Police remove out auctioned logs from APRIL

EoF News / 04 April 2008

Pekanbaru (EoF News)— Police and PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) employees were engaged in clash in the gate of the Asia Pacific Resources International Holding Limited (APRIL) compound in Pangkalan Kerinci, Pelalawan of Riau, yesterday (3 April 2008) caused several employees and policemen suffered minor injuries, reports said.

The tense in Pangkalan Kerinci town following the clash had calmed down last night, said Riau Police Chief, Brig.-Gen. Sutjiptadi, Koran Tempo daily reported today (4/4/2008).
At least 450 PT RAPP’s employees tried to block the police and CV Gunung Mas’ trucks to enter the APRIL’s compound. The complex would be the first entrance before reaching PT Madukoro’s concession in Kampar Peninsula forest block, around 40 km away from Pangkalan Kerinci.

The blockade incited the clash as the police used the clubs to disperse the employees preventing the police to enter the area. Pekanbaru Tribun daily (4 April 2008) reported that nine RAPP’s security provider personnel were interrogated and detained by the police following the riot.

Around 200 of policemen from Pelalawan Resort Office and Riau Police Office guarded the timber company CV Gunung Mas, which brought some excavators and trucks, to take out illegal logs located in concession of  PT Madukoro, an APRIL’s affiliated pulpwood company.

CV Gunung Mas is a winner of auction conducted by the State’s authority in March 2008 to obtain 21,993 cubic meter of  logs from natural forest that cleared by PT Madukoro (APRIL-affiliated timber company). The logs seized by the police on illegal logging raids last year, Tribun Pekanbaru reported.

The police interrogated security personnel of PT RAPP. “They obstructed the police implementing their duty,” said Gusti K. Gunawa, chief of Pelalawan Police, as quoted by Koran Tempo daily (4/4/2008).

“The road blockade and ambush of police had been coordinated. It’s obviously the arrogance of the company [PT RAPP] and the security guards which intolerable and we will probe it,” Gusti told the journalists as reported by Tribun Pekanbaru.

Gusti Gunawa said that his side have asked permit letter to the company to enter the pulp company complex. “But there is no response,” he said. The trucks and heavy machines along with the police personnel from Riau Police Office and Pelalawan Police departed Wednesday evening and on early morning on Thursday they stood by in logging road near the compound, Koran Tempo reported.

PT RAPP security guard service prohibited the police to enter the mill until 10.00 a.m. “Finally we decided to get in,” he said. The clash broke out inevitably. The police and CV Gunung Mas finally could take out the auctioned logs after the tense ran within an hour, Gusti said.

“The police pushed to get in, while the Security Guard and employees insisted to defend the area. Eventually, they attacked and chased to each other,” said Parasian Siregar, an employee of the company, as quoted by Koran Tempo daily as saying.

Troy Pantouw, PR Manager of PT RAPP, said that the company did not obstruct the police‘s duty. “So, it is a problem between PT RAPP and CV Gunung Mas, not the police,” he said as quoted by Detikcom website Thursday.

Nandik Sufaryono, the company’s PR officer, said that “we have the right to hold the heavy machines to come into, due to legally it is our area,” reported by Tribun Pekanbaru.

He blasted CV Gunung Mas has violated ethics of business by utilizing the police to forced entering PT RAPP area, Tribun Pekanbaru reported.

Chief of Police Office, Sutjiptadi, said that the employees of PT RAPP previously did not understand the matter, but finally they did and allowed the police to reach the concession after being explained.  

EoF learned that PT Madukoro is the first and one of several pulpwood plantation companies in Riau that probed by the police since February 2007. Those companies are affiliated to APRIL and Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) where some directors named suspects.

The police said they planned to summon Riau Governor and five district heads relating to the illegal logging cases, but there is no permit granted by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono so far.

In another development, Minister of Forestry Malam Sambat Kaban reportedly could not attend  a summon in Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) that scheduled on Wednesday (2/4/2008), Koran Tempo reported Thursday. Kaban will be questioned by KPK as a witness for Pelalawan District Head Azmun Jaafar’s graft case.

Azmun had been detained by KPK since mid of December last year over allegedly issuing logging licenses to 15 companies in Pelalawan district.