Friday, May 15, 2015

1) Civil societies to govt: Support West Papua bid for MSG

2) Solomon Islands Prepare For MSG Summit

3) Indonesia’s Widodo Puts Development Spotlight on Remote Papua


1) Civil societies to govt: Support West Papua bid for MSG

Members of the civil society organization under the umbrella body of Solomon Islands in Solidarity for West Papua gathered in numbers on Thursday to renew their call on the Solomon Islands Government to support the bid for West Papua to gain full membership in MSG.
The call was made ahead of the Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister trip to Papua New Guinea (PNG) early next week to decide on the West Papua bid to MSG.

The gathering comprised on members of SICA, Civil Societies, the general public and students from the University of South Pacific to show their solidarity in support of the bid for the Melanesian people of West Papua for full in the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

Commenting on the gathering Lily Chekana highlighted that West Papuans are Melanesians and their right to be part of MSG shouldn’t be deterred by outside influences.

 The decision made by MSG leaders on the 21st of May in Papua New Guinea is crucial to the West Papua bid and MSG leaders must stand tall in upholding the true spirit of the Melanesian way rather being succumbed to outside influence and money diplomacy.

“The decision made on the 21st is crucial and I call the Hon. Prime Minister to be genuine and confident when deciding on the issue of West Papua, the best the Solomon Islands people could expect from you is to support West Papua bid for MSG. Listen to your peoples”  said Ms. Chekana.

She said, inclusion of West Papua into MSG would provide space for dialogue on the issue of Human Rights suffered by West Papuans at the hands of Indonesian Military and Police for the past 50 years as well as a diplomatic channel where such issue can be resolved. “West Papua is part of the Melanesian family and our leaders must made the right decision to include West Papua into MSG. If MSG leaders can include the Kanaki of New Caledonia into MSG why not do the same for West Papua, it’s time that our Lleaders put politics aside and show genuineness in dealing with the West Papua bid to be part of MSG,” Ms Chekana said.

The Solomon Islands in Solidarity for West Papua group will stage a peace march and video and photo exhibition in support of West Papua bid for West Papua on Tuesday 19th May 2015.
2) Solomon Islands Prepare For MSG Summit
Solomon Islands is beginning preparations for the upcoming 20th Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders’ Summit in June this year.
The Solomon Islands Government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade (MFAET) this week has set up a taskforce to oversee preparations for the Summit.

The taskforce Chaired by William Soaki, Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs is comprised of officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade and other relevant Ministries. It began its first preparatory meeting in Honiara yesterday.

The Leaders’ Summit will take place from June 24-26. Preceding the Summit is the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) from June 18-19 to be followed by the Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM) from June 22-23.

Solomon Islands was given the opportunity to host the 20th MSG Leaders’ Summit at the last meeting in June 2013 in Noumea, New Caledonia.

The MSG is an intergovernmental organization made of the four Melanesian states of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu, and the Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front of New Caledonia.

Source: Press Release, Government Communications Unit


3) Indonesia’s Widodo Puts Development Spotlight on Remote Papua

President presses ahead with goal of uniting archipelago nation with infrastructure

