Nurul Fitri Ramadhani, Jakarta – The Papua provincial administration may find it hard to wrest full control over Indonesia's easternmost province as the central government has refused to amend Law No. 21/2001 on Papua Special Autonomy. The law has been deemed by some to be ineffective in improving the welfare of Papuans.
The Home Ministry's regional autonomy directorate general, Soni Sumarsono, said on Friday the government, along with the Papua administration, should first focus on issuing supporting instruments for the law, such as the Special Regional Regulations (Perdasus), which will stipulate implementation mechanisms for the law.
"The law isn't perfect, that's why we need to arrange the Perdasus. How can we revise a law when it has yet to accommodate any comprehensive instruments for implementation?" Soni asked.
Besides focusing on arranging the instruments, Soni added that the government would try to improve the quality of human resources in Papua.
Currently, the government has sent around 2,500 Papuans to Java to study at numerous universities and high schools. They are expected to go back to their province after finishing their studies to help improve local welfare.
This response follows a demand from the Papua administration to revise the region's autonomy law to become the Papua Administration Law, which would grant the regional authorities full power and control over the resource-rich region.
Under the grand design of the draft revision, which was drafted by the Papua and West Papua administrations, the Papua Legislative Council (DPRD), the Papuan People's Council (MRP), and academics in Papua, local administrations will have the right to share ownership of all economic resources, including mines, plantations, fisheries, maritime industries, the trading sector, tourism and investment.
Also in the draft, local administrations will have the political authority to arrange their own flags, symbols, hymns and law enforcement authorities.
"We don't aim to drive Papua to separatism or to make it an independent country, we only want to manage our natural resources on our own for the sake of the welfare of the Papuan people, so that we can feed the poor and improve education," MRP chairman Timotius Murib said.
Papua has huge reserves of oil, gas and missing minerals, but has suffered from unchecked exploitation that has changed the natural landscape and affected local livelihoods.
The province is also corrupt. In 2015, the Jakarta Corruption Court indicted its former governor, Barnabas Suebu, for graft in the construction of a hydro power plant on the Mamberamo River in which the state recorded a loss of Rp 43 billion (US$3.1 million).
International relations analyst Adriana Elisabeth from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) said a revision to the law was not needed. She argued that the government should first evaluate and review whether the implementation of the current law was effective.
"Both sides, actually, have shown inconsistency toward the law. The government doesn't evaluate it regularly, while the two provincial administrations do not give clear reports on the use of their annual budget," Adriana said.