Tag Archives: Papua New Guinea

Breakthrough imminent in Indonesia: O’Neill’s plan to defuse standoff over West Papua

By Rowan Callick === A breakthrough may be on the way for one of the most intractable conflicts in the Asia-Pacific region. Relations between Indonesia and the Melanesian nations, led by Papua New Guinea, have remained awkward ever since the Dutch withdrew from “Netherlands New Guinea,” and the Pacific islands became independent states.

The plight of “West Papua” as it is often called, has prevented Indonesia, the biggest and closest country in South-East Asia, from building the links that might otherwise have been expected, with the island countries to its east—even since it became a liberal democracy 15 years ago.

But, the PNG government, led by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, has recently launched an initiative aimed at defusing the stand-off over West Papua, building the economy of the centre of New Guinea island, and gaining diplomatic spin-offs.

The western half of New Guinea island comprises two Indonesian provinces: Papua, whose capital is Jayapura, and West Papua, whose capital is Manokwari. It has a 750-km mostly mountainous and often in the past fraught and dangerous border with PNG.

In 2001, the area now covered by the two provinces was declared autonomous with 80 percent of its tax receipts to be retained for local use. But this process has remained only partially complete compared with the more successful governance situation in Aceh, at the other end of the Indonesian archipelago.

O’Neill, who led a delegation to Jakarta for talks with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, said: “West Papua has been a sticky issue for PNG and the western Pacific for quite some time. Our role is to open up discussions.

Genuine desire
“We feel the government of Indonesia has a genuine desire to ensure issues relating to West Papua are managed in a mutually beneficial manner. For the first time in our bilateral discussions, we were able to discuss this openly with the Indonesian government,” said PM O’Neill.

He said he is convinced that Yudhoyono now wishes to withdraw military presence from West Papua, and allow for more autonomy through economic empowerment of the people.

“We feel this is a good opening for us to engage with the Indonesian government so we can participate in the improvement of the lives of Melanesian people there and of our own people along the border. Our officials are now engaged meaningfully in establishing the cooperation we agreed,” he said.

PNG’s Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato elaborated on the deal that was informally struck: “The Indonesian president will adopt a softer approach to West Papuan issues, allowing them greater autonomy.”

As an indicator of this, official representatives will participate in the Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture to be hosted by PNG next year.

He said Indonesia would allow Papua New Guinea communities near the border to draw on its excess hydro power capacity with state-owned enterprise PNG Power buying electricity for its grid from Indonesia, and that the two countries would jointly explore for oil and gas in highly prospective targets that straddle the border.

Indonesia, Pato said, would fund an ambitious paved highway from Merauke on its side of the border in the south, to PNG’s Wewak on the northern coast.

The countries’ leaders signed a total of 11 MOUs during O’Neill’s visit, after which Pato and his Indonesian counterpart Marty Natalegawa began to chart an implementation course.

Extradition treaty
They agreed on an extradition treaty—which may ensure that Indonesian businessman fugitive Joko Chandra—wanted for corruption and who obtained PNG citizenship under a process that is being challenged legally—returns to face charges.

Another agreement under final negotiation, will permit planes to fly from Nadi, Fiji, through Honiara in Solomon Islands, then Port Moresby, and on to Bali.

One goal of the warming of relations, Pato said, was to prevent any resurgence of asylum-seekers from the Indonesian side of the border. About 8,000 refugees remain in PNG, living in camps in Western province run by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees following earlier conflicts, many of them seeking refuge more than 25 years ago.

The discussions between PNG and Indonesia have led to the latter inviting the foreign ministers of the four Melanesian states — Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji, as well as PNG, who form the “Melanesian Spearhead Group” (MSG) — to visit its Papua and West Papua provinces.

O’Neill flew for talks with Yudhoyono instead of attending an MSG leaders’ meeting held at the same time in New Caledonia.

While PNG is helping to usher its fellow Melanesians in towards better relations with Indonesia, Indonesia in return is backing Port Moresby’s membership of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

ASEAN has 10 members at present — and PNG feels it is entitled to join it because it has such a long land border with the group’s largest state.

