Contesting Power in Indonesia’s Resource-Rich Regions in the Era of Decentralization: New Strategy for Central Control over the Regions
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This essay discusses the different patterns of national–local relationships and the contours of local politics that distinguish mineral-rich East Kalimantan from forested Central Kalimantan in the era of decentralization. To make this comparison, the author factors in the relative profitability of natural resources in these regions and the structures of their resource-related industries, recognizing these as key elements that influence the contrasting politics of the respective provinces. The essay argues that national elites have exercised strong influence over mineral-rich regions because of the importance of mineral resources—especially oil and natural gas—for the state economy, while these same elites have essentially left control over forested regions to local power holders because of the relative insignificance of forest resources in the public sector and the Jakarta-based timber companies’ reliance on local subcontractors.