2) Greenpeace’s ‘Dirty Bankers’ Report Accuses HSBC of Funding Deforestation in Indonesia
1) A matter of principles
The ‘five crazy principles’ and a rising challenge for Indonesia’s ideology
Recent reports of a suspension of military cooperation between Indonesia and Australia were wildly exaggerated, but they emphasise the importance of proper intercountry linguistic, cultural and political understanding, Bradley Wood writes.
Indonesia’s official state ideology, the Pancasila, has re-emerged as a dominant feature in political rhetoric, while also being perceived as a vulnerable political target by Indonesia’s political elite during a very sensitive time in Indonesia.
It’s no surprise then, that the recent bilateral incident between Australia and Indonesia involving the alleged laminated display of the political send-up ‘Pancagila’ (the five crazy principles), along with other politically sensitive training material about Indonesia’s chequered past in West Papua provoked an official response.
There have long been suspicions among Indonesia’s political elite about Australia’s intentions regarding West Papua dating back to Indonesia’s independence. These continue to linger in the minds of some Indonesians because of Australia’s instrumental role in securing East Timor’s independence. This latest development has only raised the spectre of such pre-existing suspicions.
Recent political rhetoric in Indonesia has centred on reminding Indonesia’s citizens about its founding principles, namely the Pancasila—the five principles that make up Indonesia’s official ideology. This follows mass demonstrations backed by Indonesia’s Islamic hardliners in November and December last year, against the incumbent Jakarta Governor, locally known as Ahok, for alleged blasphemy. Various political forces within Indonesia have capitalised on these events in the run-up to next month’s regional elections, which includes the Jakarta Governor’s seat, now seen as an ascension pathway to the presidency.
Inaccurate reporting of the ‘Pancagila’ incident, based on the initially limited coverage in the Indonesian press, gave rise to a public perception in Australia that it had caused a significant suspension in military cooperation between the two countries. The Australian media continued its media frenzy even after a detailed press conference by the outspoken Commander of Indonesia’s military (TNI) General Gatot Nurmantyo. This further fuelled the speculation of a blanket freeze on military cooperation, despite Gatot’s emphasis on the good relationship he has with the Chief of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), Mark Binskin.
This media controversy, however, has since been adequately framed as a miscommunication between the TNI, the Ministry of Defence, and the Presidential Press office. A belated press release was eventually produced by the Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law, and Security, and former Commander of the TNI, Wiranto. This clarified the Indonesian Government’s position—that only a specific language training program between the two countries had been temporarily suspended.
The ‘Pancagila’ send-up that was reportedly sighted by an Indonesian language trainer at the Campbell Barracks in Perth, however, was not an Australian creation. Last year, an Indonesian court chose not to impose criminal sanctions after an Indonesian activist posted the Pancagila principles on Facebook, signalling an historic moment for freedom of expression in Indonesia. It has also been widely used on social media by a number of Indonesian-associated accounts that date back to at least 2011.
Translated (see image), it reads: Belief in the one and only God / The Financial Almighty; Just and civilised humanity / Corruption that is fair and equitable; The unity of Indonesia / The unity of the political elite within Indonesia’s legal system; Democracy guided by the inner wisdom in the unanimity arising out of deliberations amongst representatives / Power which is led by lust and depravity in the conspiracy of hypocrisy; and, Social justice for all people of Indonesia / Social security for the whole family of officials and representatives.
There is no doubt that the public display of such content at a language training facility at the Campbell Barracks—where it would be seen by Indonesian defence colleagues—was a significant political mistake, with potentially serious implications for the bilateral defence relationship.
However, the use of sensitive political material, such as ‘Pancagila’, by the ADF’s language students is important to Australia’s official language and cultural training. Politically sensitive material like this provides a valuable insight into Indonesia’s internal political dynamics from an indigenous perspective, and it’s these insights that contribute to a better understanding of Indonesia’s human terrain.
The outcome of an inquiry by the Chief of the Australian Army, Angus Campbell, is likely to have already been delivered, and there have been reports that indicate Australian defence personnel have already been reprimanded. It is important, however, that the Australian Army evaluate these language materials beyond their politically sensitive attributes, as they improve their linguistic and cultural understanding about their largest neighbour and, arguably, their most important non-aligned defence relationship—where respective interests often differ, but can also be managed.
With such a diverse makeup in Indonesia, SARA tensions—a security acronym used to explain ethnic, religion, race, and inter-group inspired conflict—will likely continue to be a part of the internal dynamics of Indonesia’s democratic process. The challenge for Indonesia will be managing these tensions within the confines of its post-reformasi democratic limits, without using the extreme concept of an external proxy war involving Australia, to build its national cohesion. However, reminding Indonesia’s large population about Pancasila and Indonesia’s national motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) may play an effective role here.
