Thursday, April 26, 2018

1) Optimizing West Papua`s abundant natural resources

2) Australian spy chief to face tribunal in fight to keep East Timor, Balibo records secret
3) Review: ‘Safeguarding Australia’s security interests through closer Pacific ties’
1) Optimizing West Papua`s abundant natural resources

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian province of West Papua is known for its agriculture, mining, forestry products, and tourism that should be optimized for improving the welfare of the local community.

Situated at the west side of Papua Island, West Papua covers the area of Papua`s Bird Head and other smaller islands surrounding the province.

Pearls and seaweed are mostly produced in the Raja Ampat Islands, while the only traditional weaving industry is also situated in this province in South Sorong District.

In addition, tourist attractions, including the Cendrawasih Bay National Park located in Teluk Wondana District, Lorenz National Park, Raja Ampat Islands, and Meyah Waterfall, are among the mainstays of West Papua Province.

The Government of West Papua Province is currently planning to optimize the utilization of its potential natural resources for lighting programs in remote and isolated areas.

According to West Papua Energy and Mineral Resources Office Chief John A. Tulus in Manokwari, the potential of water and high temperature will be utilized to support the community`s welfare through the development of new and renewable energy-based electricity infrastructure.

Tulus remarked in Manokwari on Wednesday that West Papua Governor Dominggus Mandacan was keen to ensure that the hinterlands and small islands were able to receive electricity similar to those living in urban areas.

State electricity company PT PLN has implemented the Bright Indonesia Program, and in the areas of Papua and West Papua, the program will be applied through the Bright Papua Program.

The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources has launched a program called Bright Indonesia aimed at increasing the electrification rate in the eastern part of the archipelago over the next few years.

Through the program, Indonesia aims to boost its electrification rate to 97 percent of the country`s total population by 2019 by building new power plants, with a total capacity of 35 thousand megawatts.

The program is expected to provide electricity to underdeveloped villages in Indonesia`s eastern provinces, such as Maluku, North Maluku, East Nusa Tenggara, West Nusa Tenggara, Papua, and West Papua, where several people still do not have access to electricity.

Power plants in Indonesia`s eastern provinces will rely on new and renewable sources of energy to generate electricity, with more than 300 thousand megawatts accounted for throughout the archipelago.

Eastern Indonesia mostly comprises islands. Instead of installing cables from one island to another, local sources, such as renewable energy, can be used.

Hence, efforts to optimize the utilization of potential natural resources, implemented by the local government, will be undertaken to welcome the national and regional programs.

There are still several potential natural resources in West Papua that are quite strategic, but they are yet to be utilized optimally to boost the people`s welfare.

"Coal exploitation activities are being conducted in the Sorong area though not yet optimally. The Maruni cement plant in Manokwari, so far, utilizes coal from Sorong as a power station, and that is what we expect," Tulus remarked.

He noted that another mineral that holds potential is nickel in the Raja Ampat District, but infrastructure, such as a smelter, must be built by the nickel company.

To optimize the utilization of natural resources and empowerment of the local people, the provincial government of West Papua plans to hold an international conference on biological resource varieties, ecotourism, and creative economy.

Head of the West Papua Research and Development Center Charley Heatubun remarked in Manokwari recently that delegations from several countries as well as local and foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are expected to participate in the conference on Oct 7-10 this year.

The conference aims to demonstrate to the central government and other countries that West Papua is serious in applying an environmental conservation program, Heatubun noted.

Currently, the West Papua Development and Research Center is coordinating with a coalition of local NGOs, World Wildlife Fund, International Conservation, Asia Foundation, and other NGOs, the embassies of Norway and Britain, as the donor countries, for the conference.

"The targets we would like to achieve are to revise the area and layout plan to reflect West Papua as a province that is committed to environmental conservation," Heatubun stated.

In addition, the center wants West Papua to have a national park or new preserve area and to prepare an intensive scheme of fiscal and fund transfers as an incentive for the conservation of forests and varieties of biological resources in West Papua.

Heatubun said he is looking for a change in the paradigm, especially in the central government, that tropical forest conservation, both in West Papua and Papua, is a capital for development.

Thus, the size of virgin forests, which are still well-maintained and preserved in the two provinces, would be included as an indicator for calculating the general and special allocation funds for the provinces.

