AMAN accuses Jokowi’s land certificate distribution program of being neo-liberal

CNN Indonesia – January 21, 2019
President Widodo at land certificate distribution ceremony – Undated (CNN)
President Widodo at land certificate distribution ceremony – Undated (CNN)

Jakarta – The Nusantara Traditional Community Alliance (AMAN) has accused President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as the head of state of being neoliberal because his policies are always orientated towards the economic sector.

“I say, he (the president) is neoliberal, very, look at his policies, all of them are economically orientated. Even his agrarian reform [program] is economically orientated”, said AMAN Secretary General Rukka Sambolinggi during a discussion in South Jakarta on Sunday January 20.

According to Sambolinggi, agrarian issues must be handled seriously so she is proposing that agrarian reform be addressed in the second presidential debate that will be held on February 17.

“I expect that in future topics on natural resources, agrarian issues, they won’t be mentioned specifically. This is the problem with the [presidential] debates”, said Sambolinggi.

Sambolinggi expressed this view in response to the distribution of 6,000 land certificates by Widodo in the West Java regency of Garut on Saturday January 19.

Although the president warned people not to use land certificates as collateral to get loans from banks, according to Sambolinggi the aim of the land certificate distribution is still so that all land has a legal status under the law. And in the end, the land can be leased or will returned to the land and property market.

On the other hand, he continued, there is still a lot of traditional community land which has not been acknowledged by the government. AMAN wants the government to immediately acknowledge the rights of indigenous and traditional communities to their land. Basically, this will assist in resolving the other big issues caused by the environmental and natural resource problems.

“We want an acknowledgement of traditional land areas. This has already been accepted by the government but they haven’t done anything. There are around 9.6 million hectares”, she said.

According to Sambolinggi, the government has been too busy prioritising other issues which are related to the exploitation of natural resources by the private sector, without thinking about the impact of this on the lives of traditional communities.

Meanwhile the head of the Agrarian Reform Consortium’s (KPA) campaign and management knowledge department, Benni Wijaya, agreed with Sambolinggi on the government’s approach to agrarian reform which is only orientated towards the economic sector.

Wijaya believes that the approach to agrarian issues must be preceded by the key concept of rights and justice. He also referred to the government as being liberal.

“Justice first then prosperity. There’s no such thing as prosperity first then justice. That’s liberal [thinking]”, he said.

According to Wijaya the government’s policy of distributing land certificates without resolving agrarian conflicts is wrong.

Distributing land certificates, continued Wijaya, does not automatically resolve the issue because it does not address the root cause of the agrarian problem.

During his visit to Garut, Widodo handed over 6,000 land certificates free to the community. Based on a report by the National Land Agency and the Ministry for Agrarian Affairs and Special Planning, the government has handed back 60,900 land certificates in Garut regency. (ani/lav)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Soal Bagi Sertifikat Tanah, AMAN Tuding Jokowi Neo-Liberal”.]