A comparative analysis of the causes and attempts to resolve four rural land disputes in Java and Sumatra

Author: Rahmi Yudianti

Yudianti, Rahmi, 2020 A comparative analysis of the causes and attempts to resolve four rural land disputes in Java and Sumatra, Flinders University, College of Science and Engineering

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This research was undertaken to obtain a better understanding of land disputes between rural communities and plantation companies in Indonesia. The research was structured around three aims: documenting four contemporary land disputes, conducting a comparative analysis of the causes of these disputes, and attempting a comparative analysis of the attempts to resolve these disputes. In each dispute three groups of stakeholders who had roles in the land disputes were studied: the local communities in the rural areas, the companies who own large-scale plantations, and various arms of government at the national, provincial, district and local levels.

Two cases studies each were selected in East Java (Java) and Jambi (Sumatera) Provinces. Both the case studies in East Java involved people from Gadungan village, in Blitar District. The two companies involved in these disputes were PT. Blitar Putra and PT. Rotorejo Kruwuk. In Batanghari District, Jambi, the case studies were between PT Asiatic Persada and the indigenous Suku Anak Dalam in Bungku Village, and PT. Sawit Jambi Lestari and the transmigrant community in Belanti Jaya Village. These cases studies were selected because of the broad differences between the two islands in terms of their land tenure history, demographic characteristics and type of agricultural development.

The primary data was obtained by administering questionnaires and conducting interviews with 20 households each Bungku and Belanti Jaya, and 30 households in Gadungan about their experiences of land tenure issues and land disputes. Other interviews were conducted key informants such as; government officers in national, province and district levels; heads of the villagers; village elders; and companies. Legal documents, letters and minutes of meetings related to the case studies; and newspaper articles were also used. Secondary data were collected from legal documents, letters and minutes of meetings related to the case studies. Official reports issued by government departments and newspaper articles were also used.

The questionnaire responses were analysed qualitatively using a Likert Scale, and quantitatively using the nonparametric Mann-Whitney U test. Interviews were analysed using combination of the steps identified by Grbich (2013), and Matthews and Ross (2010). They were transcribed and categorised by themes drawn from the research questions, and then sorted using Microsoft Excel worksheets. The interviews were presented and discussed through selected quotes, with the interview details specified at the end of the quotation.

Two disputes were resolved and two are ongoing. The dispute between PT. Asiatic Persada and Suku Anak Dalam was resolved. The dispute between PT. Blitar Putra and Gadungan community were resolved when the company given 90 hectares land to community. However, there are questions over the sustainability of this agreement because people have sold the land parcels distributed to them because they were too small to be economically viable, and the company placed a condition of no further claim into the agreements.

The disputes between PT. Sawit Jambi Lestari and the transmigrant community in Belanti Jaya, and PT. Rotorejo Kruwuk and people from Gadungan, remain unresolved. All parties are still claiming that they believe they have rights to the land. The implementation of rules and regulations concerning abandoned land and expired HGU land rights has proven very difficult in these case studies. And it required further research.

Keywords: land dispute, land reform, mediation

Subject: Development Studies thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2020
School: College of Science and Engineering
Supervisor: Professor Andrew Millington