Monday, March 27, 2017

1) Papuan pawns


2) First novel tells it gracefully like it is

-----------------------------

1) Papuan pawns
In the March edition of Islands Business Magazine








————————————————
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/entertainment/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501119&objectid=11825021
2) First novel tells it gracefully like it is
By Dionne Christian , Dionne Christian
When young writer Bonnie Etherington showed one of her Massey University classmates a short story she'd written, the last thing she expected was to be told she was seriously disturbed and in need of help.
Etherington, now 27 but back then just 18, had written about a plane crash and described, matter-of-factly, what happens when a body decomposes in the jungle. Having spent her formative years in West Papua, Indonesia, she was simply telling it like it was. Or is.
She says death is all around in a developing nation where there's extremely limited access to clean water and basic sanitation, reliable food supplies, medicines and health services, structurally sound housing and, indeed, all the other municipal services we take for granted.
Etherington talks straightforwardly about having nothing but green beans to eat for days or watching as her mother, Pip, a nurse, cut gangrene away from the leg of a woman who'd rolled into a fire while sleeping one night.
"Burns are quite common and often go untreated so gangrene becomes a massive problem. Mum was cutting it away from this woman's leg and putting it into a bowl. Later, Dad washed the bowl out and put peanuts in it. We were traumatised to learn we'd been eating peanuts out of the gangrene bowl. "
Given the abundance of material, it's no surprise that Etherington, already an accomplished short story and award-winning travel writer, draws on childhood experiences in West Papua for her first novel.
The Earth Cries Out is about a Nelson family struggling with grief and guilt following a tragedy. To heal and atone, 8-year-old Ruth's father moves his family to Irian Jaya (the Indonesian province now known as West Papua) to build a hospital in a remote mountain village. Her dad's distracted and her mum doesn't want to be there so Ruth does what all children do and tries to adapt and make friends.
Etherington says the family is nothing like her own. Born in New Zealand, she moved with her mum, dad Paul, and sisters to Bandung, Java when she was 2 then on to West Papua. Every three or so years, her family would return to New Zealand for an extended stay of up to six months to rest and recuperate. They once lived in Darwin for three years when Pip got so sick that they needed a longer break.

Culture shock was as much a feature of Etherington's childhood as bouts of malaria or dengue fever. Her primary schooling was patchy; intermediate constant and secondary schooling at an international school of Papua's coast, where she met her husband, Josh Eastwood.
Although the family is different from Etherington's own the poverty, unrest and death shot through the book are real. But it's not a grisly story - if anything, it's more visceral because of her understated but graceful style. Ruth's story is told sensitively and alternates with vignettes about Papua's flora and fauna.
Each is organised around a specific plant, such as an orchid or a breadfruit tree, accompanied by a short story. It's a skilful way of including information about the region's politics, history and peoples without putting far too grown-up words and thoughts into Ruth's mouth and brain.
The book's title comes from Romans 8:22: "We know that everything on the earth cries out with pain the same as a woman giving birth to a child." Acutely interested in environmental issues, Etherington says the novel is partly about relationships between women, especially mothers and their daughters, and the shades of loss and pain as well as love that can colour those relationships.
"I wanted to combine these themes and show that even through pain, there is hope. The novel also suggests that the earth itself, our environment, can feel and express pain."
West Papua has been occupied by Indonesia since the 1960s.
"It's our neighbour and we really should be more aware of it and it's not enough to know about where it is but we should be aware of what life is like there. The vignettes were my way of trying to get more stories of West Papua's people in, to show the multiplicities and go beyond the usual narratives of primitivism and cannibalism we usually read, because it's not like that at all."
Short-listed for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2016, Etherington studied for a Master of Creative Writing at Massey University in Palmerston North. She credits senior lecturer and fellow author Dr Thom Conroy for encouraging her to include the vignettes about West Papua in the story.
Like most of her stories, The Earth Cries Out started when a character - in this case, Ruth - came to mind and wouldn't leave, but originally Etherington didn't plan to include as much about West Papua.
"I wanted to be a New Zealand writer so I thought I would have to have the story set mainly in New Zealand which, I suppose, was a bit ignorant of me. Thom Conroy encouraged me to keep those chapters. He said the story really came alive in West Papua."
Etherington is now Chicago-based, working towards a PhD at Northwestern University, focusing on tropical ecologies in Southeast Asian and Oceania literatures. She regards both New Zealand and West Papua as home but is reluctant to go into too much detail about the latter's political situation.
"I support dignity and justice for the people of West Papua and their lands. How that should best come about is not my place to say. It is the place of Papuans to say, whether that takes the shape of full political autonomy from Indonesia or some other configuration of reconciliation and reparations. I hope that their voices will be heard and respected."
The Earth Cries Out
by Bonnie Etherington
(Vintage, $38)