"This would serve as a fiscal incentive to be offered to the regional administrations by Jakarta to support sustainable development, as we know that sustainable development goals have been ratified and have become a commitment of all countries in the world," he noted.

Results of the conference will be reported by the governor to the central government and will be presented at the forthcoming meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to be held in Bali on October 12-13, 2018.

Editor: Heru Purwanto

2) Australian spy chief to face tribunal in fight to keep East Timor, Balibo records secret
Updated about an hour ago
Australian intelligence operations that took place during the Indonesian occupation of East Timor should stay secret, the head of the country's overseas spy agency will argue today.

Key points:

  • Academic Clinton Fernandes has been fighting for access to ASIS records on East Timor
  • Australia's spy chief is scheduled to appear at a tribunal to explain why ASIS does not want the documents made public
  • The documents in question relate to Australia's covert operations during the Indonesian occupation of East Timor in the 1970s

In what is believed to be a first, Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) director-general Paul Symon is scheduled to appear at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal to put forward his organisation's case.
The spy chief's testimony is in response to Canberra-based academic Clinton Fernandes, who has battled since 2014 for access to the 40-year-old ASIS records on East Timor.
At first ASIS and the National Archives insisted that they could not even confirm or deny whether such records existed, claiming that to do so would cause damage to Australia's "security, defence or international relations".
Professor Fernandes challenged this position in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, and in February the National Archives backed down, conceding it did in fact have such records.
"It was common knowledge that Australia was involved in East Timor and was very interested in Indonesia in the 1970s," Professor Fernandes told the ABC.
"To say that even a confirmation that ASIS records exist would harm national security seems ridiculous to me.
"We hope in the proceedings to ask questions that make [ASIS director-general Paul Symon] justify why on national security grounds these materials should continue to be withheld 43 years after the event."
The University of New South Wales academic, who is a former Defence intelligence officer, believes the classified ASIS records could offer more insights into the events leading up to the killing of five Australian journalists in Balibo in 1975.

"We hope to find the extent to which the covert instrument of statecraft was involved," Professor Fernandes said.
"The documents would shed light on Australian diplomacy and Indonesian military operations in Timor. The true facts, the details about the diplomacy and the human intelligence before and after that haven't really been exposed.
"It would be a real victory for all of us concerned with transparency.
"What is the intelligence, the Secret Intelligence Service telling us about developments in Timor or foreknowledge about the killings of those journalists?"

ASIS evidence to be kept secret during private hearing

Much of the proceedings in today's historic tribunal hearing will be kept secret after acting Attorney-General Greg Hunt last week agreed to an ASIS request that part of its evidence be given in private.
In a letter dated April 19 explaining his decision, Mr Hunt said he had "given serious consideration to all the material and the reasons for and against the disclosure of the information".
"I have determined that the disclosure of this information would be contrary to the public interest by reason that it would prejudice the security, defence or international relations of Australia," the letter said.
"Therefore I am satisfied that it is necessary to issue a public interest certificate to protect the information they contain.
"This certificate will also cover any information given as evidence that discloses the contents of the confidential affidavit."
Professor Fernandes said the move meant ASIS would be able to give its evidence in secret and he would not be able to hear it, but will later be asked by the tribunal to respond to it.

Records sought on Australian links to CIA plot in Chile

Among the historic ASIS records Professor Fernandes is also hoping to have released are those covering the spy agency's operations in Chile before the 1973 coup.
Chilean president Salvadore Allende was overthrown by military forces who installed dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Two officers from ASIS were stationed in Santiago following a formal request from the United States, but little else is known about their activities.
"ASIS ran agents in Chile for the United States, and if the United States can release 16,000 pages of records on its involvement in the coup in Chile, surely Australia can do the same," Professor Fernandes said
3) Review: ‘Safeguarding Australia’s security interests through closer Pacific ties’

