PT Alam is accused of illegally converting up to 500 hectares of protected forests in North Sumatra into oil palm plantations.
The North Sumatra Regional Police
has named Musa Idishah, better known as Dodi Shah, as a suspect in
a case of illegal deforestation of protected areas for oil palm cultivation.
Dodi Shah is the younger brother
of Musa Rajekshah, Deputy Governor of North Sumatra, an Indonesian province in
Dodi is the head of
PT Anugerah Langkat Makmur (PT ALAM), the company accused of
illegally converting up
to 500 hectares (ha) of protected forests in North Sumatra into oil palm
At the end of January, Dodi was
taken for questioning by the police after ignoring two
summons to present himself. He has not yet been arrested, as the North Sumatra
police does not consider him to be a flight risk.
Police have seized computers,
financial reports, internal memos and other documents from
PT ALAM’s offices and carried out a search of Dodi’s residence in Medan, North
Sumatra’s capital city. Fire arms and ammunition, for which Dodi claims to
have permits, have also been seized.
PT ALAM’s plantations in question
are located in
Sei Lepan, West Brandan and Besitang, all districts of Langkat Regency, North
Dodi could be charged under
laws 18/2013 (Prevention and Eradication of Forest Destruction), 39/2014
(Plantations) and 32/2009 (Environmental Protection and Management). If
convicted, he could face up to eight years in prison.
In early February, Musa Rajekshah,
who was once a director at PT ALAM, was questioned by
police for nine hours. Helen Purba, head of North Sumatra Forestry Service, was
also summoned for questioning. Both have only been named as witnesses so far.
Dodi’s father, Anif Shah, is a
well-known businessman in North Sumatra. The family is said to control over
30,000ha of oil palm plantations in the provinces of North Sumatra and Riau.
The Indonesian Forum for the
Environment (Walhi), a conservation NGO, has welcomed the
investigation but expressed concern that Dodi has not been arrested and said
that all cases of illegal forest clearing in the province must be thoroughly
The North Sumatra police claims
to have investigated 12
companies since 2012 over alleged illegal deforestation of protected areas for
oil palm cultivation in the province.
reported that around 8,000 square kilometres of mostly oil palm plantations are
located in protected forests in North Sumatra “that are supposed to be
off-limits to commercial agriculture.”
In recent months, The Gecko Project,
established by Earthsight in partnership with Mongabay, has shed light on the
corruption driving land deals and the destruction of tropical rainforests in
In its latest instalment, The
Secret Deal to Destroy Paradise, the Gecko Project has showed how permits
for the giant Tanah Merah oil palm plantation in Papua were issued from a
prison cell by a politician serving a sentence on unrelated corruption charges.
The article exposed the high
levels of secrecy surrounding the licensing process and the identities of the
investors behind the project. The Tanah Merah plantation – which could span
2,800 square kilometres once fully developed – falls on the land of indigenous
people, whose rights have been roundly ignored.