President welcomes idea of dividing West Papua into five provinces

Sinar Harapan – February 11, 2005
Papuan governor J.P. Solossa (Liputan 6)
Papuan governor J.P. Solossa (Liputan 6)

Jakarta – The idea of dividing West Papua into five provinces has been mooted again. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is reported to have welcomed the proposal which was raised by Papuan governor J.P. Solossa and a number of Papuan groups.

It’s realisation however mush be trough the agreement of the soon to be formed Papuan People’s Council (MRP).

The proposal was resubmitted by Solossa on Tuesday February 8 at a meeting with the president at the State Palace. According to Solossa, the president welcomed the idea.

“This attempt to divide Papua province will1 be done not because of political interests, the interests of particular individuals, the interests of the elite, other interests and so on, but [because] the division is being carried out to accelerate Papua’s future progress”, said Solossa.

Responding to the proposal, Papua political observer Frans Maniagasi told Sinar Harapan on Friday morning (11/2) that the idea is based on comprehensive studies and is very suitable for Papua’s future development.

The idea has been around for some time and already submitted to former President Megawati Sukarnoputri but it failed to receive a response. Megawati instead persisted with forcing through the formation of West Irian Jaya (Irjabar).

“The governor’s idea which has been around for a long time is very comprehensive. It is in accordance with what exists. It is an idea which came from below, but must be carried out through the MRP based on Article 76 of Law Number 21/2001”, explained Maniagasi.

While acknowledging it is in accordance with the public’s wishes, to date the idea has not been widely socialised. But Maniagasi is of the view that basically this is what is most desired by the Papuan people. From a number of perspectives, cultural, economic, resources, and on humanitarian grounds Governor Solossa’s idea is appropriate and in accordance with the wishes of Papuan society.

“Perhaps there will be regions which will be merged, which will be separated, because there are regions which are deficient in resources so they can be covered by other areas. All of this must be developed through the Papuan People’s Council”, he explained.

During period of the Dutch administration Papua was divided into seven residential regions based on existing cultural areas. There were five areas of cultural administration. “So it could be divided into seven if necessary”, said Maniagasi.

As a consequence of this blueprint, in the future the administrative regions which exist at the moment in Papua could be reordered based on these considerations. “We know this is the era of regional autonomy. The central [government] can’t continue to dominate [the regions], but must listen to what is being articulated by society”, he said. The idea has also already been studied by the Cenderawasih University and the results were extremely positive.

The five provinces which have been proposed are West Papua province, Teluk Cendrawasih province and a province covering North Papua/Tabi/Mana from Sarmi to Jayapura. The Central Highlands province meanwhile would include Timika, the interior of Wamena as well as Puncak Jaya, and finally there would be a province of South Papua.

“The thinking on this is still being talked through and developed and needs to be discussed further”. (ino/ega)


1. The original Indonesian language report quoted Solossa as saying “Upaya pemekaran Provinsi Papua itu tidak dilakukan bukan karena kepentingan politis…” or “This attempt to divide Papua province won’t be done not because of political interests…” which is probably erroneous and should read “will be done not because…” without the word “bukan”.

[Translated by James Balowski.]