Saturday, February 10, 2007

Four regencies demand a South Papua province

Representatives of four regencies in southern Papua province met with the Provincial House of Representatives to demand the establishment of a South Papua province. Some 70 delegates from Merauke, Mappi, Boven Digoel and Asmat regencies, led by Merauke Deputy Regent Maryoto, met with legislators. The delegation was received by the parliament's deputy speakers Komarudin Watubun, Yop Kogoya and Paskalis Kossay.

According to Merauke regency administration official Agustina Basik-Bakis, the idea of an autonomous South Papua has been around since even before Indonesia's independence. She said the creation of the new province would help the region catch up in terms of development, as well as shortening bureaucratic procedures and improving services to residents. The four regencies demanding their own province were previously incorporated under one regency, Merauke. Mappi, Boven Digoel and Asmat were separated from Merauke in a 2002 law on the formation of 14 regencies in Papua province.

Yoseph Mehuze, a spokesman for the group, said the four regencies were acting like "a son" asking his parents' blessing to get married. "We're ready to get married and we ask for the blessing of Papua province, as our parent," he said. Responding, parliamentary Deputy Speaker Komarudin said that if a son is ready to get married, the parents will give their blessing, but at the same time the parents have to ensure it is the correct decision. He said the parliament would set up a special committee to discuss the proposal. The committee's recommendation will then be passed on to the Papuan People's Council. However, he said the parliament is currently deliberating the provincial budget, and any discussion on the creation of the new province would have to wait until the deliberations were completed.

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