Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More
Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Seize The Suhartos' NZ Assets - Murray Horton

Seize The Suhartos' NZ Assets

By Murray Horton of CAFCA

It took the 1999 genocide by the Indonesian military and its militia death squads to focus the world's attention on East Timor (as opposed to the genocide there every year since the Indonesians invaded it in 1975). Contrary to the words of the old song, there was an awful lot of Dili dally on the way. Never mind, better a quarter of a century late than never. It's just a massive tragedy that hundreds of thousands of East Timorese had to die, be tortured, raped, starve and be dispossessed while the world sat on its hands. That, apparently, is the human cost of realpolitik - after all, the Western world had ignored, or even actively aided and abetted, the 1965 bloodbath that brought Suharto and the military to power, and left hundreds of thousands of Indonesians murdered, in one of the 20th Century's greatest crimes against humanity. However, once the official policy change towards Indonesia and East Timor was signalled by our imperial masters - Bill Clinton and John Howard - the Government plunged into it with gusto and dispatched troops to the divided island, New Zealand's biggest military commitment since the Korean and Vietnam wars. The last time New Zealand soldiers defended a border from hostile Indonesian forces was in Borneo during the 1960s Konfrontasi between Malaysia and Indonesia.

But New Zealand can do much more than send troops to East Timor, and it can do it right here. The Government can strike a blow at the very people responsible for the carnage. Not the machete murderers of the militia. No, we can strike at the people at the very top - the former First Family of Indonesia, the Suhartos, and their cronies. President Suharto was responsible for the 1975 invasion of East Timor, and the genocidal occupation that followed it. He has the blood of hundreds of thousands of Timorese on his hands. According to Time's definitive cover story on the Suhartos' illgotten wealth (24/5/99; "Suharto's Billions. Luxury homes, fine art and private jets - our special investigation uncovers the former Indonesian leader's staggering family fortune"), the Suharto kleptocracy owns nearly 40%of East Timor. The indefatigable George Aditjondro, an Indonesian dissident in Australian exile, is the world's leading expert on Suharto wealth. He detailed the Suhartos' East Timorese empire in a Sydney Morning Herald article (8/5/99; "Business interests are behind Indonesia's fight to hold on to East Timor"). That empire includes: 564,867 hectares of Timorese land; timber and sugarcane plantations; marble; coffee; alcohol; drinking water; textiles; pearls; and, most lucratively, oil. These holdings are prime targets for seizure by the newly emerging independent East Timorese State.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

It is imperative that the Government seize New Zealand properties and corporate assets held in New Zealand by the Klepto family and their cronies. They have been gained through institutionalised corruption, and may very well feature at the international war crimes tribunal to be set up to prosecute the perpetrators of the East Timor genocide. The Proceeds of Crime Act provides NZ legal precedent for this.

CAFCA calls upon the new Parliament, regardless of who's in Government, to hold a Select Committee Inquiry into the assets of the Kleptos and their cronies in New Zealand, and to push for those assets to be seized. We owe it to the people of both East Timor and Indonesia to return to them some of the wealth that has been stolen by this monstrous family circle of thieves and mass murderers.

Lilybank: Luxury Resort Sold To Klepto Mate For $1

The most notorious of the Kleptos in New Zealand has been youngest son, Tommy. Time estimates 36 year old Tommy's wealth at $US800 million. He owns 60% of Humpuss Group, which has 60 subsidiaries ranging from construction to pharmaceuticals. His property includes an 18 hole golf course in England and a luxury yacht moored at Darwin. He is a big time gambler, "thinking nothing of losing $US1 million in a single sitting. One gaming partner says he used to leave Jakarta on his plane with millions of dollars to wager in European casinos and stop in Singapore on the the way home to deposit what was left. `Tommy loves money', says a former business partner. `And he always wanted it up front'" (Time, ibid). Tommy has extensive business interests in East Timor.

