Wednesday, June 4, 2014

1) Jokowi to open access to Papua for foreign journalists, int’l organisations

1) Jokowi to open access to  Papua for foreign journalists,  int’l organisations
2) PNG - Indonesian border opens, then closes as OPM strikes
 3) INDONESIA: Journalists recording of Australian PM's phone call stirs row
1) Jokowi to open access to  Papua for foreign journalists,  int’l organisations
Sita W. Dewi, The Jakarta Post, Jayapura | Election Watch | Thu, June 05 2014, 12:23 PM
Presidential candidate Joko “Jokowi” Widodo pledged on Thursday to open access to Papua and West Papua for foreign journalists and international organizations, if he was elected president.
“Why not? It’s safe here in Papua. There’s nothing to hide,” Jokowi said when asked whether or not he would allow access to the country's easternmost provinces for foreign reporters and campaigners.
For decades now, parts of Papua and West Papua - especially PT Freeport Indonesia's Grassberg mine - have been restricted to foreign journalists and international organizations.
As Jokowi arrived in Jayapura on his campaign trail, he went straight to the Prahara Sentani traditional market in Sentani, Jayapura regency, to greet local residents and market vendors.
Speaking before residents and reporters, he reiterated his commitment to develop Papua and West Papua, saying that the provinces “are very important to Indonesia”.
“I have come back to Papua [...] to emphasize how important this province is to Indonesia. If I was only seeking votes, I could do that in Java. But this is not about votes; it’s about giving attention to Papua,” he said.
Jokowi previously visited Jayapura in April while campaigning for the legislative election.
During his current visit, Jokowi introduced his priority programs for Papua, namely Indonesia Smart Card and Indonesia Health Card programs, inspired by the education and healthcare programs he developed when he became governor of Jakarta.
“All Papuans should be able to enjoy higher education,” he said.
Jokowi added that he also aimed to develop educational and economic infrastructure by developing traditional markets and building a rail-based transportation network to ease distribution.
Papua, despite the exploitation of its natural resources, still lags behind Java and Sumatra in terms of development.


2) PNG - Indonesian border opens, then closes as OPM strikes
WUTUNG, PNG --- The Indonesia-PNG border was officially opened on Tuesday this week but closed down again three hours later due to the killing of an Indonesian soldier by OPM (Organisasi Papua Merdeka) rebels.
Security officials told the Post-Courier the joint Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) and the government team stationed at Wutung closed down the border again to crossers because of the killing.
They said the PNGDF soldiers closed the border to crossers specifically for security reasons and to protect the PNG citizens that are crossing to do business across Batas and those that maintain their markets at the PNG side of the border.
“The PNGDF soldiers have been instructed not to allow Papua New Guinea citizens to cross over to Indonesia at the PNG-Indonesian boarder at Wutung for security reasons,” the officials said.
“The situation at the border has become tense again and there is no guarantee that the lives of PNG citizens will be protected. The OPM rebels killed one Indonesian soldier after attacking the Indonesian establishment at Batas, so for security reasons because it was unsafe for PNG citizens, our officials on the ground closed the gates.
“We officially opened the border for general business after it was closed amid fears over a shooting incident in April this year. We had a small ceremony for it at 11:30 am on Tuesday and three hours later, at 3 pm our soldiers closed the gates again because of the killing of one of the Indonesian soldiers by the OPM rebels.
“Just in case there is a shootout between the OPM rebels and the Indonesian army, we don’t want any of our PNG citizens and soldiers to be caught up in this fight.”

 3) INDONESIA: Journalists recording of Australian PM's phone call stirs row
Wednesday, June 4, 2014
Item: 8647
CANBERRA (Australian Broadcasting Corporation / Pacific Media Watch): Indonesian journalists have been allowed to sit in a room with Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and record a telephone call he had with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
According to ABC, "top-level Indonesian government sources have confirmed to the ABC that the transcripts are accurate and that allowing journalists to be there during the phone call was, in their words, a 'mistake' ".
In the phone call, which happened last month, Abbott promises "a new relationship between Indonesia and Australia as fast as possible".
The recording of the phone call has made headlines in the media around the world.
The phone call is further proof of Abbott's close relationship with Indonesia, which has been criticised by supporters of freedom for West Papua.
The Asian Human Rights Commission said recently that Australia had supplied the Indonesian army with military helicopters that they used against West Papuans since the 1970s.
And last year, three activists who climbed the walls of the Australian consulate in Bali to highlight the ongoing Indonesian military occupation of West Papua were evicted by Australian officials.
Australia would not be party to protests aimed at undermining Indonesia's authority over West Papua, Abbott said at the time.

