Thursday, 5 February 2009

A license to kill

Thu, 02/05/2009 | Opinion / The Jakarta Post

Friday, February 6, 2009

A license to kill

I refer to an article titled "Regions seek forest conversions," (The Jakarta Post, Feb. 2). How convenient it is for Forestry Minister Kaban, defender of illegal loggers, to blame others for wanting to cut down forests in Central Kalimantan.

He now tries to paint himself as someone between a rock and a hard place, when in reality he has been selling off Indonesia's rainforests with sensational enthusiasm for many years without any apparent concern for the law, the consequences to local people, the forest themselves and the millions of animals killed in the process. The only people he appears to show any sympathy toward are illegal loggers; one can only wonder why.

Could it be Kaban is now trying to deflect growing national as well as international condemnation of his decimation of Indonesia's national heritage?

Is it not time for the Ministry of Forestry to be stripped of its responsibility for protecting wildlife? The ministry clearly has a very obvious conflict of interest; its primary function is to sell forests in which the wildlife lives.

Would it not make more sense for the Ministry of Environment to be given responsibility for all environmental matters, including wildlife? It would save millions of animals as well as save forests Kaban will otherwise sell to the highest bidder.

Day after day the media is full of stories documenting deforestation and the decimation of wildlife. Only one person is responsible for both: Kaban. His ministry brings Indonesia the worst possible national as well as international publicity for environmental degradation. But will President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono step in and save Indonesia's rich natural heritage before it is too late? The world is waiting and watching.

Sean Whyte

Nature Alert