THE AFFACTED COMMUNITY OF
PT. MITRA AUSTRAL SEJAHTERA II
(PT. MAS II)
This fact sheet presents the problems faced by the community resulted from the operation of PT. Mitra Austral Sejahtera II (PT. MAS II). It shall give the readers objective and balanced information by putting forward perspective of the negatively affected community.
We expect the shareholders of PT. MAS II and its executives to be more sensible in dealing with community’s demand and most of all in the negotiation process to reach the best possible resolutions. The demand is real since it had entangled the entire life of the affected community.
II. BRIEF HISTORY OF PT. MAS II
PT. Mitra Austral Sejahtera II (PT. MAS I) is a plantation company of foreign investment. It is a large scale plantation with the premium commodity of oil palm. The operation adopts the system of Nucleus-Plasma scheme whereby company owns and control the land under Land Use Right, this land is called nucleus plantation land. Company then develops several plantations to be granted for the community; however in reality the management is controlled by the Company.
With all the capital needed for the investment and a letter from the Government of Indonesia Cq. Decision Letter of National Land Agency [BPN] of District Sanggau Number: 400-06/II-41-95 re location permit for oil palm plantation in sub district of Bonti, Parindu, Kembayan dan Tayan Hulu Kabupaten Sanggau covering 24.000 Ha of land; the Company supported by government apparatus both civil and military as well as public figures then collected the people and released a statement that ”Company is government’s partners in delivering development program for the ultimate goal of boosting people’s welfare” and hence, community shall agree with the program. Declining the program will be perceived as going against the State and State can take legal actions.
The area where Company is granted the permit is a communal land. It has been inheritably owned by the local community; they have lived, controlled and used the land. People never experienced hunger since the nature provided them with food and water and all the sources of livelihood. Communal life was secured where the spirit of togetherness was still strong. Adat laws preserved this peaceful life. It is surprisingly odd to say that they did not have a welfare life; the standard shall not set by the economist, but more on the peoples themselves.
Life after all is never perfect, there was problem of infrastructure [road] and schooling facilities. Government can not provide the proper road and school.
Promise of peoples’ welfare is an economic logic; legal arguments to take over the land are concepts that people can’t understand. What people felt was fear to be perceived as going against the State; as criminals. With this condition and minimum knowledge of laws and rights, people could no longer prevent their land to be taken over by the Company and converted to oil palm plantation.
The compensation of the lost of land has never been paid fairly. Worse, the Adat concept of compensation of existing living vegetations over the land, derasa, which became the fundament of peoples’ life, was manipulated to take over land; even worse then, the compensation of the existing vegetations over the land itself was not fairly paid.
For (a) bawas [land covered by grasses] the compensation was only IDR 25,000 per ha (b) land used from last year’s cultivation was IDR 50,000/ha ; (c)Unproductive rubber land IDR 75,000/ha ;(d) Productive rubber land IDR 85,000/ha ;(e) Other Tembawang [communal land with various productive trees] IDR 85.000/ha and ;(f) Rice fields IDR 85,000.
Derasa is an Adat concept of compensation; it is a way of respecting the value of the existing vegetations over the land; so if the community members want to use the land for other purposes; they must pay the compensation as agreed by the whole community; it is not at all compensation over the land.
PT. MAS II obtained the land for oil palm plantation from the community by promising that for those who surrender 7.5 ha of land will get derasa of 5.5 ha and 2 ha of PLASMA; under 7.5 ha will only get derasa. On the process of land measurement; they did not actually calculate the width of land per family; but basing on the land coverage lay on the map. On the legality process, PT. MAS II gave out a bulk of documents to the people without them understanding the meaning and impact of the agreement; they must sign the paper; or be treated as impeding development.
Bulldozers, excavators and other heavy equipments have moved forward on the ground; without having to worry that some administrative requirements were not yet fulfilled. The way this conversion was done created friction among the community and at the end brought social conflicts. Protest by the people demanding the Company to fulfill their obligations ended up in threat and people were put in jail.
