Acehnese Putting Together Own Blueprint
By Dedy Ardiansyah - Medan, 2005-03-12 12:44:40
A recent meeting of Acehnese civil society, coordinated by the Aceh Recovery Forum (ARF), has put forward a blueprint for a special rehabilitation and reconstruction body in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam. The ARF's proposed special body is markedly different from that recently instituted by the government.
The head of the ARF working group, Ahmad Humam Hamid, a lecturer at the Syah Kuala University in Banda Aceh, met with journalists at the Hotel Polonia, Medan, on Wednesday 9th to outline their proposals.
The meeting lasted three days and produced 10 recommendations to feed into the concept of an overall rehabilitation and reconstruction blueprint that will be put to the National Planning and Development Board (BAPPENAS).
For elements of Acehnese civil society this wasn't their first endeavour to have some input into their homeland's future. Previously, Forum LSM (Acehnese NGO Forum) had tried to have a similar meeting, but it was forbidden by the Civil Emergency Authority.
The Civil Emergency Authority refused to grant the request for a meeting by various social groups at the Hotel Renggali, Takengon, Aceh Tengah. The planned meeting of local NGO activists, ulamas, students, and youth groups was scheduled for the 11th-13th of February.
In letter No B/03/II/2005/PDSD/As-I, dated February 9th the Authority said that they were not yet able to grant permission for the meeting. According to the letter this is because the security situation is 'not yet conducive'.
"When the situation and condition of the province are more conducive, these kinds of activities will be considered," the letter stated. It was signed by the head of the Civil Emergency Authority, Inspector General of Police, Bahrumsyah SH.
As a consequence of this refusal, civil society had to move the meeting to Medan.
Nonetheless, it was a very productive three days. The recommendation items finally put together were the output of ten working groups (WG): Institutions & Governance; Natural Resources & Environment; Law & Human Rights; Education; Security; Law and Order & Reconciliation; Spatial Planning; Infrastructure; and Funding.
The Special Body
Humam Hamid explained that the special body recommended by the Institutions & Governance working group was noticeably different from the Authority Body recently formed by the government to oversee the rehabilitation and reconstruction process in Aceh.
The differences located in the ordering of accountability that goes directly to the President. This special body also has to be on the same level as a minister/department/ministry because the choice of authority/competence for coordinating central government institutions while regional and DPRD and international donor institutions together over a period of three to five years. In addition to that, the special body must also be instituted by legal means.
"Our forum's special body is at the proposal stage only. The mechanisms of the Authority Body proposed by the government are not clearly delineated. This will have an impact on the implementation of its ideas in the field. We would like to counter this lack by setting up another special body that is clearly defined by a legal means such as a law, regulation, or presidential decree. The legal basis is needed to avoid overlaps in reconstruction and rehabilitation activities.
On that note, the body proposed would also include people with strong credibility. "This is particularly important as international donors don't believe that the government is well able to manage rehabilitation and reconstruction funds," said Humam.
Meanwhile, Mawardi Ismail, lecturer in law at Syah Kuala University, and head of the Institutions & Governance working group explained that their special body should be the foundation for Aceh's rehabilitation and reconstruction. It would open up space for Acehnese people and civil society to get directly involved in post-tsunami development.
"The form of the body is the key. Its authority could be held by the governor, but this would be unlikely to be reflected on the ground as the governor's authority is limited and would not likely involve sufficient coordination with ministers," said Mawardi.
Because the duties and authority of the special body are broad - because it has to be coordinated by central and regional institutions, as well as international donors - a legal authority must establish the body in order to give it legitimate foundation.
"This would, however, take a long time as it would have to get the agreement of the parliament. The most feasible outcome is a legal product that is on a level with a law, as for example an amendment or regulation, or Presidential Decree," he added.
Mawardi also explained that the legal foundation must determine the leadership of the body. There are two models that could feed into this: either taking a functional lead from the BPK (National Audit Body), or involving civil society, NGOs, popular leaders and members of parliament in the process.
Also involved is the issue of Indonesia's relationship with GAM. The NGO Forum meeting recommended a peace map be the single most important priority for both sides. Because of this imperative, policy has to focus on supporting the dialogue process happening in Helsinki in order to achieve a political solution.
In the area of economy and employment short and long term models were put forward. The short term focuses on relocation efforts in line with refugees' needs, rehabilitation and increasing employment prospects, and restoring markets and fish auctions in order to support the people's financial recovery.
In the long run, the format for Aceh's economic development has to be based on popular as formulated in the Duek Pakat Takengon Declaration in September 2003.
Meanwhile, education must concentrate on Islamic principles as well as developing local workforce skills, together with repairing educational infrastructure and staffing.
In the religious arena, ARF recommended that all actions taken in the rebuilding of the province incorporate foundations in line with Islamic principles, as well as Acehnese, Indonesian and universal values.
As a work focus in the field of religion, ARF integrated concepts compatible with a multicultural approach, curriculum development, the establishment of pesantren and the knowledge and thought of ulama that are involved with religious institutions, women's organisations, NGOs and the general population.
In the field of law and human rights policy there must be legal guarantees around distribution and gathering of evidence of ownership, possessions and documents. In addition basic rights for refugees must be enshrined in law, whether they are living in or outside of the camps.
The ARF recommendations for reconstruction and rehabilitation are all underpinned with an understanding of the Acehnese people's needs. For example, basic issues such as building houses for victims must incorporate discussions with the victims themselves.
Another critical area is that of spatial planning. The Forum agreed that there needs to be zoning in line with disaster risk management. As is known, the government - through BAPPENAS - has already established several zones, including zones forbidden to population settlements as far as two kilometres from the beach front. But this new spatial planning, according to the ARF, must include people and traditional and customary legal institutions' needs.
In the area of environment, policy will be directed to the recovery and ordering of livelihoods as well as sustainable resources.
After the three day meeting the final recommendation issued by Acehnese civil society groups was on the question of funding. The Funding working group proposed the arrangement of an Aceh Summit, an international meeting on Aceh, together with the formation of a trust fund by donors for education and health. The funds would be organised through an institution set up by a consortium from donor countries, government and local community leaders.
According to Humam Hamid, the recommendations that came out of the meeting are based on the priorities of the Acehnese people, as well as the Islamic and traditional values that they espouse.
"This natural disaster must be the first step in building a new Aceh based on justice, peace and well-being," he stated. [cc]