30 May 2008

Indonesia's Rich List

With pending recessions throughout the world and economic hardships facing many people, it is with that in mind that I make this post. The most recent edition of Globe Asia, June 2008, is a Special Edition focusing on Indonesia's 150 richest people.

The net wealth of the 150 richest has risen from USD 46.6 billion to USD 69.3 billion with an average wealth rising from USD 311 million to USD 488 million and the average age of the list has risen from 43 to 44.

The most obscene, yes obscene, mover on the list is the now Coordinating Minister of Peoples' Welfare, one Aburizal Bakrie, who has seen his family's wealth jump from a meagre USD 1.05 billion to a much more staggering figure of USD 9.2 billion. Much of this is the result of growth in the energy sector and the demand for commodities. Yet, it is worth noting that he also has extensive interests in property and telecommunications. Why is this obscene? He is the Coordinating Minister of Peoples' Welfare and his welfare is so much better than everyone else's. I do not begrudge rewards for people who work hard and I am sure that he makes his contributions to charity and the like.

Nevertheless, to see such a huge jump in wealth while the people of Sidoarjo continue to be shuffled about from one place to another and never being paid the compensation that they are due for the catastrophe that is the mud flow, seems to me to be just plain wrong. By most accounts one of the Bakrie family companies is responsible and the Presidential Regulation seems to suggest that the Bakrie family company is to blame and has apportioned blame to them (whether a Presidential Regulation can do this is a different argument for a different post). Yet, it seems that the Bakrie's are having trouble meeting the compensation payment schedules as mandated under the Regulation.

I have to say this is obscene because the man and his family are making their wealth predominantly exploiting Indonesian resources, natural and human, yet despite assurances to the contrary, do not seem to be able to make reparations to those that have suffered in the Bakrie Family's pursuit for cash!

The other notable entry for my mind on this list is Hutomo Mandala Putra, or Tommy Soeharto, at No. 61 with a net worth of USD 253 million. This is not bad for a fella who is allegedly corrupt, who is a convicted felon as a result of his ordering the assassination of a Supreme Court judge hearing one of his cases, and failed rally driver (don't know why the last one is important in terms of wealth but what the hey). If there is anything positive to say about the Soeharto children it is that the rich list clearly highlights they are no longer holders of influence and riches like they once were. However, maybe all the wealth is still stashed away overseas in secret bank accounts -- my guess is that the family will always be comfortably filthy rich!

There will be more to follow on this rich list and what it means as I see it (not that any of you care how I see it -- it's my blog so I can do what I want, right?)


Anonymous said...

I suppose Bakrie took his job personally. VERY PERSONAL.

Rob Baiton said...

Now that is very funny and very clever too!

VERY PERSONAL -- Indeed he did!

I think his welfare is now taken care of. So, perhaps it is time to start taking care of the welfare of others!

rimafauzi said...

according to the herald tribune (i wrote about this in my blog 2 months ago) bakrie was worth 2, something billion in 2006 and up to 5.4 billion in 2007, double the net worth in a year. if he is now at 9.2 billion, that is not only obscene, that is confusing. will write this in my blog.

Rob Baiton said...


I know, I read it!

The Globe Asia Magazine listed his wealth last year at USD 1.05 billion and that placed him at 8th on the "Rich List". This year they have him at USD 9.2 and in 1st place.

Maybe the IHT used a different measure of wealth or factored in "unreported" or "believed" to be assets.

When it is all said and done it is an obscene amount of money in the context of a family that will not pay its debts in the form of compensation to the victims of the Sidoarjo mud extrusion.


I posted that in my comments on your blog :D

Polar Bear said...

Interestingly, 28% of Indonesian wealth is in the hands of 1% of the population. About the same statistic as the UK.

so is it Bakries wealth that is obscene, or the poverty of others?

Rob Baiton said...

Polar the use of obscene here refers to the fact that it is one of his family companies that is responsible for the mud extrusion in Sidoarjo.

The claim that it was a natural disaster has been discounted with the issue of a Presidential Regulation which apportions blame to the company. As I said the legality of a Presidential Regulation used in this way is an argument for another post.

The fact that he has USD 9.2 billion dollars is not obscene in the sense of you reap what you sow. If you work hard and it pays off for you then so be it. I do not begrudge his wealth on that account.

