Thursday, June 19, 2014

1) Indonesia to strengthen links with Fiji's PIDF

1) Indonesia to strengthen links with Fiji's PIDF
2) All aboard the gravy train as SBY visits Fiji


1) Indonesia to strengthen links with Fiji's PIDF

Updated at 5:37 pm today

The Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says Indonesia will intensify its involvement with the Pacific Islands Development Forum.
The president is the keynote speaker at the second gathering of the forum taking place in Nadi.
President Yudhoyono says the PIDF's efforts to achieve a sustainable Pacific society are similar to his approach to development.
He told the forum participants Indonesia's priority was to conserve and enhance fisheries and marine resources and link up over marine protected areas.
He also said Indonesia would commit $US20m over the next five years to Pacific Island countries to deal with challenges like disasters and climate change.
The president says Indonesia wants to triple trade with the PIDF countries to a billion dollars over the coming years.
On the diplomatic front, President Yudhoyono says Indoneisa wanted to capitalise on its links with PIDF countries.
He says it is in Indonesia's best interests to act as a bridge between the countries of the Pacific and Indian Oceans and Indonesia supports Papua New Guinea as host and chair of APEC in 2018.
The president said a new cold war was a potential reality and he said Indonesia would continue to support the role of small, developing countries in helping maintain international peace and security.
2) All aboard the gravy train as SBY visits Fiji
Outgoing Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono moved to shore up relations with Fiji this week amid growing rumblings across the Pacific about atrocities in West Papua, writes Fijian journalist Netani Rika.

Fijians have been described as among the most hospitable people in the world, flinging open the doors to their homes at every opportunity to passing guests. In a similar style Fiji welcomed outgoing Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono this week as chief guest at the Pacific Island Development Forum meeting on the resort island of Denarau.
It was a glamorous event with red carpets, military parades, police-escorted motorcades, gala dinners and traditional ceremonies associated with state visits. But pro-West Papuan activists and journalists were monitored for weeks by Special Branch police, and every attempt was made to keep them away from the event.
In recent months there has been a slow but sure surge of support across the Pacific for self-determination for the West Papuan people and increasing calls for Indonesia to allow a referendum on the issue. Solomon Islands church leaders, Fijian university students and Papua New Guinean activists have ramped up the action and the rhetoric on self-determination.
It’s likely that Yudhoyono’s visit to Fiji has been forced, in part, by the agitation from several quarters in the region for justice in the territory that was illegally occupied by Indonesia in 1969. Indonesia wants to become a major player in the Pacific, replacing Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Thus far it has succeeded in convincing regional leaders it is an ally that will not rock the boat on questionable governance, transparency and human rights issues.
In typical diplomatic quid pro quo, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Solomons have remained silent on the atrocities in West Papua. Not a word has been uttered on the murder of human rights activists, use of indigenous resources by foreign corporations, the call for self-determination or the continued detention of political prisoners — despite a United Nations call for their release. Instead, regional leaders have jumped aboard the Jakarta Express gravy train, accepting bilateral visits, tractors for agriculture projects, cultural shows and the obligatory bamboo weaving projects.
This week the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC) warned that the glamour of state visits must never undermine the community’s responsibility to search for the truth. No doubt Fiji’s interim Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, will attempt to tout Yudhoyono’s visit as a sign of enhanced bilateral relations with an emerging world power. But in effect, Indonesia’s presence at the Pacific Island Development Forum serves merely to cloud leaders’ judgement on the issue of West Papua.
In the false sense of bonhomie and the diplomatic pleasantries that exist around such events, the region will conveniently overlook the proverbial elephant in the room. The PCC was correct to warn that Yudhoyono’s visit must be seen in a wider context.
Who gains from the visit? What was gained from the visit? No major infrastructure has been funded for Pacific island nations, nor has agreement been reached on better quality of life for the people of the region. Essentially there has been no change to the status quo, and the only beneficiaries have been the passengers on the gravy train who received free accommodation and flights along with the usual per diems.
If this visit was designed to showcase the PIDF as a credible alternative to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, the gambit has failed. As Fiji waves goodbye to Yudhoyono today, he will rest easy in the knowledge that his visit has ensured the silence of Indonesia’s regional leaders’ club on his country’s human rights abuses in West Papua.

Thousands of people mostly hailing from Jayapura and surrounding areas flocked to the Lake Sentani Festival during its opening ceremony on Thursday.The opening of the seventh Lake Sentani Festival will feature various attractions such as a 100-meter-long tree bark painting, Isosolo dancing aboard boats, giant clay pottery and diving while smoking, said Hana Hikoyabi of the festival's organizing committee.
Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Agung Laksono, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu and diplomats from India and Palestine were expected to attend the festival's opening ceremony.
The Lake Sentani Festival is one of three major festivals in Papua, besides the Baliem Valley Festival held in August and the Asmat Festival in October, that together offer the best and most comprehensive presentations of the island, according to information on the official Indonesian tourism website
The seventh Lake Sentani Festival runs from June 19 to 23 under the theme "My Culture, My Life".
Papuan artists from 19 districts will offer a wide range of cultural performances, exhibitions and culinary treats.
"Resounding Sounds of the Tifa" will be performed by 500 Papuan dancers and musicians wearing traditional costumes.
Fierce competition will take place in events such as boat racing for men and women and musical competitions on drums and pipes with songs from various parts of the region. A tour will also be offered to the Islands of Asei and Ajun to witness special local rituals.
A multimedia show will loop to showcase the various attractions that the region has to offer as well as the preparations for the National Sports Meet, PON 2020, to be held in the province of Papua.
Lake Sentani is one of the largest lakes in Papua, Indonesia's easternmost province. (her)

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