The Indonesian Government has announced plans to carry out a detailed inventory into the country’s islands in a crackdown on illegal island ownership.
- Indonesia has around 13,000 islands – of which 6,000 are thought to be used as private and commercial resorts
- Yet many of these islands are thought to be illegally occupied – depriving the state of valuable assets and development potential
- The government has announced plans for a detailed survey into island ownership and looks set to transfer hundreds of islands back into public hands
Indonesia – Land of a Thousand Islands
According to a survey conducted by Indonesia’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries in 2010, Indonesia has around 13,000 islands. Of these, it is estimated that 6,000 are permanently occupied – both by local and foreign residents, who have turned them into private and commercial resorts.
Government Investigation into Island Ownership
After the Indonesian Government announced plans to complete a new, more detailed inventory earlier this month, all this looks set to change, however. According to officials, the new inventory will allow the government to ascertain the status of the country’s islands and transfer any illegally occupied islands back into public hands.
“We will immediately launch a program to ascertain the status of the islands,” explained Susu Pudjiastuti, the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. “The government should know the value of the state’s assets and their potential. That will be included in our program.”
Illegal Island Occupation in Indonesia
As yet, Indonesia has not been able to calculate the dimensions or natural resource potential of Indonesia’s small islands. Whilst the local real estate law dictates that neither Indonesian nor foreign residents may own 100% of an island (approximately 30% should belong to the state), many have been illegally occupied and developed.
Transforming an island into a commercial resort or private residence directly contravenes Article 33 Point 3 of the country’s Constitution which mandates that the nation’s “earth, natural resources and water are to be controlled by the state and should be used to the sake of the people’s welfare.”
The survey won’t be without consequences explained Brahmantya Satyamurti, the Director General of the Ministry’s Marine Space Management Program. “We will set sanctions for those who are found to be violating the law.”
Islands Very Much in Government’s Focus
The country’s islands have been in the focus of the authorities since June 2016, when Singapore-based developer Funtasy Islands was reprimanded for denoting Manis Island, near Batam, Riau Islands as Singaporean territory.