospital in Tangerang, West Java, as well as provided mass medical assistance to elementary school children in the vicinities.
The Buddhist scholars assopciation, KCBI was founded by Mrs. Murdaya only several weeks before a national seminar in mid August 1994 initiated by Dr Habibie in his capacity as chairperson of the Indonesian Muslim Scholars Association (ICMI). The official agenda of the inter-religious seminar was to forge more unity among Indonesian religious scholars. Critics, however, saw it as an attempt to iron out any opposition against Suharto's presidential re-appointment with Habibie as his running mate. Interestingly, Murdaya and Habibie also shared some other interests, apart from renominating Suharto, namely they were both ABB's main business partners.
The Murdayas, however, have realized that the rule of Suharto, whose ruling Golkar Party they financially supported for decades, would not last forever. Earlier this year, before Suharto's presidential re-appointment, they moved some of their family members to Hong Kong, in anticipation of the anti-Chinese backlash which marked the transition from Suharto to Habibie. All the Murdayas' four children are currently safe at U.C. Berkeley and University of Stanford in California, USA.
ABB contracts involving CCM are (1) the 130 MW combined cycle steam power plant in Belawan, near Medan, North Sumatra, signed in 1985; (2) the 183 MW hydro-power plant at Mrica, Central Java, signed around or before 1993; (3) the 30 Km, 500 KV transmission lines for the gas-fired steam power plant near Gresik, East Java, signed around or before 1993; (4) the 1180 MW combined cycle gas-fired steam power plant in Tanjung Priok, Jakarta, signed in 1992; (5) the 1,090 MW steam power plant in Muara Tawar, near Bekasi, West Java, signed in August 1994; (f) the 150 MW combined cycle gas-driven steam power plant in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, to supply PT Badak, signed in April 1995; and (6) the 1200 MW coal-fired steam power plant and 500 KV and 150 KV terminals in Paiton, East Java, signed in April 1995.
These deals were not always decided through public tenders, and the most public controversy had embroiled the Muara Tawar combined cycle steam power plant. In September 1993 the Jakarta business community were shocked when a limited sitting of Suharto's cabinet decided to appoint ABB to build the Muara Tawar plant, while two Japanese companies, Sumitomo and Mitsubishi, were appointed to build other power plants in Tambak Lorok (Central Java) and Grati, Pasuruan (East Java), without having to go through an open, public tender.
The excuse of then director of PLN, Dr. Zuhal, is that when the order is a repeat order, meaning that the company concerned had already shown its achievement in a previous project, it does not have to be decided through an open tender. In the case of ABB, it was the Tanjung Priok power plant, built by an ABB/Marubeni consortium.
That did not immediately stopped the debate. Because on February 24, 1994, Suharto ordered Zuhal to revoke the repeat orders if the negotiations on the electricity power rates with the foreign companies were not successfully concluded as of February 28, 1994. Four days later, on February 26, Zuhal announced that the three consortia had lowered their prices and submitted new quotations totalling US$ 1,769 million for the 2,342 MW generating capacity projects reflecting construction costs between US$ 736,842 to some US$ 782,178 per MW. In the new quotatiuon, the ABB/Marubeni consortium lowered its projected costs by approx. 18.5%.
The new rates were initially considered acceptable as they were close to those of the Tanjung Priok plant, that was constructed by the ABB/Marubeni consortium as well. It comprises four open- cycle units with a total capacity of 520 MW. It was inaugurated on January 18, 1994, while construction work to develop it further into a combined cycle power plant still continued.
A few months later, however, a number of national engineering companies expressed suspicion about the three projects, maintaining that their prices were still too high. Moreover, France's GEC Alsthom, through its lower local partner, said that it could construct the three projects with a total cost of US$ 1,405 million, 20.5% below the amount the three consortia submitted.
Controversy ensued, especially because one of the national engineering companies that protested was PT Inti Karya Persada Teknik, which is directed by Suharto's golfing buddy, Bob Hasan, on behalf of several Suharto charities, and is partly owned by Suharto's former security chief, the late General Sumitro.