Indonesia continues, however, to face internal challenges to the Pancasila ideology by hard-line Islamic groups, such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI). These groups have also recently been trained by the TNI’s district command, albeit without official approval, as part of Indonesia’s civil defence program known as Bela Negara. Gatot Nurmantyo, however, has defended the right of the FPI to participate in the civilian defence training and there has been at least one approved incident of FPI members engaging in civil defence training that dates back to 2014.
While this is only basic civil defence education centred around building a sense of patriotism, national awareness, and belief in the Pancasila ideology, it demonstrates the complexities of Indonesia’s policy response to uniting such a diverse population. In this case, it appears that the TNI is playing an active role, and it’s therefore within the ADF’s purview to understand this development in its entirety.
The ADF needs to pay attention to these internal dynamics and political sensitivities in Indonesia to prevent any miscommunication when it comes to Australia’s laid back sense of humour regarding world politics. However, preventing the use of politically sensitive material across all ADF Indonesian language programs, risks limiting the ADF’s nuanced understanding of current developments impacting on the internal security of a very important archipelagic neighbour.
This article is published in collaboration with New Mandala, the premier website for analysis on Southeast Asia’s politics and society.
2) Greenpeace’s ‘Dirty Bankers’ Report Accuses HSBC of Funding Deforestation in Indonesia
By : Ratri M. Siniwi | on 7:56 PM January 17, 2017
Jakarta. HSBC, one of the biggest banks in the world, has been accused of funding deforestation in Indonesia by environmental group Greenpeace International.
In a report titled "Dirty Bankers: How HSBC is Financing Forest Destruction for Palm Oil," the environmental activist group accused HSBC of arranging loans and other credit facilities totaling $16.3 billion for six companies profiled in Greenpeace's Dirty Bankers report, as well as nearly $2 billion in corporate bonds since 2012, despite the lender's proclaimed sustainable policy.
The UK-headquartered bank is known as one of the largest lenders to the palm oil industry in the world.
Greenpeace's report specifically highlights a list of HSBC clients that have been linked to unsustainable palm oil practices.
The NGO accused six companies — Singapore’s Bumitama Agri and Goodhope Asia Holdings, Malaysia’s IOI Group, Noble Group, and Korea’s POSCO Daewoo and Indonesia’s Salim Group — of destroying tropical rainforests, land grabbing, operating with zero permits, employing child labor and peatland draining.
"For a bank that proclaims 'sustainability underpins our strategic priorities and enables us to fulfil our purpose,' funding companies like Noble is a strange move!" Greenpeace's campaigner Annisa Rahmawati said on the NGO's website.
Specifically, the NGO said in its report that evidences are now available in the public domain showing that the six companies were responsible for unacceptable activities including having been subjected to Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) complaints or suspensions.
They have also been been cited by the Indonesian government in cases of unrestrained fires and or been the subject of numerous critical reports from social and environmental NGOs.
"Even the most basic due diligence on these companies should have set alarm bells ringing, which raises the question: is HSBC failing to apply its policies altogether, or just failing to apply sufficient scrutiny when assessing whether current or prospective customers comply?" the Greenpeace report said.
The NGO called out HSBC to disclose details of all financial services to palm oil companies, halt financing to existing customers and refuse financing or other services to potential customers that do not comply to the "No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation" policy.
HSBC released a statement on Tuesday (17/01) to comment on the Greenpeace report, which started in a diplomatic tone, saying HSBC shares Greenpeace's concern about deforestation in Indonesia.
The bank said it "has no interest in financing customers involved in: illegal operations; land clearance by burning; the conversion of high conservation value areas; harmful or exploitative child labor or forced labor; the violation of the rights of local communities, such as the principle of free prior and informed consent; and operations where there is significant social conflict."
Regarding companies named by Greenpeace, HSBC said "customer confidentiality restricts us from commenting on specific companies. We recognize that this can cause frustration but do direct stakeholders to public information where we are aware of it."
The lender also claimed that following its policy revision in 2014, it has closed about 60 forestry and 104 palm oil banking accounts for failing to comply with their so-called "No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation" policy.
"We do not consider closing a relationship a success, as we lose influence to promote higher standards, although we have no doubt that our policies benefit from having a bar, below which relationships will be ended," HSBC wrote in the statement.
"We are not aware of any current instances where customers are alleged to be operating outside our policy and where we have not taken, are not taking, appropriate action," the bank added.
Looking specifically at the palm oil sector, HSBC said it "believes that palm oil can bring many benefits to society, such as economic development and the alleviation of poverty. And we agree with Greenpeace that palm oil can also result in negative impacts if not managed legally and sustainably."