Friday, February 23, 2007

Delay request for Special Autonomy Law revision

A forum held at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Central Jakarta requested the Indonesian central government postpone its planned revision of the 2001 Papuan Special Autonomy law. The meeting claimed that six years of special autonomy in Papua had yet to provide opportunities for indigenous Papuans to get involved in managing their own affairs.

"There should be comprehensive evaluation and planning before reaching the conclusion that revision is urgently needed," the Forum chairman Albert Hasibuan said, adding that if revision was truly unavoidable, the revised law should not just look after the needs of political elites.

"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.

The Forum also asked the central government to conduct feasibility studies before making decisions on the establishment of new regencies in the two provinces.

Legislator Simon Morin, from the Golkar Party in the national House of Representatives, said that special autonomy needed a special instrument "established by the central government to empower special autonomy. People's empowerment is important. Without empowerment and enforcement from the central government to local offices, the special autonomy law will not be effective," Morin said, adding that local governments in Papua should be evaluated closely to deter potential mismanagement, especially in budget allocation becaue "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. "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, as reported by lvin Darlanika Soedarjo of The Jakarta Post.

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