Thu, 18 Dec 2003

Mega's son withdraws from disputed project

Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

After coming under intense scrutiny by legislators, President Megawati Soekarnoputri's son Mohammad Rizki "Tatam" Pratama announced on Wednesday he had withdrawn from a business project in the Jakarta Fairground.

His withdrawal spared him from being summoned by a House inquiry.

"Pak Tatam has sent a letter informing us that he had withdrawn from the project since Nov. 10. We hope this is not an act of deceit," inquiry committee chairman Effendy Choirie said after a closed-door meeting with the board of commissioners and board of directors of PT Theda Persada Nusantara (TPN), a private firm appointed to develop a Chinese Center in the fairground complex.

The businessmen were Samingoen, chairman of board of commissioners, Suwaluyo, commissioner, M. Dayat, The Hok Bing, Soeyanto, and Salam, a member of the board of directors.

Tatam was deputy commissioner when PT Theda Persada Nusantara proposed the project to the fairground management last July.

Samingoen said that Tatam did not show up on Wednesday because he was no longer part of the company. However, Tatam wanted that PT Theda Persada Nusantara continue the project.

"I hope PT Theda Persada Nusantara continues what I had started earlier so that it will not tarnish my name overseas," Tatam said in a letter read out by Samingoen.

Speaking before the legislators, many of whom were members of the inquiry, on Nov. 19, State Secretary Bambang Kesowo said the decision to grant Tatam rights to develop and manage a 17-hectare lot at the 40-hectare fairground did not violate existing laws.

TPN had initially planned to build apartments, a shopping center and a hypermarket valued at Rp 6 trillion (US$750 million) on a 30-hectare lot in Kemayoran.

However, after due assessment the Kemayoran New Town Authority (DPPPKK) granted the company the right to develop only 17 hectares with the total project value of Rp 1.6 trillion.

Samingoen further said that the withdrawal of Tatam did not affect the project. He added that the foreign investors had also pledged their commitment.

"Members of the company appreciate the withdrawal of Tatam. That is a wise decision," he said.

He reiterated that PT Theda Persada Nusantara had met all requirements to develop the land in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta.

He added that the project would absorb many workers and create a "multiplier effect". "We hope the House members support us and encourage investors to come in," he said.

Effendy of the National Awakening Party (PKB) said that the inquiry committee appreciated the withdrawal of Tatam from the project.

He said he hoped all state officials, governors, and regents would encourage family members not to make use of facilities for their business activities.

"I think the withdrawal of Tatam is positive in that sense," he said.

Although Tatam had withdrawn from the controversial project, the House inquiry would continue to investigate the project.

Effendy said that his team would probe an alleged land dispute between the people and the State Secretariat over the land where the Chinese Center would be developed.