By Yanto Soegiarto
Chappy Hakim was still meeting with his Freeport colleagues when GlobeAsia reached him at a lounge on a Wednesday night. Shortly after, the former Indonesian Air Force marshal appeared to greet his friends and guests who had been waiting to see him perform onstage. Wearing a cowboy hat, Chappy introduced members of his PlaySet band and performed popular folk songs to the envy of his friends.
The 69-year-old veteran is always high-spirited. Unity in diversity is reflected in him. He dedicated his folk songs to the people of Papua, Aceh and East Java. But he is also good at performing Harry Belafonte’s Jamaica farewell, Frank Sinatra’s South of the border and Louis Armstrong’s Wonderful world. There was a lot of golden oldies as well as both foreign and Indonesian songs in his repertoir. Chappy is not only good with instruments inside the cockpit of an aircraft. He is also a safe pair of hands with the guitar, saxophone and the piano. Often he switches instruments during his stage performances.
During a nation building-themed poetry reading event, Chappy read his poetry while playing the piano. The event was co-hosted by the Jaya Suprana School of Performing Arts and attended by top national figures, among others Coordinating Minister for Politics, Security and Legal Affairs Wiranto and anti-narcotics chief Budi Waseso. All called for unity of the nation and preservation of true Indonesian ideals.
Chappy also has a journalist’s blood in him which he inherited from his father who worked as a reporter for the Antara news agency. He has written many books, has his own blog and think-tank. When needed to comment on the news, Chappy will always be there with his expert views and criticism.
“He reads a lot. He can comment on anything very precisely, debate you on any issues and provide insights as well as comparisons. He is a very open-minded, amicable person. People don’t see him as a tough air marshal but more as a buddy,” said veteran journalist Daud Sinyal.
“He is familiar with the latest issues whether domestic or foreign, especially regional. He is critical, not only to the decision-makers in civil aviation but to his own corps. He even criticizes the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) if he has a strong argument and it would be hard to refute him.”
“As a big city boy, Chappy has many friends. The way he dresses displays his personality as very informal but a respected person,” said Daud, who has shared many precious moments as a long-time buddy.
Military analyst Atmadji Sumarkidjo comments that he has known Chappy since he was a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force. “He was a good Hercules pilot, commands respect as a member of the top brass and is a good author. But it is his love for the nation that is exemplary,” he said.
Chappy was recently appointed as president director of Freeport Indonesia, the local unit of United States-based mining giant Freeport McMoRan. Shareholders at the Arizona-based parent company and the Indonesian government, which controls a 9.36% stake in Freeport Indonesia, were quick to approve his appointment.
The Yogyakarta-born four-star general is not a new face at Freeport Indonesia. He has been a senior advisor to the Indonesian company, which runs the Grasberg mine in Papua, the world’s largest gold mine and the third-largest copper mine.
The position of president director had been vacant since Maroef Sjamsoeddin’s premature departure last year after a short stint. The former deputy to the chief of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) assumed office in January 2015.
Maroef resigned after he broached allegations of extortion involving top politicians and lawmakers related to the company’s planned share divestment. Under a 2014 government regulation, the local unit must divest 30% of its shares to Indonesian parties by 2019. Today, Freeport McMoRan controls 90.64% shares in Freeport Indonesia with the government owning the remainder.
An initial public offering (IPO) is Freeport Indonesia’s preferred method to unload the shares, but the government has insisted the company must first offer the shares to government or state-owned enterprises. Early this year, Freeport Indonesia offered 10.64% to the government for $1.7 billion, but the deal failed to materialize with the government deeming the price too expensive.
But Chappy said that Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Ignasius Jonan had told him the government has had a change of heart. “As of today, the government has the same stance as the company. We now only need to calculate Freeport’s valuation. If it’s attractive, I think an IPO is very likely,” he said.