"This is an extraordinary step that we had never predicted before. The decision was taken during a coordination meeting on maritime affairs led by the coordinating minister for maritime affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan in Jakarta," the chairman of West Timor Care Foundation, Ferdi Tanoni, told ANTARA News here on Saturday (Dec. 3).
The Indonesian government was forced to take legal action, as Montara PTTEP Australasia oil operator failed to take up the responsibility of an oil spill incident that had affected almost 90 percent of Timor Sea waters in August 21, 2009.
"This is a humanitarian tragedy, which is difficult to explain, because people living in the coastal areas of East Nusa Tenggara had to live for more than seven years in misery due to the Montara oil spill," he said.
The coordination meeting was attended by officials of maritime affairs, including the attorney generals office, the East Nusa Tenggara province, 13 representatives from districts and cities in the province, and fishermen affected by the incident represented by the West Timor Care group.
Tanoni stated that the decision to freeze the licenses and assets of PTTEP by the government would be immediately consolidated by the National Team for the Settlement of the Dispute over the Montara Oil Spill Incident in 2009 in Timor Sea, led by Havaz Oegroseno, the first deputy of maritime defense, with the office of the coordinating minister for maritime affairs.
As a representative of the people of East Nusa Tenggara, who had fought for justice for more than seven years, Tanoni lauded the decision of Panjaitan, who had directly ordered his staff to take firm action against PTTEP immediately, for taking the responsibility to prevent pollution in the Timor Sea.
"We have waited for the firm action of the government of President Joko Widodo for more than seven years, and it is only now that we realize the governments support in our fight for justice," he added.
The writer of a book titled "Timor Sea Scandal, An Economic-Political Barter between Canberra and Jakarta," said Panjaitan has expressed regret over the protracted settlement of the case.
"It is the responsibility of the Indonesian government to protect the people of East Nusa Tenggara who are affected," he said.
He said the National Team for the Settlement of the Dispute over the Montara Oil Spill Incident in 2009 would immediately coordinate with the prosecutors office to submit an application to the Central Jakarta district court to freeze the licenses and assets of PTTEP.
(Reported by Kornelis Kaha/Uu.H-YH/INE/KR-BSR/A014)