Development May Be the Answer, but Trust Is Key

JAYAPURA - After winning a case in the Constitutional Court over an election dispute, Lukas Enembe is now on his way to being sworn in as the governor of Papua.

The governor-elect, who won the election by a landslide 52 percent of the vote in local elections in February, has set himself a big task for his first 100 days in office. As his first order of business, Lukas is aiming to address the problems of conflict and violence in the restive province.

Lukas believes that the root cause of unrest in Papua is the province’s underdevelopment. High unemployment, poverty and a lack of infrastructure fuel calls for separatism led by the Free Papua Movement (OPM), he says.

By prioritizing development, Lukas aims to bring peace to Papua.

A complex challenge
 Critics say the 100-day time frame set by Lukas is an ambitious target, as the causes behind Papuan rebellion stretch far beyond a lack of schools, roads and hospitals. But most critics agree that making sure development funds reach their targets is a good starting point to improve the quality of life in the province.

Poengky Indarti, executive director of human rights monitor Imparsial and the author of “Securitization of Papua: Its Impact Towards Human Rights Situation,” said that Papua needed a governor who would listen directly to the people.

She added that Lukas would need to work together with his defeated election opponents in order to build a better and more peaceful Papua.

Poengky recommended improved coordination between the legislature and the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), as well as between district chiefs, traditional leaders, religious leaders and other key figures.

“Lukas also must spend more time in Papua. He shouldn’t spend too much time in Jakarta,” she said.

Improved education, health, infrastructure and empowerment in line with the 2001 Law on Special Autonomy, as promised by Lukas, would need to be implemented properly. But most importantly, Poengky said, Lukas must safeguard his government from corruption.

“If improvements fail to occur within the first 100 days, then there is a great possibility that Lukas Enembe’s leadership will not proceed well,” she said.

To improve chances of success, Poengky recommended an initial emphasis on education, health and income.

“The focus of budget allocation must look toward major needs that can and should be addressed, so that [development] can proceed effectively and efficiently,” she added.

Establishing trust
 Poengky expressed his optimism for the new governor’s first 100 days in office, but admitted that some problems could not be addressed in such a hasty fashion.

Engaging with the OPM, for example, was an exercise that would take some time as it involved establishing mutual trust, she said.

“We must not get stuck on groups that do not play an important role, or even common people who do not know anything but claim to be part of OPM, and we must not use development funds to ‘buy’ the OPM.”

The way to quell the conflict, Poengky continued, was through development and increased prosperity for the people. This style of development can be carried out from the bottom up and include the participation of all Papuan citizens, she added.

Even more importantly, Poengky emphasized non-physical development, such as acknowledging and preserving Papuan cultures and traditions, to ensure that the Papuan people no longer felt marginalized by development itself.

Poengky said she hoped that Lukas could also work together with law enforcers to peacefully change perceptions of freedom of expression and social criticism so that these were no longer considered forms of rebellion and were instead seen in a positive light.

“This is my input ... for establishing a better Papua,” she said.

Human development
 Ikrar Nusa Bhakti, the former head of the Political Research Center at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (P2P LIPI), agreed that overcoming conflict in Papua would not be easy.

While recognizing that the province lagged behind the rest of the country in economic terms, Ikrar said that an economic approach was not the best way to resolve the conflict. Instead, he suggested a human development approach.

Papua’s Human Development Index, gauging the life expectancy, education and income levels attained in the province, was at 63.35 in 2012, the lowest in Indonesia.

Ikrar suggested that the top priority in Papua’s development should be establishing an education system that could raise the capacity and capabilities of its people.

“The education budget must be able to overcome the problems of education there, such as how to make children feel comfortable at school, how to make parents feel comfortable in sending their children to school, how to stop teachers stationed there from abandoning their post. Teachers’ wages must not be cut,” he said.

Aside from education, Ikrar pointed to health as another important issue. Developing health infrastructure, such as hospitals, ambulances and medical workers, must be prioritized, he said.

The province is flush with special autonomy funds, Ikrar said, and these must be channeled toward developing infrastructure, education and health in a transparent manner.

He added that past projects had been suspected of siphoning funds away from development and distributing them among officials.

“If special autonomy funds are just shared out, this will not improve the prosperity of the society,” he said.

As for addressing separatist sentiments, Ikrar said that initiating dialogue was the best approach. However, he admitted that it was not so easy to carry out. One obstacle to dialogue was the absence of a line of command in the OPM, he said.

“Papua is not like Aceh. In Aceh, GAM [the Free Aceh Movement] had one person in command. There was one person who could be recognized and trusted. Therefore, negotiation was possible,” he said.

“Meanwhile, in Papua, who can represent the OPM, or people who demonstrate in the forests? And what about the Papuan groups that demonstrate in the international realm?” [JakartaGlobe]
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