Thursday, March 20, 2014

1) Editorial: What Papua Needs Is More Transparency

1) Editorial: What Papua Needs Is More Transparency
2) Papua’s Endless Cycle of Strife And Poverty


1) Editorial: What Papua Needs Is More Transparency

By Jakarta Globe on 11:04 pm Mar 20, 2014
Category EditorialOpinion
Tags: developmentPapua

Papua has become an example of what happens when a nation’s ruling elites fail to give everybody a piece of the economic pie. It also showcases the greed of several groups merely interested in the region’s natural resources, without ever considering the livelihoods of the locals.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said that he has done much to develop Papua, but the country’s easternmost province is still one of its poorest. The irony is that it is also the country’s most wealthy region in terms of natural resources. Over the years, Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, for instance, has extracted huge amounts of precious metals, with many saying that the world’s biggest gold miner would have gone bankrupt without its Indonesian operations.
It is true that the central government has allocated trillions of rupiah (hundreds of millions of dollars) to develop the province. But the money has not reached all the people who desperately need it, because a lot simply has been stolen.
The province has always been treated as a rebellious region, because a small number of armed groups want to be independent. This unrest has long been cited as a reason to station a large amount of troops there and to boost military and police budgets. And because of the huge natural-resource profits, rogue security officers can enrich themselves by running illegal businesses. This context gives rise to the thought that some powerful stakeholders have little interest in truly making Papua safe and want to keep it closed to foreign journalists. The police and military leadership can end such suspicions by opening up the region to all people.
It is time to treat Papua normally, just like any other Indonesian province. This will create more transparency, which is essential for Papua’s development and the improvement of people’s lives.


2) Papua’s Endless Cycle of Strife And Poverty

By Kennial Caroline Laia on 11:26 pm Mar 20, 2014

A Kamoro tribe boy smiles in front of his house at Iwaka village in Timika, Papua. (JG Photo/Jurnasyanto Sukarno).

A 2-year-old girl chews on an areca nut, while a drunken man slumbers by the roadside that morning. A group of children walks to school barefooted in a village where proper housing is scarce, as are health care facilities and school buildings, and where infants are undernourished.
This is the Waris district of Papua’s Keerom region.
District chief Yusuf Wally told the Jakarta Globe that since assuming office, the regional government has allocated Rp 1 billion ($87,374) annually to each of the 61 villages across Papua to boost the local economy and build infrastructure, especially in the border areas.
“The main principle of every policy we make is to serve Papuans in every sector. The Rp 1 billion fund can be used to build roads or houses, provide water, electricity, or education, develop the economy… It depends on what the villagers want,” he said.

Much like the Village Law passed by the House of Representatives at the beginning of this year, the funds provided to each village will be disbursed every four months, depending on the developments made by the village.
“The supervisory team will then evaluate whether the village needs to be given the next infusion of funds,” Yusuf said, adding that most Papuans prefer to use the money to construct houses.
However, an activist, who declined to be named, claimed the program lacked proper monitoring by the district chief and supervisory teams had the tendency to hand in fictitious reports to the regional government.
Furthermore, according to the activist, residents living in the border areas also tend to distribute the funds amongst themselves as they wait for the next disbursement from the central government, without building infrastructure or supporting the economic growth of their villages.
“The program has only succeeded in one or two villages, but most have failed,” he said. “Some residents even built houses merely as a symbol. They don’t live in it. They keep going back to the forest. The rest of the money goes into their pockets to, in several cases, they spend it on alcohol.
“Any monitoring done on the project is very poor,” the activist added.
Poor public facilitations
Andi, a 4-year-old boy of small stature with a resigned look on his face, lives in Banda village in Waris district. For a boy his age, Andi is severely undernourished, weighing only 9.8 kilograms.
According to his mother, Andi has been underweight and suffering from a complex lung disease since the age of two.
“I thank God that he’s still alive now. For the past two years, I’ve been carrying him to hospital to get medical treatments. With the help of public health centers [puskesmas], I have Andi’s condition checked every month,” the mother said.
“All I want is for my children to be healthy and happy,” she said.

