The Bakrie family: an Indonesian business dynasty mired in controversy
To many, Nat Rothschild’s partners in his mining venture will forever be linked with Indonesia’s mud volcano disaster of 2006.
The scandal engulfing Nat Rothschild’s Indonesian mining venture, Bumi, has raised questions about the involvement of his local partners, the politically influential Bakrie family, whose leading light is expected to run for the country’s presidency in two years’ time.
Behind the Bakrie Group is a family dynasty that currently has three key players, the brothers Aburizal, Nirwan and Indra. The group has fingers in lots of different pies, from media outlets and life insurance to mining, agriculture, construction, trade, and property development.
The brothers’ late father, Ahmad Bakrie, founded the Bakrie & Brothers holding company in 1942 as a modest trading enterprise, but it was to become a giant conglomerate that suffered a devastating reversal of fortune with the Asian financial crisis in 1997. At that time, according to the FT, the Bakrie Group had incurred debts worth $1.1b (£0.7bn)), with its creditors losing 80% of their money and the family retaining less than 3% of its starting shares.
The Bakries are often acknowledged with a shrug of wariness in Indonesia, not least because the family – whose members fly around the archipelago in private jets – is linked by many to the world’s largest mud volcano disaster in 2006. A gas exploration that went wrong in eastern Java resulted in the burial under sludge of thousands of people’s homes and businesses, and six years on the muck has only now slowed to one-tenth of its previous flow.
Indonesia’s national commission on human rights last month declared the disaster a human rights violation, and found that the Bakries’ drilling firm had paid insufficient compensation to those affected.
Ruth (Baker) Ndesandjo
- Born Ruth Beatrice Baker, in US c. 1937, to Maurice Joseph Baker and Ida Baker of Newton, Massachusetts, who are of Lithuanian Jewish descent. Ruth was a 1954 graduate of Brookline High School in Brookline, Massachusetts, and a 1958 graduate of Simmons College in Boston with a degree in business. She was a suburban elementary school teacher when she met and began dating Barack, Sr., in Cambridge in June 1964, a month before his return to Kenya in August 1964. Ruth followed Obama, Sr., back to Kenya five weeks later, and married him in Kenya in a civil ceremony on December 24, 1964. She later became a private kindergarten director in Kenya. Ruth’s two sons with Barack Obama, Sr., are Mark and David. Since she remarried when they were young, they took their stepfather’s surname, Ndesandjo, as their own. Her third son, Joseph Ndesandjo, was born c. 1980 in her second marriage.
- Newton Diehl Baker, Jr. (December 3, 1871 – December 25, 1937) was an American politician who belonged to the Democratic Party. He served as the 37th mayor of Cleveland, Ohio from 1912 to 1915 and as U.S. Secretary of War from 1916 to 1921.
Abu Bakr “al Siddiq”
One of the first followers of Muhammad who, in 632, became the first of the four “rightly guided” caliphs. Abu Bakr repeatedly led the Muslim community in prayer in the lifetime of the Prophet. The latter used to call him by his patronyms of Abu Bakr and Ibn Abi Quhafa, and named him with the attributes “The Most Truthful” (al-Siddîq) and “Allah’s Freedman From the Fire” (`Atîq Allâh min al-nâr). The Prophet confirmed his high rank in many of his sayings, among them:
“Allah gave one of His servants a choice between this world and what He has with Him, and that servant chose what Allah has with Him.” Abu Bakr wept profusely and we wondered why he wept, since the Prophet had told of a servant that was given a choice. The Prophet himself was that servant, as Abu Bakr later told us. The Prophet continued: “Among those most dedicated to me in his companionship and property is Abu Bakr. If I were to take an intimate friend other than my Lord, I would take Abu Bakr. But what binds us is the brotherhood of Islam and its love. Let no door [of the Prophet’s mosque] remain open except Abu Bakr’s.”
Sohale Siddiqi (also Hal Siddiqi) was the best friend and roommate of Barack Obama while he attended Columbia University in the early 1980s. He is identified as “Sadik” in Obama’s memoir, Dreams From My Father. Obama describes Saddiqi as “a short, well-built Pakistani” who smoked marijuana and snorted cocaine. Siddiqi was from Karachi, Pakistan and came to America from London on a tourist visa. He overstayed his visa becoming an illegal alien.
Obama first met Siddiqi when he attended Occidental College in Los Angeles. Obama was living with a group of Pakistani students when Siddiqi arrived for a visit. Obama transferred to Columbia University and lived off campus with Siddiqi. Siddiqi was not a student and made his living working in restaurants. Together they lived in a drug-ridden slum apartment on 339 East 94th St. Siddiqi got the apartment by lying, saying he had a well paid job. The apartment was furnished by what they could find in the streets.
Obama and Siddiqi would go out together and enjoy the nightlife of New York City. Siddiqi claims Obama stopped using drugs when he arrived at Columbia. Obama eventually moved out when Siddiqi’s drug use began to interfere with his studies.
To help his old friend, Obama gave Siddiqi a job reference. Siddiqi is a recovering drug addict and now works for a community theater in Seattle. Siddiqi is a strong Obama supporter. On his phone message he says, “My name is Hal Siddiqi, and I approve of this message. Vote for peace, vote for hope, vote for change and vote for Obama.”
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