By: Amber Ceja
It’s kind of difficult discovering trending news in Indonesia considering the language barrier. Also, Twitter doesn’t appear to be the most popular social media outlet in Indonesia. But, here are a few things happening in relation to the country that have some controversy and popularity.
Firstly, there is the popular ongoing issue of deforestation due to growing numbers of palm oil plantations. In this tweet, @extinctsymbol, with over 38 thousand followers, is expressing concern over species facing extinction due to the destruction of peat swamps in Malaysia to make room for more palm oil plantations. There were 61 re-tweets, which is a lot compared to most tweets I found regarding issues in the country. In an article entitled “Protect our peat swamps” from New Straits Times, a Malaysian news source, peat swamps are described as those places that don’t get attention as they are considered infertile grounds. It mentions though, that studies prove that these peat swamps offer a unique flora and fauna, or plant and wildlife, and that the swamp acts as a sponge which aids in flood control as well as the reduction of greenhouse gases. The concern is that these ecosystems are often overlooked and, although considered infertile, are converted for agricultural use.
Another controversial subject of news I came across was within the hashtag #freewestpapua and under the Twitter account @FreeWestPapua which has over 20 thousand twitter followers. These refer to the indigenous people of West Papua and their nearly 30-year war of resistance against Indonesia’s military government. West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea. According to the Free West Papua Campaign webpage, “Indonesian security forces have committed gross human rights abuses against the indigenous Papuans, with over 500,000 civilians killed to date” in suppressing their freedom of expression.
A third story I came across was on the website for the Jakarta Post entitled “Heated debate continues on alcohol prohibition bill,” regarding the debate of titling the alcohol prohibition bill as well as how they can adopt all inputs pushed by the government. Although Indonesia has about the lowest alcohol consumption rate in Asia, the problem appeared to be more of the lack of law enforcement, according to another article on the Jakarta Post. Basically, officials just want people to drink responsibly.