Mar 03 00:28

Govt can expel british national for violating regulations

Jakarta (Antara News) - Minister of Marine and Fishery Affairs Freddy Numberi said the government has the authority to expel Ernest Lewandowski, a British national living in Bidadari islet, East Nusa Tenggara province, for violation of investment regulations in the area.

Freddy said his office was not preventing foreigners to invest their capital in economic development of Indonesian territory including its small islands.

"But they must abide by the relevant laws and procedures," he said on the sidelines of a semeinar on the development of marine resources and fishery at University of Indonesia`s campus in Depok, West Java, Thursday.

According to him, Lewandowsky has violated the regulations because his staying permit in Indonesia has expired and he does not have a license to build a resort in the small island. And he has even developed the island by hiring other companies in his proposal to the local authorities.

Apart from these, the minister said, Lewandowski`s ban on local traditional fishermen from fishing and entering the island`s waters was inappropriate.

"The island is open to the public. What he had done has violated the law and the government can therefore have him expelled," he said.

Freddy, a former navy officer, said that the Birtish national would first have to settle his immigration papers and return to Indonesia for business in the island.

The minister also pointed out that the foreign ownership of small islands in Indonesia was not permitted, but they were allowed to build the economy of the islands.

"We welcome foreign investment, but the investors must follow the regulations," he added.

Ernest Lewandowski, reportedly to have gained ownership over Bidari island in West Manggarai district, is actually only allowed to manage and develop part of the island, a local investment official said here recently

"The foreign investor was only granted a land lease on five hectares out of the 15,400 hectares island he had initially wanted to develop. No document was ever issued granting him ownership over any part of the island," Stanis Tefa, head of local Capital Investment Coordination Board (BKPMD), said.

Lewandowski is president director of PT Reefsecckers Kathernest Lestari in West Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara province. The company has a branch office in Labuanbajo, West Manggarai district.

He runs several hotels, lodges, and a travel bureau.

"Lewandowski has a foreign investment license no.111/2001 dated April, 2001 issued by the East Nusastenggara BKPM and a permanent business license dated June, 2001," Tefa said.

He also had a license from the Manggarai district chief to run a tourism business and build hotels and resorts on five-ha of land on the island.

In addition, local authorities had required the investor to preserve the the island`s coastal areas.

Tefa said, under Law no. 5/1960 on land affairs, the British investor was not allowed to own land in Indonesia. He was only entitled to a land lease and to manage the land.

"Maybe there has been a wrong interpretation of the investment process for foreigners on Bidadari Island. It is impossible that the local government allows foreigners to own land for investment in the country," Tefa said.

According to Tefa, the Briton`s company had made contributions to the local government although in small amounts.

During 2005, the company paid Rp5,153,500 in fees, Rp24,331,500 in wages, and other costs amounting to Rp21,612,500.

The company employed eight Indonesian workers and two expatriates.

"The foreign company planned to invest US$318,647, but only US$70,206 had been realized because of the tight competition with tourism investors in West Nusatenggara and Bali," Tefa said.

Lewandosky and his wife bought the island from Haji Mahmud,an inhabitant of Labuanbajo, Manggarai Barat district, at Rp495 million.

Wirasakti Military Commander Col Noch Bola told the press that the local people were not allowed to enter the area after the island was bought by the couple who are running it as a tourist resort.

He also said that even security personnel were also banned from entering the area, but they managed to enter the island and raised the national Indonesian Red-and-White flag there.

The military command has deployed some security officers in the island to watch all the activities of foreigners coming to the island. (*)
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