Indonesian ‘Fugitive’ Has Big Construction Plans For Port Moresby

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Indonesian ‘Fugitive’ Has Big Construction Plans For Port Moresby Djoko Tjandra (Joe Chan) plans to build 2 skyscrapers in PNG capital

By Gorethy Kenneth

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 1, 2014) – Port Moresby’s K1 billion [US$353 million] skyscraper will go ahead despite coming under the scrutiny of the Ombudsman Commission and moves within the Government to stop its construction. This was revealed in an exclusive interview yesterday with Indonesian fugitive Djoko Tjandra, aka Joe Chan, who owns the company Central Lands Limited which proposes to build and manage the 32-floor office complex in Waigani.

Chan is currently in Port Moresby after travelling in from Singapore on his private jet on March 26 to inspect his multi-billion kina business operations. This was his first media interview after fleeing Indonesia in 2009, hours before the Indonesian Supreme Court convicted him of embezzling $US62 million. The man has strong connections with several PNG cabinet ministers, MPs and government department leaders as well as a big following and partnerships with other multi-million kina corporations in PNG. Speaking to the Post-Courier yesterday, he said he has successful businesses all over Asia but most of his interests are in PNG.

He said he has been in PNG since 1972, has set-up a number of businesses since independence and was "not a stranger to the country" as he has been part of its development and walked the changing face of PNG through his and his family’s businesses. "I wasn’t born yesterday. I came to PNG in 1972 and I have been in business with PNG since then," he said and added he was not a fugitive and had cleared his name in Indonesia. "I am a Papua New Guinean. I am not a bad man. I am a harmless man and like any other Papua New Guinean businessman, I deserve to be treated the same way," he said.

When asked what would happen with Indonesia continuing to push for his deportation, he said: "I am in Papua New Guinea; I am a Papua New Guinean. I travel in and out of Singapore and PNG without any problems". The proposal to construct the multi-million kina building and the PNG Central Government multi-office complex will go ahead, he said as he owns the title and the land in Waigani.

Another building – a 50 storey skyscraper – will be built at Ela Beach, he said as he talked about his investments in PNG. A rice project in the Central Province, registered under the Naima Group of Companies, will also be launched soon, according to the Indonesian.

This newspaper first met Chan at an office in the Pacific Place building in Port Moresby and followed him to the Central Government Office where one of his proposed buildings will be constructed. Very quiet and reluctant to speak at first, the interview with the wanted Indonesian was interspersed with accusations aimed at his opponents and humour. Central Lands Limited occupies the ground floor of the Central Government Office and has approval from the Department of Personnel Management according to Chan. His employees met him upon his arrival at the project site yesterday and during the interview revealed that the Waigani project will employ up to 1500 workers and Ela Beach 2000-2500. More investments are planned for the NCD.

In a new twist to Chan’s PNG citizenship and passport saga, the PNG Chief Migration Officer Mataio Rabura issued a statement yesterday to advise that the Indonesian’s application for an APEC Business Travel Card had been approved against his PNG passport number B330971. Speaking to this newspaper to clear the air on the Indonesian, Mr Rabura said Chan was issued with a new PNG passport because of his frequent overseas travels and he had run out of pages with his current one.

In a bid to justify the decision by the authority to issue Chan with another passport, the Chief Migration Officer said a report by the authority’s committee of review into the cancellation of Chan’s first passport found that the action was unjustified and he could use it to travel into and out of PNG. "Accordingly, Mr Joe Chan was informed on May 30, 2013 that he could continue to use his PNG passport number B330971 for travel and identification purposes as a citizen of PNG, consistent with the decision of the Committee of Review," he said. Chan, who denied that he travels with VIP clearance, said he flies in his private jet with his two pilots and is never in a queue because he is just one man "with nothing to hide". It is understood he will soon travel out of PNG to check on his other business interests abroad.

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