Jakarta caught in land-purchase battle

Jakarta caught in land-purchase battle

Land purchased by the Jakarta administration in Grogol, West Jakarta has been caught in a decade-long dispute between Sumber Waras Foundation and Candra Naya Social Organisation (PSCN) that has taken a new twist in criminal court.

A state prosecutor demanded on Monday that a panel of judges at the West Jakarta District Court sentence I Wayan Suparmin, head of the PSCN, to one-and-a-half years in prison for allegedly abusing his authority as the head of the organisation to obtain a certificate for land illegally.

Prosecutor Anton Suhartono demanded the court hand over the land certificate from the PSCN to Sumber Waras.

Wayan has been detained since June 30, shortly after the National Police Detective Corps named him a suspect in a land embezzlement case that alleges the 57-year-old man violated articles 374 and 372 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on embezzlement with incriminating elements.

The dispute over land began in November 1970 when then PSCN head Padmo Sumasto granted land to Sumber Waras, a foundation established by the PSCN, in a bid to save the land from being seized by the government as some members of the PSCN were involved in Baperki, an organisation affiliated with the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). At the time, Padmo was also the head of Sumber Waras.

Wayan's lawyer, Jimmy Stevanus Mboe, said the land was handed over without approval from other the PSCN members and added that PSCN had cancelled the land hand over during a meeting in September 1999 in which Padmo was present.

Later, one of the country's richest women, Kartini Muljadi, stepped into the picture by becoming the head of Sumber Waras and the dispute continued. Sumber Waras was not able to sell the land on the strategic Jl. Kyai Tapa in Grogol on account of the dispute.

Jimmy said the PSCN believed that the recent purchase of the land belonging to Sumber Waras and adjacent to the PSCN's by the Jakarta administration had prompted Kartini to file the police report.

He was referring to the Jakarta's administration Rp 775.69 billion (US$ 55 million or S$77.7 million) purchase of a 3.7 hectare plot of land owned by Sumber Waras adjacent to the disputed land. The city planned to build a cancer hospital on the land.

However, without also purchasing the disputed land, the city administration would not be able to create access to the main road of Jl. Kyai Tapa.

The Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) had earlier sent a note to Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, saying that the land purchase price was too high. The BPK said the land could have been bought for Rp 564.35 billion (S$56 million), which would have saved Rp 191 billion from the city budget.

Despite the BPK's note, Ahok had said he would continue with the cancer hospital plan.

The Jakarta Council has set up a special team to investigate the Sumber Waras land purchase and questioned Ahok's decision to buy the plot of land while knowing that the city would not be able to do anything with it until the long dispute had been settled.

The City Council agreed to purchase a plot of land on Jl. Kyai Tapa, while the one purchased by the city administration did not directly side with the road. "The city administration bought land that does not have direct access to Jl. Kyai Tapa, but to a smaller road, Jl. Tomang Utara," councilor Triwisaksana said earlier.

Yenny Sucipto from the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (FITRA) said if the city administration planned to purchase the disputed land, it would have no choice than to wait for legal proceedings to finish.

She added that the BPK would also need to assess whether negligence had occurred in the city's budgeting control or if there was a price markup in the land purchase.

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