Regional autonomy

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. 46, August 2000

The response to regional autonomy by Indonesia's main creditors has been mixed. While they officially acknowledge the need for decentralisation and greater decision-making powers at regional level they also express doubts about the capacity of Indonesia to implement regional autonomy in a way that will avoid economic chaos.

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.