A President’s promise to Papuan notables

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President Joko Widodo meets with figures from West Papua and Papua in Istana Merdeka (10/9/2019). (photo: Sekertariat Presiden)

IO, Jakarta – President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has invited notable figures from Papua to meet him in the Presidential Palace, Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara, Central Jakarta. 61 of these august individuals from Papua and West Papua came in response to the invitation. President Jokowi was accompanied in the meeting on Tuesday (10/09/2019) by the Head of the State Intelligence Agency (Badan Intelijen Negara – “BIN”) Budi Gunawan; Coordinating Minister of Politics, Law, and Security Wiranto; State Secretary Pratikno; and Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno L. P. Marsudi.

The varied figures represent different elements of society, representatives of tribes, churches, organizations, academicians, students, female groups and youth groups. On this occasion, the Papuan community representatives submitted 9 requests to Jokowi: first, expand to five provincial areas in Papua and West Papua. Second, establish a National Agency for Papuan land Issues. Third, place Papuan Echelon 1 and Echelon 2 officials in ministries and agencies. Fourth, construct archipelago dormitories for Papuan students in all major cities, and guarantee the safety of these students during their studies. Fifth, approve suggestions for revision of the Special Autonomy Law in the National Legislation Program in 2020. Sixth, requesting the issuance of a Presidential Instruction for appointing Part-time National Civil Apparatus (Aparatus Sipil Negara – “ASN”) in Papua. Seventh, accelerating the construction of the Palapa Ring in Eastern Papua. Eighth, establishing a tribal council for Papuan women and children. Ninth, build a Presidential Palace in Jayapura, the capital of the Province of Papua.

Abisai Rollo, Chairman of the Regional House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPRD”) of Papua, is convinced these nine points will form a proper solution for existing problems. They are all rooted in the same issue: fair development of Papua’s human resources. “Why do we focus on HR? Papua is rich in natural resources, but our wealth is nothing in view of the number and quality of our HR. It should be the natives of Papua who know how to use these natural resources for fair and equal welfare in Papua,” Abisai said. “We have been revolving development, distributing HR so far. However, we ignored the importance of developing Papua’s own HR. In fact, Papua’s competitive HR is more precious and necessary for our future than natural resources, which are limited and thus will decrease, and even end, over time.”

Abisai believes that the development of Papua’s HR is more important than the distribution of its natural resources. Natural resources can be finished, but HR can only move forward. Therefore, education for the younger generation is the most important thing. “Our younger generation has a great future and they never forget the history of this great nation, wherein Papua becomes an important element in Indonesia’s diversity,” he said.

Abisai then stated his request that the younger generation of Papua not be punished for attempting to defend themselves. Dialog is the best method to take to resolve problems. The citizens of Papua agree to ignore past issues and start a dialog with Jokowi. “Please do not punish them, but direct them instead, because they too are the future of Indonesia. We open our hearts to the utmost, we have also forgotten past issues and are ready to start an honest dialog,” he said.

Another request made by Papuan notables to Jokowi is to construct a Presidential Palace on Papua land. “Please construct a Presidential Palace of RI in Papua, in our Provincial Capital of Jayapura,” Abisai Rollo said. He did more than just ask: he has donated 10 hectares of land for the construction. “Therefore, you can change ‘a visit to Papua’ into ‘working in Papua’, Sir,” Abisai said. “If the President wishes to move the Presidential Palace to Kalimantan, I also respectfully request that you construct a Presidential Palace in Papua, so that within the next five years you will be the first one to take office in the Presidential Palace in Papua.”

In response, Jokowi promised to accelerate the equalization of welfare in Papua. Therefore, he insisted that State-owned Enterprises employ more workers from this easternmost province in Indonesia. He believes that one of the main issues is the availability of jobs for the young of Papua. He claimed that he has always gotten the same question from Papuan students studying abroad: “Where do I go after I graduate, Sir?” “Well, to Papua, of course,” he replies. “And what will we do then?” they asked. Therefore, he is accelerating the recruitment process for civil servants from Papua. Other than being stationed in their home region, the people recruited would also be given the opportunity to be appointed to other provinces. “If we don’t undergo an acceleration, there will be no development because competition is very strict. So I’m taking the necessary shortcut, on my own prerogative,” Jokowi said.

Furthermore, Jokowi promised to construct a Presidential Palace in Papua in 2020. “We will start construction of the new Palace next year,” he said to the general applause from the attending representatives of Papua and West Papua.

President Jokowi claimed that he has visited Papua the most of all the provinces in Indonesia – a total of 12 times. “I have gone 12 times to Tanah Papua within the past five years, both West Papua and Papua. I have made 3-4 visits to Wamena and two to Nduga. Maybe some citizens in Papua have not even been to Nduga,” he said. “I do not dare to talk to other provinces, as I have visited them only 2 times or at most 3 times during my tenure.”

Jokowi admitted his curiosity about how large Indonesia really is. He once tried flying straight all the way from Aceh to Wamena. “I once took that flight out of curiosity about the size of our country, it took me 9 hours 15 minutes,” he said.

Jokowi stated that the flight is comparable to a flight from London to Istanbul. “Now if we fly all the way from London in England to Istanbul in Turkey, we should pass over 6 or 7 countries,” he said. “So, what does this mean? It means that this is really a very big country, and all of our differences and diversity are fated by The One Above.” (dsy)