Monday, January 28, 2013

1) Significant time for West Papua’s inclusion in MSG

1) Significant time for West Papua’s inclusion in MSG
3) ‘Mountain people’ vying to rule Papua
4) Papua votes for new governor


1) Significant time for West Papua’s inclusion in MSG

If the Melanesian Spearhead Group is the brainchild of the late Father Walter Lini then how appropriate it would be to grant West Papua its MSG Observer Status when the people of Melanesia commemorate the MSG Silver Jubilee today.
And if Father Lini dreamt of the founding of a Melanesian Bloc to gather for the social, economic and spiritual needs of Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea, definitely the fathers of MSG, Lini, Solomon’s Solomon Mamaloni and PNG’s Paias Wingti must have wanted that New Caledonia and West Papua be independent and be part of the Bloc.
The referendum for New Caledonia to be part of France or become an independent Melanesian country will take place next year 2014 but despite that, New Caledonia is part of the great family of Melanesia – MSG.
Unfortunately that could not be said for West Papua.
More than 500 000 Melanesians have spilled their blood for Papua Merdeka since the United Nations orchestrated a “referendum” called the Act of Free Choice in 1969 which the Indonesian army selected 1025 West Papuans to vote for Indonesia against Independence in a country where the population of Melanesians is in the millions.
Now the Melanesians in West Papua are “systematically” tortured and their girls and women raped but they could not raise their sympathy and dialogue with other Melanesians because they are not members of the MSG.
Vanuatu, the host country of the, MSG Secretariat in Port Vila will host its Melanesia Week in March –the anniversary date of the birth of the MSG which falls on March 14,2013.
This, he said, will mark 25 years of the signing of the Principles of Cooperation between Independent States of Melanesia, the first agreement to give birth to the idea of strengthening Melanesian solidarity and cooperation.
Mr Nirua revealed as part of the launching ceremony in Vanuatu a symposium under the theme “Leaders’ Toktok-Tales from Our Founders and Pioneers” is being organised for founding leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group and current leaders of the MSG to share their perspectives on various key topics in Melanesia to highlight the history and future of Melanesian cooperation that began 25 years ago on 14 March 1988.
“This is an exciting time for our people and our leaders as the symposium will give opportunity to leaders of Melanesia to share with the people of Melanesia the vision and ideas that gave birth to the strong relationship and relations enjoyed by MSG member countries,” he said.
“This will also give opportunity to leaders to share their perspectives on issues that are of common interest to the people and Governments of Melanesia.”
The launching ceremony will see the official release of MSG souvenirs and memorabilia to mark 25 years of Melanesian solidarity and growth, the unveiling of the Melanesian carving by member country carvers and a public luncheon for all.
Nirua advised the official program will soon be circulated to all member countries, governments and the people of Melanesia.
He expressed his satisfaction that the committee for the special event, comprising of government officials and key stakeholders are planning to stage a memorable launching at the Independence Park.
MSG has instead deemed it fit to welcome with open arms the Indonesians to the MSG on an Observer Status and neglected spiritual calls to have West Papua a fundamental part of the MSG.
The Daily Post has been told Sunday that the MSG Secretariat in Port Vila has not received any application for West Papua to be an Observer.
Posted at 16:40 on 28 January, 2013 UTC
Representatives from six Melanesian Spearhead Group member countries or territories have gathered in Vanuatu’s capital Port Vila to mark 25 years of the Melanesian sub-regional organisation.
In the absence of chairman of the MSG, Fiji’s interim Prime Minister Commodore Franck Bainimarama, his Vanuatu’s counterpart, Sato Kilman has delivered the official speech.
Mr Kilman says that as a relatively young group, MSG has achieved many key milestones and is committed to further enhancing such achievements that he lists as being in the areas of governance, security, trade, economics, social development and culture.
Within the Pacific region, Mr Kilman says the MSG is gradually establishing effective partnership with the Pacific Island Forum and other regional organisations.
He describes arguments that the MSG is becoming a threat to the role of the Forum as unfounded.


3) ‘Mountain people’ vying to rule Papua

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Paper Edition | Page: 2
Decision time: Big posters of gubernatorial candidates and their running mates are on display in various places in Papua. Resource-rich Papua province will elect a governor on Tuesday. JP/Rendi A. Witular
Papua’s “mountain people” who reside in the alpine terrain of the isolated pegunungan tengah area, are the largest population group in country’s most backward province.

According to the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) census in 2010, 1.6 million of the province’s 2.8 million population live in the pegunungan tengah.

Despite being the majority, almost no one from the area has managed to climb the ladder of political success and lead the province, which has been plagued for decades by separatism and conflict.

