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. 46, August 2000

In the run-up to the January 2001 starting date for decentralisation, there are already many signs that regional autonomy will be used for very different purposes. Local governments are using decentralisation to impose taxes on businesses operating in their areas. NGOs and community groups are making demands that conflict directly with the limits set on autonomy in the laws.

Down to Earth No. 46, August 2000

The rights of Indonesia's tens of millions of indigenous people are not properly recognised under Indonesian law and forest-dwellers are at a particular disadvantage. Although some attention is given to customary law (hukum adat) in the 1999 Forestry Act and in other pieces of legislation, adat land rights are not recognised in forest areas because all forests are categorised as state-owned.

Down to Earth No. 46, August 2000

How far will local democracy be capable of counteracting the negative influences of the military, the economic crisis, the untrustworthy judiciary and endemic corruption?

During the Suharto years local level democracy was suffocated. Local governments rubber-stamped decisions made by Suharto and his ministers in Jakarta just as the national parliament did.

Down to Earth No. 46, August 2000

Another major obstacle to the sustainable management of natural resources is the continuing prominence of the military in many regions. Its continued high profile role from province to village level means that it is a potent threat to the success of regional autonomy, where 'success' means managing local resources sustainably, sharing benefits equitably and respecting human rights.

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.

Down to Earth No. 45, May 2000

The situation of Kutai National Park in East Kalimantan is critical. Its head, Toni Suhartono, reckons 10 hectares of forest are cleared daily by illegal loggers. Much of this is the result of highly organised operations. Some 50 trucks per day transport logs out of the Park to the boom town of Sangatta where middle-men export them from the local port.