Suharto's Global Forestry Interests
The family of Indonesia's President Suharto is heavily involved in the global spread of Indonesian logging companies. Some of the clan's major forestry interests are outlined in this adaptation from an article by dissident Indonesian academic, George Aditjondro.
The MUSA Group in Suriname
The most publicised international venture by an Indonesian logging company is MUSA's 60,700 ha. concession in Suriname. MUSA (Mitra Usaha Sejati Abadi) is owned by Suharto's relatives from his home village of Kemusu in Yogyakarta. Suriname has a large ethnic Javanese population, and MUSA, which first arrived in the country in 1993, has big ambitions in the country. Despite protests from local people, MUSA obtained logging rights to150,000 ha. in the Apura district of West Suriname. A subsequent visit of Suriname's president, Mr. Venetiaan to Indonesia in1994 established a 20-year forestry cooperation agreement between the two countries. A Suriname weekly, de Surinaamse Weekkrant, alleged that MUSA gave bribes totalling $US11million to the leaders of KPTI, a conservative Javanese party and NPS(sic).
According to Indonesian environment group SKEPHI, another Indonesian company with interests in Suriname, PT Suri Atlantic, has home-country connections similar to MUSA's (SKEPHI press release, 28/8/96).
Tommy Suharto's Investments in Burma
The first Indonesian investor in Burma is PT Rante Mario, one of many companies in the Humpuss Group, controlled by the president's youngest son Hutomo Mandala Putra (Tommy). In a joint venture with the state-owned Myanmar Timber Enterprise, PT Rante Mario plans to build a wood processing industry with an investment of $US75 million. In the first five years, the venture will only produce logs and lumber. After that, it will go into plywood production.
According to WWF, Burma has already lost 71% of its natural habitat, while Indonesia has lost 49% (Indonesian business journal, Warta Ekonomi, November 1995, p.42). It could therefore be said that to conserve Indonesia's own natural habitat, President Suharto is allowing his beloved youngest son to destroy a friendly nation's forest.
Bambang Trihatmojo's forestry interests in Malaysia, PNG and China
Tommy's elder brother Bambang Trihatmojo, who controls his own business empire, the Bimantara Group, is a major shareholder in Barito Pacific, a group led by Sino-Indonesian businessman Prajogo Pangestu. In 1994, Barito Pacific acquired the Malaysian company CASH (Construction and Supplies Houses Berhad) to reforest 500,000 ha. in Sabah, East Malaysia. Prime Minister Mahathir has also contracted CASH to establish a one million ha. timber plantation in Malaysia. Prajogo Pangestu also owns three more overseas forestry operations: Rindaya Wood Processing in Malaysia, Lombda Pty. Ltd. in PNG and Nantong Plywood in Shanghai.
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With all these connections between the Indonesian and Malaysian elites, it is no wonder that Mahathir is as vehemently opposed as Suharto to international criticism of their countries' environment policies. Given the financial assets of his extended family, it is little wonder that Suharto has attempted, at all costs, to defend his throne and crown. His throne is made of bones and his crown is made of the blood of up to two million Indonesian people and 200,000 East Timorese. It was to maintain this grip on power that on July 27 1996, his followers killed between 47 and 100 members of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) when they stormed the PDI headquarters.
There is no way to prevent him doing more harm in Indonesia, East Timor and worldwide through his many companies, other than by imposing worldwide sanctions of all Indonesian businesses associated with the Suharto clan and their cronies. These sanctions should target their banks, their retail businesses, and their forestry interests.
This should be done by: picketing Lippo Bank, BCA, First Pacific and MUSA offices in Hong Kong; persuading supermarket managers all over the world to boycott Indofood products; blocking the toll roads, highways and fly passes built by Suharto's eldest daughter Tutut and her nephew Ari Sigit Suharto in Malaysia and the Philippines; boycotting Tommy Suharto's Sempati Airlines; boycotting Kia cars from South Korea which has forged a preferential deal with Tommy Suharto and whatever other means one can imagine.
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