Second term: President Jokowi urged to focus on natural resource management

In the next five years, the government should focus on improving management related to natural resources. (photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – As of late, the public has spectated the various maneuvers of political elites lobbying the powerful. This has caused concern amongst environmental activists. The distribution of seats has taken priority while the issue of saving the environment seems to have vanished from their attention. “Something clear ahead of the presidential inauguration recently, we were shown the lobbying maneuvers of the political elite. As if this was only about dividing power,” said Khalisah Khalid, political coordinator for The Indonesian Forum for Environment (Walhi), in Jakarta last week. 

According to him, the lobbying of political elites are not directed at anything substantial, such as the people’s agenda or saving Indonesia’s natural resources. Khalisah stated that the political and democratic situation lately is also of great concern. The legislative process of the House (Dewan Perwakilan Rakywat – “DPR”) with their various law revisions, threatens the conservation of nature and the environment, such as in the revision of the Corruption Eradication Commission (Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi – “KPK”), Water Resources, Land, Mineral and Coal, and Criminal Code Laws. “The legislative process sparked massive protests. Although a few law revisions were put off, they will be discussed again in the current parliament period,” he said. 

The process of writing the various laws, he said, were believed to not have been participative. The situation became even worse when almost 50% of DPR members elected were businesspeople. Khalisah worries that there will be a conflict of interest when creating policies. A background in business, he said, will cause problems when formulating laws. “It isn’t surprising that the Land, Mineral and Coal, Palm Oil law revisions, have been continually pushed as they substantially support the strengthening of investment. So, their interests will enter the discussions and signing of those polices, not the interests of the people,” he explained. 

According to Khalisah, there has been no political will from the government to carry out the People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat – “MPR”) provision for agricultural reform. Agricultural conflict, he said, continues to happen and solutions are in a standstill. “Until now, sectoral policies are still the main obstacle. The attitude of government agencies managing it is also sectoral. Those agricultural conflicts should be able to be solved in the first five years. So, the main issue now is whether sectoral ego is still commanding those issues,” he said. 

Beni Wijaya from the Agrarian Reform Consortium (Konsorsium Pembaruan Agraria – “KPA”) stated that in the next five years, the government should focus on improving management related to natural resources. “We hope Jokowi isn’t held hostage by the interests of political parties and oligarchs in deciding who will help through the ministerial positions. Especially for ministers related to natural resources such as the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Ministry of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning, and Energy and Mineral Resources,” he explained. 

Meanwhile, Wahyubinatara Fernandez, advocate manager of Indonesian Young Foresters (Rimbawan Muda Indonesia – “RMI”) stated that in the first period of Jokowi’s administration the people’s agenda and saving the environment stopped at the program level. On agricultural reform and social forestry, for instance, not much was accomplished. “The government tends to focus on investments and massive infrastructure building which might not benefit the people,” he said. 

Merah Johansyah, coordinator for the Mining Advocacy Network (Jaringan Advokasi Tambang – “Jatam”) stated that in the next five years corruption in mining would become worse, as a result of the weakening of the KPK through the KPK Law revision. Jatam recorded that between 2014-2018 there were 23 suspected cases of corruption estimated to cause government losses of up to IDR 210 trillion. The four main cases were in the Tahura Bukit Soeharto conservation in East Kalimantan, Tahura Poboya conservation in Central Sulawesi, alongside Newmont share divestment in West Nusa Tenggara Barat and misuse of forest area by the mining operation of PT Freeport Indonesia in Papua.