Indonesia is also backing PNG’s bid to host the 2018 summit of the APEC forum — which would bring the American and Russian presidents, among other leaders, to Port Moresby — which will be decided at the next summit in Bali in October.

“It’s important for us to have such a relationship with Indonesia,” said Pato — who points out that in previous years, tensions not only unresolved but not even fully discussed about West Papua had prevented the full development of positive, mutually beneficial arrangements between the countries.

Now a joint committee of ministers from the countries has been formed to tackle the details and ensure the MOUs are implemented, he said — starting with the joint economic projects.

Source: Islands Business

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Papua: Working Together for Prosperity

By Hyginus Hardoyo === In Ogenetan, a tiny village located in Iniyandit, one of the more remote districts of Boven Digoel regency in Papua, residents recently donned their best traditional attire to welcome several guests from Jakarta.

Some, including several children, had painted their bodies black and white with makeup and danced to songs and chants as soon as the guests exited their cars. A group of women also started to dance at the other end, in front of the main building of the kampung, which is located deep in the rainforest near Indonesia’s border with Papua New Guinea.

As a group of young men started to play music using guitars and a plastic water drums, girls sashaying in grass skirts invited the guests to pass through.

“This is our way to give guests a warm welcome,” Yan Karowa, the local district head, said. “The dances and songs show our hospitality to anybody who is willing to come here.” Everybody was happy whenever guests visited the kampung, he said.

Processing: The cooperative sold about 1.5 tons of good-quality rubber sheets for about Rp 15,000 (US$1.33) a kilogram, described as a fair price given current conditions.

Processing: The cooperative sold about 1.5 tons of good-quality rubber sheets for about Rp 15,000 (US$1.33) a kilogram, described as a fair price given current conditions.

Ogenetan is inhabited by 57 families comprising 306 people, who rely principally on rubber farming, introduced to Papua in the early 1970s by Christian missionaries, as their main source of income.

Nearly every resident of the kampong was on hand at the hall, which houses the Nonggup Cooperative that they established.

People wanted to watch as the cooperative’s representatives stake a deal with PT Montelo, a private company. About one-and-a-half tons of good-quality rubber sheets were bought by the company for about
Rp 15,000 (US$1.33) a kilogram, described as a fair price given current conditions.

Living in isolation about 350 kilometers south of Jayapura, those who live in Ogenetan find that economic development comes very slowly.

Basic foodstuffs were previously exorbitantly expensive. Residents had to venture to places such as Tanah Merah, the capital of Boven Digoel, about five hours away. The journey had to be made by foot; the roads were almost impassable.

The hardships drove Yan Karowa and Riswanto from the NGO Wahana Visi Indonesia to establish the Nonggup Cooperative. “How can local people enjoy the fruits of their labor if they are burdened with huge debts and are unfavorably dependent on middlemen?” Riswanto said.

The local residents were at first reluctant to found a cooperative, due to previous failures, when money collected from the members was misused or taken away. However, through the work of the NGO, local residents became aware of how a well-organized and transparent cooperative could help the community.

The cooperative was established in 2009 with just 29 people who pitched in Rp 8 million for its operating capital. Through the cooperative, the local residents reached an agreement with PT Montelo to sell the rubber sheets.

Realizing that a cooperative could work and generate profits, members of the kampung joined the cooperative in increasing numbers. Currently, more than 130 people from Ogenetan have signed up and representative offices have been opened in the neighboring districts of Mindiptana and Arimop.

“The establishment of the cooperative enables us to easily communicate on the need to improve quality of rubber production from here,” Widia from PT Montelo said.

With total annual turnover of over Rp 300 million, a shop was opened under the supervision of the cooperative, providing affordable basic necessities and other agricultural produce to members. The shop is managed by Maria Wometa.

The mother of six says that business has been so good that she has been able to send one of her kids to study at a university in Merauke.

Bruno Etmop, the head of the cooperative, said that the cooperative booked a net profit of about Rp 23 million in its first year. By the third year, members were able to share a annual dividend of Rp 7 million.

Aloysius Bayub, a cooperative member, said he earned an average of Rp 1.5 million a month from the sheets made from sap from his 1.5-hectare rubber plantation. “It is enough to support my daily expenses, including paying the tuition fees for my youngest child at elementary school,” said Bayub, the father of three, whose wife has just died due to illnesses.

