CALL FOR MINISTER’S SACKING OVER THE DESTRUCTION OF TANJUNG PUTING NATIONAL PARK

Contact:
Faith Doherty, EIA: +44 (0) 207 490 7040 or mobile +44 (0) 7932 038007
Dave Currey, EIA: +44 (0) 1380 840 889 or mobile +44 (0) 7949 640190

25th January 2001 London: New evidence from local activists shows that illegal logging continues to destroy the world-renowned Tanjung Puting National Park in Central Kalimantan province despite repeated assurances from the Government of Indonesia that it would immediately stop the logging. The Park is internationally famous for its populations of orangutans and other primates that live in this unique swamp forest.

Today, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telapak Indonesia called for President Abdurrahman Wahid to sack his Minister of Forests Nur Mahmudi Ismail, for failing to stop the Park’s destruction and failing to deliver the commitments made by his government to the international donors a year ago. “Nur Mahmudi has made many promises in the last year about Tanjung Puting, but none of them have resulted in action” said Dave Currey, EIA Director today. “The only brief moment of progress on this and other commitments on forests came when Nur Mahmudi had been demoted in August, only to be reinstated two months later.”

Tanjung Puting has been commercially illegally logged for years, but the logging increased three years ago. An international and national campaign has been fought to stop the logging and save the area that has gained support from all over the world. Despite the protection of Tanjung Puting being set up as a test case for the Government of Indonesia to prove that it was serious about forest reform and fighting corruption, the Park has continued to be destroyed.

The timber baron and Peoples Consultative Assembly (MPR) member Abdul Rasyid has been accused of backing the destruction of Tanjung Puting and considerable evidence has been amassed against him. Despite this, the Minister of Forests shocked environmentalists when he stated he had just signed a new forest concession over to the company owned by Abdul Rasyid. “Nur Mahmudi Ismail stunned EIA and Telapak staff when he announced a new concession had been given to Abdul Rasyid at a meeting we were all having with President Wahid about the destruction of Tanjung Puting” revealed Dave Currey.

President Abdurrahman Wahid will be chairing a cabinet meeting tomorrow to discuss illegal logging and Tanjung Puting National Park. His government has made promises to the international donor community to resolve a number of issues including Tanjung Puting by the next interim meeting of the government and donor forum known as the Consultative Group on Indonesia (CGI) that meets on 24th April in Jakarta. “Nur Mahmudi Ismail has presided over the destruction of Tanjung Puting since firm commitments to stop the logging were made one year ago” said Dave Currey. “For whatever reason he has proven himself to be incapable of fulfilling this, and many other commitments on forests. It is time for him to go.”

-Ends-


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