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Indonesia threatens to deport Harrison Ford over ‘confrontation’ with minister

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford, right, with the Indonesian president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in Jakarta. Photograph: Abror Rizki/AFP/Getty Images


Powered by article titled “Indonesia threatens to deport Harrison Ford over ‘confrontation’ with minister” was written by Kate Hodal in Bangkok, for on Wednesday 11th September 2013 11.27 UTC

The Hollywood actor Harrison Ford has been accused of “harassing state institutions” in Indonesia and threatened with deportation after allegedly confronting a minister during an interview about illegal logging and climate change.

The forestry minister, Zulkifi Hasan, said he was left shocked by Ford’s emotionally charged interview techniques and complained there was no time to go over the questions before filming began, local media reported.

“I suddenly had my face made up and was then interviewed,” Hasan told the state news agency Antara.

“I was given a chance to make only one or two comments.”

The Star Wars actor has been in Indonesia filming an episode for the climate change documentary series Years of Living Dangerously, which will air on the US television network Showtime in April 2014 and feature Matt Damon and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Ford, 71, travelled to locations around the country to interview Indonesian activists and officials, including the president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, on issues including forest fires, peatland conservation and palm oil plantations.

But the forestry minister was so angered by his interview with Ford that he threatened to have the actor deported, despite the fact that Ford was due to leave on Tuesday anyway.

“There’s no privilege for him although he is a great actor,” the presidential spokesman Andi Arief said. “His crew and those who were helping him in Indonesia must be questioned to find out their motives for harassing a state institution.”

He added: “If necessary, we will deport him.”

Ford appears to have witnessed illegal logging taking place in Sumatra’s Tesso Nilo national park and asked Hasan why deforestation was occurring in protected areas while the guilty seemingly had free rein.

“He was emotional,” Hasan said. “I can understand that this is the first time for this American to come here and see Tesso Nilo. It seems that what he wants to see is any perpetrators involved in the damage immediately arrested.”

The minister said he told Ford that illegal logging was a complicated issue in Indonesia and required a more varied approach to stem it than simple force.

Up to 15% of all the world’s known plant, mammal and bird species reside in Indonesia’s 17,000 islands, according to Greenpeace. Yet huge swaths of Indonesia’s rainforests and peatlands have been cleared for palm oil and paper plantations, with additional concessions granted for mining and agricultural purposes.

Palm oil concessions sprawl across some 11m hectares in Indonesia, primarily in Sumatra and Kalimantan, figures from the US Foreign Agricultural Service show, with production since 2011 up 26% from the previous 10 years.

Yudhoyono, Indonesia’s president, was forced to apologise earlier this year after forest fires, set by plantation farmers in Sumatra to clear land, led to Singapore’s worst environmental crisis in 10 years and forced 200 schools to close in Malaysia.

Officials maintain, however, that the government is doing what it can to tackle climate change and deforestation, and Yudhoyono reportedly told Ford in their meeting on Tuesday: “We’re trying to crack down on improprieties [like illegal logging] and we will be strict about it.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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