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Home » » 1) Special Report: Defending Papua , RI 's main agenda in Pacific region

1) Special Report: Defending Papua , RI 's main agenda in Pacific region

Written By Voice Of Baptist Papua on November 16, 2008 | 6:20 PM

1) Special Report: Defending Papua , RI 's main agenda in Pacific region
Jakarta Fri, 11/14/2008 11:03 AM World

Indonesia's relations with countries in the Pacific region have received sparse media attention in recent times. However, a series of recent incidents and demonstrations have brought into question Indonesia 's right to sovereignty over Papua. The Jakarta Post's Abdul Khalik joined an Indonesian delegation in a dialog last week with senior officials from Papua New Guinea (PNG) in Port Moresby to discuss problems along the 760-kilometer-long border the countries share. The event was preceded by a visit by Indonesian officials to the border town of Merauke in Papua. The following are reports from the event.

Home Affairs Minister Mardiyanto looked with admiration at the giant statues of Indonesia 's first president Sukarno and his deputy Mohammad Hatta, which stand in the heart of Port Moresby .

"Both figures have united Indonesia , from Sabang to Merauke," an inscription beneath the monument reads, symbolizing the PNG government's formal recognition of Indonesia 's territories, which include West Papua .

Mardiyanto posed in front of the statue for pictures, smiling broadly.

"Although PNG is a relatively small country, we have a very active embassy here, and the ambassador has been working well to provide us with all the information we need," he said, pointing to Indonesian Ambassador to PNG Bom Soeryanto, a retired general and former officer at the State Intelligence Agency.

Indonesia continues to fight a small-scale armed rebellion waged by the Free Papua Movement (OPM) as well as other pro-separatism organizations, including the International Parliament for West Papua, which questions the validity of the 1969 Act of Free Choice, or Pepera referendum, as a legal basis for Papua's integration with Indonesia.

Indonesian officials have acknowledged the importance of support from nations in the Pacific region, especially PNG.
Director general for legal affairs and international treaties at the Foreign Ministry Eddy Pratomo said some small countries in the Pacific, including Vanuatu , had advocated West Papua 's right to independence in several regional forums.

"Thus far, PNG, under Prime Minister Michael Somare, has been our strongest supporter in preventing independent Papua movements in all regional forums. So, we need to enhance our relations with that country," Eddy said.

During a meeting with Mardiyanto, PNG Minister for Inter-government Relations Job Pomat reiterated his government's support for Indonesia 's national integration.

"Let me once again reaffirm that the government of Papua New Guinea 's stance, as it has remained over the years, is that the province of Papua remains an integral part of the Republic of Indonesia ," he said.

However, the border area between the countries has been the sight of reciprocal suspicions and distrust since PNG declared independence in 1975.

Some PNG officials have accused Indonesia of seeking to prevent PNG from becoming a sanctuary for OPM separatists, who have been campaigning for an independent Papua since 1969.

Port Moresby's policy on border affairs has been overshadowed by fears of Indonesian expansionism, the country's superior military might and sympathy for West Papua's efforts to defend its cultural identity.

"We are a hundred years behind Indonesia 's strength and sophistication in monitoring an international border," border police commander Sakawar Kasieng said.

PNG media, which has been very critical of Indonesia, has also accused its neighbor of attempting to covertly interfere with PNG's domestic politics.

PNG and Indonesia signed a treaty of mutual respect, cooperation and friendship on Oct. 27 1986 to regulate relations and define rights and obligations in border areas. In the ensuing 22 years, the countries have held regular meetings to discuss bilateral issues.

However, many issues remain unresolved, including the high number of Papuan refugees in PNG, alleged incidents of Indonesia 's military crossing into PNG territory and PNG's reluctance to conduct joint security operations in border areas.

Last week's meeting offered no solutions to the problems.

"Much more attention should be paid to solving the problems and to the region in general to maintain support from PNG over the Papua issue. We can't take it for granted," University of Indonesia international expert Hariyadi Wirawan said.

He warned that support for Indonesia over the Papua issue could decline, citing the possibility that Australia and New Zealand could push PNG to reverse its stance on the matter.


