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Residents Forced from Indonesian Island to Make Way for Government Industrial Park

The Takeaway 

Violent protests have preceded the anticipated September 28 relocation of around 7,500 residents from Rempang Island, Indonesia. Once residents are evicted, construction will begin on an industrial, commercial, and tourism park called Rempang Eco City, which will house a quartz sand-processing plant in partnership with China-based Xinyi Glass, one of the world’s largest float glass and automotive glass producers. Critics accuse the Indonesian government of being heavy-handed in quelling the protests and prioritizing “big capital” over people’s welfare. The government says the relocations are necessary to proceed with construction and has offered relocation packages to those impacted. 

Rampang Island Indonesia locator map
Graphic Design: Chloe Fenemore

In Brief 

Implications 

The central government faces charges of prioritizing investments over people. Widodo backed the Rempang Eco City project as key to growing the local economy and creating employment opportunities for residents. But the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights and several civil society organizations have criticized not only the government’s handling of the protests, but also its alleged disregard for residents’ cultural heritage. The government’s handling of the Rempang project could be indicative of how it will handle other local disputes over evicting residents in the name of economic progress. 
 

The project could also have serious environmental consequences. The Indonesian Forum for the Environment, an Indonesian environmental NGO, raised concerns that constructing the industrial park and the quartz sand processing plant could lead to excessive water usage and the overexploitation of sand on the island, damaging the local environment. The NGO also drew attention to one case of supposed liquid waste mismanagement reported at another of Xinyi’s sand processing plants — this one in Canada — as an example of possible environmental harms. 

What's Next

1. Relocation plans proceed 

Residents will be relocated to a soon-to-be-built fishing village on Galang Island, at the southern tip of Rempang Island, by late September. The government is offering compensation of 500 square metres of land, valued at C$10,500 (120 million rupiah), for each family. Jakarta will also provide C$105 (1.2 million rupiah) to help with housing costs while new housing is constructed. In addition, the government is providing fishing boats and equipment, as fishing is a major source of many residents’ livelihoods.  

2. Residents’ frustration lingers 

Many recipients are dissatisfied with the compensation package, noting that the government's offer does not include title deeds to the land but rather ‘right-to-build' certificates that are valid for only 50 years. Local discontent is thus not likely to subside anytime soon.

• Produced by CAST’s Southeast Asia team: Alberto Iskandar (Analyst) and Saima Islam (Analyst).