Waris Puskesmas head Agustinus Fereira said poverty is among the main factors behind the spread of skin diseases, diarrhea, and a lack of nutrition, which severely affects the health of the people
“There are so many things that need improvement,” he said. “More than Rp 200 million is in the allocation budget this year and we are hoping that some of the funds could be used to improve health care facilities in the village.”
“The first step toward a solution is to invite all the village chiefs for a discussion and to share the necessary information [on the matter],” Agustinus said, adding that with Wahana Visi Indonesia, his team could easily promote a variety of health care programs to the village residents.
Joni May, the Banda village chief, disagreed with Agustinus’s conclusion and told the Jakarta Globe that the main issue within the area was not poverty.
“We are not poor. We don’t lack land for farming. We can also collect food from the forest,” he said.
“We need the government to pay attention to us. We want our village to develop and to improve on health care, education, housing and the overall economy.”
Meanwhile, Dian N. Wellip, principal of Waris’s public high school, said efforts to improve education is severely lacking.
“We have yet to complete the addition of a library and laboratory,” Dian said.
“Only one or two teachers come to the school every day. Some, many of them women, have to take care of their own children. Several of our teachers are sick and some are currently on maternity leave.”
Krispinus Bidi, a pastor appointed by his church to serve the Waris district, also expressed his concerns.
“Papua is very rich and is still accepting money from the central government. It is a positive move, yet most of the indigenous Papuans are still poor,” he said. “Something is wrong with the system. The government can’t just hand out money without teaching the people how to spend it wisely, or how to build houses. Money is not every solution to every problem.”
Special autonomy

Dr. Adriana Elisabeth, a researcher from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) said the situation in Papua needs to be thoroughly evaluated before officially labeling its special autonomy a failure.
She emphasized that the core of the problem not only lays in policy implementation, but also in the political history of the central government and the region.
“If the special autonomy is considered a failure, the government should investigate its own actions and pinpoint why the effort did not succeed,” she said. “Is it wise to give a conflicted area such as Papua special autonomy after centralization, without thorough supervision?”
“It is crucial to trace the root of the failure. If social and economic developments failed to take off, then it’s high time for both the regional and central government to conduct an internal evaluation. They would need to conclude whether their efforts were good enough to make any impact on the region,” Adriana said.
In 2013, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono proposed to upgrade Papua’s autonomy status to a Special Autonomy Plus, in hopes of better addressing the host of developmental and security issues.
But the move garnered its fair share of criticism from the public, including students from the University of Cenderawsih in Papua, who claimed that such proposals would not improve the welfare of Papuans.
The students pointed to the alarming fact that Papua is ranked 32nd out of 33 provinces on the Human Development Index in Indonesia.
Papua, which was annexed by Indonesia on May 1, 1963, was granted special autonomy by Jakarta in 2001 in an attempt to address social grievances and a poverty rate that remains among the highest in the country, despite the region’s immense wealth of natural resources.
The central government has poured trillions of rupiah into the region over the past decade as part of the autonomy push.

However, with 31 percent of the population still living below the poverty line, critics say the huge amounts of money have not been allocated effectively and that the special autonomy status has failed to achieve its primary objectives.
Adriana, too, chimed in on criticism for plans of an upgrade.
“If the plan continues, some laws would overlap. Which one will be implemented first? It will only complicate and confuse local officials and residents,” she said.
Adriana suggested that instead of trying to introduce new laws to Papua, the government should identify the core of the multitude of problems currently raging though the island.
“Judging Papua by the rare instances of success brought on by the special autonomy would lead us up the wrong path. Neither would it truly solve Papua’s problems,” she said, adding that the region’s historical and governmental issues overlap and should be targeted simultaneously.
“Social, economic, and infrastructure problems may be dealt with separately. However, the core of Papua’s difficulties lie in two sectors: politics and development.
“Let the local officials handle any road bumps with regard to matters on development. Political discussions need to be held by Jakarta and Papua.
“Political matters cannot be solved by the declaration of special autonomy. Solving politics with money will not work,” Adriana said .

“Even if all the developmental goals of Papua are achieved, political rifts remain. The lack of law and order, the absence of security will remain. People won’t feel safe in Papua,” she added.
Adriana warned that a military presence would not offer a solution. Instead, the military would be considered a symbol of violence, put in place only to instill fear among locals.
“These forces don’t understand Papuan culture and values. To the military, the smallest indication of ‘chaos,’ any sign of disobedience against government policy is viewed as an act of rebellion or part of a separatist movement. However, isn’t it natural to shout out aspirations in such a democratic country?” Adriana said.
Demands for justice and transparency
Haris Azhar, coordinator of the Jakarta-based Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) said instead of the trillions of rupiah in handouts, Papua only needed three things.
“Indonesia needs to give Papuans justice, recognition, and return their wealth,” Haris said.

“This country has been throwing large amounts of money to Papua for the development of infrastructure, but has anyone questioned what its indigenous people truly need? As long as their island is exploited by private and foreign corporations, any development efforts are useless.
“No amount of money would give these people back what Indonesia has taken away from them,” he said.
Haris added that the full support of the government would be needed to give Papua the justice it deserves.
“Now, the question is, is the country willing enough to restore what it had destroyed in the region?”
Haris said the special autonomy was simply a way for the local and central elite to scrape profits for their own interest.
“Special autonomy is just a scam, another method of manipulation. The money is never given to the people; it goes to luxurious cars and houses, to both local and central elites.
“Meanwhile, the people that live in the border areas have to suffer with limited health care facilities, poor education and inadequate infrastructure,” he said.
Haris said the government’s failure to provide wealth and safety to Papua stems from the country’s perception of the region; it views Papuans as voiceless objects that have no say in any matter.