Saturday, March 25, 2017

1) Papua to get 5 percent, Luhut says on Freeport divestment


2) WHO appreciates Papua KPA for taking part in socializing prepex

————————————————————-


1) Papua to get 5 percent, Luhut says on Freeport divestment

Jakarta | Sat, March 25, 2017 | 07:50 am
Maritime Coordinating Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has said Papua will get 5 percent from the divestment of cooper and gold miner PT Freeport Indonesia, which is required by law to release 51 percent of their shares to the Indonesian entities.
Freeport divestment is part of what is being discussed by representatives of the government and Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of United States-based Freeport McMoRan, in connection with the conversion of the contract of work (CoW) into a special mining license (IUPK).
“With the divestment, we will have 51 percent of shares, while Freeport will have 49 percent, with 5 percent of shares for local administrations and for local tribes. With [the dividend from] the shares, Papua will improve its education, agriculture and livestock businesses,” Luhut said as reported bytempo.co on Friday.
He said the shares for Papuan people would never be tampered with and Freeport would pay the dividends to Papua. “It is part of the protection of our people in Papua,” he added.
When meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Wednesday, Papua Governor Lukas Enembe demanded 10 percent shares of Freeport.
Freeport Indonesia has refused to accept a government demand, and it converted its CoW into a special mining license (IUPK). The company argues that IUPK would effectively annul its CoW, signed in 1991. It has threatened to take the case to international arbitration if a mutual agreement is not met in the next few months. (bbn)
——————————————————-

2) WHO appreciates Papua KPA for taking part in socializing prepex
15 hours ago

Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA News) - The World Health Organization (WHO) expressed appreciation to the Papuas HIV/AIDS Eradication Commission (KPA) for being active in socializing adoption of circumcision using prepex in the province. 

Prepex is the Worlds Only Non-Surgical Male Circumcision Device.

Technical advisor of the Male Circumcision Innovation Group of WHO, Timothy Hargreave, said here on Saturday he came to Jayapura mainly to learn and see the use of Prepex in circumcision in a bid to prevent HIV.

"Papua is the first area in Asia adopting circumcision with prepex after Africa. Certainly there is difference . That is what we want to learn and know," Hargreave said. 

There must be differences in circumcision with prepex in Africa and Papua because of the need to adjust to situation and condition in each area, he added. 

"That is why we are here to learn and see. Hopefully the circumsion is safe for all both the patients, the officers and other involved," he said. 

He said he also appreciated the active participation of the local authorities in taking part in socializing circumcision with prepex in this province. 

He said, however, that circumcision does not guarantee that the the province would be 100 percent free from the HIV virus, therefore, he advised man to use condoms in having sex with prostitutes to minimize the spread of the HIV virus.(*)

————————————————

Friday, March 24, 2017

Photos of West Papuan supporters at "March in March" rally



Photos of West Papuan supporters at "March in March" rally


MARCH IN MARCH - STAND UP AUSTRALIA - 25 MARCH, 2017
Protesters came out in Sydney today (25 March)  to send Malcolm Turnbull the people's message on all the issues of concern they have.
West Papuan supporters also joined in to fly the Morning Star flag and to raise awareness of the issue.

Video footage of march at Free Papua movement Australia Facebook page
https://www.facebook.com/FreePapuaMovementAustralia/
















































Photos below from Free Papua movement Australia Facebook page




















































Thursday, March 23, 2017

1) Man fined $500 for West Papua protest at Indonesian consulate

2) Indonesia urged to settle dispute amid Freeport workers’ outcry
3) Indonesia Wants Control of Freeport’s Grasberg Within Two Years
4) Freeport-McMoRan: New Twist At Grasberg
—————————————————————————————————-

