INDEF : Indonesian Govt Must Have Guts to Get Rid Illegal Foreign NGOs

Photo: via VIVA//IkhwanYanuar


Jakarta   —   The government must be brave to face a black campaign against Indonesian palm oil because it is detrimental to the economy and national investment. Allegedly, a number of foreign NGOs such as Greenpeace Indonesia have been operating illegally, because they are not registered officially with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and even reluctant to report activities and funding sources to the government.

After the Reform Era, the presence of foreign (transnational) NGOs operating in Indonesia has become a blunder for the national economy. Bhima Yudistira, economist at the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef), explained that the networks of NGOs from abroad are free to enter Indonesia without reporting or registration to the Indonesian government. Meanwhile, in Malaysia, the local government provides strict supervision for transnational NGOs who want to operate there.

“In reality, NGOs violate regulations because they are not registered with the government. This current freedom has become too excessive resulting in a blunder in the Indonesian economy,” Bhima said in a discussion of the Palm Journalist Forum with the theme “The Impact of the NGO Campaign for the Indonesian Economy” in Jakarta, Friday (October 5, 2018) .

The Palm Journalist Forum (FJS) data shows that a number of foreign NGOs actively attacking oil palm have not yet been registered and have not reported their activities to the Indonesian government. Foreign NGOs that have not been registered with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs include Greenpeace Indonesia, Forest People Program, Mighty Earth, Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

They are not recorded in the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is . On the site there are 65 registered foreign NGOs operating in Indonesia, but the names of the NGOs mentioned above are not registered. The obligation to register is regulated in Government Regulation Number 59 of 2016 concerning Community Organizations Established by Foreign Citizens. This regulation regulates that foreign NGOs must be registered, one of which is the obligation to report funding sources.

In addition, the government was asked to take action against NGO violations in Article 59 of Article 3 of Law Number 16/2017 concerning Community Organizations whereby organizations are prohibited from carrying out activities that are the duty and authority of law enforcement agencies in accordance with laws and regulations. Greenpeace’s actions some time ago, for example, occupying oil refineries were evidence of violations of the law.

Sudarsono Soedomo, a lecturer at Bogor Agricultural University, agreed that there were strong indications of foreign NGOs operating in Indonesia and attacking companies, including oil palm and pulp and paper , not complying with procedures and rules. Foreign NGOs, said Sudarsono, often make similar accusations without equal risk. In addition, they allegedly played two legs, where one foot was a tool for extortion.

Meanwhile, the other foot used to become consultants for the companies they press. “We recommend that the government immediately investigate foreign NGOs operating in Indonesia, such as Greenpeace and EIA from the UK. This investigation is to find out their compliance with Indonesian law,” he said.

On a separate occasion, Director General of Politics and Public Administration of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Soedarmo asserted, NGOs cannot arbitrarily accuse palm oil of violating environmental regulations. Indonesia has a Regional Spatial Plan (RTRW) to regulate which areas of forests, plantations and settlements. “That is the right of the Indonesian state. Our sovereignty cannot be disturbed,” said Soedarmo.

Meanwhile, Bhima Yudistira added, the issue of trade barriers and black campaigns could be mapped into a number of issues, for example in the United States, emerged dumping issues and biofuel competition. In the European Union, oil palm is confronted with environmental problems and human rights. It’s different with India that faces trade balance problems. “The negative issue of palm oil continues to be polished in various ways. In the European Union, palm oil is attacked with child labor and the environment,” said Bhima Yudistira.

If this problem is not immediately addressed, the impact is very broad on the foreign trade and investment balance. Bhima said Indonesia’s trade surplus has continued to shrink since the last few years. Indonesia is lucky to have palm oil which is a major contributor to non-oil and gas exports.

However, the government’s attention to palm oil is not serious so the power of these commodities is difficult to develop. “But if the government does not keep the commodity (palm oil) from being disturbed, then the fate of palm oil will be like the spice commodity which we now hear only of its glory,” said Bhima.

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