Lawmaker Accuses WWF of Instigating Harrison Ford Ministry Row
The fallout over pointed questions about the government’s inability to tackle illegal logging in a protected forest has continued with a legislator calling for the banishment of a leading environmental group.
Firman Subagyo, a deputy chairman of the House of Representatives’ Commission IV, which oversees forestry affairs, demanded on Tuesday that the World Wide Fund for Nature be removed from its forest conservation role in the Tesso Nilo National Park in Sumatra’s Riau province.
“They’ve been in Tesso Nilo since 2000 and there have been no changes. If anything, the condition of the park has only gotten worse,” Firman said as quoted by Antara, the state news agency.
He called for it to be replaced by a local group, saying the latter would better understand the character and culture of the local community, making it public advocacy against illegal logging and other forestry crimes more effective.
“The WWF’s activities are just [cosmetic], to serve their global environmental campaign and raise funds, rather than for sustainable development,” he said.
His remarks came on the same day that Andi Arief, a presidential adviser, lashed out at Hollywood star Harrison Ford for asking tough questions of Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan a day earlier about the lack of enforcement against illegal logging in Tesso Nilo.
He accused Ford, who was in the country to film part of his upcoming climate change-themed documentary “Years of Living Dangerously,” of “harassing state institutions” and “attacking the minister with questions.”
“His crew and those who were helping him in Indonesia must be questioned to find out their motives for harassing a state institution. If necessary, we will deport him,” Arief said.
Firman echoed the recrimination, saying that the actor should have “been more polite and not direct” when interviewing the minister on Monday.
“This is proof of WWF’s underhanded tricks by accusing the government of being inept,” he said.
This is not the first time authorities have attacked WWF’s work in Tesso Nilo, where it is engaged in helping slow the rate of deforestation.
In March, the Forestry Ministry threatened to terminate the government’s partnership with the group because of what it called a lack of progress.
However, the WWF has argued that without it, the entire national park would have been razed by 2007.