1) Man fined $500 for West Papua protest at Indonesian consulate
Jane Lee MARCH 23 2017 - 3:18PM
A man is refusing to pay a $500 fine for trespassing at an Indonesian consulate to protest against its presence in West Papua, saying Australia has sold him out.
Tyrone Gibb, 42, climbed the fence at the Indonesian consulate in Melbourne, and up to the building's first-floor balcony on January 6. He waved a separatist "Morning Star" flag for the Indonesian province of West Papua, which is banned in Indonesia.
Gibb pleaded guilty to trespassing on a protected property at the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Thursday.
He was arrested and charged after the Indonesian government criticised Australian authorities for not doing so, almost a month after the protest was filmed and distributed on Facebook.
———————————————————-
2) Indonesia urged to settle dispute amid Freeport workers’ outcry
Jakarta | Thu, March 23, 2017 | 03:05 pm

Viriya P. Singgih The Jakarta Post



The demobilization process of workers of gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of the United States-based mining giant Freeport McMoRan, that operates the Grasberg mine in Papua, the world's biggest gold mine and second-largest copper mine. (Courtesy of/The All Indonesia Labor Union’s (SPSI) local unit for PT Freeport Indonesia)


Gold and copper miner PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) employees have urged the government once again to immediately settle its dispute with the company as the number of laid-off workers has kept increasing from one day to another.
As of March 14, the company had laid off 2,102 contract workers, while giving long leave and offering voluntary resignation to 291 permanent staffers, according to the All Indonesia Labor Union’s (SPSI) local unit for PTFI, which represents around 12,000 PTFI workers.
The union also claims PTFI aims to dismiss 782 permanent staffers in the first phase of its efficiency measures.
“The company should discuss its efficiency measures together with the union so that both parties can reach a win-win solution,” Tri Puspital, an advocacy division member at the SPSI for PTFI, told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
Hence, he called on PTFI to stop such measures, while urging the government to immediately settle the dispute with the company.
PTFI was banned from exporting its copper concentrates on Jan. 12, when the government fully imposed the mineral export ban, as initially mandated in the 2009 Mining Law.
Under the new policy, PTFI can only process its export permit if it shows a commitment to converting its contract of work (CoW) into a special mining license (IUPK), divests 51 percent of its shares to local entities and build a new smelter alone or together with other companies. (bbn)
—————————————————————

3) Indonesia Wants Control of Freeport’s Grasberg Within Two Years
by Yoga Rusmana  and Eko Listiyorini

The dispute engulfing the world’s second-biggest copper mine deepened as Indonesia’s government said it planned to take a majority stake in the local unit of owner Freeport-McMoRan Inc. within two years while workers at the pit threatened to go on strike.
The state enterprises ministry has cleared a government-run company to buy a majority stake in PT Freeport Indonesia, the local unit that runs the massive Grasberg mine in Papua province, according to Fajar Harry Sampurno, the deputy minister for mining, media and strategic industries. Freeport-McMoran would have to divest its share to a state-owned entity under a new contract that the Phoenix-based miner is yet to sign.
“We’re ready,” Sampurno said at a press conference in Jakarta on Wednesday. A local aluminum producer, PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium, will be turned into a holding company to purchase the stake, he said. “Once the holding company is formed, they will immediately work on it.”
The preparations for state-ownership suggest Jakarta is refusing to budge in a dispute that’s curtailed mining at Grasberg and prompted Freeport to lay off thousands of workers. Under new rules announced in January, the government said companies that want to export semi-processed metals including copper concentrate must convert their contract of work to a special mining license, build smelters and add local investors. Freeport has refused to do so until it gets guarantees protecting its investment.

Sell Shares

The rules stipulate foreign miners must begin selling shares to local entities five years after starting production and must reach 51 percent local ownership by the 10th year. Freeport must immediately divest its stake after converting its contract, because the firm has been mining in the country for more than a decade, Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Arcandra Tahar said in January. At present, Indonesia holds 9.36 percent of Freeport Indonesia.
The government last month issued a special mining license, or IUPK, to Freeport, but the company vowed to hold out for investment safeguards that provide the same level of fiscal and legal certainty as its current contract of work. The miner served a notice to Indonesia’s energy ministry in February over the areas of dispute, and said it has the right to begin arbitration if they aren’t settled within 120 days.

