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Lawmakers call for 'disruptive' environmental groups to be closed down

Sindo News - May 20, 2017

Sudarsono, Jakarta – Several lawmakers are calling on the government to close down or expel non-government organisations (NGOs) working for foreign interests because they are undermining national sovereignty and disrupting the Indonesian economy.

"If they insult or undermine our economic sovereignty yes then its best that they just be expelled. We are a sovereign country, so [we] cannot be controlled by foreign countries", said House of Representatives (DPR) Commission IV chairperson Edhy Prabowo in Jakarta on Saturday May 20.

Prabowo reminded the government and law enforcement officials to take a firm position against NGOs disguised as environmental groups or social advocates whose behaviour disrupts Indonesia's economy. Moreover, said the deputy chairperson of the Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), many of them are not based on the state ideology of Pancasila.

"Don't disrupt Indonesia's economy. The presence of these [palm oil] companies is very important for development. They can be said to be hero's of the nation. They bring in foreign exchange, absorb labour", he said.

According to Prabowo, NGOs are needed in the context of organising this development. However the kinds of NGOs that are needed are those that can provide constrictive criticism and suggestions in order to advance the nation. Not NGOs whose actions undermine national sovereignty or damage the national economic interest.

Prabowo also touched upon the pledge by NGOs that they can disburse US$1 billion in funds from Norway. These funds are compensation for a moratorium on issuing licenses for clearing forest and peat lands as laid out in a Letter of Intent (LoI) signed by the Indonesian government and Norway in May 2010.

"They said they could assist in disbursing this US$1 billion from Norway, where is the evidence for this? So far how much has be disbursed?", asked Prabowo.

Similar concerns were raised by DPR Commission IV member Firman Subagyo [from the Golkar Party], who said that these NGOs are disguised as environmental groups or social advocates.

"They're usually unemployed intellectuals right. They're funded by foreigners to ruin their own nation and state. They're instructed to destroy their own countries", he asserted.

Our Palm Oil Future Association (Samade) chairperson Tolen Ketaren claims that palm oil farmers are extremely anxious about the presence of these NGOs disguised as environment groups and social advocates who make a fuss about palm oil plantations on peat land.

In addition to this, these NGOs camouflage themselves and act in the name of palm oil farmers. Yet, said Ketaren, they are not real farmers. They talk as if they are palm oil farmers but in reality actually destroy the palm oil industry.

"They're paid by Europe to destroy the palm oil [industry] right. Because sunflower plants planted in Europe has failed to productively compete with palm oil", said Ketaren who claims the organisation has as many as 38,000 independent palm oil farmers.

According to Ketaren, claims of exploitation of children who work on palm oil plantations are untrue because it is commonplace for children in Indonesia to help their parents working in gardens or rice paddies. "This isn't a form of child exploitation, because it is commonplace among Indonesian farmers", he said.

Usually, said Ketaren, these NGOs only take a small study sample then generalise it to the Indonesian palm oil industry as a whole. "For example there are children that gather up fresh palm fruit bunches (TBS) that are then planted in gardens owned by their parents, this is analogous and appears to occur in all palm oil plantations in Indonesia", said Ketaren.(ven)

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was "DPR Minta LSM Pengganggu Industri Sawit Dibubarkan".]

Source: https://ekbis.sindonews.com/read/1206730/33/dpr-minta-lsm-pengganggu-industri-sawit-dibubarkan-1495282253.

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