Abbott later claimed that the “situation in West Papua is getting better not worse” and praised Yudhoyono for giving West Papuans "greater autonomy... a better level of government services and ultimately a better life".
But West Papuans do not agree. The West Papuan Freedom Campaign opened its first office in Perth last month and called for the Australian government to support West Papua's bid for freedom from Indonesian colonisation.
The Australian West Papuan Association of Sydney called today for Abbott "to raise the human rights situation in West Papua with the Indonesian government and encourage the Indonesian President to release all West Papuan political prisoners unconditionally. It is outrageous that there are 72 West Papuans in jail, many simply because they  raised the West Papuan flag at peaceful demonstrations".
"The worst thing the Australian government can do is to continue to ignore the situation in West Papua," said the association's spokesman, Joe Collins.
Analyst Stuart Rollo says that Australia opposes freedom and independence for West Papua because this would lead to a"loss of income from West Papuan resources, which makes up a large portion of the Indonesian government's revenue, would wreak havoc on the Indonesian economy. These events could combine to create a refugee torrent on Australia's doorstep that would make the current situation seem like a trickle".
Freeport CEO meets billionaire  minister, but hurdles remain 
Raras Cahyafitri, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Thu, June 05 2014, 8:15 AM
Coordinating Economic Minister Chairul Tanjung said Wednesday that contract negotiations with Freeport Indonesia and issues related to the company’s commitment to build a smelter would be settled before the next government took over in October.

Chairul, one of Indonesia’s richest men, made the statement after meeting with US-based Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. CEO Richard Adkerson.

Elaborating, Chairul said problems hampering the negotiation process and issues related to the company’s construction of a smelter should soon be resolved to ensure that they would not affect Freeport’s operations and state revenues.

“We are trying to conclude the negotiation process as soon as possible. Hopefully, before the end of the current government,” he said.

 It was Adkerson’s second meeting with top Indonesian government officials this year after a raw minerals export ban came into force on Jan. 12. Besides problems related to contract renegotiations, Freeport is now also in trouble because it has been unable to export its copper concentrate due to the ban.

Adkerson refused to make a comment after the meeting, but he looked unhappy.

Chairul said the Indonesian government and Freeport shared the same aspiration of reaching an agreement as soon as possible. “There are principle agreements in several areas. However, there are also several things that need to be harmonized,” Chairul told reporters after the meeting. 

The talks were centered on a contract renegotiation mandated under the 2009 Mining Law. The negotiations cover six points: royalty adjustment, divestment, mine size, the use of local goods and services, contract extension and the obligation of domestic processing and refining activities.

The government’s ban on raw ore exports, a bid to add value to its mineral resources, has been lambasted by industry players, although miners had been given four years prior to build smelters and refineries.

In the face of intense criticism, the government decided to continue allowing the export of semi-finished minerals, such as concentrates, until 2017. This relaxation of the regulation is, however, meaningless as the government imposed progressively increasing export duties of up to 60 percent on exporters of semi-finished products.

Major miners such as Freeport Indonesia and PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara have refused to pay the duties, saying additional taxes contradicted their contracts. The companies have been trying to lobby the government to change course on the issue.

As the miners halt production and exports plummet, the government has been considering cutting the duties in exchange for a commitment from the companies to build domestic processing facilities. However, any decision on new export duties is now pending the completion of the renegotiation, Chairul said.

Renegotiations with Freeport are currently stalled on the issue of the certainty of the continuation of its mining activities when the company’s contract of work expires in 2021, according to mineral and coal director general R. Sukhyar.

“We have an understanding in principle but we need to deepen it. There is a legal matter concerning their wishes for contract extension and what is stated under our law,” Sukhyar told The Jakarta Post.


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