MAC: Mines and Communities

Lawmakers Smell Fishy Deal Behind Mining Regulation

Published by MAC on 2004-07-24
Source: Jakarta Post ()

Lawmakers smell fishy deal behind mining regulation

Jakarta Post

24th July 2004

Fitri Wulandari, Jakarta - A group of legislators suspect that some of their colleagues have been bribed into approving the governmental regulation in lieu of law which allows open pit mining in protected forest areas.

Bambang Setyo, a member of the Anticorruption Caucus, said the indication of bribery was the fact that major parties had voted to pass regulation in lieu of law No. 1/2004 into law during the House of Representatives' plenary session on July 15.

In contrast, during the last meeting of the special committee to deliberate the bill prior to the plenary session, only the largest faction in the House, the Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), supported the bill.

The rest of the factions, including Golkar, the second largest faction, either rejected the bill or were undecided.

"The Caucus smells something fishy. There has been a dramatic change that prompted three major factions of the House to endorse the bill during a vote," Bambang said in a media briefing on Friday.

Aside from PDI Perjuangan and Golkar, the United Development Party (PPP), the third largest faction also voted in favor of the bill.

The caucus was set up in April 2004 as a voluntary drive by lawmakers to fight corruption and collusion in the legislature. Bambang claimed the caucus has 30 members of various factions in the House, whom he refused to identify.

A few days before the plenary session, lawmakers had talked about "money being offered" for those who agreed to the bill, Bambang said.

"My colleagues said they were offered between Rp 50 million (about US$5,500) to Rp 150 million," Bambang, who is from Crescent Star faction, said, adding that he got a similar offer from a fellow lawmaker.

Last week, the House passed regulation in lieu of law No. 1/2004 into law after 131 lawmakers out of 232 in the plenary session voted for the controversial bill.

The bill is the same in principle as Forestry Law No. 41/1999 except for an additional clause stipulating that mining companies who have signed contracts prior to the enactment of the Forestry Law may resume their open-pit mining activities. The 1999 Forestry Law bans open-pit mining operations in protected forests.

The government issued Presidential Decree No. 41/2004 to allow 13 mining companies resume their operations as an implementation of the law.

Herman Widyananda, the head of the special committee for the deliberation of the bill, dismissed the bribery allegation.

"I am not aware of the rumors. There was no bribery," Herman of Golkar told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

While acknowledging most factions were undecided until the plenary session, Herman said it was not unusual for factions to change their stance in the plenary session.

Herman claimed Golkar's support for the bill was mainly to avoid potential arbitration proceedings that would be initiated by investors seeking Rp 188 trillion in compensation for the closure of the mines.

"There was a dilemma between environmental and economic issues. But economic concerns were deemed more important," he said.

Herman added parties who opposed the endorsement could file for a judicial review with the Constitutional Court in order to annul it.

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