Jakarta – A representative of the Islamic-based Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS), Jazuli Juwaini, has asked Defense Minister (Menhan) Prabowo Subianto to pay more attention to missionaries or religious leaders in Papua. He is claims to be concerned that these religious figures are actually carrying out a mission other than spreading religion.
Juwaini conveyed this concern during the first working meeting between the House of Representatives (DPR) Commission I and Prabowo at the DPR building in Jakarta on Monday November 11.
"My apologies Pak [Mr] Menhan, we don't want to touch on something which is sensitive in Papua, [but] there are many aircraft transporting missionaries and the Papuan (security forces) are having difficulties checking them", said Juwaini.
Juwaini asserted that he himself does not feel anxious about missions to spread certain religions in Papua because this is not what is of concern.
He said that his party is worried that there are religious missionaries arriving in Papua but they do not have a specific mission. According to Juwaini, in safeguarding and maintaining a favourable security situation in Papua it is reasonable that Prabowo monitor these missionaries in the land of the Cenderawasih – as Papua is known.
"What we are concerned about is (not) the issue of people spreading religion but what worries us is there are people acting in the name of missionaries but who have another agenda in Papua who become trouble makers, it could happen, we don't want to make accusations, but it must be checked", he explained.
Juwaini also proposed that Prabowo increase the number of troops in Papua in the context of safeguarding security so it remains favourable. Additional personnel are deemed necessary bearing in mind the size of Papua.
"I think the number of personnel needs to be increased, if seen for example from the size [of Papua] and the huge challenge of prosperity because of the high prices there", he said.
Meanwhile a representative from Prabowo's Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) faction, Sugiono, asked Prabowo to consider improving the welfare of soldiers on duty in Papua and West Papua provinces.
According to the Gerindra deputy chairperson, improving the welfare of personnel on duty in Papua cannot be compared with other regions such as Kalimantan or Java because the high cost of living in Papua.
Sugiono also said that the problems in Papua and West Papua are not just related to security. He is convinced that one of the factors is local people's level of economic prosperity.
Upon hearing this, Prabowo appeared enthusiastic. He repeatedly wrote down notes on paper he had brought to the meeting and often nodded his head as Sugiono conveyed his views.
This was the first working meeting between Prabowo and the DPR since he was entrusted with the post of Defense Minister in President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's new Working Cabinet in October.
Prabowo was accompanied by Deputy Defense Minister Sakti Wahyu Trenggono. Prabowo's spokesperson, Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, also accompanied the former army special forces (Kopassus) commander. (tst)
[Slightly abridged translation by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "PKS Minta Prabowo Waspadai Gerak-gerik Misionaris di Papua".]