Snowballing from the Infrastructure Summit 2005 in January, in May the government issued a presidential regulation (Perpres No. 36/2005) on land acquisition; a regulation many people see as a threat to people’s rights to their land.
The Indonesia Infrastructure Summit 2005, which took place in Jakarta, agreed to a Declaration of Action on Developing Infrastructure and Public Private Partnerships. The declaration was signed by the Coordinating Minister for Economic
Affairs Aburizal Bakrie, World Bank’s Vice President Jemal-ud-din Kassum, Director General of Southeast Asia Department of Asian Development Bank Shamshad Akhtar, Chairman of Indonesian Trade Chamber M. Hidayat and delegates from 19 countries.
At the summit, the government said it needed Rp 1,305 trillion for the development and the improvement of the infrastructure. To meet the need, the government invited domestic and foreign investors to participate in infrastructure projects.
In the first stage, the government has offered 91 projects worth Rp 205.5 trillion to the investors. To back the projects, the government pledges to issue 14 regulations (Media Indonesia, Sunday, 22/05/05).
In May, the government issued Perpres No. 36/2005 on land acquisition for development of public facilities. The regulation met with protests from people who think the regulation strengthens the government’s repressive and authoritarian efforts because the regulation allows the government to revoke people’s property rights to land (Perpres, Chapter II, Article 2(b)). People also see the regulation as the extension of the summit, which is deemed to work in favor of the investors rather than the public.
Walhi’s executive director, Chalid Muhammad, said the Perpres could justify eviction that is often carried out with violence, in the name of public interest. The Perpres could also ignite confrontation between people who lose their rights to their land and the government. “Therefore, the regulation could cause instability among the society. On top of that, it also could lead to violation of human rights,” Chalid said.
The implementation of the Perpres would likely deprive people of their source of livelihood. People who depend on earnings from forest resources or on sidewalk stores, for example, would be among the possible victims.
“We are afraid the government will use the Perpres to evict the people who are been dependent on the forests. The government would have an excuse to use forest for the benefit of investors, who would likely strip the forest to meet their industrial need,” Rully Syumanda, a Walhi campaigner on forestry said in a press conference on Wednesday, June 21.
The Perpres, besides violating a decree of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) on land conflict settlement, also showed that the government was being confused in solving land problems, he added.
“The government has to annul the regulation because the content is against the people,” Usep Setiawan, deputy secretary general of Konsorsium Pembaruan Agraria (KPA) said.
He added that the deliverance of the regulation was premature because it should have been issued after the House passed the bill on land conflict settlement, which is mandated in the MPR’s decree (Tap MPR) No.IX/2001 on land reform and natural resources.
The decree, supported by another decree (Tap MPR No.V/2003), recommends the government and the House to deliberate: (1) Revision of the bill of land reform, (2) bill of land conflict settlement, (3) bill of natural resources management. Therefore, Walhi’s Post of People Against Eviction has organized a movement to challenge the Perpres.
“Considering the danger the Perpres poses, Walhi and other NGOs, united under the Coalition of People for Anti-eviction Movement, invite the public to participate in efforts to reject the Perpres,” Khalisah Khalid, the coordinator of Walhi’s post said.
“Walhi has opened posts at 24 of Walhi’s regional offices to launch a campaign against the Perpres,” she added. “We have scheduled September 20 as the day when we will submit the public support list to the Supreme Court, as a request for judicial review.”