Subject: Indonesian team in E. Timor in bid to reclaim assets

Also: Officials meet over complex property issue

Kyodo June 26, 2000

Indonesian team in E. Timor in bid to reclaim assets By: Tim Johnson

DILI, East Timor,

Indonesian team arrived in East Timor on Monday to look into the prospect of reclaiming privately held assets that were not destroyed after the Aug. 30 vote for independence, a U.N. spokeswoman said Monday.

Barbara Reis, spokeswoman for the U.N. Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET), told reporters the team will 'look into facilities and equipment the Indonesian team believes belong to their companies.'

She said the 10-member team, which includes representatives of private corporations, will review the condition of buildings their companies owned and compile a list for future negotiations.

After the results of the U.N.-organized referendum were announced, vengeful anti-independence militias, many organized and backed by the Indonesian military, systematically looted and burned most of the territory's buildings.

Public buildings were specifically targeted, apparently with a view to leaving nothing of potential benefit behind that Indonesia built for East Timor during its 24-year occupation.

The field review was agreed to by UNTAET and the Indonesian side at a May 25 round of negotiations in Yogyakarta, Central Java.

Reis said the Indonesian side wanted to see for themselves the actual condition of the buildings in question, rather than simply relying on UNTAET descriptions.

'We are talking mainly about private buildings,' she said, adding UNTAET's claim to public property inherited from Indonesia is not much in dispute.

Indonesia says the assets in question include those of telecommunications firm Telkom, state electricity supplier PLN, government and private banks and the state oil monopoly Pertamina. It says there is also the issue of privately owned land left behind by Indonesians after the poll.

As part of the process of normalizing relations between East Timor and Indonesia, the sides are also negotiating the transfer of public archives and records pertaining to East Timor, the payment of former Indonesian civil servants' pensions and the status of East Timorese refugees in Indonesia's West Timor.

Other issues include formation of a joint border commission, land border demarcation, establishing a transit corridor between the Oecussi enclave in West Timor and the rest of East Timor, and maritime delimitation. ---

Officials meet over complex property issue EAST TIMOR Vaudine England in Jakarta 06/30/2000 South China Morning Post Page 10

Bargaining over property and compensation claims between Indonesia and East Timor has begun in what is already proving to be a complex and sensitive process.

A team of 10 Indonesian businessmen and bureaucrats has just returned from an inspection of properties in East Timor , ranging from half-wrecked power and telecommunications buildings to largely destroyed private homes. The United Nations Transitional Administration for East Timor , Untaet, provided assistance to the team and said a new round of talks would take place next week in the Indonesian city of Surabaya. But sorting through the detritus of a bloody occupation and Indonesian departure "quickly gets so murky", a diplomat said yesterday.

"It starts just with ownership issues, who really owns what, and how. And then you try to find the records. Maybe they were destroyed in Dili, but there should be copies here in Jakarta. It could go on for years," she said.

Beyond practicalities are the political sensitivities, including Indonesia's wounded pride, surrounding East Timor 's violent route to independence.

"From the beginning, both [Indonesian President Abdurrahman] Wahid and [Indonesian Foreign Minister Alwi] Shihab recognised that it was a bit cheeky, shall we say, for Indonesia to insist on compensation for properties," said another diplomat in a reference to the destruction of East Timor by Indonesian troops.

"But also from the beginning, the bureaucracy was demanding a proper accounting for buildings, items, whatever, that they have to sign off in their books."

At first, the Indonesian side wanted compensation even for stretches of tarmac, bridges and roads which Jakarta had built in East Timor from 1976 onwards. And regardless of international condemnation of Indonesia's scorched earth departure from East Timor , a strong body of Indonesian opinion maintains Jakarta has nothing to be ashamed of in its actions toward East Timor and thus deserves a generous accounting.

"Many things in East Timor were built with foreign aid, aid which we are still paying the debt service on. So how can we calculate such things?" said Sulaiman Abdulmanan, Indonesia's Foreign Ministry spokesman."We know it is impossible to bring back bridges and all those things, so we are finding ways to discuss compensation for them. But at the same time, we know we cannot really do that so easily because East Timor also needs assistance," Mr Sulaiman said.

International diplomats agree that Indonesia, under the Wahid Government, now has a realistic approach to the problem, but many constituencies need to be assuaged. United Nations sources also insist that the issue of compensation must be inextricably intertwined with the issue of East Timorese demands for redress.

"There is a pre-established precedent from when a state devolves, whereby the public property built by the old state becomes owned by the new state," a diplomat said. "What we're talking about is so-called private properties, such as those of semi-commercial state enterprises like the telecoms. For these, yes, Indonesia should be compensated, but we are saying this compensation has to be tied to the valid claims of the East Timorese."

Asked if this principle was accepted by the Indonesian side, Mr Sulaiman replied: "This is a remnant of a past problem, and we are all trying to find a win-win solution."

In the end, which may be as far off as the elections in East Timor now set for late next year, these asset talks will probably result in no movement of money in either direction.

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