More pap on Papua
Actually, I don't think my musings are "over-simplified or tasteless" (Webster's)
. If they were, then I'm sure the distinguished Australian journalist Antony Loewenstein
would not have linked to my post yesterday. What gets my goat a bit is that he gets loads of comments
and I don't.
Anyway, thanks Tone.
Perhaps you'll also be interested in a bit more background to the ongoing problems in Papua.
The Indonesian government granted special autonomy status to West Papua in 2001. Along with this came funds of Rp 1.7 trillion (US$174 million) to carry out development. Observers of the Indonesian scene ~ that's the entire population and foreign commentators ~ will not be surprised by the claim of the Papua Tribal Council to have strong evidence concerning the irregularities allegedly committed by the Papua Governor and his apparatus, and this evidence would be presented to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for further follow up.
"The evidence includes bank accounts of some Papua officials. The accounts are suspicious because the amounts of money in these accounts was staggering".
After a meeting with Deputy House of Representatives Speaker Soetardjo Soerjogoeritno in Jakarta yesterday, West Irian Jaya legislature speaker Jimmy Demianus Idjie said
, "The value of the autonomy fund has been Rp 5.6 trillion over the last three years, but the welfare of Papuans has not improved through its usage."
Direct observation shows us that Papua is in fact a region that has received only a minimal "development touch". It becomes more ironic as this province is very rich in natural resources. We can witness that the cities at the regency level - let us say, in the Baliem valley area - are supported with sparse infrastructure. There is a lack of clean water facility, nearly daily power blackouts, waste can be seen everywhere, while health care and education are only minimal.
The condition becomes more frustrating if we are to witness the "human" aspect. Economic disparity seems glaring between the local indigenous people and the migrant inhabitants - "the newcomers". The indigenous Papuans believe that if they receive the same opportunities and equal treatment, they can also be as successful as the newcomers.
In reality the Papuans have to pay tax, but can only sell their goods on the side of the street, while the newcomers sell their products in permanent shops.
The influence of offcomers, generally Javanese, is one of the Suharto legacies. The transmigration programme
, although originally initiated by the Dutch colonial powers, was adopted by first President Soekarno to resettle sparsely populated regions of the country and to alleviate the food shortages and weak economic performance.
In the 1990s
, during Suharto's regime, 1.2 million Javanese and Sumatran persons streamed into Papua over a ten-year period. Nearly all of these migrants were Muslims, coming into an area that, prior to Indonesian rule, had been almost entirely populated by Roman Catholics, Protestants and people following tribal religions. The transmigration's purpose is to tip the West Papuan population from the heavily Melanesian Papuans toward a more Asian "balance," thus further consolidating Indonesian control.
That the indigenous population of the former Dutch New Guinea expected to rule their own country after the departure of the Dutch is well documented
That some 50 years later they still have major grievances against their current colonial rulers, the 'apparatus' of the Indonesian government is nothing short of a tragedy.