“They need to be considered. They want to participate in determining policies that will effect their own land. But instead of including its people, the officials care only about money. In the end, it’s all about money,” Haris said.
Corruption has grown rampant throughout Papua since the 2001 implementation of the special autonomy, which allows the government to disburse trillions of rupiah with the goal of accelerating the development of infrastructure.
The central government has allocated some Rp 4.7 trillion towards Papua’s special autonomy this year alone, a massive Rp 400 billion increase from last year.
Meanwhile, the government allocated only Rp 2 trillion of its 2014 annual budget for the West Papua region.
However, with such large funds handed out annually, no significant changes have been made, especially in the border areas, where a majority of the citizens continue to live in poor conditions. Without the skills to turn to agriculture, these people are forced to forage the forest for food.
Tama S. Langkun, a researcher for the Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) said according studies carried out by the institution, 98.13 percent of corruption cases coming across its desk were from regional and district governments, including those in Papua.

However, compared to other provinces, such as North Sumatra, West Sumatra and most regions of Java, instances of corruption in Papua have not been optimally managed, mostly for geographical reasons.
“Based on our research, we know that 54 percent of these alleged corruption cases occur in the procurement of goods and services. This means they involve money from the spending sector, or more specifically, from the special autonomy fund,” Tama said.
“According to our 2013 research data, 567 alleged cases were reported in Papua. With such a high number, we now know where all the money [from the autonomy fund] went; it never even reached the hands of the indigenous Papuans.
“Despite the trillions [of rupiah] supposedly given to the people, many Papuans continue to make a living by selling areca nuts. This paints a true picture of the degrading welfare of Papuans.”
Tama added that from 34 Indonesian provinces, Papua ranked 26th in its ability to handle corruption cases, from July to December last year.

He cited the poor ranking to the government’s inability in managing the special autonomy and its budget allocation.
“The government can’t simply give out money and wash their hands off any responsibility,” he said.
Peaceful dialogue
Haris said since the New York Agreement, a treaty signed in 1962 to end the territorial dispute between Indonesia and the Netherlands over western Papua Island, the role of Papuans in determining policies implemented in the area remains quite low, thus inspiring separatist activities, such as those by the Free Papua Movement.
Matius Wetapo, a resident of Wonorejo village in the Arso district, claimed such a movement was no longer active.
“The movement was born as a result of Papuans’ dissatisfaction over Indonesian government policies, which failed to involve Papua in its processes,” he said.
“But the rest of the movement is not as aggressive as it was in the past. We all want peace now.”
He also deplored the lack of impact the government policies have made in the development and welfare of Papuans living in border areas.
“I think the central government is quite good, but corruption has continued to hamper the development process. Money from the special autonomy policy rarely arrives at the right places,” he said.

Matius also commented on the presence of the military in Papua.
“At the moment, we [Papuans] have a good relationship and maintain positive communication with the military. We do not feel threatened, instead we feel safe having the TNI here,” he said.
He emphasized the need for comprehensive dialog between the separatist movement and the government, underlining that arrests or punishments will not help solve the issues.
“All we want is peace,” he repeated.
To Krispinus, however, gaps still exist between troops deployed by the central government and local residents, despite the conducive relationship between the two entities.
“It’s as if there’s an invisible, historical scar separating the people from members of the military,” he said.
“To unite them, the church sometimes hosts activities that engage both sides. But ultimately, they just don’t quite belong on our land.”

Haris echoed such sentiments, saying the move to send the military to the region was unnecessary.
“I think that this is an effort to foster the image that Papua will always be a conflicted area, which needs to be secured by military forces. There are entities who don’t want Papua to be explored by foreign media. They don’t want the truth to be known. Especially regarding corruption,” he said.
“Instead of sending armed forces and prohibiting the foreign media from visiting Papua, the Indonesian government should start to think about holding dialog with the Papuans.”
Adriana of LIPI sees the deployment of the military in the area as acceptable, saying it was common practice to send security forces to border areas.
However, she agrees that the main solution to Papua’s political and historical issues would involve a discussion between government officials and the island’s indigenous people, sorting through policies that need to be implemented.
“At the moment, the central government has engaged a top-down form of communication with Papua. However, it is high time to change the pattern of this dialog,” Adriana said.
“The citizens love to be involved in the political process, which is why a bottom-up approach suits Papua.
“When the government finally understands this, they will then have the attention of the regions’ citizens, who will finally begin to recognize the Indonesian government as a dignified one.”

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