Jakarta, 5 October 2021: An oligarch monster has spread over the parliament building courtyard this Tuesday morning. The monster is seen latching onto numerous dimensions of citizen’s lives: energy, agriculture, freedom of speech, the lives of indigenous peoples, as well as the weakening of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). The octopus monster is part of a peaceful protest by Greenpeace activists, marked the first year since the problematic Omnibus Law on Job Creation (UU Cipta Kerja) is being ratified.

“A year after the Omnibus Law was enacted, several land conflicts involving communities against companies have surfaced,” Kiki Taufik, Global Head of Indonesia forest campaign for Greenpeace, said.

Occupation of community lands was blatantly conducted by the companies using the law, such as in conflict between the authorities and the community, lawsuits by three palm oil companies against the Regent of Sorong because their permits were revoked, and the threatened Sangihe Island’s prosperous communities by the upcoming gold mines, to name a few. “These conflicts triggered public anger, because these investments will not bring any benefit to the local communities; they make their livelihoods and environmental sustainability at stake instead,” Kiki said firmly.

Greenpeace Indonesia views environmental damage, loss of people’s rights -especially indigenous peoples, women, and vulnerable groups-, and threats to the democratic process as the impact of the reinforcing political and economic power of the oligarchs in Indonesia. From the examples above, it is obvious the political elite plays a dual role: being political functionaries, as well as holding business interests that cripple good governance, creating policies that result in the exploitation of natural resources.

One of the critical threats to the environment in the Omnibus Law lies in the change of the licensing process for land-based investments related to extractive businesses in the natural resource sector, as well as serves as a red carpet for national strategic projects. Environmental permits have been substituted with weaker “environmental approvals” as part of more general business licenses. The requirement for an environmental impact assessment (AMDAL) has been debilitated – specifically by removing the explicit right of stakeholders to raise objections. The regional AMDAL evaluation commission, which in the Environmental Law must include representatives of local communities, environmentalists, and environmental experts, has been abolished, and its authority was taken over by the central government. Furthermore, many other articles are deliberately designed to diminish law enforcement efforts and actually provide amnesty for companies that breached regulations.

The root of environmental damage in Indonesia is also intertwined with corrupt practices because of the powerful relationship between political elite and businessmen to make profits and ignore environmental protection standards. The weakening of KPK is, in addition, a scenario for the political elites to avoid law enforcement on their corrupt practices in natural resource management.

Lastly, this law will also jeopardize Indonesia’s foreign investment. “The law is not a good thing for foreign investors. The enactment of Omnibus Bill will jeopardise and put Indonesia’s environment and social protections at risk. Since standards of laws and regulations for the protection will be weakened and will bring Indonesian environmental and social safeguards even further than the generally accepted global standards in financing sustainable development.”

This action is also part of the simultaneous #MosiTidakPercaya (Vote of No Confidence) and #ReformasiHabisDikorupsi (Corrupted Reformation) that have taken place in many provinces in Indonesia over the last few weeks, demonstrating rejection of the arbitrariness of the elite that has gripped social life with the enactment of the Omnibus Law on Job Creation. This law is anticipated to be a regulation that will bring in investment to open up more job opportunities for the people. However, based on the facts on the ground, the law will only harm the community, potentially increase environmental damages, and intensify the impact of the climate crisis much worse.

Editor’s note:

Visit this page to voice your fight: kalahkanmonsteroligarki.org

Images available here : https://www.media.greenpeace.org/collection/27MDHUWO4K98

Media contact:

Kiki Taufik, Greenpeace Global Head for Indonesia Forest Campaign

Rahma Shofiana, Greenpeace Indonesia Media Campaigner