Indonesia. Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are without doubt still needed. Some no longer think we do.
NGOs in Indonesia have carried out various useful activities such as aiding development, education, the alleviation of poverty in remote areas, monitoring government programs, campaigning ideas, monitoring the flow of funds and financials of institutions, and asking for transparency.
However, whether an NGO itself is also transparent in its financial statements and if they let the public know about it, still remains a question.
NGOs, especially foreign NGOs, were recently highlighted by many quarters because it was feared they brought in foreign interests. Not to mention the fact that there are many foreign NGOs who have not been registered in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Kasubdit Sosbud and the Institute of Non-Governmental Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dindin Wahyudin, stated that there are currently 150 foreign NGOs operating in Indonesia. But only 109 of them have official recommendations. According to Mr Wahyudin, there are several issues facing the government when it sees the foreign NGO funding acquisition system.
Sovereignty of the People’s Assembly of Indonesian figures (MOJ) Fuad Bawazier also asked the government to audit foreign NGOs in Indonesia, both their financial and performance audits. Fuad assessed that the image of NGOs, mainly foreign NGOs in Indonesia, warrant more supervision by the government.
Recent surveys show the public trust is in decline. Indonesians are more aware and increasingly critical of the actions of several NGOs, especially foreign NGOs carrying hidden agendas. This sentiment is shared globally.
Financial and performance audits of the foreign NGOs are very rarely done by the government. According to the results of the Edelman Trust Barometer survey in Indonesia, there’s been a decline in public confidence in the Indonesian NGOs.
From 61 percent in 2011 a drop to 53 percent in 2012 was recorded. In 2013 the public trust in NGOs dropped further to 51 percent. The survey also showed public trust in NGOs in Indonesia is below the world average of 63 percent. The public trust in business leaders has steadily increased. A sentiment widely reflected in the recent U.S. presidential elections.
Two of the foreign NGOs in Indonesia now in the spotlight are the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and Greenpeace. WWF, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, in particular was considered to have badly managed Tesso Nilo National Park (TNNP) Riau. Greenpeace continues to face U.S. federal charges in the United States and elsewhere.
At the beginning of the engagement with WWF, the TNNP area was 83,068 hectares by including the limited production forest areas that were at its side. However, based on an analysis of Landsat imagery, the current natural forest area of TNNP has lost up to 64 percent. The previous Minister of Forestry Zulkifli Hasan threatened to revoke the permits of WWF. The current minister is less critical.
Meanwhile, the expansion areas that destroyed natural forests have reached 83 percent. Despite all this, the WWF still wants to go back to work on similar projects in several regions in Indonesia, including the Thirty Hill National Park in Riau.
Greenpeace was also not immune from negative public accusations. In 2016 the Student Alliance Against Foreign NGOs has questioned the financial management of public funds by Greenpeace Indonesia via the Freedom of Information Law (Public Information). According to the Alliance, Greenpeace does not explain in detail the breakdown of the number of donors and how much their annual or monthly donations are.
Calls for investigating Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth (WALHI), the American Rainforest Action Network (RAN), the Forest Peoples Program (FPP) under the Pusat Pelaporan dan Analisis Transaksi Keuangan (PPATK) also known as the Indonesian Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center/INTRAC grown louder however the Jokowi administration seemingly ignore the calls for transparency.
Based on information released on Greenpeace’s website, Greenpeace annually received donations from the Postcode Lottery in the Hague. It said that Greenpeace received £2.25 million (US$3.64 million) from the Postcode Lottery in 2010, although Greenpeace Indonesia denied that information.
The lack of transparency of financial statements by these NGOs has been criticized by the public and government. NGOs should open their financial reporting so that they are not suspected of being the agents of foreign interests which would be in violation of national laws on Mass Organization (ORMAS) and national security statutes.