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Faisal Basri: I will reveal everything
Faisal Basri. TEMPO/Frannoto
Wednesday, 10 December, 2014 | 16:06 WIB
Faisal Basri: I will reveal everything

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Faisal Basri moved his fingers over his cellphone monitor to find the message he wanted. It was from a reporter, who said: "Many are pessimistic [over your appointment] because you are seen as a crony of Kuntoro Mangkusubroto." This did not sit well with Faisal. "I don't need this," he said. The Kuntoro mentioned in the message is the former chairman of the President's Delivery Unit for Development, Monitoring and Oversight (UKP4).

Faisal's mandate is quite clear: to sweep clean and reform the oil and gas industry in six months time, including the syndicates inside it. "If no one goes to jail, it means I have failed," said Faisal, who on November 16 was recently named head of the 14-member Oil & Gas Reform Team by Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said. "This new job has allowed me only three hours of sleep every day," said Faisal, who must pore over secret memos and various data before going off to meetings.

Two weeks ago, he was interviewed by a Tempo team of reporters consisting of Heru Triyono, Ayu Prima, Gustidha Budiartie and Bernadette Christina. The interview took place at two locations. Amid his smoking and his coffee, Faisal spoke of his plans to bust open the secrecy surrounding the oil and gas industry. "There'll be no limit to our search. I will reveal everything," exclaimed Faisal.

When were you first offered to head the Oil & Gas Reform Team?

On November 15, at the Yogyakarta Airport. Mas Dirman (Energy and Mineral Resources Minister, Sudirman Said) whispered it to me. At first it wasn't clear what team he meant, but his focus was oil and gas. When we had breakfast with Buya (Syafii Maarif, former chairman of the Muhammadiyah organization), he told me about the reform team.


Did you go to Yogyakarta for the fit-and-proper test? Why discuss it with Syafii Maarif?

That process doesn't apply [to me]. That day, I went to Yogyakarta with Amin Sunaryadi, Wawan (Widyawan Prawira Atmaja) and Nizar Suhendra. We had a talk with Buya, because we consider him to be a straight person, and one who's neutral.


Did you accept it?

I was not in a position to refuse it. I did want something outside a ministry, so I would have the space to move freely, nothing structural.


Whose idea was it to create the reform team?

It seems to have come from Mas Dirman himself, who had already told the president (Joko Widodo) about it.


Did you choose the 14 members?

It was all up to me. It's the second time that I've been 'trapped' like this (laughing). The first time was when Boediono became finance minister. He trapped me into becoming the head of the External Team for Monitoring Presidential Instructions. At that time, I chose 'crazy' people like Chris Kanter and Rachmat Gobel.


What were the main considerations when you selected the people for your team?

I wanted to have anticorruption activists, some people from campus, people from the oil and gas industry, all in equal numbers. Then the names just popped up: Daniel Purba (Pertamina), Parulian Sihotang (Oil & Gas Regulatory Board SKK Migas), Chandra Hamzah (former deputy chair of the Corruption Eradication Commission KPK), Djoko Siswanto (Oil & Gas Upstream Supervisory Board BPH Migas) and others. I'm sure they will be criticized, but I'm sure this team will be strong enough to expose insider syndicates.


Some people say that the syndicate people can even be found in your own team.

Who do they mean? Do you think it's Daniel Purba? He no longer has access to Petral (Pertama Energy Trading Limited).


Is it true that Daniel Purba was referred by Ari Soemarno, the former Petral CEO?

What authority does Soemarno have? Sudirman Said himself has been said to be Soemarno's man. I want to stress that SS (Sudirman Said) has nothing to do with Soemarno. He has no restrictions. The thing is, if this team had to bow down to referrals like that, I would have refused to do this. What good would it be?


Daniel is reported to be close to one of Asia's biggest diesel traders and he is also known to be the retainer of smuggled diesel from Indonesia.

I don't know. Clearly, Daniel knows alot of things. He is very okay. That's what I derived from what my informants told me.


There are people who link State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno with Ari Soemarno. They say through Rini, Ari can intervene your team's workings and make sure that the reform efforts won't succeed.

If they want to intervene, then they wouldn't have chosen me, nor Amin Sunaryadi for that matter, who will only bow down to God. He's a crazy man. It would be too risky to try play games with me and Amin in there.


Did you ever feel someone tried to intervene with you?

How stupid that would be. It would be their own fault for appointing me. For me, there have to be no limits. I will break open everything.


But how important was it that Minister Rini Soemarno herself attended the announcement of the reform team? Don't the issues of oil and gas go beyond Pertamina?

I see it as a more lucid interaction between ministers. Ibu Rini feels she will be much aided by this team.


Any findings yet?

One finding so far is that it's not true Pertamina buys oil directly from the NOC (National Oil Company), as claimed. This raises questions, as if something is being covered up. We asked Pertamina for the transactions of the past five years, to find out who played a role, where the oil came from, the movement of oil and where it went, whether it came from Angola directly to Jakarta, or from Iraq. All that must be investigated. (*)


Read the full interview in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine

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