Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Seoul Embassy: Renovation vs Relocation

Media Indonesia publish a very interesting article today about the controversy surrounding cabinet secretary Sudi Silalahi's letter recommending PT Sun Hoo Engineering to renovate Indonesian Embassy building in Seoul, South Korea.
The article titled Lokasi Gedung itu jadi incaran Chaebol (literally means The Building Location is targetted by Chaebol) explains why the letter was so important. It's not simply about renovating the building, but relocate that to other place with a possible huge economic gain.
The newspaper reported the embassy compound is located in a prestigious Yoido-Dong district, southern side of Seoul city, next to the Trump Enterprises building. Indonesia government bought the 8,000 square meters land at Rp3 million per square meter, but now the market price could be Rp70 million per square meter, which means around Rp560 billion for the whole compound. Rumors in Seoul that chaebol vying for the complex adjacent to Han River which split the city.
The embassy is located in prime real estate area in Seoul's Yeouido-dong central business district. Due to its strategic location, the government has been offered land swap deals said to be worth up to US$200 million, The Jakarta Post wrote.
We could find headquarter of big companies like Samsung, Hyundai, or Keppel Land in the Yeouido-dong central business district.
But who is behind Sun Hoo Engineering, a company that is not found through searching engines such as Yahoo! or Google? Was the company proposing a renovation or relocation of Indonesian embassy? Why Sudi should send the recommendation letter to foreign affairs minister twice if the project never existed? Who wants to swap the land at US$200 million?
Indonesian media reports speculated that Sun Hoo is a fictious company. According to Sudi's attachment letter the company's address was at Mega Kebon Jeruk Kavling 18-19, West Jakarta. But the address turns out to be the home of Mr Kim Sung Woo, a South Korea citizen.
Media Indonesia tried to investigate the companies mentioned in Sudi's letters. The newspaper managed to meet Essendi Johan, director at PT Amarum Multi Pratama and Haryono Silalahi (president director). Haryono who share the same last name with Sudi denied that he has no family relationship with Sudi. Another name linked to PT Sun Hoo is Kim Sung Woo who denied that he owns the company. But he admits that he knew Essendi since three years ago. "But we have no construction business," he said as quoted by Media Indonesia.
Where to go?
Well, police said today that Sudi feels that he never wrote the letters. Sudi through his staff even reported cabinet secretary staffs that alegedly counterfeiting the letters or his signature to the police. Police Chief General Sutanto said the police is investigating the counterfeit allegation.
Surprise, surprise!
Sutanto said that the letters to foreign affairs minister have been changed from its original version. Sudi told police that he never send those letters.
What a mess! Vice President Jusuf Kalla tried to defend Sudi before saying the letters were just information, not a decision or recommendation to appoint PT Sun Hoo Engineering.



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