BY James Batley 
27 April 2018 06:00 AEDT

Greg Colton’s ‘Safeguarding Australia’s security interests through closer Pacific ties’ sits in a long tradition of mainstream thinking about the significance of the Pacific for Australia’s national security. 
It is a tradition that draws on intertwined anxieties: on the one hand, concern the Pacific might be a vector through which external threats to Australia are directed; on the other, concern that weakness or internal instability within Pacific island states might itself represent a threat to Australian national interests. 
These anxieties have been on florid display in recent weeks via hyperventilation surrounding media claims China had approached Vanuatu regarding the establishment of a military base.
Colton’s paper was written prior to the Vanuatu controversy but, to his credit, it’s doubtful the work would have required much amendment even if it had been written after the story had broken. It is a timely contribution to the discussion.
The analysis covers familiar ground in describing an increasingly complex scene in which non-traditional players, such as China, Indonesia, and Russia, have in recent times intensified their activity in the Pacific. Colton asserts that the “extent to which China has strategic aims in the Pacific Islands region is still a matter of contention”. That remains the case following the recent Vanuatu kerfuffle
The paper is less strong when describing the other side of the question; the role that Pacific island countries themselves have played in actively pursuing new relationships, networks, and opportunities over recent years, both among themselves and globally. Such diplomatic activity has complicated life for Australia in the region just as much as the emergence of the “new players”. 
Both strands have contributed to a thesis of “Australian declinism” in the Pacific that has taken hold among a number of commentators who are familiar with the region, and many who are not.
At the declaratory level at least, it’s hard to see how Australia could be much clearer about the significance the Pacific holds for Australia’s national security. Last November’s Foreign Policy White Paper highlighted relations with the Pacific as one of only five “objectives of fundamental importance to Australia’s security and prosperity”, and outlined “helping to integrate Pacific countries into the Australian and New Zealand economies and our security institutions” as an “essential” policy aim.
The 2016 Defence White Paper sets out a quasi–Monroe Doctrine in the Pacific, asserting that Australia will work “to limit the influence of any actor from outside the region with interests inimical to our own”. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s remarks regarding the Vanuatu/China reports – “We would view with great concern the establishment of any foreign military bases in those Pacific island countries and neighbours of ours” – sit squarely within this policy framework.
Colton offers a handful of suggestions aimed at reinforcing Australia’s role as the leading security player in the region, while simultaneously deepening a sense of “partnership” with Pacific island countries. Bringing off this juggling act has long been the holy grail of Australian policy in the region. 
His suggestions range from the intriguing (establishing a Pacific Maritime Coordination Centre) to the courageous (striking compacts of free association with Tuvalu, Kiribati, and Nauru). The latter idea has been kicking around Canberra corridors in one form or another for more than a decade. 
Government policy, especially the new Pacific Labour Scheme, now acknowledges explicitly that these three independent Pacific microstates warrant special treatment. That’s a good thing, but the broader kind of relationship espoused in the paper (providing these countries “with a host of government services” in exchange for a formal security veto) remains likely to falter on the simple grounds of cost alone. But kudos to Colton for promoting the idea.
The commitment, set out in the Foreign Policy White Paper, to establish an Australia Pacific Security College is not mentioned by Colton. Tender documents for this institution are yet to be issued, but we can expect that it, and the major new Pacific Maritime Security Program (the patrol boat scheme), will be key focal points for regional security cooperation for many years to come.
Colton overreaches in stating that “concluding the proposed Biketawa Plus Declaration should be Australia’s primary strategic objective in the region”. The original Biketawa Declaration dates from 2000. The idea for an updated regional security declaration crystallised in the minds of thoughtful Pacific islanders following the conclusion of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands in mid-2017, but it reflects deeper currents of thinking about the needs and aspirations of Pacific island countries. 
Australia has a seat at this table, to be sure. Colton’s prescription for an assertive Australian role in shaping Biketawa Plus to suit Australia’s national security needs, however, undervalues the extent to which Pacific island countries want to drive this agenda themselves, and would put Australia’s relationships in the region at unnecessary risk.
Indeed, if Colton’s piece has a weakness overall, it is the absence of a sense of Pacific island countries as active players in future regional security arrangements.
Australia still has many assets in the region that can be too easily glossed over, or ignored, by those of a declinist bent. Still, Colton is right to stress that Australia needs to be engaged.
Relationships remain the key to getting Australian policy in the Pacific right. On this score, Australia could do better.
To be sure, Julie Bishop and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells can point to numerous visits of their own in the region. But the recent Vanuatu controversy served to highlight the fact that, even though he has been in power for more than two years, Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai is yet to make an official guest-of-government visit to Australia. 
That has been an avoidable mistake on Australia’s part. And Salwai is by no means alone among his Pacific colleagues in this respect. At the very least, the Vanuatu/China story should have served as a wake-up call on this front.

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