Solving the haze – Part 2

October 1, 2015

Jokowi says it will take three years to resolve the haze problem. Well if you believe him, then please stop reading and move on to the next excellent article, preferably somewhere faraway from this blog.

The way I see it – in three years, nothing would and can ever change. We can really only speak sensibly about putting an end to something, if it’s within the context of ‘control’ and ‘management.’ Since the haze is really an accretion of a far larger intractable problem, specifically the power and politics relating to deforestation….I cannot see how it’s possible to put an end to it in three, ten or even a hundred years.

As when Jokowi says – it will take three years to end the haze. One would do well to ask further, what does he really need to do to accomplish that Byzantine feat.

Yes, the devil is certainly in the details. Fact: stamping out deforestation in Indonesia IMHO is a mathematically impossibility. First of all, it will require taking on entrenched interests who are all driven by power, politics and greed; dismantling the highly stylized and ritualized patronage system that is embedded in the Indonesian business psyche; not to mention tackling endemic corruption; redirecting misplaced incentives that drive deforestation, including subsidies for wood-pulp production and a concession system that penalizes concession-holders who seek to protect forests; establishing systems for monitoring, reporting, and verifying emissions reductions; filling up the missing information black hole about deforestation; revamping the national land code act; putting in place monetary incentive scheme to mitigate the transmigration of small holders who are responsible for slash and burn; retooling the bureaucracy that governs the forest management philosophy underlying the use of the nation’s forests.

Now perhaps you can all understand why all I can see is an unbridgeable gap between the theory and reality that makes it virtually impossible to take Jokowi seriously…..he might as well tell the world that given three years, he can transmute lead to gold.’


‘If I share the story. My next neighbor is a right inconsiderate asshole because he burns his rubbish in this bad yard and this is a nuisance along with presenting a health hazard to everyone in my household. That’s why one day I threw a bucket of water to snuff out his flaming rubbish – you would probably consider me a very sensible and level headed person.

But if I told you there is a compelling strategic need to embed a group of farmers in Indonesia with an agenda to gather intelligence, interdict and change the rules of the game because I consider the haze to be a clear and present threat to people and planet. Then some idiot will probably accuse me of dabbling in realpolitik like Adolf Hitler. Or worse still accuse me obliquely of condoning interfering with the internal affairs of another country by using covert means. That is why it is so very difficult to talk about this subject meaningfully in such a way where one is able to make progress, not without coming across as a deranged Walter Kurtz personality.

Now that’s regrettable because I have always prefer making small talk about the neutral subject of the weather. But even that evergreen mundane subject has to be so very controversial these days, you might as well not bring it up in a social event, if you don’t want to end up committing reputational hara-kiri….that’s why these days I much prefer to keep quiet.’

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