Bruno said that the cooperative’s rapid growth could not be separated from the discipline of its members in playing by the established rules. ”Each member of the cooperative who has debts has understood that the debt must be repaid in installments, together with interest.”

The money collected from the members was deposited in a BPR rural bank, whose officers came to Ogenetan once a month.

Backed by skilled assistants with a basic knowledge of management, Bruno said that he was confident that the cooperative could expand even further.

However small, this joint effort has contributed greatly to the local residents. A spirit for advancement has arisen from province of Papua in Indonesia.

Source: The Jakarta Post

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PNG promotes engagement with Indonesia over West Papua

PNG's PM Peter O'Neill

PNG’s PM Peter O’Neill

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has called for engagement with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as the way forward for the issue of West Papua.

Attending the Pacific Islands Forum in Majuro this week, the PNG Prime Minister said: “We are generally encouraged by the response that we are getting from the Indonesian government – especially the President – where he has stated to us very clearly that he wanted to engage with us to resolve issues in West Papua, so there is a level of autonomy for the people of West Papua.”

The issue of West Papua was high on the agenda at the June 2013 summit of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) in New Caledonia, where delegations from the Indonesian government and the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) both addressed the summit plenary.

However the topic of West Papua was not on the Forum agenda in Majuro and there was no mention of human rights concerns in the final Forum communique.

At the time of the MSG Summit, Prime Minister O’Neill and PNG Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato were leading a major delegation to Indonesia.

This week, O’Neill stressed the importance of engagement with Indonesia, given their opposition to independence for the western half of the island of New Guinea, which Jakarta administers as the provinces of Papua and West Papua.

“I want to make it very clear again that any resolutions we may have to come to in respect of West Papua will always include Indonesia,” O’Neill said. “It pays for us to stay engaged with Indonesia.”

The major focus of O’Neill’s June visit to Jakarta was trade and investment, but security issues and border relations were discussed.

“We look forward to working closely with them and also developing joint economic areas with the border area,” O’Neill said. “Some of the vast natural resources we have around the border area we can develop together.”

The PNG Prime Minister said that over time there has been improved dialogue on the issue: “I’m encouraged by the events that are taking place, including the Melanesian Spearhead Group ministers are going to have a tour to West Papua. But I’m also happy that the Indonesian government has asked us, the Papua New Guineans, to resolve some of the issues in West Papua.

As yet, details of the proposed MSG Ministerial Mission to Jakarta and Jayapura have not been finalised. In Majuro, Vanuatu’s Deputy Prime Minister Edward Natapei confirmed to Islands Business that no dates have yet been set for the visit.

For the Vanuatu government led by Prime Minister Moana Carcasses Kalosil, the MSG’s engagement with Jakarta must be conducted together.

The leader of Vanuatu’s delegation in Majuro, Deputy Prime Minister Natapei told Islands Business: “We believe that the MSG should conduct this ministerial mission together, with all of us intact.”

Last month, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo made a state visit to Indonesia – the first Solomon Islands leader to visit the South East Asian nation.

In a statement after the visit, the Solomon Islands government said: “Prime Minister Lilo’s recent trip not only produced greater technical cooperation, trade commitments and people-to-people relations, but has been hailed by Indonesia for the country’s ongoing active role in multilateral forums such as the Coral Triangle Initiative, the G7 Plus and also APEC.”

Source: Islands Business

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Indonesia to campaign on Papua progress in regional forum

The Indonesian government has invited foreign ministers from Melanesian nations grouped under the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) to Jakarta to receive briefings on development in Papua and West Papua provinces, a move that could be seen as a campaign to obtain international support for the country’s sovereignty over its easternmost region.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Djoko Suyanto

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Djoko Suyanto

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto said that an invitation for the event had been sent to Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.

“It is true that I met the Fijian prime minister in Fiji on June 3. The topics we discussed touched mainly on bilateral relations between our two countries. At the meeting, I also extended an invitation to foreign ministers of MSG member states to come to Indonesia,” said Djoko Suyanto on Tuesday (18/06).

