Minister rejects pulp giants' facilities: report

EoF News / 12 February 2010

PEKANBARU (EoF News)—Minister of Forestry visited a pulpwood plantation concession in peat Kampar Peninsula forest block, Riau province, in an attempt to solve conflict between local community and PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP), an associated company to Asian Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL).

Minister of Forestry Zulkifli Hasan denied to be facilitated by helicopters provided by two pulp giants in the province, APRIL and Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), website reported Friday (12/2/2010) quoting Antara news agency.

“The minister has ever been upset to his subordinates and rejected any facilities provided by companies,” a source from the ministry told website.

Executives of PT RAPP (APRIL) and PT Indah Kiat Pulp and Paper (APP), welcome the arrival of the Ministry in Pekanbaru’s airport as the pulp giants provided three helicopters for the Minister’s flyover.

The minister got angry and caused delay for the flyover for 30 minutes, reported. “The Minister refused to travel along with the companies, and he would not go out of VIP room before the companies people go away,” the anonymous source said.

In Pekanbaru, several environmental organizations staged rallies on Friday urging the Indonesian Government to revoke pulpwood plantation permit of APRIL’s PT RAPP in Kampar Peninsula.

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“We urge Minister of Forestry Zulkifli Hasan to improve the [Indonesian] President's reputation among world community to reduce carbon emission through  revoking pulpwood license granted to PT RAPP in Riau, particularly in Kampar Peninsula and Kepulauan Meranti,” said Hariansyah Usman, the coordinator of action and Walhi Riau Director Executive. 

Antara news agency reported that Minister Zulkifli Hasan used helicopter rented to the Indonesia’s Police (Polri) instead of ones that offered by the pulp companies.

Riau Forestry Service Head Zulkifli Yusuf confirmed the incident when the Minister of Forestry denied the facilities provided by the pulp companies. “I think what the Minister of Forestry did is correct to maintain his organization’s independence,” said Zulkifli Yusuf.

The Forestry Service Head said that the Minister would observe the condition of forest and gather all inputs from stakeholders on the forestry problems in the province. 

He said the pulpwood expansion by PT RAPP (of APRIL) had some problems. Environmental groups and community in Teluk Meranti village protested the forest clearing by PT RAPP in that concession that claimed by the locals as their community forest.

Zulkifli Yusuf has ever told media that expansion by PT RAPP in Kampar Peninsula overlapped with conservation areas in the landscape, therefore he did not recommend the permit for the concession of 56,000 hectares.

Ex-forestry service head detained

Anti-corruption Commission (KPK) detained Asral Rachman, former Riau Forestry Service Head in 2004-2005 on Wednesday, in Jakarta’s Cipinang prison, media reports said Thursday.

Asral along with other two former heads, Syuhada Tasman and Burhanuddin Husein, named suspects in June 2008 following the probe to former Pelalawan District Head Azmun Jaafar who sentenced to 12-year imprisonment in Jakarta.

KPK spokesperson Johan Budi said that Asral was charged with corruption indictment by issuing industrial timber plantation permits in Pelalawan and Siak Districts.