Markus Junianto Sihaloho
Golkar Party’s deputy secretary general, Lalu Mara Satriawangsa, confirmed on Friday that the Bakrie family had still not finished paying compensation to victims of the Lapindo mudflow disaster in East Java, and thanked the president for reminding them about the obligation a day earlier.
Lalu, who also acts as the family spokesman, said that Golkar hoped the president did not have any political agenda when he reminded the family about the compensation commitment.
“We hope the president’s statement wasn’t political,” Lalu said on Friday.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday strongly criticized Lapindo Brantas, the oil and gas company that some scientists blame for the Sidoarjo mudflow disaster, for not fulfilling its obligation to compensate the victims.
“I got a report that Lapindo still has not completed its responsibility and Rp 800 billion [$83 million] is still not paid,” Yudhoyono said on Thursday.
Yudhoyono expressed his concern after receiving reports that the area inundated by the mudflow was also threatened by the impact of recent heavy rains.
“I have heard reports saying that there are some unfinished matters that disrupted our efforts to contain the Sidoarjo mudflow,” he said.
Yudhoyono urged Lapindo Brantas, a company partly-owned by presidential hopeful and Golkar Party chairman Aburizal Bakrie, to honor its pledge.
“Please convey this message to Lapindo: that they should keep their promise. If you play around with people you will carry the sins to the afterlife, tell them that,” he said.
Lalu said it was normal for the president to issue such a statement because he has been following the compensation process.
“So, it’s a normal statement from the president. Thank you, Mr. President for the attention. And the president is also aware about the Lapindo [status], including the Supreme Court’s verdict, which has a legal standing,” Lalu said.
The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that Lapindo was not guilty and described the mudflow as a natural disaster.
Lalu said that despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Bakrie family remained committed to completing the payment for purchasing the people’s assets.
“It’s true that the payment has not been completed. We admit that. It’s true that they haven’t been materialized, but that doesn’t mean we are breaching the agreement. We are also humans with limitations, [we’re] not perfect,” he said.