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Jakarta Post

No protest against Chinese workers in Morowali nickel mining site, say police

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, January 31, 2019   /   09:33 am
No protest against Chinese workers in Morowali nickel mining site, say police A worker marks a stainless steel hot rolled coil (HRC) that just came out from the machine in Morowali Industrial Park’s HRC plant in Morowali, Central Sulawesi, on Sept. 18, 2017. The industrial complex smelts nickel and processes it into stainless steel. (JP/Stefani Ribka)

Police have arrested a suspect, identified as I, 23, in Morowali, Central Sulawesi, for allegedly spreading false information on social media.

National Police spokesperson Brig. Gen Dedi Prasetyo said the suspect had posted a video of a protest at nickel miner PT Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park's (IMIP) compound on his personal Facebook account and narrated it as a rise against Chinese workers.

“The motive was to create noise on social media, to create a hype against foreign workers. We arrested the suspect today and will carry out an investigation immediately,” Dedi said on Wednesday. 

A two-minute video of thousands of workers protesting at the IMIP industrial park went viral on Jan. 25. It claimed the protest was against Chinese workers for reportedly earning higher salaries.

"There are too many Chinese workers. [It’s] threatening," a narrator says in the video.

Dedi explained that the protest had taken place, but the workers demanded an increase in wages.

"Ten percent of workers in Morowali are migrant workers and they are here to transfer their knowledge about technology, which will benefit Indonesia,” Dedi said.

The suspect, arrested in Cengkareng, West Jakarta, has been charged under Article 14 and Article 15 of the Criminal Code (KUHP), which carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison.

Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri also denied that the protest had been about IMIP’s Chinese workers.

"Good morning. The labor protest in Morowali was not against Chinese workers. The protest was related to the regional minimum wage, which currently is being handled by relevant authorities. Don’t spread hoaxes," Hanif said through his personal Twitter account @hanifdhakiri on Friday.

IMIP data shows that only 10.9 percent of the 28,568 workers employed at the industrial park, or 3,121 people, are foreign nationals.

Morowali, which covers an area of 5,472 square kilometers, or approximately the size of Brunei Darussalam, contains at least 370.6 million tons of nickel reserves, enough for decades’ worth of mining. 

IMIP is 75 percent owned by China-based Shanghai Decent Investment Group and 25 percent owned by local mining firm Bintangdelapan Group, which is linked to several retired Army generals, including Lt. Gen. (ret.) Sintong Panjaitan, a former special forces specialist during the reign of former president Soeharto. (ggq)