Walhi heading for a reputation meltdown?

Interesting that Greenstump now considers WALHI a “discredited environmental group“, and when doing so he puts a link to Unspun’s posting on Walhi and Newmont. In that posting Walhi refused to accept turned down  an invitation to explain its very serious allegations to the Blogosphere, even when given the opportunity to frame the conversation by starting a new thread of discussion.

Unspun‘s written before that blogs have the capacity to create a more level playing field, especially for businesses that can sometimes be attacked by less-than-fair NGOs. Big businesses are particularly vulnerable because of the general skepticism toward them by the public, so if it’s a shouting match between NGOs and Big Business, the latter usually loses as the public would rather believe the NGOs.

With blogs, however, NGOs can be invited to explain their allegations. And if they fail to do so they they rapidly lose their credibility, I would say, first in the Blogosphere and then later in the mainstream media. Unspun and Greenstump‘s postings will be staying on the Net forever for the world to see. Ironically, “the World is Watching” used to be the chant of NGOs and activists against Big Government and Big Business.

Unspun wonders: if Walhi is so shy, shouldn’t its worldwide sponsor and mentor Friends of the Earth take on the responsibility and help all of us arrive at the truth? Or do they not do accountability and responsibility for allegations made as well?

12 thoughts on “Walhi heading for a reputation meltdown?

  1. can we have a link to the greenstump post? and i would respectfully suggest that walhi’s not getting involved in this discussion is a “declining” of the invitation, not a refusal, since no one is obliged to comment on anything, unless they’re in court. i also think that the headline for the post is a bit too heavy for the subject matter. the world is indeed watching, or at least has the opportunity to find this at some point if the interest arises, so everyone involved should be as scrupulous in being fair and balanced as they would expect the others to be.


  2. Jeremy: As always, thanks for your input. Agree that “refusal” is a bit strong but “declining” is a bit too genteel. I think “turn down” is most neutral.

    Headline: Perhaps too and I shall modify it be less heavy. And link to Greenstump installed.

    Thanks for unspinning Unspun and keeping him on the straight and narrow 🙂


  3. Good stuff, Mr Unspun. “Turn down” works for me. I think the point that Walhi ignore this kind of discussion at their peril is a sound one. But of course there are bigger organisations with bigger and better funded PR departments making the same mistake. I’d love to see Walhi recognise that this is an opportunity more than it is a threat, that the questions about their recent actions are legitimate, and that they don’t jeopardize years of good work because they’ve not recogise how the ground has shifted.

    I’d still like to see a better headline tho 🙂


  4. Jeremy: I too think that Walhi has done lots for Indonesia. But it may unravel all of it merits if it is caught living in denial that it has made a mistake where Newmont is concerned. If it has made a mistake then it should do the right thing and make it right; if it hasn’t then it should continue to explain why notions that it has are wrong.

    On the headline: it’s an open question so I guess you’ll just have to live with it :=)


  5. wow! it’s great to see the PR machine of the newmont works like this. wonderful PR! lots of resources too. But do you think public will believe a corporation like newmont who just causes the destruction for the gold? C’mon guys… WAKE UP!


    PS: Wonder if you post my comment 😉


  6. Am I missing something here, its a bit of “live by the sword” thing, is this not publicity straight out of the WALHI playbook?

    Unless there is some new information out there, the case and evidence has blow away like so many words on an unsubstanuated press release.

    By all means debate if the mines should exist at all, but if someone has his reputation, ethics and is deprived of his freedom when acting within the law, then surely he/she as the right to seek redress as well.

    Personally I don’t understand..there are a million environmental vandals out there acting well outside the law, yet this is the case we choose to pursue…something smells very funny..


  7. Sebastien: Afraid agree with Oigal that there is something funny here.

    Do you mind being more explicit in your comments as to what you mean by your remarks. So far it says little, alleges or insinuates a lot and advances no coherent arguments.

    You wouldn’t want to give environmental activists the image that they are rabid, emotional types quick to hurl accusations and run away when rational debate is called for, would you?


  8. Friend,

    There is the formal law and the moral law. I don’t approve but can’t condemn all of Walhi’s behaviour. Newmont with their activites on and off the minesite may have violated the latter. Let’s not forget the ethnicity of most Newmont executives and what hobbies such people have.



  9. “Let’s not forget the ethnicity of most Newmont executives”

    Well Duh…Newmont Indonesia, the ethnicity of most of the executives would be Indonesian.
    Ness was not the only one under the hammer a number of Indonesian executives were as well.

    Was this supposed to be a trick question?

    Ok ok, I know I should not encourage it, but I couldn’t help myself..


  10. Friend,

    It is interesting to see when the White Man is threatened, the wagons rally in a circle. But Friend, we are living in a New Indonesia. Why were the Indonesians released ? Let’s just say they had some help from above – way above.



  11. Achmad: You give Whitebait a whole new dimension in meaning. You guys want to discuss and debate Walhi’s reputation – whether there is a meltdown or not, that’s fine but further racial-type comments will be deleted from this discussion and other postings.

    Oigal: You know what a shit stirrer Achmad is so raising to the bait he dangles would only encourage Achmad. Restraint, brother.


  12. OK. Sorry: I heard there’s increasing feeling in the lower ranks of Walhi this has been a PR disaster for them. There are also some members, perhaps the scientists and real environmentalists, who feel that the police and judges just took the ball and ran, leaving them behind. One activists complained that the foreign media no longer believe Walhi. Another said the affiliated scientists were aiming for an investigation (not a trial) of Walhi that would help trigger a re-think of environment policy on a national level. They were sheepish about opening a Pandora’s box involving the police, who are often their natural enemies.


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