Once again the obscene here is that he is profiting and doing very well but he / his family have not made good on the compensation they are required to pay and are now looking at trying to offload some of the burden to the government.

On principle I find this wrong. If you do not, then I guess we will have to agree to disagree. He / the family agreed to the Presidential Regulation because it would seem to absolve them of legal responsibility and any court action such as a class action for example.

I am not sure that it does because the legal status of the Regulation is questionable.

Hope this clears up my calling of the wealth obscene :D if not, oh well!

Jakartass said...

Once we've done with Bakrie-bashing, who's next?

Or who can we focus our support on?

Can our synergy make a difference?

rimafauzi said...

@jakartass: i did some bakrie bashing today, yesterday i did some amien rais bashing. so maybe you and rob can do amien rais tomorrow (bashing i mean, not actually 'do' him)

or jusuf kalla?

just a thought

Polar Bear said...

Well, I’m not disputing the obscenity of wealth. Just trying to measure it. Obscenity is a subjective measure…. (you realize Rob, some of my friends in Indonesia would think you to be obscenely wealthy, as they go to bed tonight with empty bellies).

The mud hole….. well welcome to Indonesia. Sure any normal deep drilling operation in a high pressure area would use cased drilling. But then again traffic would stop when the lights turned red. Its hardly fair to single out one man when the entire nation ignores rules and regulations and indulges in corrupt practices.

But what would I know, Im just a polar bear…. 

Polar Bear said...

I just read my comment, and feel some clarification is in order:

The poor people of Sidoarjo have my sympathy, but lets be honest, if they stuffed up on something THEY wouldn’t pay a bloody cent in compensation. In fact just like Bakrie they would smile and try to change the subject. It’s a way of life in Indonesia.

The only difference I see, as a pretty stupid Polar Bear, is the wealth aspect.

And once you start on that slippery slope then anyone with more than anyone else is guilty….

To be honest, having worked for him, I think he has done more for Indonesian people than the average Indonesian has done for themselves.

But like I say, I’m just a polar bear who needs to spend more time in Indonesia…..

Rob Baiton said...

J and Rima...

I am only bashing Bakrie and Amien because I think it is warranted (others seem to disagree)...

I am more than happy to provide good coverage of those that have done something that warrants it.

I did a little Mega bashing as well this past week because I am not one for rhetoric and promises that have no policy foundation and no costing even in a minimal form...

I will keep watching what and who you bash or promote :D

Rob Baiton said...


I have read both your comments and will have to agree to disagree on some of the points.

I do not think it is unfair to single out Bakrie and his family. I am not singling him out because of his wealth and none of my comments suggest he is guilty of anything because of his wealth!

To the contrary, I am only saying that a man with that amount of wealth and with obligations to pay compensation to the victims of the Sidoarjo mud extrusion and who is avoiding that obligation, needs to be called on that.

The idea that this is the way it is in Indonesia then we should let all corruption and rule breakers slide because that is the way it is here or not single anyone out seems to be an acceptance of the status quo.

If we accept the status quo then we should not expect any changes over the short, medium, or long terms.

I disagree that the cultural change that will break down the culture of corruption and rule breakers requires that the rule breakers get called.

Is my wealth obscene to some? Probably. Yet, some of those people going to bed this evening with empty bellies are victims of the Sidoardjo disaster...

But I guess we will have to agree to disagree on these things.

Polar Bear said...

Rob, I guess we disagree. But I don’t think Bakrai was manning the drilling rig when they made a fateful decision to use low pressure gear. Lets charge those workers with criminal conduct as well.

When I get into a taxi at Jalan Pelatehan I see it has bald tyres, no seatbelts, advanced rust and probably no insurance. If things go wrong the driver will shrug his shoulders and smile. I don’t see why we expect any better from anyone else. I remember stopping on and asking the idiots building the busway bridges why they didnt put lights around the bloody holes in the road. The workers just looked at me, shrugged shoulders to a man and grinned.

Sure call out Bakrai out. But lets call out every other Indonesian who ignores common sense and basic safety precautions. To an individual it doesn’t matter who caused their hardship or pain, billionaire or humble taxi driver.

Polar Bear said...

i had a beer with him last night in Blok M. the conversation is on my blog......