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


The shooting of demonstrators, killings in police detention and increased military presence are making the prospects for peace in West Papua even more remote.

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 idea of devolving authority to regional centres has been around for a long time. Indeed, incipient movements for autonomy and regional independence were strong in the first years of after independence, but clumsy CIA support triggered the centralist policies of the Sukarno regime. (Kahin, A.R. and Kahin, G.McT., 1995. Subversion as Foreign Policy: the Secret Eisenhower and Dulles Debacle in Indonesia. The New Press, New York).

Down to Earth No. 46, August 2000

In Indonesia, regional autonomy (otonomi daerah, or "Otda") is a loose term used by government ministers and the media usually to describe transfer of authority and functions from central to regional government, as set out in Law No 22 of 1999. Because the term is used so loosely there is often confusion between devolution of authority - government by the region - and delegation of authority - government in the region.