Regional autonomy

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.

Down to Earth No. 45, May 2000

Indigenous communities whose forests have been plundered by logging companies are demanding compensation for the damage. Deprived of the protection they enjoyed under former President Suharto, the companies are having to take them seriously.

Down to Earth No. 45, May 2000

New laws on regional autonomy and financial control were passed by the Habibie government in 1999. Now, Indonesia is waiting for the regulations which will determine how the laws are to be applied. Implementation is planned for January 2001. But many questions remain about how far the Jakarta government will permit decentralisation to go and how much control it will really relinquish.

Down to Earth No. 45, May 2000

Opposition is mounting to large-scale mining in Indonesia as communities speak out about its effects on their lives and the environment, but foreign companies are warning the Wahid government not to change the contracts they signed during the Suharto regime.

Indonesia's foreign-dominated mining industry is on the defensive.

Down to Earth No. 45, May 2000

Coastal communities are being impoverished by large-scale illegal fishing operations; the country's coral reefs are badly damaged and its mangroves are rapidly disappearing. Indonesia's coastal resources are facing a grave crisis. The question now is whether the government of President Wahid has the political commitment to stop the devastation.

Down to Earth No. 44, February 2000

Companies which have profited from Indonesia's iron-fisted rule in West Papua, may be starting to feel jittery as calls for independence grow more insistent.

On December 1st last year celebrations took place in towns all over West Papua to mark the 38th anniversary of independence, declared when the territory was still under Dutch rule.