JIS staffers Ferdinand Tjiong, left, and Neil Bantleman, seen at the South Jakarta District Court last month, showing pictures made by their students. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Adimaja)

AmCham: JIS Verdicts Could Deter Foreign Investment in Indonesia

APRIL 06, 2015

[Updated at 8:40 p.m. to add details and background]

Jakarta. The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Indonesia has expressed its concern about the conviction of two staffers of an elite international school in a high-profile sexual abuse case, saying the verdicts could have a "negative impact on the foreign investment environment."

In an official statement released on Monday, AmCham Indonesia said its concern is that "the reported irregularities and abuses ... have a negative impact on the perception of potential and actual investors concerning the rule of law, due process and legal certainty in particular and the investment climate in general."

“Indonesians and foreigners alike are entitled to these fundamental rights,” the statement added.

AmCham said that future investors would consider carefully the quality of international schools before they make a decision to relocate and invest in a country.

The statement added that the verdicts in the case could prevent qualified foreign educators from seeking employment in Indonesia due to fear of "unjust accusations and related outcomes."

The Indonesian legal system came in for heavy criticism after Neil Bantleman, a Canadian national, and Indonesian citizen Ferdinand Tjiong were each handed 10-year prison terms on Thursday by a South Jakarta court for sexually abusing three boys at the Jakarta Intercultural School, previously known as the Jakarta International School.

Supporters of the two JIS staffers, who both maintain their innocence and have filed appeals, say there is no evidence to support claims of sexual abuse of three young students.

Judges were adamant however that the defendants should be convicted, stressing especially that they refused to admit their wrongdoings and did not show any remorse.

AmCham Indonesia’s statement comes on the heels of similar concerns raised by US Ambassador Robert O. Blake Jr. as well as widespread outcry among Indonesia’s expatriate community.

The chamber of commerce said that JIS is regarded as one of the best and most prestigious educational institutions in Indonesia and indeed the world. The school has since its establishment as the Joint Embassy School in 1951 played an active role in fostering Indonesia’s investment climate.