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Jakarta Post

Indonesia to secure ownership of 111 islets

  • Moses Ompusunggu

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, January 18, 2017   /  07:46 am
Indonesia to secure ownership of 111 islets Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti speaks at her office in Jakarta on June 21. (Antara Photo/Sigid Kurniawan)

The government is expediting the finalization of land registration of 111 small islands in border areas as part of its efforts to defend national sovereignty in outer areas as well as strengthening the country’s defense and security.

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti said on Tuesday the registration was also aimed at preventing private entities, whether domestic or foreign, from illegally controlling and managing the islands.

“[Because these islands] are in border areas, proper management of them is essential in upholding state sovereignty,” she told a press conference.

The 111 islets are in the registration process at the Agrarian and Spatial Planning Ministry, after which the islands will be solely owned by the state.

She said President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo would soon issue a presidential decree as a legal umbrella for the move.

According to her, as many as 14,343 small islands or 98 percent of the total identified islands across Indonesia were problematic when it came to land management or ownership status.

Among the numerous issues are the illicit sale of islands to foreigners, private occupation by investors, the use of nominees to secure occupation and ownership claims by foreign entities.

The ministry has also launched an investigation into hundreds of islets allegedly illicitly occupied by local and foreign investors.

Susi said small islands had the potential to be developed through numerous forms of investment, such as agriculture, tourism and industry, but asserted that management of small islands had to be conducted based on the 1960 Agrarian Law.

Under the law, private entities can occupy no more than 70 percent of the total area of a small island through a right-to-own certificate (SHM), while the remaining 30 percent goes to the government, which will use it for creating either protected areas or public areas.

Meanwhile, the Agrarian Law bars foreigners from owning a SHM — the fullest land title that can be owned in Indonesia — but allows them to own either right-touse, right-to-rent, right-to-build or right-to-cultivate certificates

Those who want to manage the 111 islands in border areas, however, can only be issued with a right-to-manage (HPL) certificate as the islands are controlled by the government.

“Illicit use of small islands, such as for criminal activities including illegal logging, poaching, human trafficking or drug smuggling, must stop,” said Susi, who has been widely praised for her bold move to reform Indonesia’s fisheries and maritime management since being appointed minister in 2014.

She added that the government was also planning to register 1,106 islets with the United Nations to ensure the state’s sovereignty over the islands.

So far, 13,466 islands in Indonesia have been registered with the UN, ministry data shows. “We are now in the midst of identifying another 2,800 small islands [needing registration with the UN],” Susi said. Last week, Jokowi ordered the Indonesian Military (TNI) to deploy more soldiers to border areas and outer islands in four regions: the northern end of the country’s eastern area, the northern end of the country’s western area, the southern end of the country’s eastern area and the southern portion of the country’s western area.

The House of Representatives has also backed Susi’s move to push for the land certification of small islands in Indonesia’s border regions.

“These islands have to be registered immediately. First and foremost, the move is needed to uphold our sovereignty,” said Viva Yoga Muladi, a member of House Commission IV overseeing maritime affairs.

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