Directives of President of the Republic of Indonesia at the 2021 National Coordination Meeting on Forest and Land Fire Control, Monday, 22 February 2021 at the State Palace, Jakarta Province

By Office of Assistant to Deputy Cabinet Secretary for State Documents & Translation     Date 22 Februari 2021
Category: Speech Transcript
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Assalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

Good afternoon,

May prosperity be upon us all,

Om Swastiastu,

Namo Buddhaya,

Greetings of virtue.

Distinguished Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia Bapak Prof. K.H. Ma’ruf Amin;
Distinguished Coordinating Ministers, Ministers of Indonesia Onward Cabinet, and all the Heads of Non-Ministerial Institutions in attendance;

Distinguished Commander of the Indonesian National Defense Forces (TNI) and all ranks of TNI;

Distinguished Head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB);
Distinguished Governors and Deputy Governors in attendance. Also present Governor of South Sumatra, Governor of Riau, Governor of West Kalimantan, and Governor of Central Kalimantan, and all the Regents in attendance;

Distinguished Regional Police Chiefs (Kapolda), Military Commanders (Pangdam), Military Resort Post Commanders (Danrem), Regency Police Chiefs (Kapolres), Commanders of Regional Military Command (Dandim);

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Every year since a big fire disaster in 2015, we conduct this meeting. What’s the target? To remind governors, regents/mayors, Pangdam, Danrem, Dandim, Kapolda, Kapolres, especially new officials who are in fire-prone areas. The meeting aims to remind us to never forget the rules that we agreed on in 2016. In 2016, we agreed that the new Pangdam, Kapolda, Kapolres, Danrem, and Dandim should know and follow the same rules. Thus, if a fire occurs in your area and it is growing, and it is not handled properly, the rules are still the same, I have not changed it yet. I think all of us still remember. Those who participate regularly in this meeting every year must remember that the rules, (the persons in charge) will be removed, be replaced. Clearly. Even though I only order the TNI Commander and the National Police Chief (Kapolri) twice at the time. Hence, I tell you again. It is only for the new officials so that they know the rules of the game.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to remind all of us that although we are currently facing flooding and landslide in several areas, we must remain vigilant to the threat of forest and land fires. We expect a comprehensive, detailed prevention plan, stronger synergy, and more effective field execution. Based on the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency’s (BMKG) report, it is estimated that most regions in Indonesia will still have moderate to high rains until April 2021. La Nina (weather phenomenon) will still last until this first semester. May is expected to be a transitional phase from the rainy season to the dry season, but we must remain vigilant, don’t be careless. I was informed that forest and land fires have started since the end of January, this was reported by Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs. For instance, earlier in Riau, he said that there have been 29 incidents. Please stay alert, Riau Governor. Even though it can be handled, don’t let it occur again. In West Kalimantan, there have been 52 incidents. Please, stay alert West Kalimantan. Although it can be handled, we are all must stay alert.

I remember very well that in 2015 when I visited Riau, Pekanbaru, I got off in Padang. As I recalled, maybe It took me eight hours by road. I also remember that in 2015 when I visited Pulang Pisau, it was in Central Kalimantan, I got off in South Kalimantan, in Banjarmasin by road as well. As I recalled, it took me four hours. That must not happen again.

And earlier as stated by Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs that Riau Province has declared an emergency alert status for forest and land fire disasters, which is good. Get prepared, don’t let the administration-related and the legal umbrella have not been prepared yet. The burns have already grown, and there is no legal umbrella to do something. I think the Governor of Riau is right, it should be preceded first… Regarding forest fires, from past experience, the figure is higher than that in other provinces.

In February, the island of Sumatra has the potential for forest and land fires since the heat in Sumatra is already quite high. From May to July, parts of Kalimantan and Sulawesi also have the potential for forest and land fires. The climax will be in August and September. We have to know very well, when the climax of the weather will be, so the preparations can start immediately. The planning should be prepared, the organization should be checked whether they have started to work or not. Thus, when it gets really hot, we will have everything prepared.

