Thursday, May 31, 2007
Yohanes Hardian Widjonarko
Yohanes Hardian Widjonarko is an Indonesian businessman born in Semarang. He built his career with one of Indonesia’s largest timber company, PT Barito Pacific Timber Tbk, involved in massive deforestation of Borneo’s rainforest since the 1980s. In 1998, it was caught in financial difficulties at the height of the Asian economic crisis. Widjonarko resigned as its president director in June 2002 but still retained the status of a commissionaire for two years.
During my reporting, I talked to many businessmen, politicians and journalists. I learned that Widjonarko, to quote one business executive, has “a lot of friends among politicians and has a good networking among businessmen.” Most of these business leaders know that Widjonarko works with Taufik Kiemas. Widjonarko regularly plays billiard with some Jakarta television executives and newspaper editors at Hotel Le Meredian in downtown Jakarta.
Kawula Alit Nusantara Foundation rented an office space on the 23rd floor of Menara Mulia, one of Jakarta’s towers. “We used that office just to get together. What would people think if we sing at the State Palace?” said Muhamad S. Zulkarnaen, smiling.
Zulkarnaen told me that Widjonarko is the main operator of this Washington lobby. He is also its treasurer. The foundation registered an internet domain www.kawula.or.id under Widjonarko’s name. The foundation gradually became "non active" after President Megawati Sukarnoputri lost the election in 2004.
The internet domain is currently used by PT Winaros Kawula Bahari, a frozen seafood exporter, located in Beji near Pasuruan in eastern Java. The head office of this company is located in Bellagio tower in Jakarta, where Yohanes also opens a pub called Flo Lounge. Widjonarko and his wife, Lianawati Hardjoanwar (nicknamed Li Lan), also live in an apartment in Bellagio. They manage the pub themselves.
Florian Arieschka, the pub's marketing manager, told me, “Ibu Megawati often came here four or five times, organizing her own private parties. Pak Taufik’s colleagues also regularly come here as well as the buddies of my owner.”
Marissa Haque, a movie star who joined Megawati's party, once came to Kawula Alit office and had lunch with Taufik Kiemas and his associates. “TK’s (Taufik Kiemas) office is below the Kawula Alit headquarters. The offices are luxurious, a lot of paintings,” Haque said.
Helmy Fauzi, a former op-ed page editor of the Sinar Harapan daily and now an assistant to Kiemas, also used that office to hold a meeting once with other activists. “We invited many activists to discuss some political issues,” said Fauzi. “The office is very spacious and comfortable.”
I tried to interview Widjonarko many times. He didn't answer my text messages. Once he answered my call, saying he was in Geneva on his way to Amsterdam. I finally met him at Flo Lounge. He agreed to have a short interview. He said he is "a friend" to Major General Muchdi Purwopranjono, a deputy director at the State Intelligence Agency, allegedlly involved in the assasination of human rights campaigner Munir. Widjonarko admitted that he bought the mobile number "0811-900978" used by Muchdi. This number frequently appeared in the trial of the Munir assasination.
When asked how he was involved in the Washington lobby, he responded that the Kawula Alit Nusantara Foundation’s mission was simply “for orphans.” He declined to comment on his relation with Megawati dan Taufik Kiemas. "We're just friends," he said.