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The Jakarta Post: New deal, old approach to West Papua

EDITORIAL: By the Jakarta Post Editorial Board

The unanimous decision of the Indonesian House of Representatives last week to approve the revised Papuan Special Autonomy Law shows, once again, the propensity of Jakarta’s elite to dictate the territory’s future, despite calls persistent in honoring local demands.

This “new deal” is unlikely to end violence in resource-rich provinces, which largely stems from Jakarta’s refusal to address past human rights violations there.

On paper, the revision offers some of the substantial changes needed to help Papuans close the gap with the rest of the nation. For example, it extends the special self-reliance funding for Papua and West Papua until 2041 and increases its amount from 2% to 2.25% of the general allocation fund, with particular emphasis on health and l ‘education.

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The Ministry of Finance estimates that over the next 20 years the two provinces will receive 234.6 trillion rupees ($ 16 billion).

The revisions also strengthen initiatives to empower Indigenous Papuans in the policy-making process by allocating a quarter of the Regional Legislative Council to non-partisan Indigenous Papuans on appointment. They also demand that 30 percent of these seats go to indigenous Papuan women.

Under the new law, a new institution will be created to “synchronize, harmonize, evaluate and coordinate” the implementation of special autonomy. Led by the Vice-President, the new body will report to the President and have a secretariat in Papua. The previous government formed a Presidential Unit to Accelerate Development in Papua and West Papua (UP4B), but President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo dissolved it shortly after taking office in 2014.

The chairman of the special House committee deliberating on the review, Komarudin Watubun, a Papuan, called the new law a “breakthrough” because it would require the government to consult with the governments of Papua and West Papua when drafting regulations for the country. application.

But this is where the central problem of the special autonomy law lies. In a democracy, respect for the will of the public, including dissenting opinions, is essential to the legislative process precisely because laws will affect that public. Public oversight should precede rather than follow a law, but in the case of the Special Autonomy Law, this mechanism was removed from the House’s deliberation, which lasted seven months, under the pretext of social distancing to contain the spread of covid-19.

Jakarta’s elite clearly left out the Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP) as a representation of the customs and will of the people of the provinces, as well as the Papuan Legislative Council (DPRP), not to mention groups in society. civilians, tribes and those who distrust special autonomy and government. In the words of MRP chief Timotius Murib, the revisions reveal Jakarta’s lack of good intentions for Papuan development.

This is not the first time that the executive and legislative powers have agreed to bypass public consultation on a highly controversial bill. The tactic worked with the passage of the Job Creation Law last year, as well as the new mining law, and the approach is apparently repeated in the ongoing deliberations on the review of the code. criminal.

As long as the obsolete, Jakarta-centric approach remains intact, Papuan peace and prosperity will remain elusive.

This Jakarta Post editorial was published on July 21, 2021.

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Jacob C.

The author Jacob C.

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