Bad example set by Jokowi encourages companies to burn forests: Walhi

CNN Indonesia – September 17, 2019
Widodo and police chief Tito Karnavian inspect fires in Riau – September 17, 2019 (ANI)
Widodo and police chief Tito Karnavian inspect fires in Riau – September 17, 2019 (ANI)

Jakarta – The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) says that the state has set a bad example which has encouraged companies to set fire to forests and land.

Walhi National Executive Board member Khalisa Khalid said this was shown when President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and other related parties submitted a judicial review (PK) with the Supreme Court (MA) after being found liable for forest and land fires in Central Kalimantan in 2015.

According to Khalid, this bad example gave the impression that the government is not firm about or serious in dealing with the fire problem. As a consequence, companies which should be held liable for fires tend to disregard their obligations.

“This is indeed rather unfortunate, corporations do this (violate the law) because of the example given by the state, what kind of example are they given? Such as the CLS (citizen lawsuit) case in Central Kalimantan”, said Khalid at the Walhi offices in South Jakarta on Monday September 16.

“The President chose to submit a PK rather than complying with or submitting to the MA’s verdict, meaning what? Meaning that if the state can do that why shouldn’t we (the companies)”, he said.

According to Khalid, this resulted in the state having no authority in confronting the corporations. Although the law enforcement mechanisms are adequate, this will have no impact on corporations if the government itself avoids liability.

In addition to this, Khalid deplored that government’s attitude of always giving legal impunity to corporations and taking a permissive stand against environmental crimes.

“The legal politics of this is that we see that there is almost no political will to enforce the law”, he said.

Earlier, a judicial review submitted by Widodo was rejected by the Supreme Court on a previous ruling which found him guilty of violating the law in the case of forest and land fires in Central Kalimantan.

Prior to this, 10 companies accused of setting fire to forests and land between 2012 and 2015 were declared guilty and ordered to pay fines of 18.3 trillion rupiah. To this day, the fines have not been paid. (ani/arh)


On September 1, 2018, President Joko Widodo was found guilty of negligence by a Palangkaraya High Court for the Indonesian government’s handling of the deadly 2015 fires.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Negara Disebut Beri Contoh Buruk ke Perusahaan soal Karhutla”.]