AIIB Responds to UN Expert's Concern on Mandalika Tourism Project

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Vice President and Chief Administration Officer of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) Luky Eko Wuryanto responded to the concerns expressed by the United Nations expert on human rights regarding Indonesia’s mega project in Mandalika, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB). The AIIB is partly funding the Mandalika project. 

    Wuryanto claimed that the multilateral financier had completed its due diligence in responding to the expert’s criticism. They immediately recruited an independent consultant to validate the allegations. 

    “It is a national consultant and we hired another expert that understands the local condition. They have also consulted with numerous stakeholders, especially in locations that are closely related to the people who are affected,” said Luky in a press conference with journalists on Wednesday, April 7.

    His actions come as a follow-up to reports that suspect the US$3 billion mega-tourism project at the island of Lombok had involved illegal practices, such as alleged aggressive land acquisition, forceful evictions of the indegenous Sasak Community, and intimidations against human rights activists. 

    The AIIB chief said that the consultants also interviewed ITDC or Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation, local administration, contractor, and village heads regarding the UN allegations. 

    Luky asserted that the independent investigation found that the allegations were unsubstantiated.

    “Their report was not proven; either the existence of violence, the use of force, or intimidations were non-existent. That is what we believe, that the allegations are untrue,” said Luky Eko Wuryanto.

    Read: Angkasa Pura I Signs MoU to Support MotoGP in Mandalika

    He also denied the allegation coming from the National Commission on Human Rights regarding illegal land acquisitions up to suspected intimidations. “We saw that everything that we have practiced all this time in any development projects, not just in Indonesia,” he said. 

    Previously, UN human rights experts today urged the Indonesian Government to respect human rights and the rule of law amid reports that a US$3 billion tourism project on Lombok island has involved aggressive land grabs, forced evictions of  Sasak indigenous peoples, and intimidation and threats against human rights defenders.

    On srpoverty.org, Olivier De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights said “Farmers and fisher folks have been expelled from their land and have endured the destruction of their houses, fields, water sources, cultural and religious sites, as the Government of Indonesia and the ITDC (Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation) groomed Mandalika to become a ‘New Bali’.”

    “Credible sources have found that the local residents were subjected to threats and intimidations and forcibly evicted from their land without compensation. Despite these findings, the ITDC has not sought to pay compensation or settle the land disputes,” the experts said.

    Mandalika, in Lombok’s poor West Nusa Tenggara Province, is set to be turned into an integrated tourism complex, comprising a Grand Prix motorcycle race circuit, parks, luxury hotels and resorts, including Pullman, Paramount Resort, and Club Med.

    The project is partly financed by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and has attracted more than US$1 billion investment by private businesses. The French group VINCI Construction Grands Projets is its largest investor, in charge of the Mandalika Circuit, hotels, a hospital, a water park, and other facilities.

    The experts also criticized a lack of due diligence by the AIIB and private businesses to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address adverse human rights impacts, as set forth in the UN Guiding Principles on business and human rights.

    CAESAR AKBAR | UN Human Rights