Thorough look into Papua autonomy

Thorough look into Papua autonomy
, 19 October 2010

By: Neles Tebay, Papua


After nine years of waiting, the central government has finally decided to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the implementation of the Law on Special Autonomy for Papua. The evaluation is scheduled for next year.

The director for regional management and special autonomy at the Home Ministry, Sumarsono, said in August that the comprehensive evaluation would measure the effectiveness of the autonomy law in practice. Thus the evaluation needs to be supported by all parties and stakeholders — whether in Jakarta, Jayapura or Manokwari.

To assess the government’s action plan, three variables must be considered: The evaluation’s objectives, content and parameters.

First, there is a need for clearly-defined objectives for the evaluation. The evaluation needs to define tangible, attainable and visible objectives that will help not only to direct each and every party involved, but also determine the evaluation’s agenda.

Without clear objectives, the evaluation will be disoriented and turn into a blame and accusation game for the participants.

The second is related to the evaluation’s content. As announced by the government, the main topic of the evaluation would be the implementation of the Papuan autonomy law.

It means that the evaluation would cover the management of the special autonomy fund from 2002 to 2009 and focus on accountability and performance. An audit of the disbursement of the autonomy fund should be conducted.

Although no Papuan would deny the importance of conducting an audit of the disbursement of the budget for development of Papua and West Papua provinces, it would be a mistake if the evaluation was to focus only on financial aspects — the autonomy fund. It must be underlined here that regulating the autonomy fund’s expenditures is one, but not the only, aspect of the Papuan autonomy law.

An evaluation that is limited only to the audit of the autonomy fund cannot be considered a comprehensive evaluation. It is a partial one.

The intended comprehensive evaluation, then, should be wider in scope, covering all aspects of the Papuan autonomy law. It must include education, healthcare, infrastructure, people’s economic development, culture, human rights, and other aspects that are accommodated by the autonomy law.

There are 79 articles in the autonomy law. It is necessary to identify the articles that have already been implemented and others that have not yet been put into practice.

A comprehensive evaluation should produce, as final result, a comprehensive description and analysis of the obstacles and their root causes.

Emphasis should be given to the discovery of obstacles and their root causes to prevent the government from leaping quickly to a solution without a better understanding of the problems.

Finally, a comprehensive evaluation of the implementation of Papua’s autonomy demands “specific parameters”.

Papua was given its special autonomy status in 2001, which was unique. Therefore, there must be a particular dimension that makes Papuan autonomy exceptional and different from the special autonomy status granted to Aceh.

The uniqueness of the Papuan autonomy demands particular parameters be applied when evaluating the implementation of the autonomy law. Consequently, the parameters used for the evaluation of other autonomous regions in Indonesia should not be applied when evaluating Papuan autonomy.

Therefore it is important for the government to identify the particular dimensions that comprise Papua’s distinctive autonomy.

The failure to identifying the uniqueness of Papua’s autonomy will make the comprehensive evaluation less credible.

If the government is tempted to apply parameters used in other autonomous regions when evaluating the Papuan autonomy law, the evaluation will not reflect the reality on the ground and thus not help improve implementation of the law.

The writer is a lecturer at the Fajar Timur School of Philosophy and Theology in Abepura, Papua.