Environmental Organizations Dropped Questions for Upcoming 2019 Presidential Debate

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2019 presidential debate
Photo: greeners.co/Dewi Purningsih

Jakarta (Greeners) – Environmental watchdogs, Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI) and Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL) will provide suggestion on environment and natural resources issues, to General Election Commission or KPU for the second round of the 2019 Presidential Debate, which will be held in 17 February.

Khalisah Khalid, head of Ecological Justice Politics Adhoc Team of Walhi, said environmental theme is important considering increasing ecological disasters, forest fires, peatlands ecosystem in Indonesia. In addition, current environmental and natural resources or agrarian conflicts.

“We are pushing for presidential candidates to debate on the substance and reach out to basic issues of environmental and natural resources issues, not just limited to surface issues,” said Khalid in Jakarta, on Thursday (24/01/2019).

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Furthermore, she said that the environmental and natural resources problems in Indonesia are related to economics and development choices which are strongly based on extractive industry, the gap of natural resources and agrarian management dominated by big scale corporation. In addition, poor natural resources management, including corruption, land grabbing and human rights violation.

“Before decide its political rights, public can evaluate how far the understanding and commitment of both presidential candidates and their courage for law enforcement on corporate crimes, what are their strategies to give deterrent effects on environmental criminals. What are the agenda of both presidential candidates to stop land grabbing practices of people’s rights on natural resources and agrarian, and the efforts to stop criminalization against environmental and agrarian defenders,” she said.

Furthermore, she said that she hopes for the second round, there will be a debate on environmental politics for public to learn what are the visions and missions, and strategic programs offered by both candidates in the next administration.

“The first debate (on 17 January), there were no substantial debate, and just display of gimmick of dancing which further away the issues for the public eyes. Even, crucial issues are not discussed by both candidates. So, we, from WALHI and ICEL, recommends KPU to provide questions on environment issues which directly affecting people’s lives,” she said.

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Raynaldo Sembiring, Deputy Director of ICEL, said that both presidential candidates need to use the-90-minutes time.

“We are aware that not all suggestions to KPU would be brought up because of other issues, however, we hope that if both candidates can use the time to give concrete examples with issues in the field, for instance Freeport, that’s already include issues of energy, environment and economy,” said Sembiring.

ICEL and WALHI give examples of questions for both candidates to KPU, including what are the strategies of both candidates to balance between development and environmental protection, especially on damaged areas, what are their commitments on law enforcement against companies violating the law by operating in peatlands and natural forests.

“We hope that our questions can be debated, or at least the similar questions [being asked] and the answers given on the cases and current issues,” he said.

Reports by Dewi Purningsih

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