JAKARTA, Indonesia—President Joko Widodo is trying to shake off early political setbacks and press ahead with his pledge to bring infrastructure and development to the farthest corners of his sprawling archipelago nation.
In particular, remote and impoverished Papua has caught Mr. Widodo’s attention.
For the second time since taking charge of Southeast Asia’s largest economy last year, Mr. Widodo this month visited the far eastern region, more than 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) from the capital, Jakarta, to suggest the restive area is turning a page on history, poverty and a tenuous connection to the rest of the country.
Papua, a sparsely populated territory of port towns, highland villages, natural forest and the highest mountains in Oceania, lies closer to Australia than it does to the power centers of western Indonesia. The region has long been home to multibillion-dollar mining and petroleum projects by Arizona-based Freeport-McMoRan Inc. and BP PLC, but remains one of the poorest areas in Indonesia.
But an undersea fiber optic cable is slowly working its way to a frontier region now served by satellites, and Mr. Widodo said he would speed up construction of a 4,000-kilometer highway running across what amounts to a fifth of all land area in Indonesia, a vast nation of 18,000 islands strategically straddling the Indian and  Pacific Oceans and some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. He visited the construction site of a stadium that will allow Papua to host Indonesia’s national games for the first time.
Though those projects were in train well before Mr. Widodo arrived in office seven months ago, he has enthusiastically adopted them as he tries to breathe new life into infrastructure projects and widen economic development beyond a few industrialized hubs in the country’s west.
Mr. Widodo also freed five political prisoners from among dozens jailed for their roles in a secessionist movement that has long dogged Papua and underpinned a large role for the military in governing it. In most other regions in Indonesia, the military’s role shrank following the ouster of authoritarian ruler Suharto in 1998.
Overall, investment in Papua is minimal, in large part because poor infrastructure blocks companies from feasibly tapping into the region’s enormous natural resources potential. Last year, non-oil-and-gas investment in Papua totaled about $1.4 billion, less than 4% of the country’s total investment. Almost all of that was foreign investment, with Freeport alone pouring nearly $1 billion into its mining operations.
“The industry has been held back more by high costs than by security concerns,” one foreign oil-and-gas consultant said. “Projects there need frontier-type fiscal terms to work.”
The territory was ruled by the Dutch until the 1960s, then joined Indonesia after a controversial, U.N.-backed referendum in 1969. An enduring secessionist movement known as the Free Papua Movement (OPM) has led to decades of virtual military rule. While the rebellion has long faded, tensions with security forces remain.
Analysts said that freeing the prisoners was an early gesture to suggest Mr. Widodo’s administration would go further than past governments in bringing the 3.6 million Papua residents, about half of whom are of Melanesian ethnicity, a distinct minority in Indonesian, further into the fold of a nation of 250 million people.
“Papua needs, more than anything, political attention from Jakarta and an opening to the world, if Papuans are ever to feel at home in this country,” said Paul Rowland, a Jakarta-based political analyst.
Part of that opening entails building up the infrastructure that will spur on new investment not just in Papua, but across eastern Indonesia. On his way to Papua last week, Mr. Widodo stopped off in the Maluku island chain to remind people of his plans to renovate a large seaport there, and once in Papua, drew attention to a new port he’d build in the territory’s far west.
Both are emblematic of Mr. Widodo’s belief that maritime development in the expansive archipelago country will be key to boosting exports and lowering crippling logistics costs to spread the wealth of Indonesia—a nearly $900 billion economy—more evenly. The president is fond of comparing the price differences of cement in Java and Papua—$6 a bag versus $150, he says—to make the point.
Papua is home to Indonesia’s largest forests, and by some estimates half of all its copper. Freeport’s Grasberg mine in the Papuan highlands is the largest in Indonesia, and the government’s single largest source of tax revenue. BP is considering a $12 billion plan to expand its natural gas operations.
Mr. Widodo still faces questions about project execution that have plagued the early-going of his administration. Investment spending, and efforts to unstick several major projects, are behind schedule. Already there’s talk of a cabinet reshuffle.
In Papua, there’s “no coherent strategy on this, as everything else,” said Sidney Jones, head of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict. Mr. Widodo’s moves were “nice gestures, but who’s in charge?”


Papua is a sparsely populated territory of port towns, highland villages, natural forest and the highest mountains in Oceania.
  • Population: 3.6 million in 2010, about half of Melanesian ethnicity
  • Religion: Majority Christian
  • Landmass: 22% of all Indonesia (422,000 square km)
  • 2014 investment: $1.4 billion (not including oil and gas)
  • Distance from Jakarta to Jayapura:3,770 km
  • Major foreign investors: BP and Freeport-McMoRan
  • Governance: Ruled by Dutch colonial powers until the 1960s; annexed by Indonesia in 1969

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