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Indonesia To Look Into The Alleged Sale Of Its Islands To Foreigners

Feb 17 2007 (TODAY)

BATAM - The Indonesian Government is investigating claims of foreigners
buying islands in the Riau province, citing security as an issue, The
Jakarta Post reported.

Indonesia's Sea Security Coordinating Agency commander, Vice-Admiral Djoko
Sumaryono, told the daily newspaper that the sale of islands to foreigners
not only violated existing regulations, it also showed that the local
provincial officials could not ensure security in its region.

Mr Djoko cited a presidential decree that was enacted in 2005, which put
the management of small islands on the nation's frontier areas under the
authority of the local administration and banned the sale of islands.

"Claiming ownership of parts of the beach is not allowed, let alone owning
islands," said Mr Djoko, who added that the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Ministry had already been instructed to investigate the sale of islands.

Mr Djoko was quoted as saying that the most recent Riau Islands sale
concerned Segayang Island near Batam, where small resort facilities had
been owned by a Singaporean since 2000. The business on the 20-ha island
had been operating over the last five years without any official permits
or consent, Mr Djoko claimed.

The Jakarta Post reported that the island had been sold by local residents
to a Singaporean for 55 million rupiah ($9,300). The sale of another
island was still being negotiated, Mr Djoko said, adding that it was on
offer for 100 million rupiah.

Indonesian news agency Antara reported that the government had taken to
naming the islands in Riau to prevent illegal sales. About 1,014 out of
the province's 1,050 isles have since been given names.

"The name would make them easy to detect and prevent them from being
illegally sold," said Riau's second assistant for administrative affairs

But Batam's deputy mayor Ria Saptarika said the capability of the local
administration to monitor the condition of the isles would still be
restricted by the huge number of islands and unclear ownership of many of
the islands.