SBY Calls for Papua Audit To Deal With Grievances

SBY Calls for Papua Audit To Deal With Grievances
, 29 July 2010


Jakarta. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday demanded an audit of Papua’s special autonomous status following rising complaints that it had failed to improve the welfare of the people after nine years.

“There is a need for audits, for example of development in the special autonomous region of Papua,” Yudhoyono said after receiving reports from his ministers on recent developments.

“There have been so many letters sent to me, as if Jakarta were neglecting the issue, as if there were not enough funds.”

Yudhoyono said that of Indonesia’s 33 provinces, Papua received the most money from the state budget, followed by Aceh, another region with broad autonomy and a secessionist history.

“Therefore, if it’s stagnant and there’s no progress, we should find out why,” he said.

“The audit will be conducted with that in mind, to find out if there’s been anything appropriate in terms of the management, the budgeting, the supervision or its efficiency.”

A report by an Australian university earlier this month warned that mass violence could occur in Papua over the lack of progress.

The report, prepared by the University of Sydney’s Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, found that most Papuans believed the special autonomous status granted in 2001 had failed to bring prosperity and had opened the door to corruption.

The discontent has led to increasing calls for independence from Indonesia.

In the latest incident, thousands held a peaceful march in Papua to demand a referendum of self-determination.

The special autonomous status was granted to curb separatist sentiments following the fall of President Suharto in 1998.

The deal offered a degree of economic independence by promising Papuans a greater share of receipts from the province’s wealth of natural resources.

Yudhoyono said the government had since 2005 changed its approach from a security-oriented one to a prosperity-based one.

“It’s now time for us to see everything in its entirety so that we don’t trade blame or become the target of criticism by domestic and overseas NGOs,” he said.

“We need to know, and the only way to do that is through an accountable audit.”

The president did not elaborate on the audit, including who would conduct it.

Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar has accused Papuans of not knowing what they want. He said the central government had spent Rp 30 trillion ($3.3 billion) on Papua’s development.

Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto has blamed the provincial administration for the lack of development.

“If there are funds for the region that haven’t been disbursed, that’s the job of the governor and the provincial legislature to supervise,” he said.

Benny Giay, the secretary general of the United Papua People’s Democracy Forum (Fordem), said the blame also lay with Jakarta for failing to address human rights issues in Papua.

“Many policies coming from Jakarta are confusing,” he told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday.

“They shouldn’t only refer to the money, but also analyze the regulations they’re implementing here.”

Benny said problems such as the wide economic gap between natives and migrants in the region and fulfilling the basic needs and rights of Papuan people should be properly addressed instead of Jakarta simply claiming that it had distributed money.