One question remains intact, is addressing community problems requires the peoples to be tripped off of their land; the land that provides them livelihood and the source of living …
RECENT CONDITION, an Uncovered Deception
The day goes by… PT. MAS II still exists in the village of Kompu, Kerunang, Seribot and others. But their promise remains a promise. We have the saying that best describe this condition “jauh panggung dari api” ….
Manipulation of Adat Law, derasa, is still being questioned by peoples. The value of compensation is also far away from being fair. Had Company said it was compensation over the land; people would have declined the offer on the first place. There is no such concept of trade on land and natural resources over their communal land.
Compensation received by the people is different from the promise. On derasa, the compensation is given in uniform amounts without considering the real width of land they have surrendered. PLASMA as promised was 2 ha; in reality people only get 1.5 ha or less. The debt from PLASMA conversion was never brought up from the beginning of land acquisition process. Condition of oil palm trees is not fine; the treatment on PLASMA is not sufficient when they have to pay for this through cut price of FFB they sell to Company. The pricing is not transparent. On top of that Company still cut out the FFB for other unclear items.
Social responsibility is one of the sweet promises of PT MAS II. Company will build infrastructures such as transportation facilities, educations and health. In reality Company only built the road for its own interest; other than that it remained untouched, and damaged. So do education and health facilities. Company said they have paid the taxes so the tax shall pay for the infrastructure.
Chemical use for treatment, fertilizers and pesticides, also give bad impacts for the environment and the people.
Time teaches all who learn. The community affected by the operation of PT. MAS II also learns their objective reality; hence they are also able to prepare 14 demands. This is basing on the promises that have yet to fulfill by the Company. The peace way of expressing these demands was retaliated by imprisoning 5 farmers. This method reminds us of Dutch colonialism way of handling Indonesian movement. It’s a kind of suppression aiming to dilute the actual demands.
1. PT. MAS II in developing oil palm plantations in District Sanggau disrespects the Adat practice and communal life in controlling, managing and using the traditional land and natural resources.
2. PT. MAS II fails to comply with the policy of land compensation; more over it manipulates the Adat law, derasa.
3. PT. MAS II is not yet fulfills its obligation to PLASMA agreement; some of the people do not get 2 Ha PLASMA even until today. Company also fails to provide appropriate treatment of the peoples’ oil palm plantations and lacking transparency in the pricing of FFB.
4. PT. MAS II does not provide its social responsibilities to build infrastructures.
5. PT. MAS II conducts repulsive ways of dealing with peoples’ demand by terror, criminalization and intimidations.
The principle of Sustainable Palm Oils promotes compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Specifically, Criterion 2.1 stated: There is compliance with all applicable local, national and ratified international laws and regulation.
Indonesia is state party to the Convention of Biological Diversity. Article 10c of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) requires countries that are party to the Convention to ‘protect and encourage the customary use of biological resources in accordance with traditional cultural practices that are compatible with conservation or sustainable use requirements’. The CBD secretariat concludes that governments should therefore ensure national laws and policies secure indigenous peoples’ customary laws, systems of self-governance and rights over land and other resources.
Indonesia has also ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discriminations that came into entry on 25 July 1999. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on its Seventy-first session in Geneva, 30 July-18 August 2007 stated:
The Committee, while noting that land, water and natural resources shall be controlled by the State party and exploited for the greatest benefit of the people under Indonesian law, recalls that such a principle must be exercised consistently with the rights of indigenous peoples. The State party should review its laws, in particular Law No. 18 of 2004 on Plantations, as well as the way they are interpreted and implemented in practice, to ensure that they respect the rights of indigenous peoples to possess, develop, control and use their communal lands. While noting that the Kalimantan Border Oil Palm Mega-project is being subjected to further studies, the Committee recommends that the State party secure the possession and ownership rights of local communities before proceeding further with this Plan. The State party should also ensure that meaningful consultations are undertaken with the concerned communities, with a view to obtaining their consent and participation in the Plan.
Having reviewed the above references and by contrasting reality on the field; we feel that formal approach is not enough. Company shall see concrete reality on the field and shall respect the Adat law and the dynamics of the peoples.
The most important thing is to STOP the practices of suppression, terrors, intimidation and criminalization. Today 4 farmers are still imprisoned in Sanggau. The 14 demands are real and shall be negotiated fairly.