"President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono appreciates the many reports on and the results of monitoring of forest destruction and threats to protected animals produced by foreign organizations. The President maintains an open mind to cooperation with international organizations on forest protection and environment preservation," he said here on Friday.
He made the statement to explain what the President had said at a cabinet meeting at Bogor Palace earlier in day with regard to reports about international non-governmental organizations he referred to at his speech on the occasion of Mothers` Day on Thursday (Dec 22).
In the speech President Yudhoyono expressed appreciation for the criticisms international NGOs had made and the objective inputs they had given to the government.
He however also asked the NGOs not to criticize blindly as if Indonesia was a country without a government or people.
Agus said the President hoped cooperation in the field of forest protection, environmental and animal preservation could be done in a an honest and civil way.
He said Indonesia could not be dictated to close plantations and rejected international pressures through boycott of its palm oil products.
He said plantations are important economic activities for Indonesian people who still have a low income. It is impossible to conduct forest protection and environment preservation by destroying people`s economy, he said.
Several heads of state from advanced countries with per capital income of between 40 and 50,000 US dollars had dictated Indonesia in its efforts to improve its economy.
"Right now our per capita gross domestic product is 3,000 US dollars while the per capital income of the people in places where oil palm plantations are located is only 600 US dollars a year and therefore is only enough for food," he said.
He said Indonesia would protect its forests, peat land and animals in its efforts to develop its economy and eradicate poverty.
"So, let us cooperate and continue monitoring us. But do not dictate us to close the plantations which are the livelihood of our people in remote regions," he said quoting the President.(*)