Tommy, of course, owned Lilybank resort in the South Island's Mackenzie Country. Lilybank has been the subject of numerous Watchdog articles since we first heard about it in 1993. In recent years the mainstream media has picked up on it, greatly aided by the decidedly odd behaviour of Lilybank's manager, Gerard Olde-Olthof, towards the media and the world in general. In July 1999 it was reported that Lilybank had been sold to Singaporean interests. CAFCA wrote to the Overseas Investment Commission (OIC) to ask for details. No reply. Come September and East Timor was in ruins. We contacted the OIC again. This time we got an answer within days. It was an eyebrow raising document.

Tommy had sold Lilybank, over 2,140 hectares of freehold and Crown Pastoral Lease Land, to L..Y.A. Poh, of Singapore, for $1 (remember - it had been bought for $2.2 million in 1992; several million had been spent on turning it into a luxury resort; when advertised for sale in 1998, it was valued at $10m). This was all perfectly OK by the OIC. "It is claimed that Mr Hutomo's (ie Tommy) investment in Lilybank Station is not significant enough to warrant his personal attention and the business venture has suffrered as a consequence. An agreement has been reached for Mr Poh, who currently holds a 5% shareholding in Buckcorp, to increase his interest to 100% " (OIC Decision Number 199920082; 22/9/99). Yes, young Tommy's probably had other things on his mind recently. He is the only Klepto to stand trial for graft (thus far). He was charged with defrauding a State agency of $US11 million in a real estate scam. If convicted, he faced up to 20 years in prison. Whilst on trial, he was prohibited from leaving the country. So, even in the unlikely event that he wanted to devote any personal attention to Lilybank, he's been a bit tied up (the court acquitted him, in the dying days of the Habibie regime).

And who is L.Y.A.Poh? Surprise, surprise. "In 1992, Tommy Suharto's business partner in the deal to buy Lilybank was a Mr Alan Poh. The Overseas Investment Commission said the application was approved as it met criteria, and Mr Poh had business experience and acumen. Further, the Commission had been advised of Mr Poh's good character. Buckcorp Holdings No. 68 Ltd (Buckcorp) wholly owns Lilybank New Zealand Ltd, which in turn owns the land and the business assets, the subject of the application. The directors of Lilybank NZ Ltd are Mr Olde-Olthof and Alan Lye Yee Poh..."(Press, 24/9/99; "Big station sells for $1"; front page lead).

There is a story about how this came to be the front page lead item in the Press (CAFCA hasn't been there for a long time), plus the billboard outside half the dairies and shops in the South Island. We had already put out a press release calling for the seizure of New Zealand assets of the Kleptos and their mates. At that stage, we didn't know who had bought Lilybank. Nothing appeared in the Press. In the ensuing day or so, the OIC obligingly faxed us the Lilybank sale details. I rang the Press and asked what had happened to our release. "It's in the to be looked at if we get a chance file" was the reply. Fair enough, I told them. We now know who bought Lilybank and for how much. If you're interested, give us a ring. Very soon after they rang (the Press is amongst media outlets treated bizarrely by Olde-Olthof, so didn't need much persuasion to get interested). Tell us the details, they asked. I bargained - first, you promise to run all or some of our release. Deal. The rest is history. The story got major media coverage - it appeared in papers throughout the country and went overseas; I did my first TV studio live interview in years (on a regional channel) and nearly made it to TVNZ's One Network News - but they cancelled the interview in favour of cricket and netball. It was a very big story, which became a political issue. The Greens backed CAFCA's call for Klepto assets to be seized.

Those involved in the deal went into damage control mode. "There was nothing untoward in the sale of Lilybank Station to Singaporean Alan Poh for $1, a broker in the deal said. Investment banker Charles Levin, formerly a consultant with Chapman Tripp Sheffield Young, said Mr Poh had simply taken over the liabilities of the business as well as its assets. Mr Levin, acting on behalf of Lilybank NZ Ltd, said Mr Hutomo Mandala Putra (Tommy Suharto) had ceased to own Lilybank Station.

