Ex-service head: I have no knowledge of forestry

EoF News / 08 July 2008

PEKANBARU (EoF News)—A former Riau Forestry Service head insisted on a corruption trial in Corruption Crime Court in Jakarta last week that he just signed logging license of Annual Working Plan (RKT) for companies and handed over the responsibility to his subordinates.

Media reports said that Burhanuddin Husin, former Riau Forestry Service Head and now Kampar District Head, told a corruption court in Jakarta last week (4/7/2008) that he had nothing to do with verdict of misusing of logging licenses to clear natural forests which prosecute the Pelalawan District Head Azmun Jaafar.

“I just signed [them]. Beyond this I have no idea since the technical matter is my staff’s job,” Burhanuddin told judges led by Krisna Menon on the court, Riau Terkini website reported Friday.

The district head named suspect and requested for testimony as a witness on the case of misusing logging licenses for 15 companies that charged district head Azmun Jaafar.

Riau Terkini reported that Burhanuddin was questioned for 60 minutes where he mostly said he did not know on the authority of his position as Forestry Service head.

On its headline last weekend (5/7/2008), Tribun Pekanbaru daily said that the judges of corruption case got upset with answers uttered by Burhanuddin due to dubious statements.

“I just legalize [RKT, annual working plan]. On technical matter it is done by my staff,” he said as quoted by Tribun Pekanbaru as saying (5/7/2008).

The former forestry service head said that his subordinates should be responsible for technical matters in legalizing RKT plan. The RKT permit issued by the Provincial Government would allow companies to clear natural forest for conversion into pulpwood plantation.  

When asked by presiding judge if the official has knowledge of forestry, Burhanuddin said: “To be honest I don’t understand forestry, I am just an economic graduate,” Tribun Pekanbaru reported.

“You are just Head of Forestry Service, please don’t make any excuses. After being appointed Head of Forestry Service, you should adapt to such a new job,” blasted judge Made Hendra Kusuma following doubtful answers expressed by Burhanuddin.

Prosecutor Sriyono asked the suspect of RKT issuance. “So you issued RKT licenses without legality basis, didn’t you?” Then Burhanuddin said yes. “So, it’s messed up, isn’t it?” the prosecutor asked back.

Azmun detained by Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in December 2007 and has been prosecuted since May this year. KPK accused Azmun of causing the State’s loss by Rp1.2 trillion by issuing logging licenses to convert natural forests to pulpwood plantation.

Reports said that incumbent Riau Governor Rusli Zainal was scheduled to be questioned by KPK on Azmun’s case last week, but he failed to attend it due to his medical check-up as his preparation to run for upcoming gubernatorial election in September this year.

Azmun on Rusli Zainal

Azmun told Koran Tempo daily (3/7/2008) on an interview that the officials who issued RKT licenses to be responsible.

“Out of 15 companies that their licenses I issued have gained RKT legalization released by Riau Forestry Service heads, they are Syuhada Tasman, Asral Rachman, Sudirno, and Burhanuddin Husein.

Then there are also RKTs that legalized by Riau Governor Rusli Zainal. By those RKTs, the companies have conducted wood clearing in the forests. According to me, all sides who involved in legalizing RKTs should be asked for their responsibility, including Rusli Zainal,” Azmun told Koran Tempo daily.

EoF learns that the 15 companies Azmun mentioned are affiliated to Asia Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL), and Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and another one is unidentified.

EoF learns that the 15 companies which obtained licenses issued by Azmun and linked to corruption practices as probed currently by KPK as follows:

APRIL: CV. Bhakti Praja Mulia 5,800 hectares, CV. Mutiara Lestari 4,000 ha, CV. Tuah Negeri 1,500 ha, KUD Bina Jaya Langgam 1,887 ha, CV. Alam Lestari 3,330 ha,  CV. Riau Bina Insani 4,300 ha, CV. Harapan Jaya 4,800 ha, PT. Nusa Prima Manunggal 4,412 ha, PT. Merbau Pelalawan Lestari 5,590 ha, PT. Putri Lindung Bulan 2,500 ha, PT. Selaras Abadi Utama 13,600 ha, PT. Bukit Raya Pelalawan 3,200 ha,  and PT. Riau Bina Insani 7,275 ha;

APP: Putra Riau Perkasa 21,650 ha, and unidentified affiliation: PT. Sinar Deli Pratama 3,000 ha.