Zuhal, however, survived the controversy. An electricity engineer by training, he is now Minister of Research and Technology and director of the Technology Assessment and Application Body (BPPT) in Habibie's current cabinet.
As far as the Salim Group is concerned, ABB gas turbines are used by its new power plant, adjacent to the PT Indo-Kodeco cement factory in South Kalimantan. This cement factory is a joint venture between Salim and the Kodeco Group, which was initially only a logging entreprise jointly owned by South Korean interests and Indonesian businessmen, including the late Sandy Murdani and Ir. Moedjono Murdani, respectively an elder and younger brother of (Ret.) General Benny Murdani, former commander of the 1975 East Timor invasion.
Apart from supplying the 2.45 million tons per annum cement factory, the new ABB power plant in South Kalimantan also supplies the US$ 135,7 million Kodeco Batulicin Plywood Factory, which has a production capacity of 144,000 m3 of plywood per annum. As far as Tutut is concerned, two gas-fired turbines are also installed in the 135 MW power plant of PT Energi Sengkang in Sengkang, South Sulawesi, based on a contract signed with ABB in November 1996. This private power company is a joint venture between Tutut's PT Trihasra Sarana Jaya Purnama (5%) with Energy Equity Corporation (EEC) from Australia (47.5%) and El Paso Energy (formerly Tenneco) from the U.S.A. (47.5%). The power plant, based on two ABB KA 8C gas turbines commenced operations in open cycle in September 1997 and in combined cycle in September 1998.
To finance this project, PT Energi Sengkang has obtained a US$ 178.8 million syndicated loan from BZW Asia and the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS). That syndicated loan covers a substantial part of the total costs of the gas field processing plant, pipeline, power plant and transmission lines, which amount to US$ 225 million.
PT Energi Sengkang supplies electric power to the nickel mining and refining operation of PT Inco in Soroako, South Sulawesi. This Indonesian subsidiary of the Canadian nickel giant, Inco, is also linked to a business partner of the Murdayas, namely Prof. Dr. Muhammad Sadli. Dr. Sadli had held various important positions in Suharto's cabinets, namely as Head of the Foreign Investment Board and Minister of Mining, is one of the commissioners of PT Inco. Sadli is, interestingly, also president commissioner of a major property company, PT Dharmala Intiland, on which board Murdaya also sits as a commissioner, together with Cosmas Batubara, a former Public Housing and then Labor Minister in Suharto's cabinets.
Despite being listed on the Sydney Stock Exchange, the majority stakes of EEC was taken over in 1995 by an Indonesian conglomerate, the Bumi Raya Utama (BRU) Group of the Tan brothers, who accumulated their capital from timber logging in Kalimantan. BRU president Tan Hong Phang, joined the EEC board after his conglomerate acquired majority (13.05%) shares in EEC in October 1995.
In a recent interview with Sydney Morning Herald on April 6, 1998, EEC's director, Maurice Brand, laid out the benefits he experienced from his links with Suharto's eldest daughter: "They [Tutut and her schoolfriends who owned PT Trihasra] provide you with a ring fence around your projects and keep the system moving." He also had no objection about Suharto's governance, stating that: "Cronyism is not the number one problem in Indonesia now, it would be at number six or number seven."
Australian stockbrokers have also supported the company's way of doing its business. As JB Were & Son told their clients in the second semester of 1997: "the Sengkang project views EEC critical mass and the financial backing to pursue its ambitious growth plans." The broker firm recommended its clients to buy EEC shares and was tipping a profit of Aust. $ 21.3 million last year (1997), to be followed by a Aust.$ 21 million profit this year (1998), according to Shares magazine in its November 1997 edition (p. 63).
The benefits for EEC of associating with Suharto's eldest daughter was not limited to their electricity business. This Indo-Australian joint venture is deeply involved in oil and gas drillings in South Sulawesi as well as in South Sumatra, where Tutut's companies were also deeply involved in the same business. In fact, EEC also contracted oil drills from Medco, a company partly owned by Tutut's husband, Indra Rukmana.
