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Papua government rejects new provinces

Jakarta Post - October 30, 2013

Nethy Dharma Somba and Panca Nugraha, Jayapura/Mataram – The governor of Papua, Lukas Enembe, has strongly rejected the plan to split the province, as the planned creation of a south Papua province and a central Papua province did not follow the proper procedures.

"I have told the House of Representatives' Commission II [overseeing domestic governance] that the creation of new provinces in Papua has to be carried out via the correct procedures and not simply based on pragmatic interests," he told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

The House has agreed to deliberate on the creation of 65 new regions, including eight provinces, two of which are located in Papua province and one in West Papua province.

The desire to create a south Papua province and a central Papua province has been expressed for some time, but previous governor Barnabas Suebu did not give his approval.

Based on the Papua Special Autonomy Law, the creation of new provinces in Papua should be approved by the Papua governor, the provincial legislative council (DPRD) and the Papua People's Council (MRP) before being submitted to the central government.

Enembe said his office only supported the plans to create 22 new cities and regencies that had been through the proper procedures.

Meanwhile, the 2011 Yap Thiam Hien Award winner Father John Jonga rejected the creation of new regions in Papua, saying there were no new regencies that could be considered successful.

"Papuans' quality of life does not improve with the creation of new regions," he said. "Outsiders are coming to Papua to get government paychecks while the natives are forgotten."

He pointed to the creation of Nduga regency in 2010, which had witnessed continuous conflict. "The regency budget is spent on paying compensation to the victims of sectarian clashes," he said.

Jonga called on the central government to be wiser in responding to requests for new regions in Papua. "It's wiser to optimize current regencies and cities in terms of employees and infrastructure in order to improve the welfare of Papuans as the main goal," he said.

Meanwhile, the West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) provincial administration said it fully supported the creation of Sumbawa Island province.

"The NTB governor issued a recommendation in 2011 to support the creation of a Sumbawa Island province," provincial spokesman Tribudi Prayitno said on Friday.

"We're glad with the House's approval to deliberate the bill to create the new province, but the central government holds a moratorium on the creation of new regencies."

Tribudi said he expected all parties, especially House members from NTB, to support the creation of Sumbawa Island province.