A conflict over land granted to a eucalyptus pulp manufacturer by the Indonesian state threatens not only the livelihoods of the indigenous people who claim the forests, but also their ability to perform traditional rituals passed down across generations.
From colonial tobacco plantations to state sugar interests, indigenous farmers in one North Sumatran village have faced recurring evictions and displacement. Indonesia’s drive to become sugar self-sufficient has left them homeless again.
On today’s episode of Southeast Asia Dispatches, Deborah Augustin speaks to Shaq Koyok, a contemporary artist from the indigenous Temuan community about his thoughts on the plan to degazette 97% of the Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve in Malaysia, an area that not only has an important role to play in conserving biodiversity, but is also significant to the indigenous communities who rely on it to survive.
For years, farmers and residents caught in agrarian conflicts throughout Indonesia have faced criminalisation, brutality and murder. The mandate to conduct social distancing, however, provides the authorities with further justification to thwart their fight.
Both the Myanmar military and the Kachin Independence Army have expressed intentions to reach a bilateral ceasefire agreement in Kachin State. But while Kachin and non-Kachin alike say they’re tired of the impact of war, there’s still doubt as to whether such a ceasefire would truly hold.
Many forest fires in Indonesia—particularly those that contribute to the poisonous haze that drifts across Southeast Asia every year—are exacerbated by the fact that they’re burning on peatlands. For the villagers in the area, a lack of adequate infrastructure means that their struggles continue even after the smoke clears.
The National League for Democracy had promised in 2016 it would solve all land dispute issues within six months, but for the villagers of Shwe Nyaung Pin village in Myanmar’s Kachin State, this commitment has yet to be realised.
Stories to watch this week: Indonesia grapples with flooding, Malaysia has its first woman Chief Justice, Thailand crowns its new king and Singapore is on its way to passing its “fake news” bill.
This week in Southeast Asia: what’s going on with the Thai election? Tensions run high in the South China Sea between Vietnam and China, and Prabowo faces new accusations of human rights abuses in Indonesia.
This week in Southeast Asia: a politician suggests Indonesians vote Jokowi if they drive on toll roads, a staggeringly horrific data leak in Singapore, unhappiness over a palm oil report in Peninsular Malaysia and confusion over who’s “native” to Sabah.