2) Special Report: Prosperity in border areas key to national unity: Minister
jakarta Post.comFri, 11/14/2008 11:01 AM World

Indonesia is involved in bickering over borders with neighboring countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea (PNG). Last week, senior Indonesian and PNG officials held a consultative meeting at Port Moresby in an effort to solve the disputes. The Jakarta Post's Abdul Khalik, , who covered the two-day event that ended last Thursday, spoke about the issue with Home Affairs Minister Mardiyanto, who headed the Indonesian delegation.

Question: How important is this consultative meeting to solving problems concerning Indonesia-PNG border areas?
Answer: The meeting was aimed at improving understanding between the governments of the two countries and solving existing problems in the border areas, such as illegal crossings and smuggling cases, as well as enhancing security there.

To regulate trans-border activities, Indonesia and PNG have agreed to establish an international border post -- called the Skow-Wutung post -- early next year. When the post is open, illegal gateways could be shut down as people from Indonesia and PNG will be able to enter both countries legally.
The post will connect Jayapura in Indonesia with Vanimo in PNG. And we believe that the opening of the border post will also encourage economic, social and cultural activities involving the people of both countries, resulting in more prosperity, mutual understanding and friendship in the border areas.
Besides the fact that Indonesia shares borders with PNG, what is the state of relations between the two countries?

PNG has been a strong and loyal supporter of Indonesia 's territorial integration, including providing formal recognition that (West) Papua is part of Indonesia . That country has also played an instrumental role in supporting Indonesia 's integration at regional and global levels.

Prime Minister Michael Somare has been supporting Indonesia , and is a very good friend of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Both leaders have maintained good communications on issues concerning the two countries. They share views on how to manage the border and support each other on climate change issues at the global level.

Most of Indonesia 's border areas are underdeveloped and poor, a result of slow infrastructure development and weak economic conditions, which result in a lack of patriotism among residents, thus threatening disintegration. How is the government handling these problems?

We are now seriously focusing our attention on enhancing economic welfare for people living in border areas as we are aware that prosperity is key to national integration. The House of Representatives passed late last month a bill on national territory, setting a foundation for a legal guarantee for national integration.

Based on the bill, which will soon be signed by the President, we will establish a special management body or commission on border development within six months.

The body will accumulate resources to finance development in border areas throughout the country as well as coordinate all programs under regional administrations and ministries so that they are conducted thoroughly to directly benefit people.
I will use (what we have learned from) border relations with PNG and border management along PNG-Indonesia borders as models to develop other border areas in the country.

But aren't there different issues to address in our country's border areas? For instance, Indonesia-Malaysia border areas are plagued by economic disparity, while Indonesia-PNG borders suffer from security issues.
Yes, of course there are differences. We will handle the border issues based on the needs of the areas in concern. But in general, prosperity and cultural aspects are the main problems.

For instance, we don't need to build a huge, fancy border post to facilitate traditional activities as people there will be afraid of entering the post, so they will use illegal ways. We should try to build a post that is as familiar as possible to local people so that it will be effective.
You see, we plan to introduce a single national identity number for all Indonesian citizens by 2011. We hope that together with the enhancement of border management, the single identity number system will increase accurate management and mitigate identifying residents, thus improving security and the civilian data base.

Are there any special funds being allocated for this special border management body?

Yes, we are working on collecting money. But I think funds allocated for regional administrations and ministries will be sufficient to conduct more development activities in border areas.

You see, regional administrations have received a lot of money from the state budget as mandated by the autonomy law, while ministries have also allocated much of their money to the regions. For instance, more than 70 percent of state funds given to the Home Ministry is allocated to regions.
The problem lies in poor program coordination and integration between ministries (representing the central government) and regional administrations. As a result, people in the regions don't feel a lot of money is being allocated for them. They don't feel the development.

I hope the new border development body can integrate the programs so they become effective.

We need to remember also that without the role and cooperation of regional administrations, all programs will not be applicable. That's why I have told governors that all national programs will be useless unless they make them operational.

3) Special Report: Government struggling to solve border problems and disputes
Abdul Khalik , The Jakarta Post , Port Moresby Fri, 11/14/2008 11:02 AM World
Papua New Guinea's Inter-Government Relations Minister Job Pomat looked surprised when Home Minister Mardiyanto told him just seconds after they shook hands last week that Indonesia wanted the Skow-Wutung border post opened immediately.

