In 1986, then East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) governor Ben Mboi issued a bylaw on the trade in sandalwood that everybody in the impoverished province has been regretting ever since; five years later it was revoked and replaced with a more populist one.

by Djemi Amnifu

East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) was on the verge of losing sandalwood, a premium commodity that Chinese traders came there for in the fifth century and European traders in the 18th century.  Five years ago, the provincial government embarked on a campaign to save the endangered fragrant species. The Jakarta Post’s correspondent Djemi Amnifu in Soe looks into the present state of the slow-yielding plant and the prospects of the replanting effort.  In 1986, then East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) governor Ben Mboi issued a bylaw on the trade in sandalwood that everybody in the impoverished province has been regretting ever since; five years later it was revoked and replaced with a more populist one. The ordinance asserted that every single sandalwood tree in the province belonged to the state even if it grew on private property; that anyone illegally cutting or neglecting them was li...