"`What happened is that as part of the transaction the buyer (Mr Poh) had to take over the liabilities of the business as well as its assets. This was a straightforward business transaction which will be of benefit to New Zealand. The basis of that benefit is set out in the decision released by the Overseas Investment Commission'. Mr Levin said the use of $1 as a price payable for the shares was a standard legal device used to make sure the contract was legally binding...

"`In particular, this device is used where the assets being transferred have no value. What was being bought and sold in this case were shares in a company that owns Lilybank Station'. Mr Levin said the company that owned Lilybank funded all of its original purchase and subsequent development from debt. `This means the book value of its assets is matched by its debts. If just the assets had been sold, the transaction would have had a significant value'" (Press, 25/9/99; "Station price justified").

Sorry, but we weren't persuaded. You don't need a very keen nose to smell a very big smelly rat in this deal. As far as CAFCA is concerned, the Government needed to freeze that sale and urgently investigate whether Lilybank had simply been transferred from Tommy to a Klepto crony (in the Philippines context, Imelda Marcos claims that this is what her late husband, dictator Ferdinand Marcos, did. According to her, he transferred his assets to cronies to look after until things improved. Now she wants them all back). There is a solution that would address our concerns on two major issues - the new regional landfill could be sited at Lilybank, preferably with Tommy and co in the thick of it.

The Butcher Of East Timor's Queenstown Hideaway

Tommy is not the only Klepto offspring to own (or have owned) prime South Island real estate. Another one was discovered just this year. As detailed in Watchdog 91, his older sister, Siti Hediyati Haryadi and her husband, the sacked General Prabowo Subianto, own a couple of luxury chalets in Goldfield Heights, an alpine land sub-division overlooking Queenstown's Lake Wakatipu. Goldfield Heights boasts a Who's Who of Indonesia's elite. And who is Siti? According to the Time cover story, she is 40, and her family nickname is "Titiek". Her estimated wealth is $US75 million, in financial services, power, computers, banking and property (she has a home on London's Grosvenor Square). She is described as loving "big chunks of jewellery", which she bought on European shopping expeditions, and having a personal art collection worth $US5 million. She is in Boston, where her son goes to high school; her husband is in exile in Jordan, where his good friend is the King. Both she and her husband have their hooks into East Timor.

Titiek Klepto has another, indirect, connection to New Zealand. The Government has sold 40% of Contact Energy to American TNC, Edison. Edison comes to New Zealand with a very blotted copybook in Indonesia (see Watchdog 91 for details. Ed.). The relevant project is a $US2.5 billion coal fired power station, run by a joint venture between Edison International's Mission Energy unit and General Electric. It was Indonesia's first private power venture. Part of the price to get the President's personal approval and eliminate competitive tendering was to cut in his family -Titiek got a 0.75% ownership stake; Indonesia got one of the most expensive power deals of the decade - anywhere. Indonesia's privately supplied electricity is 20 times dearer than in the US and 30% dearer than Indonesia's only competitively bid private power project.