Esteemed guests,

I would like to emphasize again a number of things that you must do in an effort to prevent forest and land fires, Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law, and Security Affairs has delivered them in detail. I will repeat them.

First, prioritize prevention measures. Therefore, prevention must be prioritized, don’t delay. Even in big countries, there have been large fires. I think all of you already knew that a city has been burned down. We have to learn our lessons. Again, do prioritize prevention, don’t delay because if it’s too late and we even deploy waterbombing as much as we want, from our experience, it will be hard to put out. Thus, the fire may be  little flame but we put it out immediately.

The field management must be consolidated and organized. That means, if there is little fire in the village, it must be reported so that it can be tackled immediately. Do not wait until the fire is getting bigger, it’s hard to put out. Everything must be mobilized to carry out early detection and monitoring in fire-prone areas. I think we all already know this. We already understand it. Where is the prone areas? Which areas must be watched? Do update the information every day so that the conditions on the ground can be monitored daily. Do utilize technology for monitoring, and supervise with a dashboard system. Stay alert, when the fire spreads, the loss is not only millions or billions (rupiah). I’m sure it will definitely go to the trillion (rupiah) figures, stay alert. Not to mention the ecological damage, our ecosystem.

Second, the monitoring and supervision infrastructure must be implemented to the lowest level. I have visited Riau and they were doing it well. The regional police (Polda) has an application that can check up to the lowest level. We have to do things like that. We have to do things like that.

Do involve the Indonesian Military’s village supervisory non-commissioned officers (Babinsa), the Police’s security and public order officers (Bhabinkamtibmas), and village heads in preventing these forest fires. Do provide continuous education to the public, companies, corporations, especially those who are in areas with a tendency of hotspots. Invite religious leaders, community leaders to help explain to the community the dangers of forest and land fires for health, as well as the economic impact.

Third, we need to to find permanent solutions to prevent and deal with forest and land fires in the upcoming years. Because 99 percent of forest fires caused by human activity, whether intentional or unintentional due to negligence with the main motive related to economic problems. I am aware that clearing the land by burning it is the cheapest way. We must educate the public, companies, and corporations. This must be reorganized, find a solution so that corporations and communities open their land not by burning the forest and land.

Fourth, the arrangement of the peat ecosystem in the peat hydrological area must be continued. I have instructed the Peatland and Mangrove Restoration Agency (BRGM) to focus on the peat hydrology area. Do ensure that groundwater levels are maintained in high conditions. Do establish many reservoirs, create many canals, drill wells using various other wetting techniques so that peatlands will remain wet. We all has already understood this, I don’t need to explain more.

 Fifth, I repeat again, don’t let the fire get bigger. Don’t delay so it’s hard to tackle the fire. These five things are pivotal. Thus, we all have to be responsive. All governors, regents/mayors are responsive. The military commander (pangdam), military resort command (danrem), and military district command (dandim) must be responsive. The Regional Police Chief (Kapolda), Police Chief (Kapolres) must be also responsive. It’s all actually just about a quick response. If we respond, it will be a small flame.

If necessary, we can put out the fire by using air operation or waterbombing, we often do this. But don’t let it happen. We put out small fire immediately. Because using waterbombing also requires a big amount of money. But if the fire is too big and we’re too late, we will use it.

I also urge that law enforcement measures should be taken without any compromise. I think the National Police Chief (Kapolri) has understood what to do, because we have had the experience of doing such things in the past. Do apply strict law enforcement on anyone who burns forests and land, be it in corporate-owned, company-owned concessions, or the community, so it makes a deterrent effect. Do apply strict punishment for forest and land burners, be it administrative, civil, and criminal punishment.

Do not let us be embarrassed at the ASEAN Summit, in a meeting of ASEAN countries. There are several countries that discuss this. This issue hadn’t occurred for five years. Don’t let it be raised again, I urge. Shame on us. They might think we can’t solve the issue. We surely can! As Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs said it earlier, it has dropped by 88 percent. We can improve it.

I conclude my remarks on this auspicious opportunity. Happy working. Enjoy your duties. May Allah SWT bless all our steps. I think that’s all for my directives.

I thank you.

Wassalamu’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh. (SA/LW)

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