Jokowi Summons Environment Minister; Walhi Highlights Wildfire

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  • Fire fighters try to extinguish a fire at a peatland in Kampar, Riau province, Indonesia, September 24, 2019. Forest fires in Jambi, Indonesia, turn the sky red, making it look like Mars. The forests burn every year during the dry season, but this is the first time the sky turned red and the air quality is now too dangerous for people. Antara Foto/Rony Muharrman

    Fire fighters try to extinguish a fire at a peatland in Kampar, Riau province, Indonesia, September 24, 2019. Forest fires in Jambi, Indonesia, turn the sky red, making it look like Mars. The forests burn every year during the dry season, but this is the first time the sky turned red and the air quality is now too dangerous for people. Antara Foto/Rony Muharrman

    TEMPO.CO, JakartaPresident Joko “Jokowi” Widodo reportedly summoned his first-term minister for the environment and forestry Siti Nurbaya to State Palace, Tuesday, October 22. The NasDem politician arrived at the palace, donning a white shirt and black pants.

    As other high-profile figures who wore a similar outfit, Siti was allegedly asked by the President to fill in the next cabinet. However, the exact ministerial post to which Siti would be assigned had not been cleared yet.

    In response to the arrival of the minister at the state palace, an independent environmental forum Walhi highlighted the homework of the ministry (KLHK) under Siti, including land and forest fires.

    “First, this year’s wildfire issue is worsening again. The policy taking the form of corrective actions had not been run well by KLHK,” said the forum’s political desk coordinator Khalisah Khalid in a phone call with Tempo, Tuesday, October 22.

    Khalid assessed that the government was not serious yet in enforcing the law against arsonists or destroyers of land and forest. Therefore, he added, the incident kept recurring over the years. KLHK was also incapable of combating high-profile corporate actors who were behind the environmental damages.

    Meanwhile, in the issue of lands, Khalid opined that the ministry had not carried out optimum effort in accelerating the agenda of agrarian reform and social forestry. The previous policy was also far from the target, especially for the protection of the customary forests.

    Khalid mentioned that KLHK’s future challenge included the revocation of problematic concession that violated the moratorium on land clearing, such as a decree on the change of forest use for palm plantation in Buol.

    Siti Nurbaya must be brave to annul the decree if she commits to reform the management when she returns as the minister,” Khalid said.

    FRANCISCA CHRISTY ROSANA