Sat, 27 Mar 1999

City government seals off Timor, Humpuss buildings

JAKARTA (JP): Central Jakarta public order officials sealed off the disputed multistory Timor and Humpuss buildings on Jl. Medan Merdeka Timur early Friday morning.

Escorted by several police officers, a dozen officials sealed off the seven story Timor building at 7:06 a.m.

The officials then walked to the nearby 18 story Humpuss building and carried out the same activity.

No obstacles were encountered by the officials during the procedure as the early hour precluded occupancy of both buildings.

Some 300 employees who turned up for work were barred from entering the buildings.

Security guards on site were powerless to avert the procedure.

The buildings are owned by the widely diversified Humpuss Group, owned by the youngest son of former president Soeharto, Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra.

The Humpuss building was occupied by four companies from the group and 10 other tenants.

The four Humpuss tenants were advertising company Humpuss Madya Pratama, pulp company Humpuss Carbometil Sellulosa, freight services company Senawangi Wisamarta Utama and container port services Humpuss Terminal Petikemas.

The order to seal off the buildings was in accordance with Gubernatorial Instruction No. 50/1999 dated March 25.

The Humpuss Group violated a presidential decree on the development of the Medan Merdeka Square which forbids private companies from building offices in the area, including along Jl. Medan Merdeka Timur.

The area is designed to be a buffer zone from development for the Medan Merdeka Square.

Director of the Humpuss building's operational management T.L. Lie, said the timing of the notification was "downright ridiculous".

"Humpuss received the evacuation order on Thursday. We were given 24 hours to make adjustments to the building's usage before it was sealed off on Friday," Lie said.

"It's ridiculous. The administration should have given us three written warnings."

When told that Governor Sutiyoso warned Humpuss officials last year and that Central Jakarta Mayor Andi Subur Abdullah had issued verbal warnings to the management, Lie said: "Where's the proof? Which executives met with the governor? If the administration has proof, show it to us".

Humpuss Group spokesman, Astrining Ati, said management executives had met the governor to ask for more time to settle the matter.

"Since last year we have been trying to settle matters with the administration. And then, Thursday morning, we read all about (the order) in the papers. We were shocked.

"How could we move the buildings' assets in just one day?"

Central Jakarta Mayor Andi Subur Abdullah arrived on site at 8:30 a.m., after the buildings had been sealed off.

When asked to comment on Lie's complaint, Andi replied that the order was a result of existing laws.

Governor Sutiyoso apologized to employees working in the affected buildings.

"I just did my job. I carried out actions in accordance with existing laws," Sutiyoso, who was appointed Jakarta governor and Jakarta military commander during Soeharto's tenure, said.

"The Humpuss and Timor companies didn't listen. So I sealed the (buildings) off."

According to Sutiyoso, the buildings are for government use only.

"The management has a week to vacate its assets from the buildings. That's all."

Tommy was not seen at the building sites during the sealing off process. (ylt)