Resource periphery, corridor, heartland: contesting land use in the Kalimantan/Malaysia borderlands

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    The long borderland in Kalimantan between Indonesia and East Malaysia is partly mountainous and environmentally unique, its three national parks forming the core of a tri-nation 'Heart of Borneo' initiative proposed by environmental NGOs and ratified in 2006. More accessible lowlands in West Kalimantan and the north of East Kalimantan constitute a typical 'resource periphery' in which strategic considerations, persisting through the Suharto years, now intersect with a range of new political, economic and cultural demands. A perception by the central government of increasing lawlessness in the borderlands arose in the turbulent years following Suharto's fall, during 'reformasi' and the beginnings of decentralisation. In addition to smuggling and illegal logging, contests over land use erupted at various scales. Proposals to construct an oil palm corridor along the border, begun by the Megawati government and extended by some sectors of the Yudhoyono regime, were part of a quest for greater legibility and control on the part of the central authorities. The paper specifically examines the power struggles that arose over that project and its inevitable outcome, a central government back down. However, the current palm oil boom is bringing new corporate planting, which may eventually succeed in 'taming' the borderlands.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)88-106
    JournalAsia Pacific Viewpoint
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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