But we needn't go on giving further examples of a corrupt member of one of the world's most corrupt families. The crisis in East Timor has focused attention on Titiek's husband, Lt. General Prabowo Subianto, the immediate past commander of the dreaded Kopassus special forces, the Butcher of Timor and a prime candidate for any international war crimes tribunal (Watchdog 91 quoted an Australian Financial Review story which described Prabowo as the former commander of the armed forces. This is incorrect - during the demise of his father in law, in 1998, Prabowo was made the scapegoat for decades of military atrocities and was sacked. General Wiranto emerged as armed forces commander). Kopassus was armed and trained by the US and Britain, despite its well established role as the Indonesian equivalent of the Waffen SS. It was involved in the worst atrocities in two decades of Indonesian occupation of East Timor, not to mention brutal military rule throughout the Indonesian archipelago. Kopassus was used to suppress and murder students and unionists in Jakarta; to murder Muslim separatists in Aceh (Sumatra); and Melanesian separatists in occupied West Papua. Kopassus was involved in the 1991 Dili massacre in which New Zealander, Kamal Bamadhaj, was one of those murdered (see the superb documentary "Punitive Damage"); Kopassus used a helicopter falsely and illegally marked with the Red Cross insignia to murder West Papuans during a 1996 international hostage crisis. Kopassus has been implicated in the tsunami of violence that has swept Indonesia throughout 1998 and 99. The Nation (15/6/98; "Our Men In Jakarta"; Allan Nairn) details the fact that Prabowo was American trained and backed, with a "legendary personal relish for atrocity" (one Timorese interviewed told of having his leg and teeth broken by him), and of being personally responsible for the disappearance of activists during the upheaval surrounding Suharto's overthrow in 1998.

In short, General Prabowo is a thug, a torturer and a mass murderer. It is definitely no exaggeration to say that he would be a prime candidate for any international war crimes tribunal investigating atrocities in East Timor (not to mention the rest of Indonesia). Kopassus and the rest of the Indonesian special forces created and armed the militia death squads that ran amok in East Timor throughout 1999; those militia and their special forces masters continue to threaten the Timorese people and the international peacekeeping troops, including New Zealanders, sent there to protect them. In a very literal way, Prabowo is an enemy of New Zealand. And he owns luxury real estate here. It should be seized forthwith and without question.

As for Goldfield Heights, the Indonesian-owned subdivision near Queenstown, its leading figure has got problems of his own. Mr Firdaus Siddik, chairman of the Indonesia-NZ Business Council, is responsible for most of the Indonesian chalet purchases. He personally owns two alpine chalets, as well as about 50 sections through Mountsnowlake Holdings Pty Ltd. - but up to 40 of the sections are for sale. The 1997 Asian Crisis hit Indonesia by far the hardest and Siddik is still reeling from the effects. Most recently, Queenstown's paper, Mountain Scene, reported (23-29/9/99; "Indo Crisis Hits Rink") that, as he can no longer afford to make interest payments on the Queenstown ice rink (which he co-owns with a Tahitian), they are selling it, which threatens its future. Siddik is feeling shy - he declined to be photograped for the Mountain Scene story, "saying he wants to keep a `low profile', both in his homeland and here".

Brierley's: The Tommy Klepto Connection

The Klepto family and cronies don't just own the odd bit of scenic real estate here. Oh no, there are major corporate holdings too. Funnily enough, the corporate media tends to be rather shy about publicising this much more important aspect. The Press (24/9/99) was happy to run, as its frontpage lead, CAFCA's calls for assets such as Lilybank and the Queenstown chalets to be seized. But not a whisper of our call for these corporate assets to be investigated and seized. Funny that.

Brierley Investments Ltd. (BIL) has been at the heart of New Zealand capitalism for decades. BIL became Asian owned in 1996 when Delham Investments bought a controlling 20% stake (in total, BIL is 70% foreign owned). A major owner of Delham is Camerlin Pte Ltd; and one of the owners of Camerlin is Indonesia's Salim Group. Salim is controlled by Liem Sioe Liong, President Klepto's oldest and closest crony. Various Klepto offspring and siblings have held lucrative positions in the Salim Group. Liem Sioe Liong became the mate of the then Colonel Klepto, back in the 1950s, starting with trading and smuggling. As soon as Klepto had scaled the mountain of corpses to become President, Liem was granted various monopoly rights. It was all upwards from then on - by 1997, Liem was Indonesia's richest man, a billionaire. Salim had assets of $US20 billion and 500 companies (all of which made Liem, and Salim, prime targets of the 1998 Jakarta rioters who overthrew Klepto).

