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Alatas, Sudwikatmono, Dita Sari: the Great River connections

By George J. Aditjondro - March 18, 1998

There is a general image that Ali Alatas, whom Suharto has re- appointed as Foreign Minister for another term in his seventh and hopefully, last Cabinet, is simply a career diplomat, with no business links to the Suharto family. My research in the globalization of the Suharto oligarchy has shown, though, that that is not the case. There are obvious business links between the Alatas and Suharto families -- through Alatas' s youngest daughter, Fawzia, and Suharto's cousin, Sudwikatmono. These connections run through one of Indonesia's biggest garment conglomerate, PT Great River Industries, a familiar name for worker activists in Jakarta and West Java.

PT Great River Industries, manufactures and distributes 54 brands of garments in their factories in Cibinong, Cikarang, and Purwakarta, all in West Java. Most prominent among them are Arrow men's shirts, produced since 1977 under a licence with Cluett Peabody, Inc., US, and Triumph women's undergarment, produced under licence from Triumph International, Germany.

The company reportedly controls 82% of the domestic women's underwear market through three brands (Triumph, Amo and Nina Capiona); 71% of men's clothes with brands such as Arrow, Choya, Kenzo, Homme, Savile Row, Balrenciaga, and Van Laack); 20% of children's wear (Mickey & Co, Garfield, Baleno, Ladybird, and Lusty); and 12% of the jeans market (Lee, Nino Cerruti Jeans, and Kenzo Jeans).

The major owner of this company is a Sino-Indonesian businessman, Sunyoto Tanudjaja, both the president commissioner of the company is Kumbo Yoga Sugomo, son of Suharto's former security chief, General Yoga Sugomo, who is related to the late Mrs. Tien Suharto (Shin, 1989: 268). Kumbo's brother, Bambang Riyadi Sugomo, apart from being the head of the Sugomo family conglomerate, the Kresna Duta Group, is also one of the four founders of Bambang Trihatmodjo's new conglomerate, the Apac Centurytex Corporation (ACC) Group, which in 1996 already had total assets of Rp 1,6 trillion.

Then, an interesting figure in this company is Fawzia Alatas- Patompo, 30 years, third and youngest daughter of Suharto's recently re-appointed Foreign Minister Ali Alatas. She graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York in 1991, and joined GRI after a10 months stint with Procter & Gamble. She met her husband, Rachmat Endang Patompo, son of former major of Ujungpandang, while studying in the US. Total assets of this company in 1996 is Rp 615 billion. In 1992, it exported Rp 40 billion worth of garments. In 1996 it planned a 25 million pieces increases of production to 50 million pieces in 2000.

In 1996, GRI's wholly owned subsidiary, PT Inti Fasindo International, agreed to cooperate with PT Indomulti Inti Industri (Salim Group company, headed by Sudwikatmono), to operate a 26,000 m2 department store in Plaza Senayan, South Jakarta, under licence of Hanshin Department Store Ltd. of Japan. This new company currently operaters 30 outlets, which is expected to be increased to 100 units by the end of 1998, through franchise agreements with local small businesses across Indonesia.

Most GRI workers are underpaid. In July 1995, a major strike and demonstration of 7,000 GRI workers shocked the company, demanding the company to pay them the minimum wage of Rp 7,000 (US$ 2.75) per day. The demonstrations in Bogor and at the parliament in Senayan, Jakarta, were organized by the now radical student organisation, SMID (Indonesian Student Solidarity for Democracy) and independent trade union, PPBI (Centre for Working Class Struggle), which belong to the People's Democratic Party (PRD).

The leader of the 1995 GRI workers demonstration, PPBI Secretary General Dita Indah Sari, and six of her colleagues, were threatened with the anti-subversion law for her involvement in the strike but fortunately missed imprisonment. Three years later Dita Indah Sari was not that lucky. The 24-years old former law student was arrested on July 10, 1996, while leading a demonstration of 10,000 workers in Surabaya, tried, and sentenced to six years imprisonment under Article 160 of the Indonesian criminal code for "inciting violence." Meanwhile, PRD's 28-year old president, Budiman Sudjatmiko was detained, tried, and sentenced to 13 years imprisonment, for allegedly inciting the 27 July 1996 riots in Jakarta, when the headquarters of the legally acknowledged Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) was attacked and destroyed by Indonesian military and thugs.

So, the Great River International's rapid economic growth is an example how Ali Alatas' business interests are closely intertwined with Suharto's business interests -- and US, German, and Japanese garment producers, which are strongly protected by Suharto's military and judges. With Alatas's daughter Fawzia speciality in fashion design, it is nearly impossible that she is not involved in developing GRI's wholly owned subsidiary, PT Inti Fasindo International.

Therefore, pro-East Timor and pro-Indonesian democracy activists in Europe, US, and Japan, may have to think of strategies to send their messages of protests to Alatas' and Suharto's re- appointment. For instance, by starting a worldwide campaign to boycott Triumph bras and Arrow shirts. A Triumph bra burning campaign in Germany, an Arrow shirt burning event in Manhattan, or picket lines in front of the Hanshin Department stores in Japan, might be excellent examples to hurt this international conspiracy against the Timorese and Indonesian peoples. We have to hurt them where it hurts the most, namely in their pockets.