Wednesday, May 21, 2014

1) REGION: New call for United Nations to back decolonisation for West Papua

1) REGION: New call for United Nations to back decolonisation for West Papua
2) Students terrorized a three-member Intelligence .
3) Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto faces court challenge over alleged human rights abuses

4) #savearu sees off Menara Group, time to #savebovendigoel

1) REGION: New call for United Nations to back decolonisation for West Papua

Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Item: 8621
BRISBANE (Pacific Media Watch / International Forum for West Papua / Radio New Zealand / Islands Business): New calls have been made for the United Nations to add West Papua to its list of Pacific nations that must be decolonised.
The UN's Pacific Regional Seminar for the Eradication of Colonialism got underway in Fiji today. It aims to accelerate decolonisation ahead of 2020 and will report to the UN General Assembly on the state of several Pacific island nations which remain colonised.
Radio New Zealand International reported that the Australia West Papua Association asked for the UN Special Political and Decolonisation Committee to actually visit West Papua to witness the realities of Indonesia's colonisation of West Papua.
Joe Collins of the Australia West Papua Association says the committee visited New Caledonia in March and it should also now visit West Papua.

"He says it is an accepted fact that the so-called act of free choice in 1969 was a farce and the UN has a moral responsibility to the West Papuans for the betrayal of a people," RNZI reported.
The International Forum for West Papua, based in Brisbane, Australia, today released a petition calling on the chairperson of the UN Special Political and Decolonisation Committee, Carlos Enrique García González, to add West Papua to the list of nations requiring urgent decolonisation.
The political and legal status of West Papua needs to be reviewed to examine the historical failure of 1969 in which only 10 percent of total population were allowed to choose between independence or colonisation by Indonesia, said the International Forum's president Amatus Douw.
Douw called on the UN to add West Papua to the decolonisation list this year.
He also called on member states of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, and the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front of New Caledonia) to push the UN to grant West Papua decolonisation status.
Islands Business magazine reported today that a joint Pacific Regional Non-Governmental Organisations Alliance called for freedom for the indigenous people of Guam, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, Tokelau and West Papua - all of which are currently colonised - so they could chart their own future.
“The right of people in non self-governing territories, whose countries are ruled by colonial administrations, to determine their own political future, and we call on our Pacific peoples in all walks of life to stand up, speak out and be actively engaged in their struggle,” the alliance's spokesperson, Peter Emberson, told Islands Business.
“The peoples of our non self-governing territories have not given up. They have been repressed, their rights taken away, they have been tortured and killed, imprisoned, and pushed to the margins of political and economic life but they are not backing down,” Emberson said.


A google translate of posting on KNPB web page. Be-aware google translate can be a bit erratic.
Original bahasa link at

2) Students terrorized a three-member Intelligence .
May 20 , 2014 By : haanim Category : KNPB Region , News

Merauke , KNPBNews - A student activist who is also the initials JK West Papua National Committee ( KNPB ) Merauke region terrorized by three plainclothes officers inteljen Indonesia . JK is a student at one of the colleges in Merauke , namely the School of Administration ( STIA ) .

The incident occurred on Monday, March 17, 2014 at 17:00 wpb less Lebin , when JK home from campus , on his way to his home , he was followed by three (3 ) persons intelligence officers in plain clothes . On the way victims paused at one shop with the intention of buying vitamin water to drink . When JK buy water , he was visited by one of the three men were . While holding the shoulder sikorban he asked as beriku :

Intelligence apparatus : " Ade , I 've seen you in the secretariat ( Secretariat and the Office of the PRD Wil KNPB . Merauke ) when there is activity then?

JK : I joined the meeting runs from campus . "

Intel officials : " ... Oh , you mean the student huh ?

JK : "Yeah right , I am a student . "

Intelligence apparatus : " Where students card ? ( and JK students took the card and the card shows students )

Intelligence apparatus : Why should you join these activities ?

JK : " These activities aim to separate from the State Homeland "

Then two members of his intelligence again following sikorban came and said , " Brother you should stop just because of the activities held during this you are all deceptive and misleading many people . "

At that moment a friend of sikorban called him and three members of the intelligence apparatus and go straight away , then sikorban and his return home .


3) Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto faces court challenge over alleged human rights abuses

Updated 10 hours 52 minutes ago
A group of Indonesian lawyers has launched a court challenge aimed at forcing one of the country’s presidential candidates to stand trial over allegations of human rights abuses.
Prabowo Subianto is one of two men vying to be Indonesian president after Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stands down later this year.
He officially lodged his bid for presidency to great fanfare on Tuesday, with the backing of billionaires, media moguls, and a strong coalition of parties.
But a group of activist lawyers is launching a case aimed at forcing the Government to have him face a special human rights hearing.
Lawyer Antoni Silo says Indonesia’s parliament voted in favour of starting a human rights trial in 2009, but it has never been held.
"Along with others we demand that the human rights special hearing be opened, to resolve the case of kidnapping of 13 missing persons - because as of today it hasn't been resolved," he said.
"In 2009, there was a recommendation from the parliament, yet it remains a cold case, so we are as independent advocates [are] obligated to enforce the law as it has not yet been enforced."
It has been alleged that in 1998, just days before the fall of President Suharto's regime, troops under Prabowo Subianto’s control were responsible for the kidnapping, alleged torture and disappearance of some student protestors.
Prabowo was a military commander at the time.
Phillips Vermonte from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies says Prabowo has already admitted involvement in some kidnappings.
"Regardless of the fact that it has never been trialled, Prabowo Subianto acknowledged that he actually did kidnap some of the students," he said.
"He admitted though that those who were with him went home out safely - they came out alive."
The ABC attempted to contact Prabowo Subianto and asked his campaign staff for comment about the case, but is yet to receive a response.
He has previously been quoted as saying he was being made a scapegoat.

Prabowo Subianto has been trailing his opponent, Joko Widodo, in the opinion polls.
Antoni Silo says it is a coincidence that the case was filed on the day Prabowo lodged his presidential bid.
"We're doing it because this case has been a cold case for 16 years," he said.
"We frankly need to use the presidential election as a momentum [but] if we had more presidential candidates, we would still lodge this lawsuit.
"Whether or not Prabowo is a presidential candidate, we would still lodge this lawsuit."
But Phillips Vermonte has been expecting the presidential race get personal.
"Now with only two pairs of candidates I think we can expect that the polarisation can be so deep because there is no third candidate that can play moderator," he said.

4) #savearu sees off Menara Group, time to #savebovendigoel

The story may be over for the Menara Group in Aru, now it’s time to look at Boven Digoel. There another mega-plantation plan is opening the door to the Malaysian timber barons, who are using the pretext of oil palm plantations to get their hands on 400,000 hectares of primary forest.
The people of the Aru Islands have hopefully seen off the Menara Group, which had wanted to claim nearly 500,000 hectares out of the 629,000 hectare archipelago for a giant sugar-cane plantation. After a year of concerted local opposition, bolstered by solidarity from activists from Ambon, on April 10th the forestry minister Zulkifli Hasan stated to the press that he will not sign the final permit the Menara Group needs.
This statement came after the Save Aru campaign highlighted flaws at every step of the process which allowed Menara Group access to the islands: Why was Aru’s land-use plan dramatically changed to allow such a vast plantation? Why were permits given when the proper conditions had not been met? Why was an Environmental Impact Assessment which was approved despite containing neither any description of the company’s plans nor any meaningful assessment of environmental impacts? Responding to public pressure, both the newly-elected Governor of Maluku and the Presidential Work Unit (UKP4) had said they would look into the process.
The activists in Aru know that the Menara Group could still make a comeback, and there are plenty of other companies waiting to take their place, notably the Nusa Ina Group. The islands’ long term future is far from assured. But this is certainly good news.
However, this does not mean that the Menara Group is out of the plantations game for good. Apart from the ill-fated attempt in Aru, it has also been trying to get its hands on large swathes of land in Papua, and seems to have been rather more successful. Menara Group moved into Boven Digoel Regency in Southern Papua around a year before emerging in Aru, and has obtained 400,000 hectares of oil palm concession there, mostly in Jair and Mandobo districts.
There are some similarities between the situation in the Aru Islands and in Boven Digoel. Both are huge areas of land – the Boven Digoel land for example is two-thirds the size of Bali. Both include large areas of primary forest containing valuable timber which has never been logged. Both got their permits from local leaders who are currently in prison, having been found guilty of corruption charges, although neither case was directly related to the Menara Group.
Unfortunately, unlike in Aru, no social movement has emerged in Boven Digoel to address the issue, and monitor any possible irregularities. Very little information has emerged from the ground there. The only direct report came in 2013, when villagers contacted a priest from the area who now works elsewhere, concerned that a company called Menara Group had toured various villages handing out several billion Rupiah as they went. The people didn’t know what the money was for. The concern is that the villagers might have been deceived into signing over their land rights in exchange for this cash.
If no-one is monitoring this company, it could well turn out that the next news only comes after the heavy machinery moves in and villagers realise that their forest has gone. Before this happens, here’s an attempt to piece together some of what we do know about the land, and the companies involved.

