Sat, 04 Aug 2001


No trespassing: Soeharto land

From time to time I visit the family of my friend who has a bungalow in Lebak Ciheurang, West Java. There are two ways to enter this road: One is much longer and on a very winding rough road. The second is through a gate that goes through a group of houses connected to pak Soeharto's cattle ranch. These houses are for his staff (most likely supervisory, as the houses are very nice). This route used to be kept locked but since Soeharto was deposed the gate has been opened, thus saving 30 minutes off travel time for visitors to the area.

I was going to visit my friend at the bungalow recently. I arrived at the gate at 10:30 p.m. and was denied entrance. The guards, of which there were four, stated that this was private land and that it was too late to enter. I said that if I had to return to the main road to take the other route it would add an hour on my trip. After some haggling I was able to use the gates.

Hasn't the time come to start doing something about the second ex-president and his family's holdings? It seems they're low on the priority list of alleged corruptors that are being punished. The cattle farm reaches over 10,000 hectares. the cattle are all the very finest and well maintained. Wouldn't it be in the best interests of the people to have the government take over this ranch and have the profits go to the poor whose land was stolen for this ranch to be built?

Other family members also own many hectares in that area. One has built numerous glass houses in which one member grows paprika and tomatoes. He also has a large tea plantation bordering the vegetables. The land up till recently was guarded by members of the special forces. As a way of paying back some of th country's debt that was incurred by this family wouldn't it be better for the government to take over this farm and reap the profits? Or are we to keep making Soeharto's one of the richest families in the world?

Who is paying to keep this road closed? Who pays for the guards? What are they guarding?