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Cenderawasih University Claimed Reponsible Is Misleading

Cenderawasih University Claimed Reponsible Is Misleading


By Petrus Farneubun

During the last two months , Cenderawasih University (Uncen), the oldest and largest university in West Papua, is facing harsh criticism and condemnation. Surprisingly, such backlash does not come from state officials, Papua Legislative Council, the Papuan People’s Council (MRP) or local institutions but from students from various universities and colleges across West Papua, but predominantly from cenderawasih university’s students.

Most students claim that Uncen should be responsible for numerous problems in Papua because Uncen is the key actor in drafting of the bill for special autonomy from the start which brings more harm than good to Papuans. As it has been argued many times, special autonomy does not bring any significant improvement to the lives of Papuans. In fact, it creates a culture of dependence, massive exploitations and structural marginalization and worsely contributing to the rise of HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Current situation shows that Papuans are no longer interested in doing farming work as they used to be but dependent on govenment-supplied products such as rice.

Also, current report released by Government Central Statistics Agency (BPS) in February 2012 shows that the percentage of poverty in Papua Province and West Papua province still above 20 percent, much higher than the national average and the percentage of poor people in Papua Papua Province and West Papua province in 2011 are nationally the highest; respectively 31,24 and 28,53; and Papua has the lowest level of human development.

Furthermore, Since the introduction of special autonomy in 2001, the rate of HIV/AIDS is rising significantly. According to data released by Papua Province Health Department untill the period of 31 March 2013, there has been 13.374 cases found. This indicates a significant rising of 1187 new cases from the similar last year period 31 March 2012 with 12.187 cases. In fact, Papua has the highest prevelance rate of HIV/AIDS in the country .

These real problems raise a key question over whether the involvement of Uncen signifies a serious violation of academic integrity. People claim that it is not right to do that; and they are definitely entitled to their outrage.

Here are two main claims are commonly made against the involvement of Uncen.

First, the insensitiveness of Uncen. The supporters of this argument make clear that Uncen, as the leading higher academic institution in Papua, needs to have a strong sensitivity of the aspiration of the majority and the problems caused by the introduction of special autonomy law. They claim that Uncen knows that majority of Papua reject any special package offered by Jakarta including special autonomy law, Special Unit of Acceleration of Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B) and recent package Special autonomy plus because all the packages are not the solutions to the demand of Papuans.

Therefore, it follows that Uncen should refrain itself from taking part in the construction of the law in order to conform to the majority demand. However, Uncen keep insisting on pushing the bill draft for futher legal adoption. Majority of Papuan desperately demand political independence, not legal and economy bills.

It is true that some academics at Cenderawasih University has been actively involved in designing the draf of the special autonomy law of 2001 and later the draft of special autonomy law plus. Such involvement spark anger and disappointment among Papuans.

During the rallies last two months and numerous current demonstrations, students raised their voice of rejection over Uncen’s involvement; and called Uncen as the killing machine. Selfi Yeimo, one of the students at Cenderawasih University, as quoted by Tabloid Jubi, lashed out Uncen saying repeatedly, “Uncen is the killer, Uncen is the killer, Uncen is the killer.”

Yeimo’s outrages hit the headline of the local news mediaTabloid Jubi; and in very short period of time, the news has been posted in facebook of many Uncen lecturers and in group discussions. Nemerous positive and negative comments are made.

Another claim is Uncen violates moral principle of higher education. Uncen is perceived as having positive moral function. Such claim could easily be found in facebook and media in Papua.

Interestingly, in one piece of news published by a Papua-based NGO, Alliance for Democracy for Papua in its website, it makes an interesting claim that academic at Uncen are being used to promote the interest of the rulers; and these academics have sacrificed their morality and ethical principles. Even, others call the academics are prostituting themselves.

The involvement of Uncen has created unacademic atmosphere at the institution. The main entrance to both Waena and Abepura Campus have been blocked many times forcing suspension of classes and affecting the administrative activities at the university. Some students claim that it is against their human rights as their rights of getting proper education is violated.

Are the two claims rationally made? In one side, yes but on the other side, it fails to address the position of Uncen as academic institution or academic think tank not legal insitution or law enforcer. It simply means that Uncen with its legal knowledge possession play its academic roles as providing legal assistance to draft special autonomy to government and not as a legal institution or political insitution providing legal assistance with their legal capacities. If we mix this role, it will be difficult to distinguish Uncen from government legal bodies. Moreover, the legal draft designed by Uncen is dependent on government’s apprroval. If government finds that the draft is not good for society, they have right to suspend or drop it.

Of course, it does not mean that Uncen should be immune to criticism but placing Uncen under the category of legal bodies is misleading. Let us make this point clear. Suppose that Uncen rejects to provide legal assistance for the bill draft. Will we say that Uncen violates its academic responsibility and morality or we will say Uncen has made a good decision?

If the first option is preferred, it will undermine the role of academic institution in advising and providing assistance to government and non-government institutions. But if the second option is preferred, it will at least confirm that Uncen is not sensitive to its role as an academic instution.

It might be true that Uncen is not sensitive to majority demand and against its ethical principles, but the claim that Uncen behaves irresponsible is misleading. One needs to give certain criteria on what conditions Uncen has violated its moral conduct and insensitive to popular demand and also define the code of conduct Uncen needs to follow. Once the normative criteria and definition have been set up, we can easily find the problems.

Only referring to opposition from people and failure of development does not consitute a powerful proof of irresponbility and insensitiveness. The only convincing argument should be made by referring to the content of the law and not the role it plays.

That means people should make claim of the irresponsibility based on the content of the law Uncen has made. If the content of the law clearly violates the moral principles of the people, then we have good reason to say Uncen is not sensitive and acts immorally for producing immoral legal product.

More importantly, if Uncen had not involved in drafting the law, we could be sure that the law would have brought more harm than good because of either lack of capacity of people who drafted it or lack of local knowledge of Papua. Both good capacity and understanding local knowledge is important to design a good special autonomy law. Although Uncen might not have perfect knowledege and capacity, at least It has the two qualities.

ENDS

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