Sat, May 13, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Indonesia unhappy with Chen's actions during Batam stop

AGENCIES , JAKARTA

Indonesia yesterday described President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) one-night stopover on the island of Batam as regrettable.

Jakarta also ordered an investigation into the stopover, saying that Chen had permission only to refuel -- not conduct other activities.

Chen landed late on Thursday on the small island near Singapore on his way back from his trip to Latin America. He met with at least one lawmaker yesterday and was scheduled to tour local factories before leaving.

Foreign ministry spokesman Yuri Thamrin said that Chen and his entourage had landed on Batam after being given permission to refuel "with the understanding that they would continue their flight."

"Therefore it's a technical matter, the landing. Because the nature was technical, it was beyond the knowledge of the foreign ministry in the sense that we didn't make any special arrangements for this aircraft," he said.

"We regret the aircraft remained on the tarmac and stayed longer after they finished refuelling. We also regret the fact that there were activities outside that technical fuelling," he said.

"We know that representatives of Taipei in Jakarta made arrangements for the passengers of the aircraft to do sightseeing. We regret that fact too," he said.

Indonesian law minister Widodo Adisucipto told reporters that the local governor in Riau Province, where Batam is located, has been ordered to investigate the stopover because Chen was given permission only to refuel, which would normally take only a couple of hours.

"The president has ordered the governor of Riau province to check on the activities of the plane that landed in Batam because it has violated the permission given to it by the transport department," he said.

"[Chen] is still in Batam and doing things without the government's knowledge," he said early yesterday. "We recognize only one China."

However, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) said yesterday that the president's transit through Indonesia had been carefully coordinated and not an abrupt decision that surprised the Indonesian authorities.

Lu said that the wire reports of Indonesia's dissatisfaction could be attributed to pressure on Jakarta from China. He said that it would not have been possible for Chen and his entourage to stay on Batam without prior planning.

Meanwhile, Indonesian lawmaker Ade Nasution, who is also a wealthy businessman, said he wasn't concerned about the diplomatic implications of his meeting with Chen yesterday.

"I told him that the important thing is that we need investment so all the unemployed people can get jobs," Nasution told el-Shinta radio station.

"The government has no right telling us what to do," Nasution said. "The `one China' policy is the business of the foreign ministry, not me."

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