Published on New Matilda here.

Belinda Lopez explains the small print of the Forest Carbon Partnership with Indonesia.

Take a cautious first step into the tropical peat swamp of Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, and it’s likely to open up before you. Sensory nerves sending messages to the brain prove unreliable as your foot, expecting to eventually find a firm surface, is painfully deceived. You sink deeper and deeper into the mud, and count yourself fortunate if you bruise yourself grabbing desperately for a tree root, lest you lose limbs and boots forever.

This is what Kevin Rudd wants to save. In the grand ballroom of a grand hotel in Indonesia’s capital last Friday, Rudd addressed an elite crowd on the “inseparable” relationship between Indonesia and Australia.

Published on New Matilda here

Jakarta’s new Governor has faced over 200 public demonstrations since his election in August last year, writes Belinda Lopez.

In the Intercontinental Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, the city’s Governor, Fauzi Bowo, throws the floor open for commentary. His audience in the hotel’s executive meeting room is full of foreign media correspondents, many of whom are smirking.

“I have to guarantee 13 per cent of total space in Jakarta will be kept [open], which is impossible, but that’s what the law says,” he says, pausing for effect.

“How can you find space like that in Jakarta? If anybody has any ideas, please tell me. I welcome any suggestions.” The correspondents laugh.

Published in The Sunday Jakarta Post. See here.

Laksmi Pamuntjak can tell you exactly where she was on April 22, 2006.

As she tells it, on the day after founding feminist Kartini’s birthday, a 6,000-strong carnivale of cultures from Aceh, Bali, Java and other islands, of Batak, Betawi, Dayak and Minahasa, met at Monas to face an anti-pornography bill that they felt was trying to hijack the very essence of Indonesia’s Pancasila, of its tolerance of difference.

It “smelt like a gas”, aimed at women, she says.