Thu, 25 May 2000

Governor rejects islets leasing

PEKANBARU, Riau: The governor of Riau Saleh Djasit refused to rent out small islands in the province to foreign investors, Antara reported on Wednesday.

Saleh labeled the proposal a desperate attempt by the central government to raise funds for the country's development program.

"If renters can do whatever they want to on the islets, it means we loose our sovereignty," Saleh told reporters.

The Ministry of Maritime Exploration announced last month that the government planned to lease thousands of uninhabited islets, saying it would put idle resources to good use.

Meanwhile, maritime expert Muchtar Ahmad from the Riau University said that the lack of regulations on the issue would not enable the government to control the use of the islets once they were rented by foreign investors.(08)