Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Inside Indonesia's Katharine McGregor: What's wrong with contemporary Indonesia

From red to green
Harsutedjo explains that for him ‘loving one’s country means protecting and safeguarding the land and water that we own and all that grows and lives in it, all flora and fauna and all water and sea as well as the air above it and its people’ (p. 5). He expresses great regret that Indonesian leaders do not seem to value these things as evidenced by the 2002 ‘loss’ to Malaysia of the two islands of Sipadan and Ligitan at the border of East Kalimantan. According to him, the two islands were handed over because of a regime that ‘prioritised its own power and its own pockets’. More small islands have been and will continue to be lost and to sink because of ‘the greed of giant investors’. According to Harsutedjo ‘They collude with the regime to steadily steal the coral, the sand and to dig up the mangrove trees which have for thousands of years guarded and preserved our seas and our land’ (p. 5).

The illegal sale of timber, sand and soil at low prices to Singapore is evidence that Indonesians have already sold their homeland’ (p. 5). Throughout his dictionary Harsutedjo lists many other cases in which Indonesia’s economic sovereignty has been compromised such as through the sale of mining and oil concessions to foreigners. In our interview, Harsutedjo stated that ‘compared to the Sukarno era there is now more foreign exploitation, but also national exploitation’. He gives the example of the privatisation of water for use in rice fields and of drinking water.