INDONESIA: Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Forestry and Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya expressed regret that the governments efforts to ensure that PT RAPP, or April Group, abides by the regulation have been misinterpreted as a permit revocation to trigger public unrest.
In a written statement received here on Monday, Nurbaya said the governments firm decision to reject PT RAPPs business working plan (RKU) was part of the efforts to protect Indonesias peatland ecosystem.
The decision was made in line with the fundamental mandate of Law Number 41 of 1999 on forestry and also of Government Regulation Number 57 on peat ecosystem management and protection under which all peatland-based industrial plantation forests (HTI) must tailor their RKUs in line with the governments regulations.
However, until the deadline, PT RAPP has also continued to operate at its own will and has failed to abide by the governments regulation.
“I wish RAPP would be a law-abiding company and follow regulations in the country like other HTI companies whose RKUs have all been approved, and there was no problem about that,” she remarked.
The minister said it was impossible to condone a wrong thing and ignore it, as it would create an impression that the government has been compelled to submit and bend down to acts of defiance and irregularities.
Nurbaya said it was impossible for the government to violate the regulations it had made when they had, in fact, been formulated to protect the interests of majority of the people and not merely to cater to a specific group or company.
PT RAPP is the only HTI company to have not abided by the governments regulation, while the RKUs of 12 others had received approval, and none of them had complained, she pointed out.
It is important for peatland-based HTI companies to comply by the regulations, as peat ecosystems are vulnerable to fires and have, so far, been one of the causes of forest and land fires over the past two decades in Indonesia.
“Protecting peat cannot only be done by routine fire extinguishing operations, but early prevention must be carried out by protecting peat comprehensively and thoroughly,” she emphasized.
Minister Nurbaya said although PT RAPPs RKU had been rejected, it did not mean that its permit was revoked totally.
However, regretfully, she said rumors were rife of a permit revocation, and RAPP seemed to have added fuel to the rumor mills by issuing a threat that it planned to lay off workers.
“What has really happened is that the KLHK (ministry of forestry and environment) has never issued an order and imposed sanctions to stop RAPP from conducting planting activities in peat ecosystem protection areas. They may still conduct planting activities in peat cultivation areas, so it could have become a problem,” she clarified.
The minister opined that if RAPP did, in fact, think in the best interests of the public, it should have been obedient and followed sound business practices in accordance with the governments regulations instead of their own regulations, she noted.
“It would be risky if all companies operated according to their own rules instead of those laid down by the government,” she stated.
The minister urged RAPP to immediately revise its RKU similar to the other companies, so that through its compliance, forest fires will not recur, and the present generation will be able to inherit a healthier living environment for the future generations.
“Let us love the people well and honestly,” she said.