Brown Waters Pt. 9

For each hectare of forest, it’ll take Rp 4.000.000,- to use heavy machinery to clear it from trees and other annoying pests. Tell people to burn it, and pay only Rp. 800.000,-. Simple economy, easy to understand, and real.

And each company has thousands of hectares of concessions.

The live map given by Firewatch, a multi-million dollar non profit organization, shows that the hot spots within the concession area are scarce. The nation’s leader of tree cutters association said that he was refraining himself from pointing fingers, that it is no time to seek out who’s wrong and who’s right, that it is clear from the hot spot map, that it is the farmers around the concession area who burned the vegetation for their cycles of crops. That once again, it is no time to point who’s right and who’s wrong, that it is the time for the government to focus on managing the fire.

The young man from from the prominent tree huggers organization, referred to the government’s map, passionately conveying the possibility of collusion between the palm plantation companies and local government in taking advantage of the loopholes within the regulation. Creating dead land that will eventually should be given to the companies to be put to good use. He came without anything to show, and was shaking like a foal.

The young, beautiful, and apparently ambitious TV anchor, jabbing her questions towards both of her guests. Her shots missed the marks too often. Far away in Jakarta, she has enough pollutant to fill her own head.

The TV is on, the debate has become a tad too funny, but nobody is watching. Maldwyn is turning the pages of his notes, weighing their options and questions. Ever the researcher, he doesn’t even have to pretend about the nature of their quest. Agam is grinning, unconsciously showing his distaste, while trying to be agreeable.

The plump old man in front of him is giving him a lecture about coming of age, of how to become a man, the difficult decisions, and of how to sweep the bitches off their feet… literally.

This bataknese man came visiting this island more than 30 years ago, and like many of his fellow bataknese, they came empty but boastful. He had done everything; sand digger, truck driver, rubber slab reseller, truck owner, palm plantation owner, gas station owner, and many things in between. But the one thing that Agam remembers is the story of how this mother fucker stole his father’s land.


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