This much was publicly known. But there is also a direct link between BIL and Tommy Klepto. Firstly, there is the AsiaPower joint venture, whose principal asset is a 110 megawatt (MW) geothermal plant in Indonesia. BIL's 1998/99 Half Year Result, described AsiaPower as "problematic". A search of BIL's 1998 Annual Report comes up with Mandala Nusantara Ltd, a subsidiary of BIL Asia Holdings Ltd. Tommy Klepto is listed as a director. Based in Holland, Mandala Nusantara's speciality was building geothermal power stations, most recently the 620 MW Wayang Windu plant in West Java (this mega project has recently been cancelled by the International Monetary Fund).

BIL's Asian ownership is causing it some headaches at present. 1998 and 99 has seen major upheaval in its board, with the overthrow of Sir Roger Douglas and one of his Cabinet colleagues from that 1984-90 Labour government, Fran Wilde. The new chief executive is Australian, only two of the six board members are New Zealanders and many of the NZ executives are gone. BIL is moving its corporate headquarters from Wellington to Singapore (Sir Selwyn Cushing, the New Zealand chairman, plans to commute) and will incorporate in Bermuda. BIL owns several strategic sectors of the NZ economy, such as Sealords and Air New Zealand, and could not get OIC approval for its 1996 change into Asian ownership until it had set up BIL NZ Assets Ltd, to "separately" own its NZ holdings, with its NZ directors appointed by a charitable trust (see Watchdog 84; "It's Official: Brierley Investments Is An Overseas Company"; Bill Rosenberg. Ed.). However, all is not going to plan. In order to preserve the flag carrier's international landing rights agreements with other countries, Air New Zealand is split into A and B shares, with A shares not allowed to be owned by non-New Zealand residents. The free marketers who dominate both Government and business are not used to having to take sovereignty matters into consideration (indeed, they'd have trouble spelling sovereignty). But there is a very real chance of other national flag carriers, such as Qantas, objecting to the owner of Air New Zealand no longer even being based or incorporated in New Zealand, and challenging Air New Zealand's international landing rights agreements. Alliance leader, Jim Anderton, has correctly stated that the airline should be renamed "Air Asia", saying that it has lost the moral right to call itself the national flag carrier (Press, 27/10/99). See the June 1999 OIC decisions elsewhere in this issue for a much more detailed account of BIL and Air New Zealand. Ed.

These are the sorts of problems you get when the Government (either Labour or National) sells strategic public assets to "local" Big Business and then allows that major New Zealand-based transnational to be owned and controlled overseas. How fitting that the likes of the Klepto family and cronies should be in direct partnership with Brierley's. Salim And Winstone: A Perfect Match

CAFCA's database of OIC monthly decisions goes back to 1989. One of the very earliest - February 1990, records two unidentified Indonesians, calling themselves Perfect Match Investments Ltd, being given consent to acquire the remaining 5% in Winstone Pulp International Ltd (ie the Karioi Pulp Mill and Waimarino Forest, in the central North Island). Perfect Match was registered in Hong Kong. Winstone Pulp was one of those companies to avail themselves of the first big sell off of public forests, in the dying days of the Labour government, in 1990 - it paid $12 million for cutting rights. In 1991, it further acquired the Karioi Crown Forest cutting rights and assets; in 1993, it bought the Tangiwai sawmill from Carter Holt Harvey. In 1999, it is still a major player in New Zealand plantation forestry - it owns 17,000 hectares of forest (it's the 16th biggest forest owner in the country), plus a pulp mill. Winstone is a household name in this country. By 1991, the OIC was approving Colwall Enterprises Ltd, a subsidiary of Perfect Match, buying prime commercial real estate in Auckland's central business district (CBD). In 1995, Cogent Investments Ltd, another Perfect Match subsidiary, bought Auckland's Regent Hotel, to add to its international hotel collection (which included Auckland's Centra).

