Bob Hasan

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Mohamad "Bob" Hasan (born 1931) is an Indonesian businessman, former Minister of Trade and Industry, and friend of former president of Indonesia, Suharto. Hasan was convicted of corruption in 2001 in a widely publicised trial.

Early life[edit]

Hasan, who is of Chinese Indonesian descent and whose birth name is The Kian Seng (Chinese: 鄭建盛; pinyin: Zhèng Jiànshèng), was born in Semarang, Central Java, Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) in February 1931. He changed his name upon becoming a Muslim. He is a foster son of Gatot Subroto, a general in the Indonesian Army, who commanded then-Colonel Suharto in the 1950s, and through whom Hasan met Suharto.

Business career[edit]

After Suharto replaced Subroto as commander of the Army's Diponegoro Division, Hasan worked with Suharto to develop a wide range of side businesses, controlled by the military, that provided much of the funding for the Division as well as extra income for its officers.[1]

After Suharto took the presidency in 1966, he initiated a massive expansion of Indonesian commercial logging, especially in the islands outside of Java. In the 1970s Hasan served as the required Indonesian "partner" for foreign companies wanting to harvest timber in Indonesia, working most notably with the United States corporation Georgia Pacific, and also established a number of joint ventures between his and government-owned companies. In 1981 the government banned the export of unmilled timber, leading to many foreign companies selling their Indonesian operations to domestic owners interested in establishing processing operations; Hasan, already a major shareholder in Georgia Pacific's Indonesia operation, became its sole owner when the company left Indonesia in 1983.[1] Starting from timber, he expanded his business interests into financial, insurance, automotive, and other industries, primarily through his Kalimanis holding company.[2] Hasan's Kalimanis group was reported to control over 2 million hectares (7,700 square miles) of prime concessions in Kalimantan.[3]

Hasan was also Chairman of the Indonesian Wood Panel Association (Apkindo) Under Hasan, Apkindo was given complete control of plywood pricing, marketing, and exports. Apkindo helped Indonesia gain about three-quarters of the worldwide plywood export market by the early 1990s, sometimes using techniques described by observers as "predatory pricing". Hasan personally profited from his chairmanship both by supporting business he owned, and through control of the fees paid to the organization by other members.[1]

Hasan ran PT Nusantara Ampera Bakti (Nusamba) which is 80%-owned by foundations controlled by Suharto.[3][4]

Hasan was said to become the mediator in disputes between Suharto's six children, after the death of Suharto's wife.[3] He was reported to orchestrate the deal of settling shareholder dispute of the Busang gold deposit found by Bre-X Minerals in Kalimantan.[3][4]

Indonesian cabinet ministry[edit]

Suharto appointed Hasan Minister of Trade and Industry in 1998, making him the only Indonesian of Chinese descent ever to join Suharto's cabinet. His appointment was criticised by some foreign financial analysts as evidence that Suharto was not interested in substantial fiscal changes after the Asian financial crisis began in 1997.[5] As a result of International Monetary Fund (IMF) requirements during the crisis, Apkindo was closed down in 1998.[6]

Corruption convictions and imprisonment[edit]

Hasan was frequently the subject of allegations of corruption as a result of his business dealings and control of much of Indonesian industry; after Suharto stepped down in 1998, a series of court judgements found evidence of crimes. He was fined 50 billion rupiah (US$7 million) as a result of a lawsuit filed by several youth organisations, alleging that Hasan had ordered the burning of forests in Sumatra.[6] In February 2001, a court unanimously convicted him of causing a US$244 million loss to the Indonesian government through a fraudulent forest-mapping project in Java in the early 1990s, leading to imprisonment. He was imprisoned at Cipinang prison and then at the more secure Nusa Kambangan, an island off the coast of south-central Java, until his release on parole in February 2004.[7] Hasan was the first and among the most prominent of former Suharto associates convicted of fraud and corruption after Suharto resigned in May 1998.

Hasan was a member of the International Olympic Committee from 1994 to 2004, when the IOC expelled him due to his corruption conviction. The IOC was criticised by the Indonesian government in 2000 after the IOC argued that Hasan should be allowed to attend the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia despite his being under arrest at the time.[8]


  1. ^ a b c Barr, Christopher M (1998). Bob Hasan, the rise of Apkindo, and the shifting dynamics of control in Indonesia's timber sector. Indonesia 65:1-36.
  2. ^ Saragosa, Manuel (1997). Indonesian tycoon plays influential role. Financial Times February 13. p 6.
  3. ^ a b c d "Indonesia’s Uncle Bob (Mar 27, 1997)". The economist. Retrieved 31 July 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Borsuk, Richard (Feb 16, 1997). "Freeport Beats Out Canadians To Develop Busang Gold Mine". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 31 July 2016. 
  5. ^ Porter, Barry (1998). Suharto cronies dominate new financial team. South China Morning Post March 15.
  6. ^ a b Cotton, James (1999). The "haze" over Southeast Asia: challenging the ASEAN mode of regional engagement. Pacific Affairs 72(3):331-351.
  7. ^ Donnan, Shawn (2004). Jailed ex-tycoon Hasan is released early in Indonesia. Financial Times February 23. p 2.
  8. ^ Bita, Natasha (2000). IOC tries to get its own out of jail. The Australian. September 13.