The Low Implementation of Public Information Disclosure in the Forest and Land Sector

Jakarta - It has been 11 years that the Public Information Disclosure Law (FOI Law) has been in force, but its implementation has been marked by various challenges and obstacles, among others, related to the long time needed to obtain information and execute court decisions. In fact, the FOI Law holds the principle that every public information must be obtained by every applicant for public information quickly and on time, at a low cost, and in a simple way.


Since 2011 when the SETAPAK program began, civil society groups which were working to promote forest and land’s good governance have been actively utilising this law, including encouraging information commission to resolve public information disputes in accordance with the mandate of the FOI Law.​​ 


However, the experience of civil society organisations, especially those engaged in the field of land and forest governance, shows that the principle of fast, timely, low cost, and simple methods is not easy to implement. The challenge starts from the unavailability of such data in public bodies, inadequate information and documentation management officials in providing certain information services so that the process is brought to the information dispute, not yet forming the Provincial Information Commission, and the most severe is the reluctance of public bodies to be open to the general public.


Ombudsman: Civil Society Needs to Arrange Strategies and Cleverly Utilise Momentum


"Until now the Public Agency has not fully implemented the FOI Law. However, the Petitioner should also understand the efforts of the Public Agency to provide information even though it is not yet fully in line with expectations," said Commissioner of Ombudsman Alamsyah Saragih as a guest speaker in Thematic 1 panel discussion "Institutionalisation of Public Information Disclosure in the Forest and Land Sectors" in Forestival V organised by The Asia Foundation last week in Jakarta (30/10/2019). Alamsyah continued that a special strategy was needed and the spirit was not unyielding from civil society to continue to voice disclosure. Besides civil society must be able to manage the strategy well, cleverly and be able to utilise suitable momentum to obtain information.


Forestival V was held to evaluate and synergise work programs and various movements and policies that support the improvement of forest and land governance by prioritising the principles of sustainability, justice and equality.


The Public Information Disclosure Panel was one of the topics discussed in the Forestival V Setapak presented several speakers who initiated the discussion, namely the Supreme Court Judge of the State Administrative Court of the Republic of Indonesia Dr. H. Yosran, S.H., M.Hum., Commissioner of Ombudsman Alamsyah Saragih, Deputy Director of ICEL (member of the Freedom of Information​​ Network Indonesia) Astrid Debora S. H., M.H., and Chairperson of the West Borneo Information Disclosure Commission Catharina Pancer Istiyani.


The Commissioner of Ombudsman, Alamsyah has several important notes, namely the occurrence of information disputes due to the exclusion of reasons for not having testing procedures on systematic consequences, FOI Law adheres to consequential doctrine, while commissioners of information commission and adjudicating judges tend to adhere to positive doctrine. Information applicants who do not have direct material interests tend to be normative and are not allowed partial or gradual fulfilment of access.


On the other hand, the Supreme Judge of the State Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court of Indonesia Dr. H. Yosran, S.H., M.Hum stated, "That talking about the issue of execution of court decisions and other efforts that can be made if the Public Agency does not comply with court decisions. One of the efforts that can be taken in the event that a Public Agency does not comply with a court decision is to use the Government Administration Act. Don't stop by just using the mechanism provided by the FOI Law," he said while answering discussion participants' questions related to public bodies that did not disclose information even though the information had been declared by the Supreme Court to be open to the public.


High Application for Settlement of Information Disputes


Commissioner of KI of West Borneo Province Catharina Pancer Istiyani in her presentation also said that the Information Commission received quite a lot of requests for dispute resolution related to environmental information and natural resources. She also said that the Petitioner had to have a strategy to obtain information and not play around with the dispute resolution process.


"There are several problems that we often see in the field of information disputes, the first problem is related to the awareness and etiquette of Public Agencies, many applicants are imposed by public bodies and ultimately these problems are not resolved. The second is related to execution, the applicant is asked to wait in advance the execution order from the Information Commission (KI), but from KI itself does not have clear rules in its implementation.


Settlement of Forest and Land Sectors Information Disputes


Information Commission










West Borneo





Central Borneo

2013-Agt 2019




West Sumatra






2019 (sd Okt)














Central Borneo















City of Cirebon




Meanwhile in the same place Deputy Director​​ of​​ ICEL Astrid Debora portrayed the issue of decreasing levels of transparency, especially in the forest and land sectors. "Call it the HGU case, for example, between FWI and the Ministry of ATR/BPN. Until now, the​​ Ministry of​​ ATR/BPN has not complied with the Supreme​​ Court's decision which emphasised that the HGU information was​​ open information. Even though it has permanent legal power, the Ministry of ATR/BPN​​ continues to insist on closing HGU information. This condition is exacerbated by the issuance of a Deputy Circular Letter of the Coordinating Ministry of Economy which seems to confirm that the HGU information is exempt information,"​​ explained Astrid.


