By Admin
from Pantau Gambut
President Joko Widodo delivered his Annual State Address to the MPR in front of all parliament members this morning, August 16, 2023.

Instead of opening his address with the spirit of Indonesia's independence, the President focused on matters that conveyed practical political messages. Throughout his speech, he emphasized opportunities for capitalizing on natural resources and never once addressed the ongoing environmental issues. While the President briefly mentioned pollution once, it seemed he lost focus when discussing this problem. Rather than emphasizing the urgency of addressing environmental concerns or outlining follow-up actions, the President framed the issue of pollution in a cultural context. He stated, "Pollution in cultural areas injures the noble character of the Indonesian nation."

Iola Abas, the National Coordinator of Pantau Gambut, responded, "The President's statement clearly lacks sensitivity to the direct threats felt by the Indonesian people due to the worsening air quality caused by pollution and forest and land fires in various regions of Indonesia in recent times." Interestingly, Pantau Gambut discovered three similarities between air pollution cases and forest and land fire cases

  • First, both air pollution and peatland forest and land fire cases have led citizens to file lawsuits against President Jokowi through citizen lawsuits. In 2016, citizens from Central Kalimantan filed a lawsuit related to the devastating forest and land fires that raged in 2015. In a recent case, citizens from Jakarta filed a similar lawsuit. Both lawsuits were filed to demand improvements in policies regarding the fulfillment of citizens' rights, especially the right to clean air.
  • Second, the lawsuits related to air pollution and forest and land fires for regulatory improvements and the fulfillment of citizens' rights have been reluctant to be executed by President Jokowi (and the defendants). The President filed appeals with the Supreme Court (MA) even though the District Court and High Court had ruled in favor of the citizens' lawsuits. In the 2016 forest and land fires case in Central Kalimantan, although the MA ruled in favor of the citizens three years later, the President and others filed for Judicial Review (PK) under case number 980 PK/PDT/2022. In that case, the MA ruled that the President had acted unlawfully in the 2015 forest and land fires case.
  • Third, ongoing cases of air pollution and peatland forest and land fires have both had strategic impacts. Both threats have been consistently increasing in recent months. For instance, in the month of August alone, up to August 13, Pantau Gambut identified 4,175 hotspots in the Peatland Hydrological Unit (KHG) areas, spread across 212 KHG areas in 81 districts and cities in 18 provinces. Hotspots were also noted within the territories of 27 corporate concessions. 


Kebakaran Hutan dan Lahan Terjadi di Kabupaten Sambas, Kalimantan Barat, 31 Juli 2023 ©Posko 6 Patdu BPPI Desa Sarang Burung Danau

Iola concluded, "The repeated avoidance by the President and other defendants through the submission of multiple Judicial Reviews (PK) poses a strategic challenge that must be addressed as Indonesia approaches its 78th Independence Day." Substantively, both lawsuit verdicts contain a court order for the defendants to issue regulations to combat the poor air quality resulting from forest and land fires and to protect citizens from forest and land fire threats. 

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