EEC's association with the Suharto family was useful in doing business with Pertamina, Indonesia's state oil company. Under Indonesian law, Pertamina has a complete monopoly over all oil and gas exploration, production and marketing.
The director of Pertamina, Faizal Abdau, was also deeply involved in private businesses with the Suharto and Habibie families. His son, Mohammad Reza Rachmadi Abdaoe, "Reza" for short, was a car racing buddy of Tommy Suharto and Tutut's son, Dandy Rukmana. Reza is now also a co-shareholder in the new conglomerate of Habibie's sons, the Repindo Panca Group.
Unfortunately, Indonesia's current economic crisis has affected EEC's shares negatively, falling to a 30-month low as the Indonesian electricity corporation (PLN), defaulted on a second bill. The Perth-based energy stock has endured a steady descent from Aust$ 1.70 over the past 12 months and shed another 5c on July 13 to close at 53c. The drop came after markets reacted angirly to news that PLN had failed to pay its US$ 1.9 million bill for power supplied through PT Energi Sengkang by the previous Friday, paying only US$ 500,000. EEC had made a similar announcement when PLN first defaulted four months earlier, again paying just US$ 500,000 of a US$ 1.9 million bill.
Last but not least on the Suharto - ABB list, is Hashim Djojohadikusumo. His PT Batu Hitam Perkasa is building a 1,230 MW coal-fired power plant in East Java uses two blocks of ABB coal thermal power generators, supplied by CCM and PT ABB Energy Systems Indonesia.
To build the Paiton I private power plant, which is scheduled for completion this year, Batu Hitam Perkasa formed a consortium, Paiton Energy Company (PEC), with Edison Mission Energy, General Electric Power Funding Corp., TransCanada Pipelines Ltd, and Mitsui from Japan. Paiton I's DM 1.5 billion contract with ABB was signed during the Hanover Trade Fair in April 1995, when Indonesia was the main foreign partner.
Interestingly, a minor shareholder of Batu Hitam Perkasa is Ir. Agus Gurlaya Kartasasmita, a younger brother of Habibie's (and previously Suharto's) Head of the National Development Planning Body (Bappenas), Dr. Ginanjar Kartasasmita. Dr. Kartasasmita is currently Habibie's major lobbyist to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This indicates how Suharto's as well as Habibie's cabinets are ridden with ministers whose close relatives are deeply involved in businesses in fields, in which those ministers have the power to make decisions.
With all these powerful connections, it is debatable whether this new mega power plant will respect all Indonesia's environmental laws and regulations. So far, an earlier steam power plant in Paiton, which was financed by the World Bank and had commenced operations in 1984, is already polluting the air with its sulphuric ashes, causing Probolinggo tobacco farmers to suffer a huge loss in their productivity. Officials from the Indonesian state electricity corporation (PLN), which oversaw the construction of the US$ 1 billion project, denied that they had not anticipated that adverse environmental impact by enforcing the project holders to carry out an environmental impact analysis (EIA) before building the power plant. "How could the World Bank have agreed to finance it, without an EIA?" so they argued.
Anticipating dissent from local farmers and villagers with the building of this second power plant, which was to be followed by another steam power plant by a company linked to Bambang Trihatmodjo, the Suharto family had taken their own standard measures. Tutut, together with the then army commander, General R. Hartono, encouraged a local kiyai (Muslim teacher), related to Hartono, to set up a charity with other kiyais from East Java, which they named Yayasan Tri Guna Bhakti. The chairperson of this foundation, Kiayi Haji Abdul Wachid Zaini, is also the head of a local pesantren (Muslim boarding school), called Nurul Jadid. Hartono was the protector of the foundation, and Tutut was the sponsor. At the same time, this foundation, which was set up in late 1995, was also an attempt to split the movement of East Javanese kiyais, Nahdlatul Ulama , which under the national leadership of the well-known Indonesian Muslim intellectual, Abdurrachman Wahid, had become quite critical about the Suharto regime.
