Gemma Holliani Cahya, Jakarta – "Next year we will start building a presidential palace in Papua," President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said on Tuesday morning in front of dozens of Papuan figures. His statement was televised live.
Around 60 Papuan figures – who visited the presidential palace to meet Jokowi and were wearing Papuan traditional headbands and colorful Papuan-style batik – applauded his promise.
Jayapura Legislative Council head Abisai Rollo was the one who suggested the idea to the President that morning. He assured Jokowi that Papuans would give him 10 hectares of land for free so the President could build his palace in Jayapura.
"Building a presidential palace in the capital city of Papua is needed, so Mr. President you will not only visit Papua but you also have an office there," Abisai said in the meeting.
Besides building a presidential palace in Papua, Jokowi also promised that by the end of this year the government would complete the development of a broadband network in the easternmost provinces in Indonesia under the Palapa Ring project.
"So there will be 4G connection in all cities across Papua," Jokowi said.
Papua is notorious for its poor internet connection.
Jokowi also promised to provide more opportunities for Papuans to work in state-owned enterprises (SOEs).
"Many Papuan students wonder where they will go after graduating from university. If they return to Papua, where will they work. And that's our big undertaking. (...) I will ask the SOEs and large companies to accept 1,000 university graduates from Papua," he said.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto and National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Gen. Budi Gunawan also attended the meeting.
It was the first meeting between Jokowi and Papuan figures after a recent incident of racial abuse against Papuan students in Surabaya, East Java, which was followed by rallies of protests in cities across Papua.
"I have to manage my time so I can visit Papua again. I will try to fly there this month, but if I can't make it this month, then I will go there in October to inaugurate the Holtekamp Bridge," the President said.