Indonesia has had a moratorium on the industrial salvage of underwater cultural heritage since 2010. However a brand new and seemingly unrelated Legislation has reintroduced the prospect that Indonesia’s waters will once more be “open for funding.” The Legislation in query is the Job Creation (or “Omnibus”) Legislation (Undang-Undang Nomor 11 Tahun 2020 tentang Cipta Kerja), and it resurrects a coverage that calls into query how underwater cultural heritage is valued in Indonesia. To know the connection between the Job Creation Legislation and underwater cultural heritage, we have to wade by way of quite a lot of legal guidelines.
Let’s begin in 1989, when industrial salvage was first legalised in Indonesia. Suharto was President and there have been virtually no legal guidelines in place to guard and protect the a whole bunch (some say 1000’s) of shipwrecks in Indonesia’s territorial waters. The one legal guidelines in place dated to the Nineteen Thirties, and, because the Geldermalsen case demonstrated, they’d proved fully ineffective in safeguarding the archipelago’s underwater cultural heritage.
In August 1989, Suharto launched Presidential Decree No.43 on the Nationwide Committee for the Salvage and Utilisation of Helpful Objects originating from the Cargo of Sunken Ships. The Decree legalised the salvage (pengangkatan) and utilisation (pemanfaatan) of beneficial objects (benda berharga) from the cargo of shipwrecks (asal muatan kapal yang tenggelam) in Indonesian territorial waters. Salvage was outlined because the analysis, survey and restoration of beneficial objects from sunken ships, and utilisation entailed the sale of objects and different makes use of for the advantage of the Authorities. The Decree established the Nationwide Shipwrecks Committee, headed by the Coordinating Minister for Politics and Safety. Committee membership consisted of representatives from not less than 9 totally different Ministries.
To salvage a website, a salvage firm first needed to apply for a survey allow. Given the variety of Ministries represented on the Nationwide Shipwrecks Committee, this concerned intensive bureaucratic wrangling in addition to quite a few charges. Then, if their survey recognized a website of curiosity, they might apply for a salvage allow, involving but extra purple tape and charges. The corporate was chargeable for all prices related to the survey and salvage course of. International salvors may very well be concerned in surveying, salvaging and utilising beneficial objects (benda berharga), supplied they partnered with a neighborhood (that’s, Indonesian) firm. There have been quite a lot of situations—for instance, websites had been to be excavated to accepted archaeological requirements and Indonesia was to retain distinctive and scarce artefacts. However these provisions weren’t enforced.
Underneath this regime, objects from shipwrecks such because the Intan, Belitung and Cirebon, in addition to many others, had been salvaged and bought. Indonesia had made industrial salvage authorized, however was it moral? For a lot of observers, the sale of objects from underwater was akin to treasure searching. However others, myself included, understood Indonesia’s industrial salvage preparations inside their context: as an uneasy (and, it have to be mentioned, unsatisfactory) compromise that sought to stability the resource-intensiveness of a scientific archaeological excavation with the fully unregulated treasure searching that had beforehand occurred in Indonesia.
Earlier than we transfer on, it’s instructive to contemplate the best way language was utilized in these legal guidelines to represent underwater cultural heritage when it comes to its financial, relatively than its archaeological or historic, worth. Benda berharga asal muatan kapal yang tenggelam (BMKT), utilized by the Nationwide Shipwrecks Committee and in related legal guidelines, interprets as “beneficial objects originating from the cargo of sunken ships”. Distinction this with warisan budaya maritim, that means “underwater cultural heritage”, and even cagar budaya, that means “cultural heritage” in a extra common (and terrestrial, by default) sense. Media retailers, in the meantime, have a tendency to make use of the phrase harta karun, which interprets as “treasure”. The totally different terminology in use testifies to profoundly totally different conceptualisations of objects from the ocean.
Skip ahead a number of years to 1992, when Indonesia up to date its colonial-era heritage legal guidelines with a brand new Legislation and new rules. This new Legislation asserted state possession over cultural heritage (cagar budaya). However provisions had been additionally made, by way of a brand new Presidential Decree, for a revenue sharing association between the Authorities and the salvage firm (Presidential Decree No.25/1992 on Revenue Sharing between the Indonesian Authorities and Salvage Corporations of Helpful Objects Retrieved from Sunken Ships). Recovered objects deemed to not be cultural heritage may very well be bought, with 50 per cent of the gross proceeds earmarked for the Authorities and the remaining 50 per cent allotted to the salvage firm. Not solely did these provisions scale back the chance that an object can be deemed to have cultural heritage worth, in addition they positioned stress on salvage firms to recuperate their prices by producing vital earnings.