Company Talks

Freeport Indonesia continues talks with the Indonesian government, spokesman Riza Pratama said by text message on Wednesday. A senior government official said in early March that the administration wanted to resolve the standoff in two weeks.
Last month, Freeport Chief Executive Officer Richard Adkerson outlined the company’s concerns, decrying both the process for converting the contract to a license as well as the divestment requirement. “These forms of regulations are in effect a form of expropriation of our assets, and we are resisting it aggressively,” he said at a conference.
Indonesia Asahan Aluminium, known as Inalum, will be turned into a mining holding company to purchase the stake in Freeport’s unit, according to a presentation by the state enterprises ministry on Wednesday. Local miners PT Aneka Tambang, PT Bukit Asam and PT Timah will become units of Inalum.
Aneka Tambang, the state-owned nickel miner known as Antam, is ready to participate in the Freeport purchase, according to President Director Tedy Badrujaman.
“Antam, because of its expertise, will probably be assigned to monitor mining operations at Grasberg, especially during the transition period, if the stake purchase went through,” Badrujaman told reporters in Jakarta on Wednesday.

Union Demands

The Grasberg labor union is adding pressure on both sides to resolve the dispute and resume mining that’s been reduced to about 10 percent of capacity and resulted in about 2,100 workers to be laid off.
Workers will protest in seven days if the government and Freeport fail to respond positively to demands outlined in a March 21 notice, Tri Puspital, the industrial relations officer at Freeport Indonesia’s labor union, said by phone.
The union wants the government to form a tripartite body to protect workers’ rights and find a resolution that ensures future operations at the mine, he said. Freeport should stop laying off workers, according to Puspital.
“Workers will protest with a rally, and won’t rule out the possibility of a strike if there’s still no response,” he said.
————————————


4) Freeport-McMoRan: New Twist At Grasberg
Mar.23.17 | About: Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (FCX)

Vladimir Zernov  Long/short equity

Summary

The Indonesian government wants to take a majority stake in Freeport Indonesia in 2 years.
Papua administration also wants its piece of the pie.
Freeport-McMoRan should find a way to completely exit Indonesia with minimal damage.
The flow of news from Indonesia, where Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX) fights for its contractual rights with the local government, intensifies. This is typically a sign that we may hear some concrete information soon. Volatility in Freeport-McMoRan's shares may increase, providing opportunities for both longer-term investing and trading.
I previously covered this story, so in case you did not see it, you may find it useful to read previous articles (here and here) to learn more about the context. Without further ado, let's evaluate the recent news from Indonesia and what they might mean for the company and for the stock.
Bloomberg reported that the Indonesian government wanted to take a majority stake in Freeport Indonesia in two years. Preparations for this action have already begun by turning aluminium producer PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium into a holding company.
At the same time, the administration of Papua, where Grasberg is situated, expressed its desire to get a 10% share of divested shares of Freeport Indonesia. Papua officials commented that Indonesian president "completely agreed with our stance on Freeport" and that Papua and Jakarta were fighting for the same thing.
As I previously commented, this time Indonesia is serious about getting its hands on Grasberg. In this light, all that Freeport-McMoRan can do is to maximize the value of its exit from Indonesia.
When the new part of the Indonesia story began, I was thinking that Freeport-McMoRan should find a way to minimize the damage and to continue operations at Grasberg. Now, it looks like the exit from Grasberg is almost inevitable and the only question is the price.
The reason for this is that Freeport-McMoRan cannot stay with a minority stake in the project as this will be a strategic suicide. The Indonesian government has already shown its inclination to change rules on the fly.
————————————————-

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Petition seeks NZ govt stand on abuses in West Papua

http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/327281/petition-seeks-nz-govt-stand-on-abuses-in-west-papua

Petition seeks NZ govt stand on abuses in West Papua

18 minutes ago 

New Zealand’s parliament has been presented with a public petition urging government action on the human rights situation in West Papua.


Maire Leadbeater presents her petition asking urging the government to address the ongoing human rights situation in West Papua.  Photo: RNZ / Daniela Maoate - Cox

Activist Maire Leadbeater and Murray Short, who was representing the Religious Society of Friends (or Quakers), presented their petition, with 729 signatures on it, to the Foreign Affairs and Defence Select Committee.
This petition focuses on continued abuses of the right to freedom of expression and assembly in Indonesian-ruled Papua, citing thousands of arrests of people taking part in peaceful demonstrations last year.
Earlier this month in Geneva, seven Pacific nations called on the UN Human Rights Council to request that the High Commissioner for Human Rights produce a consolidated report on "the actual situation in West Papua".
Ms Leadbeater said their petition simply asked government to recognise the abuses and to take a strong stand on them.
“And we've suggested specific things, like calling for the UN special rapporteur on freedom of expression to go to West Papua, and we've suggested that they take this up at the Pacific Islands Forum, and get them to support this, and also at the United Nations."

