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Another Proliferation of Papua is not a smart move

Another Proliferation of Papua is not a smart move

by Petrus K. Farneubun
October 30, 2013

While waiting for approval from government upon the decision of House of Representative to form new administrative areas and create new provinces in Indonesia called as proliferation (Pemekaran), people are divided whether the decision is a smart move or not. Certainly, any political decisions will spark controversy and suspicions among communities and elites and naturally it is divisive.

In regard to the distrbution, the most interesting thing is in the case of Papua. It is intersting because public wonders why majorities of the newly formed areas will take place in both Papua and West Papua provinces while the reality shows that in terms of number of population, available insfrastructers and local leadership capacities might not be ready. Both these areas will have 33 newly formed autonomies: 30 new districts and 3 new provinces.

Thus, most Papuans say that the formation of the new administration areas is not a smart move.

The opposing parties claim that the new formation demonstrates another systematic plan of Jakarta to silence Papua ongoing aspirations and deliberalely to divide Papuans.

Papuas have learned that special autonomy granted in 2001 was a political compromise; Papuans called it “gula-gula politik (Political candies). Central government believes that providing special autonomy to Papua which is to promote the welfare of Papua, the demand of indepence will be waning.

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The logic is, of course, once Papuans are happy being prosperous, it is unlikely that they will ask for independece. But this assumption is proven wrong as Papuans do not see the benefits of special autonomy. They even decided to return special autonomy during massive rallies on 12 August 2005 and again on 18 June 2010. The same rejection has been done for numerous proliferations taking place in Papua since special autonomy was granted.

Thus, special autonomy and pemekaran is not the solution as this welfare approach does not answer the basic need of Papuans.

Head of Evangelical Church in Papua (GKI), Rev. Alberth Yoku, as quoted by local outlet Bintang Papua says that the plan to form more new areas should be postponed because it will not be the best solution to the problems in Papua.

He says, “The formation of new administrative areas is not the solution of humanitarian and economic problems in Papua rather it is to serve the interests of political elites who have failed to become member of parliaments and head of districts.”

Not only the church leaders raise their oppositions but also governor of Papua, Provincial House of Representatives, West Papua National Freedom Army (TPN/OPM), Central Highland Students Association Communication Forum (FKPMPTP) and Papua Students Alliance (AMP) and West Papua National Committee (KNPB).

Governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe, for example, as quoted by local outlet Majalah Selangkah, says, “the people of Papua does not need pemekaran in the land of Papua. Therefore, I totally reject any plans of formation of new administrative areas.”

Similarly, head of commission A Provincial House of Representatives claim that the formation of new administrative areas is not a rational decision and absurd. He says, “ the formation of new areas is to serve the opportunists interests who failed in governorial election. This is not for the sake of development.“

The arguments that the proliferation benefits local people; shorten the line of authority, increase local welfare and bring locals closer to public services such as health and education facilities clearly does not seem to work in Papua.

Anderson in his article, “The Failure of Education in Papua’s Highlands” believes that pemekeran brings more harm than good.

He says, pemekaran “allows local elites to access funds while pushing ordinary Papuans further away from the services that could improve their lives. Special autonomy has created a dividing line between Papuan elites who benefit directly from it, and the majority of Papuans, who receive a pittance.”

Looking at Human Development Index (HDI) released by Central Statistics Agency (Badan Pusat Statistik Indonesia, BPS) in February 2012 shows that the the percentage of poverty in Papua Province and West Papua province still above 20 percent, much higher than the national average.

The percentage of poor people in Papua Papua Province and West Papua province in 2011 are the highest respectively 31,24 and 28,53 while special autonomy law was introduced in 2001, ten years ago. Similarly, BPS data shows that 32 percent of Papua children under 15 years of age were illiterate. This is the highest illiterate rate in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, it has been reported many times that there is a high absenteism among local leaders including head of districts and state officials when communities urgently need for service. Public services are usually found closed including health and education services.

This situation shows that government needs to take smart move to gain trust from Papuans. Special autonomy, pemekaran, welfare approach, autonomy plus are not a smart move.

If the government insist on granting more pemekaran to Papua despite strong rejection from governor of Papua Province, church leaders, parliament and students and youth associations, it will convince Papuans that central government is more interested in preserving its political, economy and security interests than the interests of Papuans. It is againsts the will of Papuans majority. Also, it will create stronger resistance against any further government plans to implement in Papua.


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