Indonesia’s Neverending Freeport-McMoRan Saga – by Nithin Coca (The Diplomat – July 20, 2017)

http://thediplomat.com/

The 50-year relationship between Indonesia and its largest taxpayer comes under scrutiny.

The drama started nearly two years ago, when Setya Novanto, the speaker of the Indonesian Parliament, was forced to resign after being caught trying to extort U.S. mining giant Freeport McMoRan, which was looking to extend its contract in Indonesia.

Things heated up again earlier this year, when, alongside nationalist-tinged protests, it looked like Freeport was on its way out. Then, unexpectedly, a deal seemed to be reached. It was too good to be true, and again, today, the situation is unsure. After years of on-again, off-again negotiations between the Indonesian government and its largest taxpayer and longtime partner, things look stuck right where they started, with both sides intransigent and blaming the other.

The relationship between Freeport, Indonesia, and the restive West Papua region where most of Freeport’s mines are located gives a glimpse into the development policies of Southeast Asia’s biggest country, and the still-ongoing challenge of moving on from the brutal legacy of resource extraction and militarism of the Suharto era.

A Troubled History

Freeport’s entry into Indonesia came at a critical time, just years after a bloody coup toppled founding President Sukarno and brought to power General Suharto, who would rule for more than three decades. At that time, not surprisingly, few Indonesians had a say in the deal.

“In the previous contracts [negotiated in] 1967 and 1991, Suharto’s administration did not need to accommodate the concerns of Indonesian people, ” said Dr. Zulfan Tadjoeddin, senior lecturer in Development Studies at the University of Western Sydney. “They pragmatically agreed to the terms they thought were good enough for Indonesia.”

For the rest of this article: http://thediplomat.com/2017/07/indonesias-neverending-freeport-mcmoran-saga/

Comments are closed.