Sat, 09 Oct 1999

Rewards offered for return of missing historical items

JAKARTA (JP): An executive pledged on Friday to completely revitalize a preserved historical building and offer rewards totaling Rp 1 billion (US$129,870) for those who return missing items from the 80-year-old structure.

The technical director of PT Mandala Griya Cipta, Perkas M., told reporters after meeting with Governor Sutiyoso at City Hall that his firm legally took over the building in 1997 after spending Rp 9 billion in an exchange deal with the owner, the Ministry of Justice.

He said that Mandala Griya Cipta would be fully responsible for any damages made to the building. He said they would soon carry out a massive refurbishment to return it to its original design, such as looking for missing historical items of windows, door frames and several antique lamps.

"We will soon advertise the rewards that we will provide for anyone who can find the missing historical items," Perkas said.

After the renovation, his company will most likely use the building as a business convention center.

Located on Jl. Teuku Umar, the former Central Jakarta immigration office building -- called Bataviasche Kunstkring (Batavia Cultural Center) during colonial times -- was badly neglected.

Serious damage can be seen in certain parts of the building.

The neglect of the historical building attracted media attention last month.

Some officials from the immigration office and the Jakarta administration, including Central Jakarta Mayor Andi Subur Abdullah, earlier pointed out that Mandala Griya Cipta, which neglected the building, was partly owned by former president Soeharto's youngest son Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra.

The company's operational director, Sukendar, who accompanied Perkas, denied the accusation.

He said Tommy used to own part of the firm's shares.

"But Tommy holds no shares now. I own 10 percent of the company's shares," Sukendar said, adding that the remaining shares were owned by another company which had nothing to do with Tommy.

He refused to give further details.

Perkas said Mandala Griya Cipta was officially appointed by the Ministry of Justice in 1997 in an exchange deal for the building.

To meet the deal, Mandala spent Rp 9 billion to finance, among other things, a renovation of the immigration office building in Kemayoran and construction of a building for the Jakarta Administrative High Court in Pulo Gebang.

"The immigration office moved from Jl. Teuku Umar to Kemayoran in December last year," Perkas said.

But Mayor Andi Subur questioned the value of the deal since the building that stands on some 3,000 square meters of land should have a price of at least Rp 30 billion.

"Land in the Menteng area was about Rp 10 million per square meter at that time," Andi Subur, who accompanied the company's executives at the meeting with Sutiyoso, told reporters.

But he said he had no authority to question the deal further as the building is under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice.

Separately, city councilor Syamsuardy Botan urged Jakarta Police to help search for the items missing from the building and to investigate the company as well.

"We will soon summon the company and related city officials overseeing the building," Botan, from the National Mandate Party (PAN), said. (jun)