Oscar-winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio earned plenty of praise for his trip to Gunung Leuser National Park in Aceh last Sunday, which helped raise awareness about the area’s amazing biodiversity as well as the threat of palm oil plantations and deforestation destroying the fragile ecosystem.
However, some officials in the Indonesian government are apparently upset with DiCaprio for his environmental campaigning and are accusing him of running a “black campaign” to discredit the government and the country’s palm oil industry.
And because of that, they are threatening to kick DiCaprio out of the country.
“If there are statements that discredit the government and the interests of Indonesia, he could be deported. Because while he is in Indonesia, Immigration has the right to deport him,” said Ronny F Sompie, the director general of Immigration at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights (Kemenkumham) yesterday, as quoted by Republika.
Ronny added that the Directorate General of Immigration will monitor DiCaprio while in Indonesia because his visa only allows him to do travel excursions. He said that the actor could be deported for violating that visa based on Immigration Law No. 6 of 2011.
“So if he is in Indonesia for other purposes, doing activities that disrupt public order and harm the interests of Indonesia, then Immigration is ready to deport him,” he said.
There was no official information about what DiCaprio did after his trip to Gunung Leuser National Park on Sunday, but according to Ronny, DiCaprio went to Medan after his park visit, and then to another destination.
“Now I have received information that he is already in Jakarta,” Ronny said.
However, there have been reports that DiCaprio has already left Indonesia – EcoWatch says they confirmed with the actor’s team that he was no longer in the country. If that’s true, the deportation threats obviously don’t mean much, although there’s always the possibility the incident and DiCaprio’s comments about the palm oil industry could make it difficult for him to enter Indonesia again in the future.
In social media posts such as this one from Instagram, DiCaprio has mentioned the threat palm oil expansion poses to the Leuser ecosystem. In a Twitter post, he linked to a Change.org petition, addressed to President Joko Widodo, urging the president to cancel a spatial plan which would put the ecosystem in jeopardy.
A member of Commission IV in the House of Representatives, Firman Subagyo, said DiCaprio’s presence in Indonesia was not just to promote environmental sustainability.
“The goal is clear. Surely he would attack oil palm plantations by wrapping the issue in the environment,” Firman said.
Firman also said that DiCaprio’s arrival in Indonesia was facilitated by environmental NGOs that have been working to undermine the sovereignty of Indonesia.
“Therefore, I told the head of BIN and the police to take firm action against those groups. I requested the directorate general of Immigration to deport Leonardo if he was proven to be doing a black campaign against our oil,” said Firman.
So apparently the government is siding with palm oil producers, accused of causing one of the worst environmental catastrophes in modern history, over one of the most popular celebrities on Earth. We do not see this going well for the government at all if they actually decided to try and deport Leo.
DiCaprio is not the first Holywood actor that has been threatened with deportation by the Indonesian government for environmental activism. In 2013, Harrison Ford was accused of “harassing state institutions” and threatened with deportation after he angrily confronted former forestry minister Zulkifi Hasan during an interview about deforestation.
Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong every Friday!