Ministry to Sue New7Wonders Over Komodo Snub

The Jakarta Globe

The Culture and Tourism Ministry will sue the organizers of the New 7Wonders of Nature competition for removing it as the Komodo National Park’s official backer in the competition, a lawyer said on Wednesday.

Todung Mulya Lubis, representing the ministry in the suit, said the Swiss-based New7Wonders Foundation acted unfairly in dropping the ministry as the park’s official supporter. “It’s unfair because it was the ministry that first registered Komodo for the competition and signed the standard participation agreement,” Todung told the Jakarta Globe. “Therefore, we want them to reinstate the ministry as the official supporting organization.”

On Monday, New7Wonders said the ministry would no longer be allowed to officially support the park’s campaign because it had failed to meet its obligations.

In a statement posted on the foundation’s Web site, New7Wonders president Bernard Weber said the ministry had to be dropped in order to keep the national park in the contest.

“In the case of Komodo, the evidence clearly points to the unsuitability of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism as our authorized New7Wonders Official Supporting Committee,” he said.

The ministry also failed to meet requirements in its bid to host the awards ceremony for the competition’s winning entries later this year. However, Todung said it had never signed an agreement to host the ceremony, adding that Komodo’s participation in the New7Wonders campaign and Indonesia’s willingness to host the awards ceremony were two different things.

“Their decision to drop the ministry as the official supporting committee is an attempt to discredit Indonesia’s government and has no legal basis,” he said.

Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik said the legal action against New7Wonders “to uphold Indonesia’s reputation.”

He added that he had never signed a contract with the foundation that would oblige the government to pay $10 million in licensing fees and Rp 420 billion ($47 million) to host the ceremony.

However, New7Wonders has denied asking for the latter sum, saying the government’s only commitment if it wanted to support the private consortium organizing the ceremony was around $10 million.

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