by Hipolitus Yolisandry Ringgi Wangge
Ministerial visit by Luhut shows that Jokowi’s government still lacks genuine solutions when it comes to Papua.
Recently, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security, Luhut Panjaitan, made a three-day visit to Papua. His trip to the nation’s easternmost region stood out for two key reasons.
First, Papua is a priority for the current administration, and the visit by one of Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s closest trustees follows the President’s earlier travels to the disaffected area. Clearly, this latest trip was important — not only for the central government but also for Papuans.
Second, Luhut’s visit showed a strong commitment to ensuring that Jokowi’s policies for the region are fulfilled — especially the special autonomy law, which has been widely criticised as ineffective when it comes to improving the welfare of Papuans.
Across the board, however, Luhut’s visit was nothing more than a symbolic gesture, and totally meaningless for Papua’s many powerless indigenous people. The key issue was whether Luhut’s visit would thoroughly address the fundamental concern of most Papuans – genuine trust for Jakarta. In this, the trip was an utter failure.
Since becoming part of Indonesia through the deeply flawed Act of Free Choice, facilitated by the United Nations in 1969, Papua has been treated poorly by the government and many Indonesians. This mistreatment includes inefficient policies, intensive and brutal ‘security’, and racial prejudice – all of which has led to distrust and limited sympathy on the part of Papuans toward the Indonesian government. Thus, a visit by a political figure as prominent as Luhut made locals skeptical rather than optimistic.
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The photograph shows Luhut Panjaitan (left) with Papua Governor Lukas Enembe. (Source: Tabloid JUBI)
Hipolitus Yolisandry Ringgi Wangge is a researcher at the Marthinus Academy, Jakarta.