East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Governor Viktor Laiskodat is under fire for insulting and threatening indigenous people in the province over customary land, after a clip depicting the incident circulated widely this week.
The video shows Viktor in discussion with the local village chief, identified as Umbu Maramba Hawu in Sumba. Umbu reasoned that the government ought to respect customary rights of the indigenous people over their land, and said that his people are ready to die for it.
The disputed land has been earmarked as a site for a cattle development project, but the local community has protested against the claim that it belongs to the government.
In a widely circulating clip, Viktor not only threatened to imprison the indigenous population in the area, but also called them “monkeys.”
“I won’t shoot you, no. I will just take you all and put you in prison. If you guys are going against the government, listen carefully. You’ll be dealing with me, I am the governor, I am not afraid,” Viktor said at one point.
According to Viktor, the disputed land belongs to the provincial government.
“Don’t deny it, I will get up and hit you,” Viktor said.
“We are just farmers,” Umbu replied.
”I am the governor, I come here and I’m exhausted. You’re a monkey! Who do you think you are?” Victor shouted.
With the video having gone viral, Viktor has since offered his side of the story, saying that the clip only showed one part of the discussion and was taken out of context.
“I was hard not because I disliked the citizens, I was hard because they are obstructing development,” Viktor said today, further claiming that the land belonged to the central government and has since been handed over to the NTT Provincial Government.