The Jakarta Post
Local authorities in Buton regency, Southeast Sulawesi, are investigating how the province’s Pendek Island ended up for sale online, following a report filed by the heirs of former islanders.
The sparsely populated island of 242 hectares belonging to Boneatiro village in Kapontori district was offered on an e-commerce site at a price of Rp 36,500 (US$2.47) per square meter. The site has since taken down the offer.
Kapontori Police chief First. Insp. La Ajima said police had received a report from the heirs of former islanders and would coordinate with the Buton Police in the further investigation.
“This is a national issue and should be handled by at least the precinct police. Most of the witnesses to be questioned live outside of Buton regency. I will bring this report to the [Buton] Police chief,” La Ajima said on Thursday, as quoted by kompas.com.
West Boneatiro village head Ilyas, who is himself one of the heirs of the former islanders, said they had included in their report records of tax payments for 334 former islanders paid in the period of 1937 to 1940.
“The evidence of tax payments is the basis for our police report,” he said.
He said the records included all the names of taxpayers who had lived on the island during the Dutch colonial era. The heirs also submitted other evidence, including historical records of the island during the Buton Sultanate.
The Buton Police have conducted an initial investigation into the case.
Buton Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Adi Benny Cahyono said the alleged perpetrator, identified only as IS, was currently residing in West Jakarta.
“The perpetrator took advantage of the moment. Maybe he saw that the government paid less attention to [the island], so he ventured to advertise it,” he said.
Adi said the Buton Police had formed two investigative teams that would also cooperate with the National Police’s cybercrime unit to arrest and investigate the suspect.
Local authorities have reportedly planned to turn Pendek Island, with its exotic natural scenery, including the white coastline, coral reefs and abundant fish, into a tourist attraction in Buton regency.
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The island is currently only inhabited by one person named La Hasa, who said it was a shock to learn the place he lived in was being offered for sale.
La Hasa said that, under a government program, residents of Pendek Island had moved to the mainland in 1971, but he had decided to stay there and grow crops.
Buton regent La Bakry said Pendek Island was categorized as an “other designated area” (APL) under the authority of the regional government, as stipulated in a forestry clause by the Southeast Sulawesi administration.
He said the government had moved the islanders to the mainland to ease public service delivery, but some residents from the villages of Boneatiro and West Boneatiro still had some plantation work on the island. (syk)