Forum urges delay in revising law on Papua autonomy


A forum of intellectuals, community representatives and politicians asked the central government Thursday to postpone the planned revision of the 2001 Papuan Special Autonomy law, despite acknowledging that special autonomy has yet to be fully implemented in Papua.

"There should be comprehensive evaluation and planning before reaching the conclusion that revision is urgently needed, " Papua Forum chairman Albert Hasibuan told a discussion held at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Central Jakarta.

Albert said that if revision was truly unavoidable, the revised law should not just look after the needs of political elites.

The forum said that six years of special autonomy in Papua had yet to provide opportunities for indigenous Papuans to get involved in managing their own affairs.

"If there should really be a revision, the people of Papua, who are represented by the Papuan Legislative Council (DPRP) and the Papuan People s Assembly (MRP) should participate (in its deliberation), " said a member of the Jakarta Community for Papua (Pokja), Frans Maniagasi.

"These two bodies represent the people while the two governors (Papua and West Papua) represent the central government, " Frans said.

He added that the implementation of special autonomy law was a "mess " since the supporting legal components were yet to be issued.

"Many Papuans are against the revision because the provincial bylaw (Perdasi), created by the governor and the DPRP; and the special bylaw (Perdasus) created by the governor, DPRP and MRP are not yet available, " he said.

Besides the postponement of the planned revision, the Forum also asked the central government to conduct feasibility studies before making decisions on the establishment of new regencies.

Legislator Simon P. Morin, from the Golkar Party faction in the House of Representatives, said that special autonomy needed a special instrument for its execution.

"These instruments should be established by the central government to empower special autonomy, " Simon said. He added that the Papuan people s welfare and education have not measurably improved since the special autonomy law was enacted.

"People s empowerment is important. Without empowerment and enforcement from the central government to local offices, the special autonomy law will not be effective, " he added.

Simon said local administration offices in Papua should be evaluated closely to deter potential mismanagement, especially in budget allocation. "The more you go down to the level of local bureaucracy, the smaller the funding becomes. "

A researcher from the Center for Political Studies at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Muridan S. Widjojo, said there was nothing wrong with the special autonomy law.

"It s not the law but the implementation of the law. A lot of the funding actually went to activities that would not increase the welfare of the people, " he said.

Muridan added that most of the funding went to local administration offices and the bureaucracy.

"Where are the funding to improve health clinics and schools or to send teachers to remote areas There is just no data to prove that substantial allocation has happened, " he said.

By : Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo
Source : Jakarta Post (23 February 2007)

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