Indonesia

Indonesia has great natural wealth but many of its citizens live in extreme poverty. Democratic progress has been made since the resigation of former president Suharto in 1998, but many civil society organisations feel that far too little progress has been made towards sustainable management of the country's resources, and ensuring that Indonesia's diverse communities have a real say in decisions which affect their future.

Down to Earth No 49 May 2001

Indonesia has permitted the planting of genetically modified crops without public consultation and without adequate legal protection for farmers, consumers and the environment.

On March 15th, forty tons of genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds arrived from South Africa at Hasanuddin airport in Makassar, South Sulawesi. The seeds were trucked away under armed guard, to be sold to farmers in seven districts in the province. They were imported by PT Monagro Kimia the Indonesian subsidiary of US-based agro-chemical giant, Monsanto.

Down to Earth No. 49, May 2001

Special autonomy delayed...

The May 1st deadline for passing laws on ‘special autonomy’ for Aceh and West Papua is being postponed. Home affairs minister Surjadi Sudirdja, who announced the decision in late April, did not set a new deadline for passing the laws. According to the Indonesian Observer, the two separate bills propose that Aceh and West Papua be given 80% of revenues from natural resources.

Down to Earth No. 48 February 2001


WALHI, Indonesia's leading environmental organisation, offers a critique of the regional autonomy process and recommendations for change in its annual "Environmental Outlook" paper, circulated in January.

WALHI is concerned that regional autonomy is being implemented without the necessary level of democratisation required to safeguard the interests and rights of the majority of the population and to protect the environment.

Down to Earth No. 48, February 2001


President Wahid's fractured government has been unable to prevent confusion and disarray at the launch of regional autonomy - the transfer of authority from central government to the regions.

Down to Earth No. 47, November 2000

Natural resources are one of the main factors underlying the independence struggle in Aceh, but decades of plunder have left them severely depleted.

The brutal murder of the internationally known Acehnese human rights activist, Jafar Siddiq Hamzah, reminded the world in September that the northern-most tip of Sumatra remains a dangerous place. Despite a 'humanitarian pause' signed by Indonesia and Acehnese independence leaders in June this year, the murders, disappearances and torture have continued.

Down to Earth No. 46, August 2000

The tension between state control over resources and local communities' demands for 'sovereignty'.

The tug of war between the centre and the regional governments has dominated the debate about regional autonomy in the media, in parliament and among Indonesia's creditors.

Down to Earth No. 46, August 2000

The Wahid government's emphasis on foreign investment prioritises the needs of multinational companies over sustainable, community based natural resource management

Soon after taking office, President Wahid pledged his commitment to foreign companies and declared his new government investor-friendly.