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Jakarta Post

Minister defends Yogyakarta'€™s racist policy on land ownership

  • Bambang Muryanto

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta   /   Fri, September 4, 2015   /  03:05 pm

The governor of Yogyakarta'€™s ban on non-indigenous citizens owning land in the province is not problematic, according to Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister Ferry Mursyidan Baldan.

'€œIt'€™s a clear, firm, good [policy]. What is the problem?'€ Ferry told reporters after a graduation ceremony for students of the National Land College (STPN) in Yogyakarta on Thursday.

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) previously sent two letters to the Yogyakarta special region provincial administration, urging it to revoke letter No.K.898/I/A/1975 on land ownership.

The implementation of the governor'€™s policy, which was signed by Deputy Governor Paku Alam IX, is ostensibly intended to prevent big investors from controlling land ownership in the province.

According to Komnas HAM, however, the policy'€™s major flaw is to assume that all large investors are of Chinese descent.

Ferry said that the policy on land ownership in Yogyakarta was part of the special status of the province as guaranteed by Law No. 13/2012.

'€œThis is not against the Constitution. Its is part of the special status as recognized in the Constitution. Go ahead and ask the Constitutional Court,'€ Ferry said.

Chinese-Indonesian residents of Yogyakarta have long expressed displeasure at the province'€™s refusal to issue them with land-ownership documents.

On Tuesday, National Antidiscrimination Movement (Granad) chairman Willie Sebastian told a discussion forum that the policy was a legacy of the New Order era of president Soeharto that had been allowed to live on.

'€œIf it is the law, I will obey it. If it is just a letter, I refuse to obey, because a letter is not a product of law and is not recognized by Indonesian law,'€ said Willie, who has lived in Yogyakarta for 70 years.

The government, he said, should revoke the letter as it was contrary to the Constitution and human rights.

Willie previously filed a lawsuit against the president of Indonesia on Feb. 23, 2011.

In a response to the lawsuit, the National Land Agency (BPN) issued letter No. 4325/016-300/XI/2011 addressed to the head of BPN'€™s Yogyakarta office.

The letter affirmed that Law No. 5/1960 on agrarian principals applied in Yogkarta province, and that the regulation only divided land-ownership subjects into Indonesian citizens (WNI) and religious and social entities without differentiating between indigenous citizens and those of Chinese descent.

Yogyakarta Provincial Development Planning Agency (Bappeda) head Tavip Agus Rayanto, meanwhile, said that the provincial administration would accommodate Willie'€™s complaints.

'€œThis is an old problem. I have received your complaint, and we will look into it,'€ Tavip said in response to Willie'€™s letter.

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