"This neglect makes people spend extra energy to make various legal efforts,"​​ she said again. Several legal remedies carried out by Setapak's partners when they found the Public Agency​​ didn’t implement​​ the Information Commission's​​ or court​​ decision include: requesting execution, reporting to the police, reporting to the Ombudsman, and other informal efforts only to obtain documents or information that are declared open according to the​​ FOI Law​​ and the decision of the Information Commission/court. (Dona)


WTE in the Middle of the Renewable Energy Vortex

Recently, discussions related to the construction of the Waste-to-Energy Power Plants (WTE) are often discussed following President Joko Widodo’s direction to continue accelerating the construction of the power plant. Basically, the construction of WTE is carried out as one of the programs to meet the strategy of implementing technology in handling household waste and household-like waste that is environmentally-friendly and efficient.[1] In general, this action is carried out as a form of performance improvement for waste handling.[2] In its development, in fact the construction of WTE is not only carried out for handling waste, but also to meet the sources of electricity in Indonesia, especially in terms of increasing the role of renewable energy, juxtaposed with other renewable energy sources in Indonesia such as water, wind, and solar.


WTE is a Renewable Energy Source?

In Indonesia, Waste-to-Energy Power Plants (WTE) is categorised as renewable energy. Historically, the existence of the definition of WTE as a renewable energy source in Indonesia is by the issuance of Presidential Decree (PD) No. 18 of 2016 concerning the Acceleration of Waste-to-Energy Power Plants Development in Province of DKI Jakarta, City of Tangerang, City of Bandung, City of Semarang, City of Surakarta, City of Surabaya and City of Makassar which in the “considering” section of the regulation explained that WTE in Indonesia needs to be built in order to convert waste as an energy source and improve environmental quality, as well as to enhance the role of electricity based on new renewable energy. Even in the WTE definition in the regulation has also been explained in article 1 number 3 related regulations, namely:


“Waste-to-Energy Power Plants, hereinafter abbreviated as WTE, is a power plant that uses new and renewable energy based on municipal solid waste that is converted into electricity through thermal process technology including gasification, incinerator, and pyrolysis”


Although in Presidential Decree No. 35 of 2018 concerning the Acceleration of the Construction of Waste Processing Installations into Electric Energy Based on Environment-Friendly Technology (regulation replacing PD No. 18 of 2016) the definition related to WTE as new and renewable energy is already gone, but in its implementation WTE is still categorised as renewable energy, especially when referring to regulations within the scope of Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources. The example of the regulation is Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Regulation No. 53 of 2018 related to the Utilisation of Renewable Energy for Electricity Supply, which categorizes WTE as a renewable energy source. Currently WTE is defined as “Waste Management into environmentally-friendly technology-based electricity that meets quality standards in accordance with statutory provisions and can reduce the volume of waste significantly and is tested”.[3] Unfortunately, the understanding of environmentally-friendly technology is still ambiguous.

Read moreWTE in the Middle of the Renewable Energy Vortex

Symposium “Initiating the Vision of Democracy and the Environment of Indonesia”

Jakarta – Senin (05/08/2019). Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI), Association for Community-Based and Ecological Law Reform (HuMa), Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI), Publish What You Pay (PYWP), Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), and the Code Initiative jointly held a Symposium on “Initiating the Vision of Democracy and the Environment of Indonesia”, at the Royal Kuningan Hotel, Jakarta.


In his remarks, Executive Director of ICEL Henri Subagiyo said that the speech delivered by the elected President Joko Widodo last month at the Sentul International Convention Center (SICC), was very focused on increasing investment and infrastructure for development. However, it is unfortunate that the vision did not touch the issue of protecting natural resources and the environment.


“This is one of the weaknesses of the Indonesian Vision in dealing with various national problems. Because, so far the condition of natural resources and the environment quite problematic and should get priority to be addressed. The government should be able to lay a stronger foundation for sustainable development onward,” said Henri Subagiyo.

Read moreSymposium “Initiating the Vision of Democracy and the Environment of Indonesia”