Hana Hikoyabi: Striving for the people

“When one door closes, find another one to enter.”

Hana Hikoyabi

That is the principle Hana Hikoyabi, former deputy chairperson of the Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP), follows in her struggle for the welfare of Papuans after being deprived of her MRP membership for the 2011-2016 period.

The MRP, formed after Papua was granted special autonomy in 2001, is a cultural institution of native Papuans aimed at working for their basic rights, striving to empower them through beneficial policies related to all aspects of their lives.

While in the MRP, Hana, 46, and 42 other MRP members decided to change the policy on civil servant recruitment in Papua, with priority given to native Papuans and positions in echelons II-IV dominated by locals as well.

The move, initiated by Hana and MRP executives Agus Alua and Frans Wopakrik, in striving for priority treatment of native Papuans caused concern in the central government and climaxed in a demonstration before the Papuan Regional Council.

A resolution of the MRP conference was submitted in July of 2010 that rejected special autonomy for failing to promote Papuan welfare.

With the resolution, Hana was deemed disloyal to the state philosophy of Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution, and the Home Ministry discontinued her MRP membership despite her majority votes in the election of female members of the MRP in the city of Jayapura.

As she questioned the reason for the stripping of her MRP membership, Hana was offered a place in the Papua and West Papua Development Acceleration Unit (UP4B), which she rejected. “They failed to show my fault and violation, even proposing a post in the UP4B and I said no,’’ she said.

As the MRP door is now closed to Hana, she is instead struggling through the “people’s door” for the well-being of Papuans. “Though without formal dress as an official to exert clout on people-oriented policymaking, I can still join hands with the people in another quest for the promotion of public welfare,” she said.

Hana’s change from a public figure into a livestock breeder is her way of maintaining her existence along with the masses. Her elegant and extensive residence in Sentani now partly serves as a chicken and catfish breeding site. Along with local farmers and breeders, Hana is striving to make Papua, especially Jayapura, a chicken and fish producer rather than just a consumer.

“So far Papua has remained a consumer of fish, beef, chickens, vegetables, chilies and various needs from other regions while in fact they can be produced in Papua. The question is what has made Papua continue to be a dependent recipient instead of a producing province,” wondered the former justice ministry official.

This is what Hana is supposed to answer. Through a farmer’s group with 99 members, Hana is endeavoring to penetrate a market now controlled by major companies. “We have very vast natural resources that are not yet fully exploited. Why doesn’t the government strengthen local farmers’ capacity to produce all their daily needs without buying them from Java?” she asked.

“I’m undertaking this breeding business in order to encourage and convince local farmers that Papua can also independently meet its own necessities. All the commodities purchased from other regions can be yielded in Papua, but it now depends on whether the government favors local farmers or big companies,” Hana said.

According to Hana, the government tends to make available stocks regardless of their origins, whereas Papuan farmers are no match for major investors so that they can only become small-scale village businessmen. Though they have chicken harvests every 25 days, it’s very hard to find a market. “The interior market is already controlled by entrepreneurs while urban shops only buy at lower prices,” she said.

Hana even opened her own shop to face the competition in Jayapura. “I opened my shop to market the group’s broilers by making available fresh chicken at a competitive price against the frozen chicken coming from other regions.”

She was striving step by step, trying to overcome constraints with the aim of making Papua a producer and local farmers the market owners in the region.

Besides handling livestock breeding, Hana continues to instruct women in Papua, including by setting up a women’s cooperative in Sentani. “The cooperative started early this year but it has 193 members and has opened three branches in villages,” she said.

Called Nake Mei, meaning everybody’s mother, the co-op has three businesses: merchandizing, credit-saving and fuel distribution to villages.

The cooperative aims at enabling women to earn income and help their husbands meet family needs while also promoting housewives’ self-confidence. “Undeniably economic problems are among the causes of domestic violence, so that women’s income is expected to reduce violence and boost confidence without fully depending on their spouses,” she said.

“Women are pillars of the nation and state so they should be of good quality in order to produce quality generations in terms of education, health and other aspects of life. Sickly mothers can’t take care of their children and households properly,” said Hana, who sees no closed doors in her pursuit to improve the welfare of the people of Papua.

Source: The Jakarta Post

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