Clinton Ties To Riady Problematic.
That is the (truncated) headline
in a recent Jakarta Post.
It refers to the born-in-Indonesia USA President-elect Obama's choice of his former rival in love the Democratic electorate's vote, former First Lady Hilary Clinton as his Secretary of State. In effect, this means she would manage his foreign policy: pulling the troops out of Iraq, bringing peace, preferably by negotiation, to Afghanistan and supporting the United Nations in such hot spots as the Congo.
But the problem is that Hilary has ties with an Indonesian oligarch, James Riady, a tie which she conveniently forgot
in her tell-a-little-bit memoirs
and which, interestingly, is not in the wikipedia page
devoted to her. Mind you, as one commentator puts it
, "her entire public persona is built upon obfuscation, privacy, and stoicism in the face of public humiliation
So, this post is not about her: she wouldn't care anyway.
James Riady first crops up in Jakartass here
, then here
, mainly because of his control of a large chunk of the media and also swathes of real estate, much of which I forecast
will be underwater in about fifty years if he continues to build on Jakarta's floodplain.
That he is a born-again evangelist Christian is well documented ~ especially here
(in Indonesian). That he has ties with the American far-right evalgelical movement, particularly with the George Bush confidant, Pat Robertson is less well-known.
What I have learnt today, however, has made me a boggled blogger. Having long known that he is a convicted criminal in the USA because of his illegal contributions to Bill Clinton's election campaign in 1992, I hadn't examined the background.
First, consider this fuzzy picture (from here
) of Bill Clinton, Riady's then go-fer John Huang and James (or is it his father, Mochtar?).
Riady and Huang met with Clinton at the White House 10 times between June 21 and June 27, 1994.
This was, of course, at a time when Indonesia had only recently resumed diplomatic relations with Communist China, suspended from 1967 until 1990. During this period
, the Indonesian leadership spurned all contact with the PRC, believing China's ultimate ambition was to assert hegemony over Southeast Asia by supporting regional communist insurgency movements, or through overt military action. Because Chinese Indonesians were also implicated in the coup, the ethnic Chinese community suffered widespread discrimination and persecution during Soeharto's rule.A glance
at the trade balance between China and Indonesia during 1985-2003 (US$ million), ignoring factors such as rampant smuggling, much of it through Singapore, a China surrogate, shows the impetus behind the normalisation of ties.-----------Export-- ---Import 1985-------
6,760 --- ---
3,803It is worth to note for China’s investments that there are many obstacles in Indonesia that are political uncertainty, labour law, corruption, lagging infrastructure. Labour law and corruption, in particular, are be strongly blamed by Indonesia entrepreneurs and foreign entrepreneurs, which is one reason why FDI* in Indonesia transfer to invest in other countries.
Not being a mind reader, I would suggest that this is a tangible reason for the Riady family's machinations. As a global trade force, the USA could influence recalcitrant countries to open their markets to foreign investors. The Riadys lobbied strongly for access to Vietnam
Where all this gets interesting is the disclosure of James Huang's ties with the CIA
.Huang, who pled guilty in 1999 to federal charges of making illegal political contributions to the Clinton/Gore campaign, had joined the U.S. Commerce Department after leaving a much higher paying job with the Lippo Group, a firm owned by Indonesian billionaire Moctar Riady, a close supporter of President Suharto. During his stay at Commerce, Huang obtained a secret clearance and attended more than 37 classified briefings with the CIA. Furthermore, according to a 1998 CIA report presented to Sen. Fred Thompson, R.-Tenn., "James and Moctar Riady have had a long-term relationship with a Chinese intelligence agency. The relationship is based on mutual benefit, with the Riadys receiving assistance in finding business opportunities in exchange for large sums of money and other help."
"The Chinese intelligence agency seeks to locate and develop relationships with information collectors, particularly with close association to the U.S. government."
Another gem disclosed, is that they supplied him with details of the Suharto's corrupt dealings involving American corporations. Knowledge is power?
I'm too much of a liberal
to accept the promotion of one ideology, be it of nationalist, religious or political nature, over another. On that basis alone, if the CIA are correct in their belief that the Riady's were fronting for the Chinese communist rulers, then, whether she was aware of their ulterior motives or not, surely that is an impediment if Hillary Clinton, as the USA's Secretary of State, is expected to represent the interests of the USA.Pleading Life's Tenancy
And James Riady?
Judging by yet another of his typically addled aphorisms, I'm sure he'll be fine living in St. Moritz - which is his new super-duper 135 hectare estate about to be built in Puri Indah, West Jakarta,
Or he could go back to China
where, seemingly obviously, he is one of the largest investors
BTW. I wonder if his newly launched English-language daily, the Jakarta Globe
would be interested in publishing any of this well-documented story? Or perhaps the Jakarta Post
which is in urgent need of rejuvenation but has seen off many upstarts over the years and always been a staunch defender of pluralism.
..............................*Foreign Direct Investment