Monday, 5 May 2008

Illegal loggers push anti-graft police chief shuffle

To balance the previous good news. When the news below was first reported it 'looked' like good news (an alleged corrupt cop being transferred), but as I say so often to so many non-Indonesians nationals who ask me perfectly reasonable questions about Indonesia government or business matters, 'things are rarely as straightforward as they appear - you need to look for possible other agendas/answers beyond what you want to see and hear.' I'm no expert and I'm still learning the hard way!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Illegal loggers push anti-graft police chief shuffle: Walhi

Rizal Harahap , The Jakarta Post , Pekanbaru Mon, 05/05/2008 11:25 AM The Archipelago

The sudden reshuffle of Riau Police Chief Sutjiptadi, known for his anti-illegal logging stance, raises questions about the motives behind the replacement, an environment group says.

Brig. Gen. Sutjiptadi will be replaced and take up his position as governor of the Police Academy in Semarang, Central Java, in the midst of a crack down on illegal logging he initiated a year and a half ago.

"The replacement is bad news for Riau because it takes place when the war against illegal logging is at its peak. Frankly, we are disappointed about the move because he seems to have not been given the chance to finish his job, and there is no guarantee his successor could resolve those issues in Riau," executive director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) in Riau, Jhony Setiawan Mundung, told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Jhony said Sutjiptadi's transfer from Riau was a "planned conspiracy" involving six regional leaders and two large-scale pulp and paper mills.

"Many are annoyed at Sutjiptadi because they have become targets of operations against illegal logging. Replacing him is the peak of the conspiracy masterminded by the two prominent timber financiers. They would do anything, from pelting Sutjiptadi's official residence to murder threats to kill his wife, but he doesn't move. I doubt his successor could be like him," Jhony said.

He refuted allegations Sutjiptadi had received bribes from the illegal logging operators.
"There isn't any proof showing he's greedy for money. The threats however came when he turned them down. He was often offered bribes by messengers from the two financial backers to tolerate illegal logging like his predecessors, but Sutjiptadi refused. His courage in resisting the financiers deserves praise," Jhony said.

Despite failing to bring the illegal logging cases to court, Jhony said Sutjiptadi was able to cleanse his force of graft and bribery. He had dismissed and transferred 48 officers who collaborated with the financiers during his tenure.

"None of his predecessors were like him. Unfortunately, Sutjiptadi failed to beat the organized conspiracy, so much so that they could continue destroying the environment," he said.
Sutjiptadi shrugged off speculation that a third party had been involved in his transfer.

"I've never felt pressured. This is a promotion and I will get another star for it. I had a good time. Being transferred is normal. I've no qualms about it and I'm ready to move on," he said.
He also denied that the reshuffle at the Riau police headquarters would put a stop to illegal logging investigations.

"I will hand over illegal logging cases with evidence of corruption, such as the unlawful issuing of licenses, to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK)," Sutjiptadi said.
Jhony said Sutjiptadi's commitment to handing corruption cases over to the KPK was impressive.

"The plot to oust Sutjiptadi has instead become a blunder. The (timber companies) and regional leaders involved in illegal logging will be even more worried if their cases are handed over to the KPK. They were initially happy with the replacement, but the party will be over for them because Sutjiptadi has used his lethal weapon," Jhony said.