Albion Monitor /News
[Editor's note: Days after the Nobel Peace Prize announcement, it was learned that Lippo associates had given $475,000 to Democrats and the Party since 1991, including $175,000 to Clinton's first presidential campaign and inaugural from James Riady and his family.

House Speaker Newt Gingrich called for a special prosecutor to begin criminal investigations, charging the Democratic Party with accepting illegal campaign donations from foreign interests. Dole called it "a major scandal involving the flow of foreign money into the Democratic Party and attempts to buy access to the White House." Democrats denied charges, noting that the donors were thought to be living in the U.S. at the time.

Republicans quickly backed away from the issue, however, after several politicians and news stories raised questions about their own foreign contributions.

The Boston Globe noted that Dole had received large contributions from Jose Fanjul, a Cuban citizen living in Florida, who was also the main benificiary of a pork-barrel program supported by (then) Senator Dole. Other newspapers also reported that the Republican party had received large, illegal donations from a Canadian company and a businessman who admitted to laundring cash contributions.

But neither Dole nor Gingrich have apparently mentioned the Indonesia connection since an October 23 AP wire story revealed that Lippo Group is a partner with TV evangelist Pat Robertson.

In an uncharacteristic defense of Clinton, the AP quoted Pat Robertson as saying on a recent 700 Club broadcast that the Riadys "are friends of mine... they're wealthy people, but I don't understand exactly what the flap is all about. ... But I do believe ... they were law-abiding people, but they just happen to like Bill Clinton because they have Arkansas ties."

The AP story noted that there is nothing illegal about the joint venture between Robertson, Lippo Group, and a Malaysian real estate company to produce a "no sex, no news, no violence" cable TV channel in Chinese. The deal does illustrate, AP said, "the diversity of the Lippo banking and real estate conglomerate ... controlled by the Riady family. "

For additional important background on the Clinton Administration and its relationships with Indonesia and East Timor, see this introductory article.]

Indonesian Clinton Donor Also Tied to Christian Right

by Andreas Harsono

(AR) JAKARTA -- Two prominent experts on Indonesia had opposite reactions to charges that U.S. President Bill Clinton had favored Jakarta when dealing with East Timor and human rights issues after he received campaign contributions from an Indonesian billionaire.

Meanwhile, the French news agency AFP reports that the billionaire believed to be a source of the huge campaign donations to Clinton also enjoyed strong ties to the best-known leaders of the Christian Right, who visited his offices in a Jakarta suburb to pray.

Has Clinton ignored human rights abuses in East Timor?

Sydney Jones of the New York-based Human Rights Watch said the donation did not weaken U.S. policy, while Dr. George Junus Aditjondro, a self-exile Indonesian scholar now living in New South Wales, Australia, believed the opposite.

"No administration prior to the Clinton people had ever conducted on-site investigations of labor rights practices as the U.S. Trade Representative did," said Ms. Jones in an Internet email interview last week.

Citing some examples, she said the Clinton White House had also taken the lead in sponsoring a resolution on East Timor in Geneva in 1993 which was an "unprecedented move."

On the contrary, Dr. Aditjondro said, "The aspirations of the East Timor freedom fighters and Indonesian pro-democracy activists might have been overshadowed by the business interests of the Indonesian and U.S. ruling elite."

He said President Clinton had "listened more to Mochtar Riady than to Muchtar Pakpahan," referring to the billionaire and a leading Indonesian unionist now jailed by the Indonesian government because of his labor union's campaign for democracy here.

Earlier media reports said an executive of Mochtar's son, James Riady, who heads the huge Lippo business group, had reportedly raised $4 million to $5 million in contributions for the Democratic Party, which included $475,000 from an Indonesian couple tied to the Riadys.

According to the Los Angeles Times, it was a huge individual sum -- more than other traditional Democrat contributors like movie-maker Steven Spielberg, more than AT&T, more even than the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

Company trips to Israel, where some employees were baptized in the Jordan River

In a related development, Agence France-Presse reported that both Mochtar and James are very religious persons and seemed to be associated with the Evangelical Protestant Church. They frequently invited internationally-recognized preachers, like Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed and Stephen Tong to their office-building complex in the Karawaci area, a suburb of Jakarta, to conduct prayers.

They also led company trips to Israel, where some employees were baptized in the Jordan River. Mochtar himself sits on the board of some Christian schools and universities both in Indonesia and the United States.

The Indonesian donation has sparked controversy in America as Clinton opponents said the Democrats had used loopholes in the ruling and alleged that the donation had softened U.S. policy over East Timor and human rights abuses in Indonesia.

It is illegal for foreign companies and individuals to contribute to U.S. candidates or political parties. However it is legal for permanent residents and the U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies to donate to U.S. candidates and parties.

Dr. Aditjondro said, "The fact [is] that one of the Lippo companies, namely Lippo Industries, had been the casualty of U.S. trade policy to Indonesia. In particular, [there was] the possibility that the Clinton administration might abolish the General System of Preferences, which would harm Indonesian export to the U.S."

Aditjondro also pointed out that the Clinton administration had even gone ahead with selling F-16 jet fighters to Indonesia despite Republican protests that listed dozens of Lippo subsidiaries which are jointly owned with members of President Suharto's family.

The Lippo companies, mainly in banking, real estate and insurance activities, stretch from Indonesia, China, and Hong Kong to the United States, where James Riady ran a bank in Little Rock, Arkansas, in the mid-1980s and got to know Clinton. It is now worth an estimated $6 billion and owns some 100 companies in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and the United States.

Jones, who speaks Bahasa Indonesia fluently, said that the White House had also "worked language into some Clinton speeches about how the East Timorese should have more control over their own affairs."

According to her, President Clinton also discussed East Timor with Indonesian President Suharto "briefly" during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in 1994. "But it had more prominence as an agenda item than any of his predecessors gave it," she said.

The U.S. government backed Indonesia's invasion of East Timor in 1975 after the abrupt departure of the Portuguese colonizers. Indonesia annexed the territory the following year -- a move never recognized by the United Nations.

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Albion Monitor October 28, 1996 (

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