Who and What is the Menara Group?

The Menara Group is not known to have operated any plantations before it ventured into Aru and Boven Digoel. However, it appears incredibly ambitious, daring to propose plantations on a scale that no established plantation company has attempted in recent years.
The limit for plantation size in Papua is 40,000 hectares, so Menara Group simply created 10 subisdiaries, all located at different addresses in the Grogol district of Jakarta. This is the first sign of dodginess – many of these addresses do not exist, and in those that do, the occupiers when visited had no knowledge of the Menara Group companies.
This is typical of the Menara Group, which appears to have taken many steps to remain elusive. Its president, Chairul Anhar, is an Indonesian businessman who has interests in Malaysia. Its chairman is more well-known: Da’i Bachtiar was the Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia from 2008 to 2012, and before that was the chief of the Indonesian police, meaning that he is a figure of some influence. Before this foray into mega-plantations, the group was believed to have interests in consultancy, banking software and e-commerce, but as a private company, its full portfolio of interests is unknown. Neither is it known where the company might find the huge amounts of capital necessary to start up plantations on this scale.
One theory is that the Menara Group’s main intent was to sell on the companies once it had obtained the permits, facilitating Malaysia companies which wished to move into Papua. In 2011, the Menara Group sold two of its subsidiary companies, PT Manunggal Sukses Mandiri and PT Trimegah Karya Utama to the Tadmax corporation of Malaysia, giving Tadmax the opportunity to develop a 80,000 hectare plantation. It is likely that another 160,000 hectares (or four subsidiary companies) have been passed onto Pacific Inter-link, another Malaysian-based company.

Tadmax, Clearly after the Timber.

The Tadmax deal reveals a lot more information about plans for the land than Menara Group had chosen to make available. Since it is a publicly-listed company in Malaysia, Tadmax has to publish more details of its transactions and accounts.
Notes published at the time of sale included a valuation of the companies. The valuers noted that the forest in the two parcels was “undisturbed forest”, which had never been logged except for some localised shifting cultivation by villagers. They made an estimate of the value of the timber in the concessions: 218,000,000 Ringgit (99 million US$ at the time) . Then they worked out a value of the palm oil concession, based on comparisons with other recent land sales in Indonesia. That came to 69,000,000 Ringgit (31 Million US$). They assumed that these other land deals had no timber component, noting “Our verbal enquiries with Dinas Perhutanan revealed it is norm in Indonesia for the government to only issue ‘Izin Lokasi’ for worked-over forest lands with timber stand covering less than 30% of the land area”.
What that means is that 75% of the value of the concession in Boven Digoel is from timber extraction, and only 25% is from planting oil palm. Moreover, it is unusual for a swathe of primary forest such as this to get a permit for oil palm. What does that tell us about the Menara Group’s motivation for the remaining 320,000 hectares? Is it a coincidence that the Aru Island concession was also mainly never-logged, containing valuable timber?
Tadmax bought the companies for 40 million USD each. In all company statements and press reports concerning their plans, Tadmax explicitly describes its holdings in Papua as ‘timber rights’. Oil palm, which is what they were actually given the permit for, scarcely gets a mention. In its 2012 Annual Report, Tadmax mentions its hope at the time to “proceed to undertake timber extraction and subsequently the setting up of an oil palm nursery (should the Group decide to embark in this sector) commencing in the 4th quarter of 2013 ”. In other words, the company is not even sure if it will bother with planting oil palm.
Tadmax has an oil palm permit, but doesn’t seem to have thought much about oil palm as yet. The thing is, the Indonesian government does not give out unconditional permits to just clear-fell primary forests like that. Logging concessions include conditions for forest management. It expects something back – an oil palm plantation will yield the state returns for decades, whereas Tadmax’s plan is to clearcut the forest within six years, leaving empty land behind after that. The timber permit Tadmax is fixated on (Izin Pemanfaatan Kayu) is intended as an additional permit to allow a company to market the wood it obtains clearing the forest for a plantation.
Tadmax is a company with a background in timber. It was formerly known as Wijaya Baru Global Bhd and owned by one of Sarawak’s timber tycoons Tiong King Sing, before Major Anuar Adam bought a major stake in 2011. Menara Group’s Da’i Bachtiar was also on the board of directors until February 2014.

