Welcome Speech by H. E. Mr. Rahardjo Jamtomo, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, on the Conference on Special Autonomy in the Province of Papua, Berlin 4-5 June, 2003

Conference “Autonomy for Papua – Opportunity or Illusion?”, 04-05 June 2003

Distinguished Guests,
Dear Friends,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

StephanusYuwono

Stephanus Yuwono (KBRI) reading out the welcome speech on behalf of the Ambassador

photo: Hans-Georg Gaul

it is indeed an honor for me to be invited and to address this distinguished gathering at the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung. However, allow me to convey this welcome speech and some opening remarks for the conference in my absence. At the outset I would like to apologize for not being able to participate in the conference on Special Autonomy for Papua, as had been requested by Alex Flor, the Chairperson of Watch Indonesia!, and Dr. Siegfried Zöllner from the West Papua Netzwerk, due to prior commitments.

Before I proceed, I would like to state that I passionately believe, as do millions of Indonesians, that the best of Indonesia is yet to come. However, I likewise am convinced that the process of transition towards a democratic system has reached a point of no return. We are now moving towards the realization of the third largest democracy in the world. A multi-dimensional reform is now under way. This reform process has become even more challenging because of the September 11th 2001 tragedy, the Bali incident and the global economic recession. As to be able to cope solidly and comprehensively with challenges emanating from the reform process, the Government and the people of Indonesia are now making strenuous efforts to address fundamental and strategic problems in conformity with the new democratic state perspectives.
 

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

with the above mentioned background, allow me now to highlight a few aspects of the current situation in Indonesia.

Today, our political life has developed towards a more democratic order as has been fervently aspired in the course of reform. The atmosphere of political freedom and openness that has prevailed in Indonesia has brought about wide ranges of formidable challenges in our democratization process. Responding to those challenges, the Government has taken a number of measures to strengthen its institutions and its general capability to reform the judicial system and the military, to reinvigorate the economy and to resolve internal conflicts through dialogue rather than force. While focusing efforts on ensuring the genuine participation of the people in the decision making process, in the implementation of decisions and in the enjoyment of the fruits of development, the Government of Indonesia also gives special emphasis to the realization of good governance based on the principle of transparency, honesty and accountability.

It is also encouraging that the people of all walks of life are now able to enjoy and use their rights to assemble and to express their opinion in writing and in speech. To date, the national media are the freest in Asia. The national press is now free and vibrant and can play a constructive role. The Government no longer imposes restrictions on the society to express its opinion, especially if it is not presented in a form that violates the rights of others. Civil society is now becoming increasingly active and effective while Parliament is growing most assertive.

In our endeavor to reform our national political system we took a large and bold step recently when our People’s Consultative Assembly endorsed several amendments to our constitution: the adoption of a system of direct popular election of the President and Vice President; the adoption of a bicameral system of legislature; and the abolition by 2004 of the 38 appointed seats reserved for the military in Parliament. These decisions reflect the sensitivity of public officials, particularly legislators, to trends in public opinion.

The introduction of the election of a President and a Vice President directly by the people is expected to overcome the weakness of the multiparty system, while at the same time it will enhance the legitimacy and accountability of the President elect as well as maintain the unity and integrity of the nation. In the future, a presidential candidate must not only obtain the formal support of the people but must also understand the aspirations and the needs of this diverse nation. The President will have a stronger mandate but, like the Members of Parliament, will be subject to greater accountability directly to the people. The next Indonesian Parliament will only comprise the people’s elected representatives. Concerning the repositioning of the Indonesian military and police, with the military out of Parliament and out of politics, the military can concentrate on serving as a professional force that is the main component of the country’s national defense. The police, already effectively separated from the military, will keep enhancing its role as the guardian of peace and public order and as enforcer of the law.
 