Maire Leadbeater (right) and Murray Short (left) present a petition to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee urging the government to address human rights issues in West Papua.  Photo: RNZ / Daniela Maoate - Cox
"We obviously put this petition forward in the context of serious concerns about grave and ongoing rights abuses," Ms Leadbetter explained.
"But we have to go step by step. An important first step would be to make it possible for there to be much freer access to West Papua, and for the Indonesians to have to take note of the fact that the rest of the world won't accept that they just go on arresting people who do nothing more than peacefully protest."
The committee thanked Ms Leadbetter for her presentation, with several MPs expressing appreciation at gaining a slightly better understanding of the situation in Papua, which remained a blindspot for many New Zealanders.

Chair of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee Todd Muller hears from petitioners asking the government to address human rights issues in West Papua.  Photo: RNZ / Daniela Maoate - Cox
Indonesia's Joko Widodo-led government has made tentative moves towards opening up West Papua to outside access by foreign journalists.
But extensive restrictions remain for media in Papua, as well as international humanitiarian groups and NGOs, which are almost totally barred.
Jakarta is sensitive to what it sees as interference in its own domestic affairs.
Indonesia's Defence Minister recently urged Australia to tell Pacific Island governments not to talk about West Papua.

A Papuan pro-independence demonstrator is arrested by police in Jakarta, December 2015.  Photo: ROMEO GACAD / AFP
However Ms Leadbetter said Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua should not override legitimate concerns about protecting an indigenous people systematically under threat.
She cited the research of Jim Elmslie, an Australian scholar who has studied the marginalisation of West Papuan people, amid demographic patterns in Indonesia's eastern region.
Dr Elmslie's research into the situation in Papua uncovered a marginalisation so serious that it meets the stringent criteria under the Genocide Convention.
"That's a strong thing to say but his academic research backs that up carefully," Ms Leadbetter explained.
"So he says this is genocide and as far as he is concerned nothing trumps genocide, not even territorial integrity. And I think we have to make that loud and clear. It’s all very well saying sovereignty and territorial integrity, but not in the face of genocide - that's absurd."

Indonesian security forces detain hundreds of West Papuans at the Brigade Mobile headquarters in Kotaraja, 2 May 2016. Photo: Tabloid Jubi

1) Papua asks for 10 percent in Freeport divestment


2) Caledonian Sky destroyed more than 18,000 m2 of pristine Raja Ampat reefs, survey concludes
3) Environmental Damage, Social Conflicts Overshadow Future of Indonesia’s Palm Oil Sector

————————————————————
1) Papua asks for 10 percent in Freeport divestment
Fedina S. Sundaryani The Jakarta Post
Jakarta | Wed, March 22, 2017 | 06:09 pm
The Papua administration has requested a 10 percent share of divested shares of copper and gold miner PT Freeport Indonesia if the company abides by a requirement to sell 51 percent of its shares to national entities.
Papua Governor Lukas Enembe met President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Wednesday to discuss the standoff between Freeport Indonesia and the government and how it would affect the province.
A similar request has also been made by Mimika Regent Eltinus Omaleng.
"This is our country and we must maintain our sovereignty. This is why 51 percent of its shares must be divested to us and we [in Papua] want 10 percent of them," Lukas said.
"The President completely agreed with our stance on Freeport. Papua and Jakarta are fighting for the same thing."
Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of US-based Freeport McMoRan, has refused to accept a government demand that it convert its contract of work (CoW) into a special mining license (IUPK). The company argues that an IUPK would effectively annul its CoW, signed in 1991.
Freeport says it does not want to give up the rights listed in its present CoW, including protection of its long-term investment. It has threatened to take the case to international arbitration if a mutual agreement is not met in the next few months.
Freeport is required to divest 51 percent of its shares to national entities and, as stipulated in a new regulation, develop smelters alone or with other companies. (bbn)
—————————————————-

