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Document Type

Article

Abstract

The Basic Agrarian Law of 1960 (the BAL) is a centerpiece of Indonesia's attempt to unify its diverse customary (adat) and colonial laws. The debate over the best means to achieve this unification has ranged between proponents of Western-style codification and those who argue that legal unity must be founded on principles derived from adat law. Ultimately, the BAL is a syncretic document that establishes registrable, alienable statutory rights to land even as it states that the new land law of Indonesia will be based on adat law principles. This Article considers the modern operation of the BAL and whether it has attained or can attain its objectives of legal unity and certainty. After a brief discussion of the colonial legacy of legal pluralism, it considers the nature of adat law and places it in the context of the BAL. In particular, the Article looks at the disassociation of adat practice from state law, the erosion of traditional adat authority, and the widespread phenomenon of unlawful occupancy. Additionally, the Article examines the ways in which the BAL's focus on the "social function" of land has led to a distorted development process. Finally, a series of reforms are suggested, including the rejection of a formal incorporation of adat law into statutory law as well as the development of a new institution, the Land Courts.

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