We've never found out who is behind Perfect Match. But George Aditjondro, the world's leading expert on the Klepto empire, has done some detective work. In 1998, Colwall Property Investment Ltd, sold commercial property in Auckland's CBD. This company was described as being owned by the Sino-Indonesian Budiman family (its registered Auckland office shares the building with Garuda Airlines, Indonesia's flag carrier). The Budimans are integrally linked to the Salim Group, the Klepto crony conglomerate which owns a stake in Brierley's. Arif Budiman is a Salim executive, whom until April 1999 was the alternate director of billionaire Liem Sioe Liong, Salim's owner, of the Hong Kong-based BCA Finance Ltd (BCA is the Salim group's banking and financial flagship, 30% owned by the Kleptos. 122 branches of BCA were torched during the 1998 riots that overthrew President Klepto, followed by an 11 day run on the bank, which ended only when the Government assumed control of it).

Colwall Property Investment's sole shareholder is Perfect Match Investment Ltd, which is located in the oldest address of the Salim Group in Hong Kong. The building houses BCA Finance Ltd, and Distinct Investment Company Ltd, an investment company of Liem Sioe Liong. It is safe to assume that Perfect Match and Colwall Property Investment, etc, are the New Zealand outposts of the Salim Group global empire - which means that NZ forests, pulpmills, hotels and prime CBD commercial property are all owned by the Kleptos' biggest, oldest and richest crony. A perfect match indeed.

Tommy Klepto's Cronies: The Prawiro Brothers

George Aditjondro writes: "Since 1992, Loka Manyan Prawiro, the second son of Dr. Radius Prawiro, a former Finance Minister and Central Bank Governor under Suharto, together with several Indonesian, Singaporean and New Zealand businesspeople established the two property companies - Woodlot Farm Ltd & Jims Way Properties - which control 50 ha of properties near Queenstown, where they plan to build 160 villas and a golf course.

"The Radius Prawiro family conglomerate, Lumbung Sumber Rejeki Group, has several joint ventures with Suharto family companies and two conglomerates close to the Suhartos, namely the Barito Pacific and Astra Groups. These joint ventures range from stock brokering, clove trading under Tommy Suharto's clove monopoly (BPPC), the PT Nagamas Plantations sugarcane plantation near Gorontalo in North Sulawesi, and timber concessions and timber estates in East Kalimantan. In addtition, Tommy Suharto's semi-conductor company, PT Humpuss Elektronika, is co-owned by Baktinendra Prawiro, Radius Prawiro's eldest son, and Abdurrachman Suyatim ("Timmy") Habibie, the youngest brother of B.J. Habibie (Suharto's Vice President, and successor as President)" (e-mail to CAFCA, 7/7/99).

"...Not to be outdone, Mr Radius Prawiro, a long-serving minister in various Suharto cabinets and now a special economic adviser to President Habibie, owns twin alpine chalets at Goldfield Heights, a 130 lot subdivision four kilometres east of Queenstown (see above for details of Goldfield Heights. Ed.). The properties are registered through his son, Mr Loka Prawiro. Used by Suharto to mobilise Christian support for his rule, Radius Prawiro a Dutch-trained economist is a prominent figure in the Indonesian Protestant community. The Radius family rewarded for its services to Suharto owns overlapping shares with many Suharto companies..." (Australian Financial Review; 4/6/99; "Indonesian elite scale the Heights of privilege"; Lisa Allen).

The Prawiros first started appearing in the OIC decision sheets in August 1992, in connection with Woodlot Farm Ltd and Jims Way Properties Ltd (presumably not to be confused with Jim's Mowing, Jim's Dogwash, etc, etc). Several of the parties concerned in Woodlot are also involved in the Quail Point Syndicate (Indonesia/Hong Kong) to buy 17 hectares of land at Tuckers Beach Road, near Queenstown, for residential subdivision; and the purchase of 935 ha Closeburn Station, near Queenstown, for farming and subdivision. Queenstown real estate, farms and golf courses are obviously very popular with the Klepto cronies. That isn't a surprise - the resort is very popular with rich foreigners. Tommy Klepto's only publicly known trip to New Zealand was in the early 1990s, when he flew a planeload of mates to Queenstown for a skiing holiday.