2) Caledonian Sky destroyed more than 18,000 m2 of pristine Raja Ampat reefs, survey concludes
Jakarta | Wed, March 22, 2017 | 07:10 am
Survey teams from the government and the insurance company for the British-owned MV Caledonian Sky, which ran aground on coral reefs in West Papua’s famous Raja Ampat, have reached a conclusion regarding the area damaged by the cruise ship.
“The two teams have agreed that the ship damaged 18,882 square meters and both teams have signed an official letter together,” the deputy for maritime sovereignty at the Office of the Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister, Arif Havas Oegroseno, said in press statement on Tuesday.
The damaged area has been divided into two categories. Some 13,270 square meters were heavily damaged while 5,612 square meters suffered medium damage. Still, the reefs damaged to a medium extent had only a 50 percent chance of survival, Havas said.
“If the medium-damaged coral reefs die then the area will be counted as total damage,” he said, adding that it would impact the valuation of the losses in parallel with the compensation claim.
Furthermore, the two survey teams had agreed to conduct a follow-up analysis, Havas said. The teams will meet in Jakarta to discuss the final survey results in the first week of April. 
The follow-up will include the economic calculation of the total losses by a valuation team lead by the Environment and Forestry Ministry.
The 90-meter British-flagged vessel owned by cruise tour operator Noble Caledonia smashed into and destroyed coral reefs in the Dampier Strait off Raja Ampat on March 4. (rin)

—————————————————-
3) Environmental Damage, Social Conflicts Overshadow Future of Indonesia’s Palm Oil Sector
By : Ratri M. Siniwi & Muhamad Al Azhari | on 4:35 PM March 21, 2017

Jakarta. Palm oil is an important commodity for Indonesia's economy, contributing $17.8 billion, or about 12 percent, to its export revenue.
While this year the production of crude palm oil is likely to increase 16 percent, to up to 33 million tons, with expected conducive weather conditions, environmental issues and social conflicts continue to overshadow the sector's future in the world's biggest palm-oil producing country.
Just earlier this month, the European Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) approved a set of recommendations to the European Commission, which will phase out the use of palm oil as a component of biodiesel by 2020 and require exporters to prove responsible cultivation practices on their plantations.
A report prepared by the European Commission says that as the demand for palm oil is estimated to double by 2050, it poses severe environmental damages to oil-producing countries such Indonesia, Malaysia and others in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Palm oil industry has been accused of causing deforestation, environmental degradation, and human rights violations ranging from land disputes to child labor.
The report is due for a vote in the European Parliament on April 3-6.
In response to the report, Indonesian experts, executives of an organization seeking to promote sustainable development, and a former government official, have started to defend the industry that employs millions.
"This is a real black campaign, involving conflicts of interests, and deriving from trade competitors," said Bayu Krisnamurthi, former deputy minister of trade and agriculture in President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's cabinet.
Bayu is now the chairman of the Indonesian Society of Agricultural Economics, which provides expertise to the agricultural sector.
In November 2013, the EU set duties of 8.8 percent to 20.5 percent for Indonesian palm oil producers to apply for five years. It argued that by imposing duty on the raw products, an advantage will be given to domestic producers.
The Indonesian government's is going to file a complaint to the World Trade Organization against the duties.
Petrus Gunarso, a member of the Indonesian Forestry Scholars Association (Persaki), rebutted the claim that Indonesia's palm oil industry is the main contributor to the country's deforestation, claiming that most of the palm oil plantations, which currently cover about 11 million hectares, were previously rubber plantations.
Petrus said that many farmers had converted their plantations as the price of rubber has been declining and palm oil cultivation is more profitable.
"That's why the sizes of our rubber plantations have shrunk," he said, adding that plantations are also established on degraded forests, which the government classifies as non-forest estates.
"By Indonesian law, that's not deforestation," Petrus said.
While palm oil producers may need to work more on convincing Europeans to buy their products, at home they have to deal with social conflicts, especially regarding land disputes.
The Indonesia Business Council for Sustainable Development, IBCSD, has commissioned a team to study the costs of these conflicts.
Using 2016 data from five plantations in Kalimantan and Sumatra, the team concluded, in a report titled "The Cost of Conflict in Oil Palm in Indonesia," that the tangible costs of social conflicts ranged from $70,000 to $2.5 million. The biggest direct costs were income losses due to disrupted operations.
The intangible costs, according to the report, ranged from $600,000 to $9 million, and were due to reputational losses, casualties and property damage.
The reputational losses, according to the study, affect the companies' ability to obtain loans, decrease the demand for their products and their stock market value.
"Conflicts are going to exist in all industries, it's our homework now to find the most feasible solutions for the companies and communities," said Aisyah Sileuw, president director of consulting firm Daemeter, which published the report.
As the infamous commodity makes the industry the most favorite one to bash on, Aisyah believes it is "impossible to get rid of it," not only because of the huge export revenue it generates, but also since 40 percent of the country's smallholders depend on palm oil.
————————