KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 ― Indonesia has demolished Sarawak firm Sacofa Sdn Bhd's facility that was built on one of its islands due to alleged breach of laws and after having expressed concern over national security, a report said.
Indonesia's First Adm. Semi Djoni Putra, who headed the demolition team, claimed that the telecommunications infrastructure firm's “Sarawak Gateway” landing station on Anambas Islands had breached two international laws.
The laws allegedly being broken were a 1983 law ratifying an Indonesian-Malaysian agreement on the laying of submarine cables, and a 1985 law ratifying the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“The firm holds principle licence, but their operations are illegal and do not contribute to our national interest. On May 4, we summoned them, asked them to dismantle [the landing station] but they did not respond,” Semi was quoted saying by Indonesian paper The Jakarta Post.
According to the paper, Sacofa had in 2002 built the landing station that is linked to an undersea cable, with the Indonesian Army (TNI) viewing the latter as a threat to the republic’s national security.
It said heavy equipment had destroyed the six-room facility, which composed of a battery room, diesel tank room, equipment room, generator room, guard room and store room.
The Anambas Islands where the facility was built is among Indonesia's Natuna Islands in its Riau Islands province, with the Natuna Islands located between Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak.
According to Sacofa, half of its stake is owned by Cahya Mata Sarawak Bhd, the firm linked to Sarawak Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud’s family. His son Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib serves as Cahya Mata’s deputy group chairman.
Other shareholders included Sarawak's State Financial Secretary (20.51 per cent), Celcom Axiata Bhd (15.12 per cent), and with the remaining held by Sarawak Information Systems Sdn Bhd (7.57 per cent) and Yayasan Sarawak (6.80 per cent).
In April, TNI commander Gen. Gator Nurmantyo reportedly said Sacofa must stop its servers and fibre optic cable project, claiming that it could threaten Indonesia's security as an upgrading of the system could allegedly enable the sensing of all vibrations from the sea surface or submarines.
Gatot had also cited the 1985 law where companies wishing to install undersea optical cables have to obtain permission from Indonesia, claiming that Sacofa's permit had lapsed last November 26 and that it had continued operations this March 23.
Local paper The Star last month reported Sacofa managing director Mohamed Zaid Mohamed Zaini as saying that the firm was ready to provide further information to clear up the “misunderstanding” with the authorities, noting that the Indonesians islands involved are merely a connection point where no landing rights permits would be needed.