Bugger Bali

We should stress that this whole subject is an ongoing investigation. 1999 has seen the uncovering of several previously unknown or half known New Zealand assets, physical and corporate, of the Klepto family and their cronies. In case you're wondering why you've never heard of a lot of this previously from Watchdog, there's a simple answer - the OIC does not need to approve foreigners buying individual houses, that is simply a real estate transaction. Secondly, the name Siti Hediyati Haryadi (the Klepto daughter) does not appear in our OIC database. But once George Aditjondro approached us, we checked that database, and sure enough, names such as Prawiro and Siddik do appear. We just hadn't known who they were. Although it was an educated guess that any rich Indonesian buying foreign real estate during the dictatorship would have to be connected to the Kleptos.

There's bound to be more revelations yet - the indefatigable George Aditjondro has recently returned from a 3 1/2 month trip to a multiplicity of countries "to document those bastards' illgotten wealth. Hopefully by the time I'll finish the book, Indonesia has a genuine democratic government which is prepared to take Suharto to court!" (e-mail, 7/7/99). No such thing was ever likely to happen under the Habibie regime. Indeed, in its last few days, it dropped a year long probe into the Klepto family's skimming off of State funds from various charitable foundations. The former Attorney-General announced, straightfaced: "There is not sufficient evidence to continue the investigation" (New Zealand Herald, 13/10/99). And Tommy Klepto was acquitted of the graft charges against him. The new, democratically elected government of President Abdurrahman Wahid and Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri offers more hope. It has appointed the first civilian Minister of Defence in decades; the first ever non-Army armed forces commander (General Wiranto has been replaced by an admiral); and the new Cabinet has the fewest generals ever.

There's still plenty of those bastards' illgotten wealth to go after. The Time investigation (24/5/99; "Suharto's Billions. Luxury homes, fine art and private jets - our special investigation uncovers the former Indonesian leader's staggering family fortune") concluded that, over the 32 years of dictatorship, the Kleptos' amassed more than $US73 billion. It has shrunk considerably, but is still a breathtaking $US15 billion, including 3.6 million hectares of real estate (an area bigger than Belgium) and hundreds of companies. The richest of the six children is Bambang Trihatmodjo, worth $US3 billion; the "poorest" is Siti Hutami Endang Adiningsih, with a mere $US30 million.

Ordinary Kiwis can do something about it, other than sending Christmas puddings to our boys in East Timor. They can, of course, join CAFCA's campaign for a Parliamentary Select Committee inquiry into the New Zealand assets of the Klepto family and their cronies, with a view to seizing them as the proceeds of crime (against both the people of Indonesia and East Timor). And there is one other thing that is very much within the power of ordinary Kiwis - they can boycott Bali, that most popular Indonesian destination for New Zealand holidaymakers. This is not a call from the radical fringe - already the travel retailer, Flight Centre, which sends around 100,000 Australian travellers to Indonesia per year, has publicly stated that, in reaction to the East Timor genocide, it will encourage its customers not to holiday in Bali nor fly on Garuda Airlines.

Much of the Balinese tourism industry is owned by the Klepto family and cronies. Time (24/5/99) revealed how Tommy illegally acquired Balinese land for a resort - villagers who refused to sell to him were "intimidated, beaten and sometimes put into a pond up to their necks...". The top brass generals who have wreaked such havoc in East Timor, and throughout the rest of the archipelago, are also major owners of tourist hotels and resorts in Bali. A boycott means that our money is no longer going straight into the pockets of these thieves and murderers. By seizing the New Zealand assets of the Klepto family and cronies, we would be striking at the very people most responsible for the East Timor genocide, and the ones who have most profited from it.

* AUTHOR NOTE: Murray Horton is from CAFCA - Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa - PO Box 2258, Christchurch email:

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
Top Scoops Headlines


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.