Seize The NZ Assets Of The Suhartos & Cronies
This Must Be High On The Agenda Of The Clark-Wahid Talks
When Helen Clark meets Indonesia’s President Wahid this week, in Christchurch, one item should be very high on their agenda – cooperation to track down, seize and repatriate the NZ assets of the former ruling Suharto family and cronies. This is not of mere academic interest – the Suharto family alone amassed a fortune of tens of billions of $US during the 32 years of President Suharto’s dictatorship. Recovery of even some of that illgotten wealth would be of major assistance to Indonesia.
The Suharto family and cronies acquired New Zealand assets. Best known is Lilybank, the former luxury resort in the Mackenzie Country, which was owned by Tommy Suharto, the son of the President. In 1999 he sold it to his Singaporean business partner for $1, a deal so obviously shonky that it attracted major public attention at the time. It was reported, in late 2000, that Lilybank had been sold again, for several million dollars, to unidentified North American buyers. Somebody has got something to hide with this deal – when CAFCA asked the Overseas Investment Commission for the details of this sale, it would neither “confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence” of any such information. That’s the first time we’ve ever had that response from the Commission in dealings going back to the 1980s.
Goldfield Heights, the Indonesian-owned subdivision near Queenstown warrants investigation. Its most controversial property owner was Tommy Suharto’s sister, Titiek. Her husband was the commander of Indonesian special forces – the very troops who continue to train and back the militia who threaten the Timorese, and the New Zealand peackeepers, to this day. Titiek has supposedly sold her holiday chalets – to an Indonesian company she controls. There is substantial Suharto crony ownership in the New Zealand corporate sector too. Attention is focused on the Brierley’s stake in Air New Zealand. Brierley’s is substantively owned by an Asian consortium, whose Indonesian partner, Liem Sioe Liong, is Suharto’s oldest crony.
In 2000, CAFCA and the Indonesia Human Rights Committee launched a campaign calling for the identification and seizure of the NZ assets of the Suharto family and cronies. The NZ government said that it was happy to cooperate with Indonesia on the matter. So what has happened since? We call on Helen Clark, when she meets President Wahid this week, to reaffirm New Zealand’s commitment on this, and that the Government come up with some actions to match its words. We owe that to the long suffering peoples of Indonesia and East Timor.
Murray Horton Secretary/Organiser
CAFCA Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa PO Box 2258, Christchurch email: firstname.lastname@example.org