The recent turmoil on Rempang Island has its roots in an investment project that has been ongoing since 2001. PT Makmur Elok Graha, a subsidiary of the Artha Graha group owned by Tomy Winata, has held the concession for developing a 16,583-hectare business, industrial, residential, and tourism center on the island since 2001.
Tomy, who has been visiting Europe since Thursday, September 7, has also presented this project to potential investors in several countries. In one of his presentations, Tomy discussed the Rempang Eco-City project with Dutch Chamber of Commerce members.
During his European visit, Tomy faced questions from various entrepreneurs wanting to know the current situation on Rempang. He made efforts to assure them that the situation on Rempang is under control. “So far, all investors remain committed to proceeding with their business plans on Rempang,” he stated.
Attracting foreign investors
Tomy explained that 12 global companies have expressed interest in developing projects on Rempang alongside his company. He denied allegations that the police evacuation operations were carried out at his request. “The land on Rempang is still under the jurisdiction of BP Batam,” he said. “We only began development after the land handover.”
Tomy claimed to have requested that BP Batam and the police refrain from using force during the evacuation of Rempang. He emphasized that investors require a stable and safe environment.
Consequently, when the unrest erupted, his colleagues, who had been persuaded to invest in Rempang, inquired about the turmoil. According to Tomy, the total investment in Rempang amounts to nearly IDR 400 trillion, providing employment for at least 35,000 workers.
After meeting Xi Jinping
News about the development of Rempang Island gained much attention following President Joko Widodo’s visit to Chengdu, China, on July 27 and 28, 2023.
In addition to meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, a delegation of Indonesian officials, including several members of President Jokowi’s economic cabinet, explored business opportunities with various entrepreneurs.
These business opportunities targeted collaborations in the petrochemical, renewable energy, and healthcare industries. After returning from China, Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia shared some exciting news through a press release.
He revealed that the meetings had secured investment commitments worth USD 11.5 billion. “I want to present the most concrete takeaway. Today, the President witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Xinyi,” he said.
Xinyi Glass Holdings Limited is the world’s largest glass manufacturer, holding a 26 percent market share.
Bahlil explained that the government is willing to facilitate land requirements for a new factory on Rempang Island. Xinyi is interested in investing because Indonesia possesses quartz sand and silica as raw materials for glass production. A few months earlier, Minister Airlangga had also written to the Ministry of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning/National Land Agency to expedite the project.
Dated May 4, 2023, the letter requested that the Ministry of Agrarian Affairs support the acceleration of Rempang’s development according to its jurisdiction. The government aimed to clarify land ownership status on the island.
Minister of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning, Hadi Tjahjanto, responded to the letter with document number B/PF.01/1404/V/2023, dated May 26, 2023.
He explained that the development of the Rempang area aligns with the spatial planning plans issued by the Riau Islands and Batam City governments. The development of Rempang Island is envisioned as an internationally renowned trade, service, maritime, logistics, and industrial-based tourism area.