Saturday, February 17, 2018

1) West Papua one step closer to MSG membership, says Wenda

2) Disused WW2 Airfield in West Papua Now Ready for Commercial Flights

1) West Papua one step closer to MSG membership, says Wenda

Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says the Melanesian Spearhead Group has made solid progress under the chairmanship of Solomon Islands. Video: EMTV News
By Meriba Tulo in Port Moresby
West Papua’s application to become a full member of the Melanesian Spearhead Group has gained traction, with MSG leaders referring the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) request to the MSG Secretariat for deliberation.
Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister and new MSG chair, Peter O’Neill, made this known at the conclusion of the Leaders’ Summit.
According to O’Neill, the leaders of Melanesia have approved new criteria guidelines for observers, associate members and full members to the sub-regional grouping.
Currently, the ULMWP has an observer status to the MSG, with Indonesia already an associate member to this sub-regional grouping.
However, with this new move, West Papua, or the ULMWP at least could be one step closer to becoming a full member of MSG.
ULMWP leader Benny Wenda was present at the closing of the MSG Leaders’ Summit and was pleased with the outcome.
FLNKS backing
When addressing Melanesian leaders, Wenda called on the MSG to support West Papua in the same way that the MSG had shown support for the Kanak Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) in New Caledonia in their push for independence.
Indonesia, however, called on the MSG to respect its sovereignty, calling the West Papuan issue an “internal matter”. These comments did not go down well with Wenda, when speaking to EMTV News:
“West Papua Is a Melanesian issue, which must be dealt with by Melanesians – Indonesia is not Melanesia.”
Meriba Tulo is a senior reporter and presenter and currently anchors Resource PNG as well as EMTV’s daily National News. Asia Pacific Report republishes EMTV News stories by arrangement.
    2) Disused WW2 Airfield in West Papua Now Ready for Commercial Flights
Jakarta. Werur Airport in Tambrauw, West Papua — formerly a disused World War II airfield — has opened again for business after six years of redevelopment, Indonesia's Transportation Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday (14/02).
The airport, now with a 1,400-meter runway, used to be a military airfield for both the Japanese and the Allies during World War II.
The government had been planning to develop the airfield into a commercial airport since 2012, but construction work only began in 2015 after President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo started his initiative to improve access to Indonesia's underdeveloped regions.
"Werur Airport's reopening is part of an effort to realize President Jokowi's Nawacita [nine-prong development principle]. One of the principles is that the government has to be willing to develop border areas in Indonesia," the ministry said.
"Tabrauw is right on the coast, a very strategic location. No wonder the Japanese and the Allies built the air base there during World War II," the ministry's air transport director Maria Murni said in the statement.
"The airport should help the local economy by bringing in more tourists," she said.
According to the ministry, the airport will also help reduce logistics cost to bring goods in and out of the area. Exorbitant logistics cost is the bane of many underdeveloped regions in Indonesia.
The airport at the moment is only used by Susi Air, an airline owned by Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, with two flights from Sorong to Werur every week on Monday and Friday.
The Transportation Ministry said the airport's runway and passenger terminal will be extended again later in 2018.

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