Papuan leaders at the provincial and national level almost invariably come from the tribes who inhabit the coast.

But the province’s political pendulum is swinging.

Around 2.7 million eligible voters will cast the ballots today in a gubernatorial election that has been marred by extreme division between candidates from the interior and the coastal areas.

Six gubernatorial candidates are competing to rule Papua, where US-based miner Freeport McMoran operates the world’s largest integrated gold concession.

Seven gubernatorial and deputy gubernatorial candidates originate in the pegunungan tengah while only five are from the coast.

The strongest candidate, according to local figures, is former Puncak Jaya regent Lukas Enembe, a “mountain figure” supported by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party and the Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). In the 2009 election, Papua was a stronghold of the Democratic Party.

Puncak Jaya is part of the pegunungan tengah territory that includes regencies such as Jayawijaya, Lanny Jaya, Nduga, Tolikara, Membrano Tengah, Yahukimo and Pegunungan Bintang.

“What marks the election today is probably the spirit of having ‘mountain people’ rule the province for the first time,” said the head of Papua’s unity, politics and public security agency (Kesbang), M. Mansyur.

While Lukas is tipped to represent the “mountain people”, his stiffest opponent, Habel Melkias Suwae, former Jayapura regent, is likely to represent the coastline voters.

Habel is supported by the Golkar Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

“There seems to be a balance between candidates from the mountain and the coastline. Voters tend to pick candidates based on territorial relations rather than on programs,” said Cendrawasih University political analyst Beatus Tembaib.

Beatus believes the election will go to a second round as it will be difficult for a candidate to secure more than 30 percent of the vote to win outright.

The division between groups of voters is becoming increasingly polarized. Cendrawasih military district chief Maj. Gen. Christian Zebua said on Monday that military and security personnel would remain on the alert for possible civil unrest resulting from the election.

Local elections in Papua have regularly been the scene of conflicts ignited by the losing candidates and disputes between local leaders regularly contribute to the slow pace of development.

The recent election-based conflict in Tolikara regency, for example, means the current regent is unable to endorse the annual budget as the mob torched the treasury office late last year, destroying all documents related to budgeting.

“I suspect the office was torched to eliminate evidence of corruption from the previous administration,” said Tolikara Regent Usman Wanimbo. “The arson attack has also delayed the budget because the records were all destroyed.”

Regular civil and separatist conflicts, coupled with intense corruption and extreme isolation from the outside world, have severely retarded development in Papua despite the province’s rich natural resources of gold, copper, coal and timber.

Previous Papua governor Barnabas Suebu, whose term expired last year, could not run for reelection due to lack of support from political parties. He has left behind a mounting problem that may not be easy for the next leader to solve.

Despite an annual budget of more than Rp 40 trillion (US$4.16 billion), the seventh-largest budget in the country, Papua’s development indicators remain at the bottom of the list.

According to the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK), corruption has severely aggravated Papua’s plight. Last year, the BPK found that around 22 percent of the Rp 19.12 trillion audited autonomy fund had been stolen. Since 2002, the central government has disbursed more than Rp 30 trillion of such funds in the hope of accelerating Papua development.

The latest Community Health Development Index names Papua and West Papua as the provinces with the worst performance of health-related indicators.

According to the annual report, released early last year by the Health Ministry, Papua faces serious public health problems, ranging from high levels of malnutrition, higher-than-average child and maternal mortality rates, low immunization rates, high levels of disease and poor access to clean water, sanitation and trained healthcare workers.

Papua was ranked the nation’s poorest province by the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), with 32 percent of its residents considered “poor”, far above the national poverty rate of 12.5 percent.

“Whoever leads Papua should not repeat the mistake made by the previous leaders who only thought of his personal gain and interests. I don’t see any candidates who have firm commitment to that yet, whether they are of mountain or coastal origin. That rests on the voters to decide their future, and I hope they don’t chose the wrong guy again,” said the secretary of the Papuan Traditional Council, Leo Imbiri.

4)Papua votes for new governor

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At least 2.7 million residents in Papua are expected to vote in the Papuan gubernatorial election on Tuesday.
In Merauke, locals began to flock to polling booths early in the morning. The city appears quieter than on ordinary days as most supermarkets and shops are closed.
Government offices and schools are also closed. Economic activities seem to have been temporarily suspended.
Along Merauke Beach, which is usually busy with traditional fishermen, was also deserted.
“We have stop fishing to vote in the gubernatorial election,” Dominikus Samkakai, a resident from Kampung Payum, said as quoted by
Merauke General Elections Commission (KPUD) head Antonius Kaize said that the number of polling booths in Merauke totaled 404 to serve up to 129,650 eligible voters in line with data from the KPU Papua.

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