It is arguable whether that hidden agenda of this Tutut-sponsored foundation was achieved. Nevertheless, not much agrarian and environmental dissent has emerged from Paiton, as far as I have been able to monitor from the mainstream and electronic media, even when Wachid Zaini's pesantren hosted an environmental workshop for East Java-based kiyais in March 1996. And when Tutut's mother-in-law died in early March 1996, Wachid Zaini and the other board members of the foundation put a large condolence advertisement in the East Java newspapers (Jawa Pos , March 7 & 21, 1996; Tiras , March 28, 1996: 72-73).
Now, let us move back to finances. To finance the construction of the 1,230 MW coal-fired Paiton I power plant, Paiton Energy Company (PEC) obtained a syndicated loan from eight private banks, namely UBS, Chase Manhattan Bank, Bank of America, Industrial Bank of Japan, Fuji Bank, Sakura Bank, Barclays Bank of UK, and Credit Lyonnais of France. Apart from the syndicated bank loan, the US Exim Bank provides a US$ 540 million loan and the Exim Bank of Japan, US$ 900 million, to PEC. In addition, this mega-project is also protected by an US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) risk insurance loan.
In addition to the UBS syndicated loans, most of these ABB contracts were covered by official Swiss export risk guarantee (ERG) credits. For instance, the Belawan contract with PLN, through CCM, was supported by a 153 million Swiss francs ERG. Other ABB projects covered by ERG credits are the Tanjung Priok, Muara Tawar, and Sengkang projects.
It still need to be seen, whether most of those special deals will indeed be cancelled, whether they will be passed on to other companies where the Suharto family presence is not so obvious, or whether the ball -- and the buck -- will be passed on to companies linked to the Habibie family and their own cronies.
A similar "corruption cleansing" process was initiated by Ir. Djiteng Marsudi, the former PLN director. As soon as Suharto stepped down, he cancelled a power-buying contract with a power plant partly owned by Suharto's cousin, Sudwikatmono, and began to review other major deals with Suharto-linked companies.
Unfortunately, retaliation from the new Habibie administration to Mr. Marsudi, who was widely supported by his staff and PLN employees in general, was very swift. As soon as he began to touch some electricity contracts involving German companies, Dr. Habibie, the top German business lobbyist in Indonesia, ordered the sacking of Djiteng Marsudi. On July 9, 1998, he was officially replaced by one of his subordinates, Ir. Trunggono, about whom I have not been able to receive his details.
So, although I have no documents to proof actual corruption cases involving ABB in Indonesia, since their three main business partners in Indonesia -- the Murdayas, the Habibies and the Suhartos -- had enriched themselves through corruption, exploiting Indonesian workers, violating Indonesian environmental laws, and manipulating Indonesian Muslims and Buddhists to continue supporting one of the richest dictator in the world, ABB and the Swiss Government, which so readily handed out those ERG contracts and refused to provide asylum to Acehnese refugees, are guilty by association.
Instead of reducing the fear of further anti-Chinese violence by legally persecuting the perpetrators of those violent and destructive acts, Habibie and his ministers have repeatedly "ordered" the Chinese business people who had fled the country to return to immediately, stating that without them, Indonesia would still be able to rebuild the economy.
Those ultra-nationalist statements can be interpreted as a threat to confiscate and take over businesses abandoned by the Chinese, last May, in the wake of the well-organized looting and burning of Chinese-owned properties and gang raping of their womenfolk. A lot from which Mrs. Murdaya has luckily escaped, wherever she has moved to with her family.
Newcastle, July 24, 1998.
YPBHI (1998). Siaran pers Yayasan Pendidikan dan Bantuan Hukum Indonesia (YPBHI) tentang pelanggaran hak asasi manusia (HAM) di Pidie, Propinsi Aceh. Bandar Lampung, 16 Juli.
Sinar, November 25, 1995, p. 91.
D&R, May 10, 1997, pp. 90-91 (special interview with Siti Hartati Tjakra Murdaya).