APSN Banner

Boycott Bob Hasan's worldwide forestry business links!

George J. Aditjondro - August 17, 1997

[The following is a slightly abridged letter from George J. Aditjondro to the Norway Rainforest Foundation in reponse to a an inquiry about Indonesian timber tycoon Mohammad ("Bob") Hasan's business connections in Norway - JB]

PT Aspex Paper, it is indeed 20% owned by Mohammad ("Bob") Hasan, one of Suharto's closest business crony. I did not know before that they were importing waste paper from Norway. This in itself is an anti-social act of Bob Hasan, because thousands of Indonesian urban poor people could assist PT Aspex Paper with our own waste paper in the cities.

What I can tell you about this PT (PT is the same as your S.A.) is that it is one of the two companies which monopolyze the supply of newspaper print paper. The other one is PT Kertas Leces, a state company. Which means that Bob Hasan is holding the "physical lifeline" of Indonesia's print media, while another crony of Suharto, General Hartono, as Suharto's new Minister of Information, controls the content of the media.

In addition, Bob Hasan was also the only person who Suharto trusted to hijack journalists from the banned TEMPO magazine, to set up a new weekly magazine, GATRA, which has become an additional instrument of the regime to attack Indonesian environmentalists and other NGO activists, often accusing them of serving foreign interests rather than Indonesia's so-called national interests.

Boycotting Bob Hasan's companies in Norway, and if possible in the entire Nordic sphere, is highly recommandable from the social justice as well as ecological perspectives. He is currently often labelled Indonesia's "forest king", since he controls about 3.5 million hectares of forests in Indonesia – 2.5 million hectares in East Kalimantan (Borneo), Aceh, and the Moluccas through one timber conglomerate he is heading, namely the Kalimanis Group, and another million hectares through another conglomerate he is heading, namely the Astra Group, which main business is in automotives, but also controls timber concessions in East Kalimantan, Riau, and West Papua.

In both conglomerates, Kalimanis Group and Astra Group, Bob Hasan does not only represent his own family interests, but also Indonesia's First Family interests, through a company, PT Nusamba, which is 80% owned by three foundations headed by Suharto, 10% by Suharto's eldest son, Sigit Harjojudanto, and 10% by Bob Hasan himself. Apart from that, several army-owned foundations are also involved in the Kalimanis Group. In addition to heading those two large Indonesian conglomerates (Astra belong to the top five), as head of the Indonesian Timber Society (MPI), the Indonesian Plywood Association (Apkindo), and the Indonesian Furniture Association (Asmindo), Bob Hasan is also involved in a 1.5 million hectare concession to harvest Central Sulawesi's ebony forests, as well as in a 50,000 hectares forest plantation in East Timor, which occupies the customary land of the Maubere people in eleven villages in three subdistricts of Viqueque. The latter project of Bob Hasan does not only violate the East Timorese people's right to self-determination, but also their sovereignty over their nature resources.

Based on my understanding of all the ecological and human rights violations carried out by Bob Hasan in his capacities as the bosses of the Kalimanis Group (which includes PT Aspex Paper) and the Astra Group, as well as head of the three business associations mentioned earlier, I recently returned the Indonesian national environmental award, Kalpataru, which I received from Suharto on World Environment Day, ten years ago.

As I mentioned in my letter to Suharto, I felt insulted and shocked by the various environmental awards which the US and Indonesian governments had recently donned on Bob Hasan and his top executives. In early April 1997, Bob Hasan received the Harry A. Merlo Award from the World Forestry Center in the US, where Bob Hasan himself serves as one of the Board members, supposedly for his contributions in linking forest conservation and development in Indonesia.

Then, on April 28, 1997, in a ceremony in the White House, a top executive of the Kalimanis Group received a Certificate of Recognition from the U.S. Initiative on Joint Implementation (USIJI), for the "reduced impact logging" which the Group has supposedly carried out in its more than two million hectares timber concessions in East Kalimantan. According to estimates from President Clinton's Climate Change Task Force, 56,400 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide will be saved in the next 40 years from those timber concessions.

Finally, on World Environment Day, June 5, 1997, one of the Kalimanis Group member companies, PT Kalhold Utama Plywood, received a national award for its water pollution treatment facilities, which was considered one of the best in Indonesia during the last three years. This time Bob Hasan himself received that award from the Indonesian authorities.

All those awards are a joke, since in all his capacities as Indonesia's "shadow forestry minister," Bob Hasan has never ordered the executives of his companies and members of his associations to carry out thorough and sincere analyses on the social and environmental impacts of all those timber concessions, plywood, paper and pulp factories, timber plantations, and rattan monopolies under his control.

From my own studies in Eastern Indonesia (in particular in Central Sulawesi, the Moluccas, and West Papua), the plywood factories controlled by Bob Hasan have had a tremendous negative impact to the indigenous communities who have lived for generations from harvesting the copal from the Agathis trees, without cutting down the trees as has happened now after Indonesia – under Bob Hasan's leadership – became a major player in the global plywood market. As head of Apkindo, Bob Hasan is also responsible for the depletion of the ebony stocks in Central Sulawesi by an Apkindo company, PT Fendi Indah, which shares are co-owned by an Indonesian army foundation, Yayasan Trikora. From a forest ecology perspective, this ebony concession in Central Sulawesi, which mainly caters for the Bali and Japanese markets, is a major disaster, since techniques to rejuvenate the ebony forests are still unknown to the silviculture community.

Likewise, in his capacity as head of Asmindo, which authored the export ban for semi-processed ratan products, Bob Hasan is also responsible for the famine caused by this policy to the thousands of rattan collectors and rattan mat (tatami ) producers in Central and South Kalimantan in the early 1980s, because all the rattan produced in Kalimantan had to be sold – for a very cheap price – to Bob Hasan and Asmindo's rattan furniture factories in Java.

So, friends, feel free to publish this letter of mine in your newspapers and bulletins, and do launch an international boycott of all Bob Hasan's timber-related enterprises. As I have often stated in my public speeches in opposition to the Suharto oligarchy, Suharto fights with bullets, we – the opposition – respond with bulletins!

Do not worry about the alleged unemployment effect of such an international boycott, because actually all the paper recycling activities in Indonesia's major urban centres as well as other more ecologically sound forest management activities in Indonesia's tropical forests can provide many more jobs than all the jobs currently provided by Bob Hasan's enterprises!