There was a bit of a kerfluffle this week in Jakarta, with news outlets commenting on the government’s elimination of “the controversial foreign ownership clause” in the new plantations bill. Regardless of who controls palm oil plantations—foreign corporations or “smallholders” (and in this context the term is more than laughable)—Indonesia has recently “set an ambitious goal of raising its palm oil output by a third to 40 million tonnes by 2020.” (Reuters 10/1/14) So where does the administration think that output is going to come from? Doubtless new prez Jokowi is not only going to be referred to as being physically similar to our President, he can now be compared to Obama in terms of turning his back on all the environmental protection campaign promises he made prior to taking office.
Tuesday’s Jakarta Post reported research analyst Hoe Lee Leng as saying “Widodo is known to be pro-business and pro-agriculture, so it [the foreign ownership clause] doesn’t sound like something he would implement once he comes into power.” Nice going.
And I thought we had a chance with this guy.
If you ask me, the reason why this didn’t cause more of a ripple on the ground is that the bed is so crammed full of cross-national sleazeballs it doesn’t really matter in whose name the “ownership” of these palm oil disasters is listed. Nobody who’s currently making millions off the backs of the local communities and at the expense of the extinction of tigers, elephants, and orangutans is going to suffer.
Does Jokowi even realize this? Does he have any environmental advisors? Or he is just hoping we all look the other way and keep buying Hershey’s candy bars and Dunkin Donuts?