Indonesian businessman apologises for handling of info request from Peatland Restoration Agency

Prominent Indonesian businessman Franky Oesman Widjaja has apologised over Asia Pulp and Paper's handling of a request for information from Indonesia's Peatland Restoration Agency.
Prominent Indonesian businessman Franky Oesman Widjaja has apologised over Asia Pulp and Paper's handling of a request for information from Indonesia's Peatland Restoration Agency. PHOTO: BUSINESS TIMES FILE

JAKARTA - Prominent Indonesian businessman Franky Widjaja has apologised over Asia Pulp and Paper's handling of a request for information from Indonesia's Peatland Restoration Agency (BRG).

The country's largest pulp and paper company, better known as APP, is a unit of the Widjaja family's Sinar Mas Group.

"Pak Franky Widjaja has apologised to the peat agency for the inappropriate attitude adopted by the APP team with respect to the mechanism for submitting data to the peat agency," BRG chief Nazir Foead was quoted as saying by environmental news portal foresthints.news on Sunday (June 12).

The apology follows complaints by the agency that a statement issued by APP, detailing the chronology of its submission of data on its concession lands, was misleading.

The BRG said it had asked seven companies in Indonesia to share maps of their concession lands and all have complied except APP.

"The data has not been shared with our agency even though in a face-to-face meeting with us a few months ago, APP agreed unconditionally to share the data," said Mr Nazir last Friday.

The firm, however, told Mr Nazir that it will comply with his agency's request this week after he raised the issue in press on three occasions last week.

Mr Franky is the son of Mr Eka Tjipta Widjaja, who owns the Sinar Mas Group, one of the largest Indonesian conglomerates whose business covers pulp and paper, agriculture, property, financial services, energy, infrastructure and telecommunications. APP is under the group's control.

The Widjajas ranked Number 28 in Forbes 2015 Asia's Richest Families, with a net worth of US$5.8 billion. The family's most valuable holding is its stake in palm oil giant Golden Agri-Resources, which Mr Franky runs, according to Forbes.

The BRG was set up by President Joko Widodo in January, following last year's record haze crisis, to restore 2.7 million ha of peatland in seven provinces by 2020.

Mr Nazir said the mapping of concession areas over peatland will allow the BRG to identify priority restoration areas as well as land for conservation or cultivation.

He said while he does not expect the agency's work to be delayed by the lack of maps from APP, having a complete set of such data would "speed up" the mapping exercise.