Editorial: We Support Jakarta Globe Call for President Joko Widodo to Cancel the Benoa Bay Reclamation
The Jakarta Globe recently published an editorial titled “Benoa Bay Doesn’t Have to Be Jokowi’s Legacy.”
Well-written and insightful, the editorial urged the President to annul the permits for the controversial reclamation project in Benoa Bay, labeling it a controversial remnant left by former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono that Indonesia’s new Chief Executive Does not need to embrace as his own.
Urging Joko Widodo to give full vent to his demonstrated image as a “protector of the environment” and populist leader, the editorial cited a recent lambasting given by the President to the devil-may-care attitude of large plantation companies that who set forest fires that pollute the entire region in order to widen the coverage of their plantation projects.
The Jakarta Globe editorial urged Joko Widodo to affirm the widespread opposition to the Benoa Bay reclamation project railroaded through in the waning days of the SBY presidency at the behest of the powerful business group behind the project who brazenly presents themselves as a protector of the mangrove forest that will be largely destroyed if their project goes ahead.
Suggesting that political payback should be ignored in the face of the public outcry against the project, the editorial called for the project to be stopped, or at the very least, halted and be put under critical review.
The editorial also underlined how those opposed to the reclamation are genuine members of the Balinese community and not the “rent-a-crowd” masses increasingly mobilized by the rich and powerful in Indonesia seeking to legitimize their positions behind public rallies.
We endorse the Jakarta Globe editorial and urge the President to bring this dark chapter that is fomenting division in Balinese society quickly to an end by appointing a blue ribbon, independent committee to review the environmental, social and cultural impact of the Benoa Bay reclamation project.
Such a committee should also be tasked to review the protocols and procedures used in appointing the company selected to head the Benoa Bay reclamation. Such a massively important decisions should not have been made behind closed doors and, instead, should have been put up to a competitive bid system to ensure the public derives the greatest possible benefit from surrendering their lands to the private sector.
Clearly, the people of Bali await President Joko Widodo to once again prove his true stripes as a populist President.