Mar 05 22:33

TNI steps up monitoring of islands managed by foreigners

Kupang (Antara News) - The military (TNI) command in the Indonesian eastern province of Nusa Tenggara Timur has stepped up its monitoring on islets currently being managed by foreigners to anticipate threats against the country`s sovereignty.

"We do not want to be considered slow in reacting to the persence of foreigners in the small islands in the country," the chief of the 161/Wirasakti resort command, Col Noch Bola, said here on Sunday.

He said the TNI had always been pro-active in connection with foreign investors managing small islands in the region especially those who had problems.

The TNI, he said, did not obstruct investment but only hoped investors would respect existing standard procedures in the management of islands in Indonesia.

"We even hope that more foreign tourists would come to East Nusa Tenggara (NTT). A foreigner allowed to manage an island must abide by the procedures and .... not act secretly," he said.

He said his side had already exposed the data and facts about "the irregularities" a foreign investor had done in the process of investment on the Bidadari island, Komodo subdistrict in West Maggarai.

The 14.5 hectare island, he said, would be controlled by Kath Mitchinson Ernest Lewandowski, president director of PT Reefseekers Kathernest Lestari, under a certificate on the sale of the island from local community figure, Haji Mahmud.

According to Lewandowsky, the island belongs to him because he has bought it from Haji Mahmud at Rp495 million.

"We have submitted the data and facts to the government. Please settle it well. If he (Lewandowsky) has committed a mistake, it must be settled properly," he said.

He admitted he had also received information about the Kukusan islet not far away from Bidadari island now being controlled by a New Zealander who had bought it from Haji Faisal, a villager of Labuanbajo in West Maggarai.

"It is not my authority to settle the problems of the two islands. We have only submitted data and facts for the government to deal with them," he said.

He said since the problem of Bidadari came to the surface, he felt it was necessary to deploy some TNI personnel there as well as in other problem-prone islands.

He said there were already 10 army personnel on the Bidadari, eight on Kukusan and seven on Sture islets.

"We will station the personnel there until the problems are settled hopeffully in the next three months," he said.

He said he had also established coordination with the chief of the naval base in Kupang, Commodore Syahrin AR to conduct patrol to monitor islands in Nusa Tenggara Timur.

"Besides patrols, the TNI would also give the islets names, and report them to the governor," he said.

The Nusa Tenggara Timur province has 566 islets, including 246 already with a name.

He said only 43 of them were occupied. (*)
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