All through the Nineties and 2000s, the legislative regime pertaining to underwater cultural heritage in Indonesia grew to become more and more advanced. New legal guidelines had been launched regarding the administration of coastal areas and small islands; the administration of underwater cultural heritage and tourism; even, once more, a brand new heritage Legislation (Legislation No.11/2010 on Cultural Heritage, Undang-Undang Republik Indonesia Nomor 11 Tahun 2010 tentang Cagar Budaya) which, like its predecessor asserted state possession over cultural heritage.
On the similar time, consciousness of the necessity to defend and protect underwater cultural heritage was rising, each domestically and worldwide. In 2001, the United Nations Academic, Scientific and Cultural Organisation launched its Conference on the safety of the underwater cultural heritage. Twenty years on, Indonesia has not signed this Conference and has no plans to take action at this stage. In Southeast Asia, the one signatory is Cambodia.
In 2010, a choice was made to halt the issuing of all new survey and salvage licences in Indonesia, efficient instantly. In November 2011, the Nationwide Shipwreck Committee formalised this association with the introduction of a brief moratorium that suspended the issuing of all new licences to industrial salvage firms. The moratorium was made everlasting in Could 2016 with the introduction of Presidential Regulation No.44 in regards to the Record of Closed Enterprise Fields and Open Enterprise Fields with Circumstances to Funding. This regulation specified enterprise fields that had been excluded from funding, together with, at Attachment 1, salvaged objects from shipwrecks—successfully prohibiting funding within the discipline of shipwreck salvage. Indonesia’s allow system for commercially salvaging shipwrecks and their cargo was over.
However then got here the Job Creation Legislation.
Generally often called the Omnibus Legislation, the Job Creation Legislation seeks to amend 76 legal guidelines, with the goal of facilitating enterprise, lowering forms, boosting investments and, because the title suggests, creating jobs. To implement the Job Creation Legislation, 49 new rules (Peraturan Pelaksana) have been launched, together with 45 promulgated by the Authorities (Peraturan Pemerintah) and 4 by the President (Peraturan Presiden). These rules have been coming into impact over the previous few months.
Article 77 of the Job Creation Legislation seeks to alter Legislation No.25/2007 on Capital Funding. Of relevance to underwater cultural heritage are the amendments to Article 12 of the Legislation No.25/2007. These adjustments render just about each discipline of enterprise terbuka—open for funding—with only a handful of exceptions.
The proposed adjustments to Legislation No.25/2007 are applied by way of Presidential Regulation No.10 of 2021 on Enterprise Funding Fields. Presidential Regulation No.10/2021 regulates enterprise fields which might be open to funding actions. Confusingly, in contrast to the amended Article 12(2) of Legislation No.25/2007, which solely specifies 6 exceptions to the ‘open for enterprise’ coverage, Presidential Reg No.10/2021 specifies 9 exceptions (these embody the alcohol business; the removing of coral or endangered fish; the manufacturing of narcotics, chemical weapons or ozone depleting substances; and playing and casinos.)
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The inconsistency between the revised Legislation No.25/2007 and the Presidential Regulation that implements it’s tough to make sense of. It could be merely a mirrored image of the complexity of overhauling Indonesia’s large enterprise regulatory framework. Extra importantly, when Presidential Regulation No.10/2021 got here into pressure on 4 March 2021, it had the impact of revoking and invalidating Presidential Regulation No.44/2016 in regards to the Record of Closed Enterprise Fields and Open Enterprise Fields with Circumstances to Funding. In different phrases, the salvaging of “beneficial objects” from sunken ships is now not forbidden in Indonesia.
In latest days the Indonesian media has been awash with studies on the “treasure” that lies beneath the oceans. Some media studies have estimated the worth of Indonesia’s underwater cultural heritage at an astonishing US$12.7 million.
A last remark pertains to the involvement of politician Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Funding. Luhut enjoys particular entry to President Joko Widodo, having as soon as served as his chief of employees, and is believed to have performed a key function within the choice to re-open underwater cultural heritage to industrial salvage. The Nationwide Shipwrecks Committee nonetheless exists, however with out powers. As soon as reconstituted, it’s going to report back to Luhut.
In the meantime, former Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Ibu Susi Pudjiastuti has taken to Twitter to beg President Jokowi to exclude overseas and personal funding from recovering “beneficial objects” from the ocean, arguing these actions must be solely the Authorities’s area. Inside authorities ministries, officers are grappling with the complexity of the brand new legal guidelines, which would require the drafting of further technical rules earlier than salvaging actions can start. They—and plenty of others—are questioning why, after such a protracted hiatus, underwater cultural heritage is as soon as once more being thought-about as an financial, not an archaeological or historic, useful resource.
Indonesia is the world’s largest and best archipelagic state, wealthy in maritime historical past and heritage. Even when the shipwrecks in its waters had been a worthwhile funding (and to be clear, they’re not), we should ask: at what price?