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

in the Government area, in line with our determination to lessen the centralized characteristics in its conducts, or in order to further develop the capacity of the Provincial Government through regional autonomy, the role and responsibility of the conduct and authority of the Government have also been further relinquished to the Provincial Government. It must be observed that with the regional autonomy much of the responsibility should now be managed for the better by the Provincial Governments, particularly that which is related to basic services, public order and secure living of the community in their respective regions. Regional autonomy must indeed be comprehended more by the Provincial Governments, by the Provincial Parliaments, by the political parties as well as by the communities in their respective regions. Regional autonomy should not be understood merely of its rights and authority, but also of its duty and responsibility.

In connection with regional issues, I see the need to look into our efforts to develop and strengthen regional autonomy in a proportional manner. Although the progress in this area has generally been encouraging, yet developments which entail some implications need to be cautiously observed, specifically those associated with aspects of autonomy itself and their relations to the need of building the national concept. So much does it concern the unity and integrity of the nation and the unitary state, regional autonomy also aims at establishing political, administrative and social stability in the regions.

The Law on Special Autonomy for the Province of Papua clearly and unambiguously prescribes the authority of its people. The Papuan people have all the rights and authorities in all areas of government. This includes the use of natural resources as well as social and cultural resources for the greatest benefit and prosperity of the Papuan people. The Law on Special Autonomy for the Province of Papua is the legal foundation to build an identity within the framework of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia.

The Law on Special Autonomy for the Province of Papua provides essential protection of the rights of traditional and indigenous people of Papua. In the socio-political area, we have an institution called Majelis Rakyat Papua (Papua People’s Assembly) abbreviated as MRP. MRP is the cultural representation of indigenous Papuans based on respect for tradition and culture, women empowerment and religious harmony.

In addition, the Law on Special Autonomy for the Province of Papua also provides ample space for the protection of social and economic rights of traditional societies. Henceforth it is not permitted to engage in economic exploitation of Papuan natural resources owned by traditional societies such as land, forests, mines, oil and gas and sea fisheries without the prior consent of the traditional societies concerned. This Law provides traditional societies with rights to equitable economic benefits from natural resources in the traditional lands – possibly in the form of cash compensation, equity participation, rent or other forms mutually agreed upon by the traditional societies and the investor. The Government’s role is limited to facilitation of these agreements.

The Law on Special Autonomy for the Province of Papua also contains regulations on financial sources to implement development programs. For instance, in education we can provide quality education at all levels and channels with least public cost up to secondary school level. Similarly, each resident of the Province of Papua has the right to quality health care with least public cost.

It is important for me to emphasize two points related to the success or failure of the Special Autonomy. First, the Law on Special Autonomy is the legal foundation of our work. This new law will bring real results if the population of the Province of Papua works hard with loyalty and honesty. Hard work must be demonstrated by all parties including Government personnel, military and police personnel, Parliament members, public figures, religious leaders, women activists, youth leaders, NGO workers, both Papuans as well as non-Papuans. Prosperity and peace never come, unless we work hard to achieve them. Secondly, effective control is needed through political, social and legal means which involve the entire population, to ensure the proper implementation of the Special Autonomy Law.

Two things may be brought forward with respect to the expansion (pemekaran) of the Papua territory into three provinces, a measure which some find contradictory to the Law No. 21/2001 on Special Autonomy. First, the expansion is based on Law No. 45/1999 which originates from the ideas of the Papuan people. Secondly, the expansion should not be seen only in its legal aspect, but also from the political viewpoint. Expansion of Papua will provide greater opportunity for its people to participate in the democratic development of the nation and the province. In the development area, expansion of Papua will make Papua development more effective considering that the three provinces will be able to serve the needs of the people more closely by responding to these needs by responsive development programs. Hence the expansion can be more appreciated in a comprehensive context.
 

Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

from what we have presented so far, discourse on autonomy in Papua should be placed in the framework of regional autonomy for the province comprising political, economic, socio-cultural and security aspects while fully recognizing that Papua is an integral part of the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia. We emphasize the need for the conference to discuss the issues related to Papuan autonomy in a constructive manner and to discuss the subjects more beneficial and meaningful to the efforts of the Government of Indonesia and the people of West Papua in promoting reconciliation through dialogue and enhancing development and welfare of the people of West Papua. In this context, such an orientation will be more meaningful for the people of West Papua at large.
Thank you.

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