Indonesia: dealing with a divide – Nikkei Asian Review

JAKARTA – Indonesia will hold regional elections on Dec. 9, but Mardiana Deren, a land rights campaigner from the Dayak ethnic group on Kalimantan, is in two minds about what difference the poll will make. Deren has sought to curb the clearing of forests and spread of oil palm plantations on Kalimantan, or Borneo, but despairs of getting political support for her cause. “I have not found any candidate who could be a sympathizer and not sure I would find any,” she said. Despite being an award-winning campaigner, Deren was non-committal about contesting elections herself. “I would need a lot of money to stand,” she said, discussing how parties and candidates have to find the cash to run often expensive election campaigns – an outlay that often blurs the line between legitimate expense and vote-buying and can leave the winning candidate in debt to powerful businesses.