The MSG consists of Fiji, Papua New Guinea (PNG), the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, as well as the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS), a pro-independence group from French-ruled New Caledonia.

“We invite these foreign ministers to visit Indonesia to observe Indonesia’s development in general, which also includes the government’s policy on the acceleration of development in Papua and West Papua,” Djoko said.

He denied, however, that the invitations were aimed at countering Papuan pro-independence activists’ efforts to win support from the international community.

The senior minister said that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had endorsed the plan.

On Monday (17/06), PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, who led a delegation of government officials and business leaders on a three-day visit to Jakarta, said that Papua was an integral part of Indonesia.

O’Neill merely added that he was “happy to have been asked by the Indonesian government to help manage issues” in Papua and West Papua.

Source: The Jakarta Post

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West Papua part of Indonesia: PNG PM

Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’ Neill has reiterated that West Papua is an integral part of Indonesia.

O’Neill again told reporters in Jakarta, Papua New Guinea’s position has not changed.

But he says, PNG is happy to have been asked by the Indonesian government to help manage issues in Papua Province, in the areas of autonomy, cultural and economic activities.

O’ Neill says for the first time, the people of Papua Province will be encouraged to attend the Pacific Games to be held in Port Moresby, and the Melanesian Festival of Arts next year.

In related developments, the Secretary General of the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation Rex Rumakiek has expressed disappointment at signs, the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) will defer a decision on the West Papuan application for membership in the group.

Source: Islands Business

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Melanesian Spearhead Group delays decision on West Papua membership

It has been recommended that a bid by the Free West Papua movement to join regional Pacific body the Melanesian Spearhead Group to been deferred.

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) brings together the leaders of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, along with New Caledonia’s indigenous political movement FLNKS.

The Free West Papua movement is pushing for independence from Indonesia and sees membership of the MSG as a step towards international recognition.

PacNews reports foreign ministers gathered in Lifou, the capital of New Caledonia’s Loyalty Islands, have resolved to defer the decision until they’ve sent a delegation to Jakarta and Jayapura.

Fiji Minister for Foreign Affairs Ratu Inoke Kubuabola

Fiji Minister for Foreign Affairs Ratu Inoke Kubuabola

Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola told the meeting Indonesia extended the invitation earlier this month.

He says Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands take the same position when it comes to the Indonesian province of Papua.

“All MSG countries share the same view that we would like to some form of self-determination for West Papua,” he said.

Vanuatu’s foreign minister Edward Natapei says his country strongly backed the bid to have it discussed at this meeting, but was outnumbered.

“We have to comply with the majority,” he said.

The leaders will also consider whether to approve the foreign ministers’ decision to send a delegation to Jakarta and Jayapura.

Source: Australia Network News

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PNG`s defense minister pays courtesy call on Indonesian counterpart

Papua New Guinea`s Defense Minister Febian Pok paid a courtesy call on his Indonesian counterpart, Purnomo Yusgiantoro, here on Tuesday (18/07).

The two ministers discussed efforts to intensify defense cooperation between Indonesia and PNG, Minister Yusgiantoro said.

“The defense cooperation, which has been implemented so far, includes joint border patrol, military official exchange visits, and training as well as exercises,” the minister said.

The two countries explored possibility to establish cooperation in the defense industry, he added.

Indonesia and PNG signed a Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) in Port Moresby, PNG, on March 12, 2010 during a state visit by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Minister Febian Pok is a member of the entourage of PNG`s Prime Minister Peter Charles Paire O`Neill who is on a visit to Indonesia.

Prime Minister O`Neill and President Yudhoyono held a bilateral meeting in Jakarta on Monday (June 17).

President Yudhoyono considered the state visit of the PNG prime minister this time very significant for developing and increasing the cooperation between the two countries following the meetings before in Honolulu and in the Bali Democracy Forum last year.

“This visit is very important not only for the two countries` bilateral relations but also for increasing and strengthening our relations and partnership. We have agreed to work more and seek more opportunities and comprehensive partnership,” he said.

Prime Minister O`Neill meanwhile said he was glad over the warn welcome that had been given to him and his delegation.

He said as close neighbors PNG and Indonesia could continue to develop their cooperation wider.

Source: ANTARA News

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