Two Papuan intellectuals have expressed deep concern over a bill on the formation of four new provinces in Papua, which they said would benefit Jakarta and could sow conflict among tribes.Don A. Flassy, a senior researcher at the provincial administration, criticized the House of Representatives for attempting to divide Papua into four new provinces — West Papua, Southeast Papua, South Papua and Central Papua.
He said the proposal was opposed by the majority of Papuans.
“The proposed formation of the four new provinces is in contravention of Law No. 21/2001 on Papua’s special autonomy and the 2004 regional administration law, which recognize the province’s uniqueness in terms of ethnicity, culture and territory. The development of eight regencies into a Central Papua province would likely incite horizontal conflicts among numerous tribes and local cultures in the future,” he told The Jakarta Post here over the weekend.
The bill proposes the regencies of Supiori, Biak, Yapen Waropen, Nabire, Waopen, Paniai, Dogiai and Mimika be developed into the province of Central Papua, with Timika as the provincial capital.
According to the bill’s sponsors, this would improve public services to residents.
Don warned the presence of three separate ethnic groups in the province could pose a serious threat to harmony, saying the government should learn from the prolonged conflict between two tribes in Mimika.
“The culture of the Mee-Lani Poqo tribe in the mountainous area is in contrast with the Saireri tribe’s culture in Cenderawasih Bay and the Ha Anim culture in Mimika. The three ethnic groups and cultures have their own characteristics and interests, both in terms of customs and conflict settlement,” he said.
He said if a Central Papua province was formed, it should include only the mountainous areas, home to the Komoro, Sempan and Agimuga tribes, while the coastal area around Cenderawasih Bay, home to Saireri, should remain an integral part of Papua province.
“The proposed regencies of Numfor, North Yapen, West Yapen, Upper Waropen, Lower Waropen, Biak and Nabire in the coastal areas could be developed later into a new province,” he said.
Don also said the creation of new provinces should be aimed at improving the welfare of residents, not helping the government enhance security in the province, which is home to the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM).
The proposed Central Papua would be home to about 605,000 people, 60 percent of them indigenous Papuans. It has great potential in mining, agriculture, forestry and tourism
The proposed new province would also be home to U.S. copper and gold mining company PT Freeport McMoran Indonesia, and has the potential to produce 670,000 tons of fish annually in Supiori and Yapen Waropen.
Paniai regency is seen having great potential in agribusiness, while Nabire could be developed to be a trade center for the province.
The Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP) opposes the proposed formation of the four new provinces, which it said violated the 2001 special autonomy law for Papua.
Deputy head of the assembly, Frans Wospakrik, said the MRP and the provincial administration had their own ideas on how Papua should be developed into several new provinces, but Jakarta has ignored their suggestions.
“Jakarta has interpreted the law in accordance with its own interests. We give up and ask the central government to withdraw the special autonomy so that Papua can be governed according to its interests,” he said.
Frans, also a former rector of Cenderawasih University in Papua, said the assembly was deeply concerned that Jakarta continued looking down on Papuans and ignoring their desire to build a better future.
He said the majority of Papuans were committed to the Indonesian unitary state, but the government should listen to their suggestions for developing the province and improve their living standards. (Angela Flassy, The Jakarta Post, Jayapura)
Source: The Jakarte Post
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