Monday, 12 May 2008

Forest conversions stand: Ka'ban

So, the Minister of Forestry is telling the anti-corruption people there is no need for them to investigate forest conversion matters as he has personally approved them all. Hmmnn!!!!!!!

The anti-corruption body/office are appearing to have increasing success in what is a very difficult situation for them, so any guilty people will have cause for personal concern.

Jakarta Post
National News
May 12, 2008

Forest conversions stand: Ka'ban

Theresia Sufa, The Jakarta Post, Bogor, West Java

Forestry Minister Malam Sambat Kaban has warned the corruption body not to intervene in the country's forest conversion processes, which have been tarnished by alleged bribery. Kaban said he welcomed the move by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to investigate the alleged graft in the approval of the forest conversion in Bintan regency in Riau Islands province.

But he emphasized the probe could not overrule the decision to approve the conversion.
"The forest conversion is legitimate and is allowed by the law. I am responsible for changing the status of a forest, which falls under the government's authority," Kaban said after attending a graduation at Ibnu Khaldun University in Jakarta on Saturday.

The KPK has announced a plan to visit Bintan as part of its investigation into alleged bribery in the approval of the conversion of 200 out of 7,300 hectares of protected forest for an office complex project. The conversion was proposed as part of Bintan's development as the capital of Riau Islands province.

The commission has named House of Representatives lawmaker Al Amin Nasution and Bintan regional secretary Azirwan as suspects in the case.

The two were arrested hours after the House approved a recommendation from a forestry ministry team to convert the protected forest.

Kaban told the corruption commission to focus on the bribery case.
"If there is no problem with the conversion process, then say so, in order not to set off a public controversy," Kaban said.

Under the forestry law, the government can change forest use with the House's consent, following an integrated study. The government usually takes into consideration the wider, strategic benefits of the conversion.

As pointed out by Kaban, conversion of protected forests has been occurring since the administration of former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, which issued a government regulation in lieu of law to allow 13 mining companies to operate in protected forests.

The House approved the emergency regulation, which resulted in the conversion of nearly 1 million hectares of protected forest.

Protected forests on Raja Ampat Island in West Papua, Wakatobi Island in Southeast Sulawesi and Tanjung Api-api in South Sumatra were also converted following the establishment of regencies there.

"I have referred to this long-standing practice to let the public know that forest conversion is legitimate," Kaban said.

He called on the public not to worry about forest conversions, as the country still has about 24.3 million hectares of protected forest.

"Forest conversion always requires that the forest area affected is replaced," he said.
A recent study by environmental group Greenomics found forest conversion in the country over the past eight years "has reached an alarming level", with 10 million hectares of protected forest vanishing.

The report warned the remaining protected forests would disappear in a short period, unless immediate action was taken to stop the practice.