Jakarta, IO – The current land conflict brewing on Rempang Island reflects the intricate battle between the human rights of the people, the ambitions of private businesses and the dilemma of the Government’s interest. As a nation founded on the principles of social justice for all Indonesian people, we must reflect: Have we fulfilled this promise?
History wrote how the indigenous people of Rempang Island, consisting of the Malay Tribe, the Orang Laut Tribe and the Orang Darat Tribe, have lived on the island since 1834. They are not settlers, but are part of this nation’s cultural and historical heritage. Yet, ironically, despite their strong roots on the island, they are now threatened by business interests and land use through the “Right of Exploitation” (HGU).
As an economist and public policy observer, I understand the importance of investment and development for economic growth. However, economic growth that ignores people’s fundamental rights is a flawed growth. We cannot build a country on the suffering and sacrifice of the people.
The case of Rempang Island represents many similar cases throughout the country, where common people often fall victim to business and political interests. Granting HGU to private parties without considering the rights of local communities is a form of injustice, one that must be addressed immediately.
I also regret the Government tendency to side with investors and ignore people’s rights. The Government should have acted as a fair mediator, not as a party that bears down on the people. Moreover, there is a strong indication that the HGU holders have violated the rules by not having utilized the land for years. Now is the Government’s opportunity to prove its commitment to the people, by revoking the HGU and returning the land to the indigenous inhabitants.
In addition, the authorities’ repressive measures against the community depict a betrayal of democratic principles and human rights. As a civilized nation, we must resolve conflicts with dialogue and deliberation, not violence.
Therefore, I encourage all elements of the nation, the Government, the private sector and society to work together to resolve the land conflict on Rempang Island. Let’s show the world that we are a great nation, capable of solving problems wisely and fairly.
To sum up, I would like to quote Bung Karno: “Never forget history (the Red Coats)”. Let us not forget the history and struggle of the people of Rempang Island. The Indonesian people should fight with them for justice and truth.