Indonesian government decided to stopped new licenses for exploration in primary natural forests and peatlands to save the existence of the zones and an efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation - Photo: Special

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The issues of natural resources and the environment are two major themes discussed in the second debate of presidential candidates Jokowi Widodo versus Prabowo Subianto in Jakarta on Sunday (02/17). The two candidates acknowledged having different work strategies to overcome environmental pollution, agrarian reform, mine pit reclamation, and roadmap to manage the maritime sector.

Regarding the strategic steps to overcome environmental issues, Subianto stressed that he would enforce the law firmly against companies that did not implement the provisions. There have been many violations of provisions for decades and collusion with government officials, he added.

“So if we are given the mandate to lead Indonesia, our commitment is to make the government clean so that there are no more environmental violators,” he said during the debate.

Subianto also stated that he would separate the Minister of Forestry and the Environment. According to him, the two fields cannot be run by a minister, but must be two ministers. He also wants to improve the process of environmental impact analysis and environmental exploration permits.

But Widodo claims that in the past three years, his government has been able to overcome forest and peatland fires due to strict law enforcement. In recent years law enforcement efforts against large-scale corporations have been proven to open up new land by massive burning by the government. As a result, the rate of forest and land fires is claimed to be decreasing.

“There are already 11 companies that have to pay sanctions amounting to Rp18.3 trillion (US$1.30 billion), our law enforcement is firm against violators of environmental destruction, we have started to clean up rivers polluted by pollution, one of them is Citarum,” he stated.

However, a non-governmental organization in Greenpeace Indonesia questioned the claim, one of which was environmental sector. They write at twitter account: “Widodo said he had won a civil suit against 11 companies that had to pay compensation due to environmental damage and a total fire of more than Rp18 trillion. But no company has paid compensation to a penny.”

Meanwhile, regarding agrarian issues in Indonesia, Widodo explained the government’ achievements in the agrarian sector by the intensive program of distributing land certificates during his administration was purely for the welfare of the community. Over the past two years, the government has distributed around 2.6 million hectares from 12.7 million hectares prepared which were distributed to indigenous peoples, farmers, and fishermen.

Not only giving the land, Widodo said the government also provided assistance to residents who got land. The incumbent acknowledged that the certificate could be used by the public as a capital to access bank credit.

“We accompanied them so that the land that had been given was productive. Some were planted with coffee, fruits, corn. This means not only giving land concessions but also being given assistance,” said the president.

However, Subianto considered that the distribution of land certificates had a negative impact on Indonesia’s future. Because land will not increase, while the population continues to increase.

“We have a different strategic view, which Widodo have done is interesting and popular for one to two generations but the land is not added,” said the contender.

Subianto give a note, his strategy to overcome agrarian problems was based on Article 33 of the 1945 Constitution that the earth, water, and all natural resources contained therein were controlled by the state.

Observers considered the two candidates still understanding agrarian reform in a narrow manner. Akhmad Akbar from Gadjah Mada University, said Widodo narrowed agrarian reform by distributing certificates. Even though agrarian reform is rearranging land so that its use is in accordance with the constitution.

According to Akbar, Subianto seemed to want to talk about it but did not know the details so he only stopped at the constitution. Subianto was less successful in describing his idea. The concrete one separates the two ministries, but it is not built from a whole framework, he said.

Environmental problems are so complicated if faced with the fact of damage caused by ex-mine pits. Subianto said that it was the legacy of the past, as if the state had been co-opted by private companies. This is due to collusion between government officials and the private sector. So that the companies can leave the ex-mine pit arbitrarily.

The key to overcoming was a government that was firm and brave in taking action against large private companies. He said he would pursue these destroyers in various ways, including using Interpol court instruments, he added.

Widodo, on the other hand, said that since 2015, a lot has been done regarding saving the environment, in addition to law enforcement. But Widodo admitted there were still many ex-mines that had not been reclaimed. This can be done in stages with the supervision of the regional government along with the ministries of environment and forestry.

Finally, the matter of managing the maritime sector is mainly the fate of fishermen. Subianto stated that he would establish a state-owned company specifically for fisheries. He wants fishermen to have access to technology and capital, free to go to sea, including getting infrastructure and marketing assistance for seafood.

Meanwhile, Widodo ensures that fishermen’ welfare is the top priority of his government. Because the economic potential that exists in maritime affairs is very high.

One effort to support the maritime sector is a sinking program for foreign ships, fish thieves. There are at least 7,000 foreign vessels carrying out illegal fishing in the past four years, 488 of which have already been sunk.

“This provides an opportunity for our fishermen to utilize our marine resources to be more prosperous,” Widodo said.

Besides fisheries, offshore oil fields are still not well explored. Therefore, Widodo promises that in the future it will continue to encourage the use of oil resources on the seabed to increase the coffers of the country’s finances.

Written by Lexy Nantu, Email: lexy@theinsiderstories.com