Politician from Indonesia’s National Democratic Party (Nasdem), Effendi Choirie, in a public forum expressed his suspicion about Greenpeace as a network of foreign NGOs that have loyalty to international donors. According to him, even though Greenpeace raised issues that seemed to save the environment, they actually brought hidden agenda, especially one that could potentially damage national economic growth because Indonesia had abundant natural resources.
Greenpeace as an international environmental monitoring NGO often highlights forest destruction issue and opposes national projects that according to them, potentially damage the environment. For example rejecting the development of the Celukan Bawang Coal Power Plant in Buleleng, Bali. Strangely, Greenpeace did not take a similar action regarding a power plant built by developed countries using Indonesian coal energy.
Greenpeace is also thought to be behind Indonesia’s moratorium policy on the opening of primary forests and peatlands. This activity is believed to be an effort to suppress the Indonesian economy, especially to reduce Crude Palm Oil (CPO) and cocoa exports by narrowing the growth of those two commodities.
Because of its activities, Greenpeace’s presence has been rejected in several countries. Take a look how the Indian government declared Greenpeace and other NGOs as a threat to their national economic security. Canada and New Zealand revoke the status of a Greenpeace charity. France has sentenced Greenpeace activists to prison for reasons of violating the law and public order.
Strangely when other countries avoided Greenpeace like an epidemic, Indonesia was still “unstable” in determining attitudes. The government seems to be “hypnotized” by issues that seem to save the environment, and does not look further into the reasons for friendly countries such as above taking a stand against foreign NGOs.
For information, Russia has firmly issued a law (UU) concerning the supervision of foreign NGOs. Although criticized by western countries, Russia dared to build a narrative that the Act was to protect its domestic interests.
The law states that non-governmental organizations/NGOs that are active in Russia and funded from abroad, are subsequently assessed as “foreign agents”. Therefore, they must be able to explain all the money obtained from abroad, otherwise the NGO will face a fine or jail sentences.
Talking about the level of trust, there has actually been a trend in the crisis of trust in NGOs. In Indonesia, the level of trust in NGOs declined in 2016 to 57 per cent from the previous period of 64 per cent. The level of public trust in NGOs is always lower when compared to three other public institutions: business, media, and government.
In 2017, the level of public trust in the media was at the level of 67 per cent, while NGOs were only 64 per cent. Compare this with the level of trust in the government and business that reaches levels above 70 per cent.
We should question the interests of foreign NGOs whose source of funding comes from foreign countries as well. It is difficult not to be prejudiced that the organization carries out the agenda or advances the interests of foreign parties because the main donors are not transparently published.
It is natural for some to worry that foreign funds are a means to intervene in the dynamics of domestic socio-political life, and lead to “direct action” – a military term – forcing the government to change. Certainly we do not expect sovereignty in our country to be driven by environmentalists who, quoting Russian term, act as “foreign agents”.