Indonesia Still Far from the Principle of Openness, Mahfud MD Envision the Transparency of HGU Information

Jakarta, February 5, 2024 – Three vice presidential candidates for the 2024 – 2029 Presidential Election have presented their ideas and concepts in the fourth debate held on Sunday, January 21, 2024, at the Jakarta Convention Centre (JCC) Senayan Jakarta. FWI captured an interesting moment during the debate, when candidate number 03, Mahfud MD, was asked about illegal mining and fishing corruption and rampant illegal logging, which have caused ecological damage on both land and sea as well as social injustice.

The candidate for vice president (vice presidential candidate) number 03 emphasized the importance of openness of data related to Natural Resources and Agrarian Affairs. During the debate, Mahfud MD stated that the issue of resolving Natural Resources and Energy must be comprehensive from upstream to downstream, for example, with the transparency of agrarian information including forestry. I have experience in litigation on this issue and the information is always closed, said Mahfud.

Information transparency is essentially a gateway for the check & balance process, as a concrete form of public participation in overseeing government performance. In response to this issue, FWI noted the critical periods of Indonesia’s forest fate due to the lack of information openness in the natural resources sector. FWI (2023) recorded deforestation occurring from 2017 to 2021 with an average of 2.54 million Ha/year or equivalent to 6 times the size of a football field per minute. This has led Indonesia to the brink of a climate crisis.

Stuck in the Quagmire of HGU Information Dispute

Significant destruction of Indonesia’s forest resources began in the early 1970s when commercial logging began on a massive scale, and the deforestation rate reached 1 million ha/year (FWI in the book Crossroads, 2017).

The state’s approach to forest and land management includes granting rights to utilize forests and land through concession permits in the forestry, plantation, and mining sectors. The sectoral licensing system has led to overlapping permits.

Law No. 14 of 2008 concerning Public Information Openness (KIP) still leaves many problems, especially in its implementation. Fifteen years after it was enacted, the governance of natural resources is still colored by public bodies unwilling to apply the principle of openness, even openly refusing to implement legally binding court decisions. The Ministry of ATR/BPN is the most sued public body by the public regarding its control over Land Use Rights (HGU) documents.

As of January 2024, more than 8 years, the dispute over HGU information between the Ministry of ATR/BPN vs. FWI has reached a dead end. The Ministry of ATR/BPN closes HGU information without legal basis on the grounds that HGU is exempted data. However, in the KIP Law, data exemptions must go through a consequential testing process that has been clearly explained procedurally. However, the Ministry of ATR/BPN still refuses to comply with the provisions in the KIP Law.

Agung Ady Setyawan, FWI Forest Campaigner, explained that the information dispute between FWI vs. the Ministry of ATR/BPN is a reflection of public information openness performance in Indonesia. The response of public bodies, in this case, the Ministry of ATR/BPN, which has skipped 4 out of 13 court hearings and skipped mediation processes twice, is a portrait of public bodies’ non-compliance with the law. Moreover, the Ministry of ATR/BPN refuses to implement the recommendations of the Indonesian Ombudsman regarding legally binding decisions.


Indonesia is still far from the principle of transparency in forest and land management. Although in the 2024 Presidential Election debate, vice presidential candidate Mahfud MD, who was then serving as the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, emphasized the importance of information transparency related to Natural Resources (NR) and Agrarian Affairs, the reality is that there are still public bodies unwilling to comply with the KIP Law, making it difficult for the public to oversee, check, and balance the performance of public bodies.

Anggi Putra Prayoga, FWI Campaign Manager, Policy Intervention, and Media, assessed that the issuance of permits for extractive industries in Indonesia is done sectorally, creating environmental damage and overlapping licenses. FWI noted (2023) that the total overlapping concessions in Indonesia amounted to 5.78 million hectares consisting of palm oil plantation, mining, and forestry concessions. Without a spirit of transparency in every public body, the principle of good governance is difficult to achieve and only generates negative public sentiments towards the performance of public bodies.

Transparency of Land Use Rights (HGU) information at the Ministry of ATR/BPN is one of the keys to good governance in the next government. Compliance with the law by public bodies is believed to be able to resolve various land conflict issues, protect forests and natural resources, provide legal certainty for investment and permits, and ensure business continuity, concluded Anggi.

Contact Person:

Forest Watch Indonesia Media (0857-2034-6154)

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