We've got the Lilybank file
For nearly a decade, Watchdog has been recording the saga of Lilybank, the South Island high country station and luxury lodge owned and then sold (but was it?) by Tommy Suharto, the most notorious of all the breathtakingly corrupt children of the former Indonesian dictator and mass murderer.
Most recently, we have secured, from the Overseas Investment Commission, its complete file on Lilybank (which filled two large, fat envelopes). We havent had time to do anything than skim through it (noting, with amusement, that virtually everything that CAFCA has ever said about Lilybank, either in Watchdog or the mainstream media is all there, with key points underlined). Watch out for our write up on it in a future issue.
And as for Tommy himself? We last reported him as having been on the run since late 2000 when a Jakarta court sentenced him to 18 months prison on corruption charges (where to start would have been the courts biggest problem). When Megawati Sukarnoputri replaced Abdurrahman Wahid as President of Indonesia this year, it was widely predicted that this meant the effective restoration of the Old Regime of the Suhartos, their cronies and the all-powerful military. Too true. In October 2001, an appeal court acquitted Tommy, a decision that shocked even the most cynical observer of Indonesia. But he wont be coming out of hiding too soon (the authorities never seemed quite able to find, let alone catch, Indonesias most notorious fugitive). There is still the small matter of him being the chief suspect in the July 2001 murder of the judge who sentenced him to prison; plus he is the major suspect for a string of unsolved deadly bombings that have caused terror in Jakarta and other major cities over the past couple of years.
Watchdog 97 reported on the July 2001 Christchurch meeting between Helen Clark and the former President Wahid (who was then only days away from political oblivion). We expressed the hope that they had discussed the subject of the New Zealand assets of the Suharto family and cronies. Clark has since confirmed, to the Indonesia Human Rights Committee, that the subject did not come up. But she reiterated that New Zealands offer to assist the Indonesians to "investigate and recover such assets remains relevant" (letter from Helen Clark, 9/10/01). We can but live in hope.
to Watchdog 98 Index