Integrated Timber Complex Joint Venture

In August 2012, Tadmax entered into a joint venture with several other Malaysian-based companies in Boven Digoel called Tulen Jayamas . To develop oil palm? No, that wasn’t mentioned. The joint venture would be to develop an ‘Integrated Timber Complex’ with “the business of processing timber logs extracted from the Subject Properties into plywood, sawn timber, wood chips and other timber products”
Tadmax only has a 14% share in the joint venture, with four other companies holding the remainder. The largest stake, 50.5%, is held by a company called Bumimas Raya Sdn Bhd. This is described as a ‘dormant’ company, but its registered address and the names of it’s shareholders suggest it is controlled by the Shin Yang Group, one of Sarawak’s biggest timber firms.
25% of the joint venture company is owned by Pacific Inter-link, a manufacturing and trading company based in Malaysia, but owned by the powerful Yemeni Hayal Saeed Anam group. Pacific Inter-link is believed to have bought, or be buying, four of the Menara Group companies. For some time its website has stated that it is in the “advanced stages of acquiring majority stakes (80%) in several Indonesian companies that have been collectively granted concessions and permits for a land bank of 160,000 hectares”
As a privately-owned company, Pacific Inter-link does not have the same obligation to report on acquisitions, so we can’t be sure whether the sale has been finalised. It is not explicitly mentioned in the Joint Venture notice that Pacific Inter-link’s involvement is connected to marketing the timber contained on these 160,000 hectares (which are also primary forest), but it seems very likely.
Pacific Inter-link probably would also want to plant oil palm, as its core business involves trading palm oil and manufacturing many products containing palm oil, but currently owns no plantations. There has been a trend in recent years for commodity traders trading in palm oil to start their own plantations in order to secure their supply chains, and land in Papua is becoming a key target. Other such companies starting plantations include the Noble Group and Tianjin Julong Group.
Shin Yang may also have an interest in palm oil in the area. As well as its timber business, it also owns Sarawak Oil Palms Berhad, with several plantations in Sarawak.
Smaller stakes in the Joint Venture are held by Al Salam Bank Bahrain (eight per cent) and Yakima Dijaya Sdn Bhd (two per cent). The owner of Yakima Dijaya Sdn Bhd, Yee Ming Seng, has reportedly been involved in the logging industry in Papua since the 1990s.

Tadmax looking to sell

In the first few months of 2014, there have been reports in the Malaysian Pressthat Tadmax, which has been financially struggling for a while, has been looking to sell its interest in the two ex-Menara Group subsidiaries it currently owns, claiming it wants to focus its business on Malaysia. It is optimistic of using the more-favourable exchange rates recently to make a profit on the deal, but questions have to be asked on why it would wish to sell off its main asset. Something not going right in Papua, maybe?
The wheelings-and-dealings of business and finance are always shrouded under layers of intrigue, and we may never get a full picture of exactly who is hoping to unlock the riches of Boven Digoel’s forest, nor what their plans are for the land.
What is clear however, is that far from the corporate towers of Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur or Miri, there is still a tract of primary forest 400,000 hectares wide along the banks of the Digoel River where the greater bird of paradise can still perform its ritual mating dance undisturbed, the southern cassowary roams the forest floor and cuscus and tree kangaroos find their home amongst the branches.
This forest is also home to the Auyu people, the customary landowners of this land, who have lived in harmony with the forest for many centuries. Are they prepared for the coming violent upheaval in their lives if these businessmen get their way? Have they willingly given their informed consent? For oil palm? To logging? In Aru, the Menara Group never made any attempt to present its plans to most of the affected villages. Can we expect it, or Tadmax, or Pacific Inter-link, to be more responsible in Boven Digoel?
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