Pomat was silent for a moment and took a deep breath before giving assurance his government would be ready to open the border post early next year.
The post, in the northern part of Papua, connects Jayapura in Indonesia and Vanimo in PNG.

"We really want to open the post as soon as possible. But the problem is that the border on your side is already very advanced while we have yet to fix the infrastructure on our side," he told his guest at his office here.

Indonesia has been pushing for the opening of the Skow-Wutung border as an international gateway since last year, saying it will boost commercial activity and improve the prosperity of people in the border areas.

"The border post will also reduce illegal crossings because everyone seeking to cross will be required to show their documents. This way, tension and security threats will be minimized as we can better control people's movements," Mardiyanto said.

Eddy Pratomo, director general for legal affairs and international treaties at the Foreign Ministry, said Indonesia would adopt a "soft management" approach, under which people would need only a letter issued by local authorities, instead of a passport, to cross the border.

Border crossing issues have become a headache for the Indonesian government, which fears some of those crossing could be members of the Free Papua Movement (OPM), a separatist group campaigning for Papuan independence.

PNG has accused the Indonesian Military (TNI) of illegally entering its territory in pursuit of alleged OPM members.

A native Papuan, Martinus, 34, who lives near the border and frequently crosses to nearby PNG villages to sell basic commodities, said he hoped the opening of the border post would not affect his activities.

"This is the way we have lived for as long as I remember. In fact, I have family members who have been living in PNG for years now. I hope they will be allowed to come home," he said.

Martinus' relatives are among more than 25,000 Papuans who migrated to several provinces in PNG in the 1980s. Some of them have been accused by the TNI of being OPM members who conducted acts of rebellion against Indonesia from within PNG.

During a joint-border committee meeting with PNG last week, Indonesia voiced its demand for the neighboring country to allow its embassy to list Papuans wanting to return home.

"There are 708 Papuans who have expressed their intention to return home. We will facilitate it so they can go home immediately," said Kausar AS , director general of public affairs at Indonesia 's Home Ministry.

A politics professor from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Ikrar Nusa Bhakti, urged Indonesia to build good relations with PNG to help deal with the OPM.

Problems along Indonesia 's 760 kilometer border with PNG are among the many border issues the country must deal with, along with disputes with Singapore , Malaysia , the Philippines and Timor Leste

Indonesia has two border disputes pending with Singapore over the eastern and western parts of the city state.

"We will hold the latest round of negotiations with Singapore this month. We hope we can agree on the border lines immediately," Kausar said.
Indonesia and Malaysia still have scores of border disputes to settle, including the border through the Strait of Malacca and a spat over the Ambalat oil block in the Makassar Strait .

The Ambalat dispute began after the two countries had a showdown over the block in March 2007, following Malaysia 's earlier claim to the area. Indonesia launched a major protest after Malaysia 's state oil company Petronas awarded a concession to international oil giant Royal Dutch/Shell to work on blocks ND6 and ND7.

Indonesia has since 1980 claimed the block as its territory, based on the Djuanda Declaration of 1957, which was upheld by the United Nations in 1959 through its Convention on the Sea. In 1999, Indonesia granted an oil-drilling concession in one of the blocks to ENI of Italy and in another block to UNOCAL of the United States .

The Ambalat block is said to have oil reserves of 468 million barrels, with an estimated value of US$16 billion, as well as huge natural gas deposits worth around $57 billion.

The disputed area is close to the Sipadan-Ligitan islands, which were awarded to Malaysia by the International Court of Justice in 2003 after a decade-long dispute with Indonesia .

Although the two countries deployed their military might to the area, a clash was avoided when they agreed to resolve the dispute through negotiations. Representatives from the two countries have since met every two months to discuss the issue.

As for Timor Leste, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda has said Indonesia and Timor Leste had agreed on almost 97 percent of their border areas so far, but added they were still struggling to wrap up a comprehensive border treaty because of historical and traditional concerns.

"We have finished addressing issues over our land border with Timor Leste. Now, we're going to wrap up our sea border problems," Eddy Pratomo said.

Indonesia is still trying to resolve its northern border with the southern part of the Philippines .
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