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Saturday April 21, 2007
To achieve Sustainable Development in Papua, the government must revitalize “local genius”, asserts Dr. Jannes Johan Karubaba, - hailing from Papua - who recently defended his thesis at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, entitled: “Revitalizing Local Environmental Values for Sustainable Development”
The panel of examiners included a host of prominent names, led by Purnawan Junadi as Head of Post-graduate studies of the University of Indonesia-UI,  Emil Salim (member of the Advisory Board to the President and former Minister for the Environment), Sonny Keraf (former Environment Minister), Minister for Mining and Mineral Resources, Purnomo Yusgiantoro, Setyo S Moersidik (Head of Environmental Studies at UI), Herman Haeruman (former Deputy for Regional Development and Natural Resources at the National Planning Board), and Frans Wanggai, Rector of the University of Papua, reported Kompas daily.
The study made by Jannes Karubaba had three implications, he said, these are:
Firstly, that ecological, social-cultural values and traditional systems must become the basis for plans on incrementing the number of provinces or districts on the island of Papua. Secondly, wider access must be made in order to better understand local values and principles (or what Dr. Quaritch Wales called “local genius” – ed), which should not be interpreted as equal to narrow concepts of pre-mordialism. Thirdly, this understanding must be approached through multi-disciplinary principles involving the sciences of ecology, the natural and social environment, and of the more modern man-made environment.
Jannes is convinced that through such multi-disciplinary approach, six provinces may be established based on ecological and social-cultural development. These are Jayapura, Teluk Cenderawasih, Irian Jaya Barat (West Papua), Fakfak, South Papua, and Pegunungan Tengah (the Central Mountain Region).
”My hope in writing this thesis” says Jannes Karubaba, is that in future, ecological and social-cultural values will no longer be neglected in the political and economic development of Papua".
In response, Prof. Dr. Emil Salim agreed that thus far, the massive mining activities undertaken in Papua have tended to neglect ecological and social-cultural values adhered to by the local people, where, in the planning process of mining activities, ecological considerations are still held as being subordinate.
Sonny Keraf, on his side said that, the Karubaba study, which is based on the values adhered to by the local Papua tribes, must be incorporated in government’s development policies for Papua, in order to provide optimum benefits to the people.
Widespread Poverty in the Land of Potential Plenty
Data mentioned by the Province of Papua website clearly show the irony that is Papua, namely that, while, on the one hand, the island has huge potentials in gold, copper, silver, gas, palm oil, and wood, yet the people are still among the poorest in the world, where at least 1 million of its population, or 80% of Papua households live below the poverty line. Poorest among these are in the districts of Tolikara, where 99.3% are poor, in Puncak Jaya (99.62%), and Yakuhimo (99.78%). Papua counts a total of 480,576 households.   
Malnutrition is rife among Papua’s more than 300 tribes, as they traditionally live from hand to mouth or still live a nomadic life. Food stocks are low in each of these districts, in particular in the isolated districts of Asmat, Tolikara, Puncak Jaya, and Yahukimo, as these tribes that have only very recently emerged from the Stone Age period, live from garnering forest products, hunting and gathering, and the planting of sweet potatoes. As they live in widely scattered small hamlets, their remote locations make it very difficult for the outside world to access them. With sparse existing roads, people must often traverse thick forests, high mountains, deep valleys, or wide marshlands to distribute additional food aid, which must, therefore, depend largely on expensive air transportation. 
Health facilities for the population are, therefore, also minimal, counting only some 291 doctors, 72 specialists and 14 hospitals on the island.  Of the total 19,000 km. of roads on Papua, only some 7,000 km. is asphalted.
On 21 November 2001, when the Province of Papua (formerly named Irian Jaya) was granted Special Autonomy, its main purpose was, not only to correct human rights violations in the province, but also to correct the imbalance in development between Papua and Indonesia’s other provinces.  This includes improved economic capacity of the province and its people, so that public services may be upgraded through increased financial capacity.
However, Governor Suebu conceded that "Papua’s local government had not been prepared to implement the special autonomy granted to it, where the capacity of local government remained weak, oversight was not enforced, accountability and transparency were and are still weak, with the result that corruption and graft are rife at all levels of government” said  Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu in  Makassar recently. 
In fact, during the five year since the granting of the Special Autonomy status (from 2002-2006), the National Government had provided some Rp10 trillion to Papua, or equal to 2% of total national general allocation grants.
"This amount did not yet include the many other grants given to the province. Therefore, considering that there are still so many poor families in Papua, this means that these finances that were supposed to lever local development has not touched these isolated communities” said Suebu. 
The first measure undertaken by Governor Suebu, at his reelection for the period of 2006-2011, was to make wholesale reform of the local bureaucracy, of regional finances, and improve the capacity of local manpower.  This includes restoring the structure of regional spending to that of a pyramid with its base on the bottom, rather the previously upside-down position. Spending for local apparatus has now been reduced to 27%, down from a hefty 70% before. While, priority is now focused on village development rather than on development of towns.
Meanwhile, Papua statistics mention that total proven deposit in gold and copper in mines owned by PT. Freeport Indonesia is estimated at a total value of US$ 100 billion, with more than 30 other lodes expected to contain similar potential amounts of ores. Another resource is natural gas, which scientists estimate can offer a total of 14.4 trillion cubic feet, which is available at Yapen and Waropen.
Furthermore, Papua’s jungles are rich in resources that may be developed into bio-ethanol, to an expected total value of US$ 3.7 billion.
Therefore, based on these rich natural resources, the Papua Provincial Government has urged the national government that the province should receive a larger share of Freeport taxes. In 2006 Freeport paid out some Rp 15 trillion in taxes to the National Government, whilst Papua received a mere 1% of its total.
Governor Barnabas Suebu plans to accelerate development of Papua and its people, by boosting the capacity of the province in infrastructure, telecommunications, electricity, media, shipping and trade. 
Papua was for decades neglected by Dutch Colonizers, remaining in the Stone Age
Formerly known as Irian Jaya, the western part of the island of New Guinea which was colonized by the Dutch, was formally restored to the fold of the Republic of Indonesia only in August 1969, twenty years after the Netherlands ceded sovereignty of the former Dutch East Indies to Indonesia.  In the fight for Independence, Indonesia claimed as its territory the entire territory of the former Dutch East Indies, which included the western part of the island of New Guinea. At the formal recognition of the Independence of the Republic of Indonesia by the Dutch in December 1949, the Dutch withheld Western New Guinea, however, promising that this would subsequently be handed over to Indonesia. But, when Indonesia saw that the Dutch kept New Guinea as their last stronghold, from where efforts were made to disintegrate the unity of the Republic of Indonesia, Indonesia staged military confrontations. In 1963 the United Nations handed over the area to Indonesian control, and finally through UN supervised representational elections, the former Dutch New Guinea officially rejoined Indonesia in 1969, when its name was changed to Irian Jaya.
For hundreds of years of colonization, Papua had been kept undeveloped by the Dutch, leaving its local population to live in the Stone Age culture. Indonesian Papua comprises some 300 large and small autonomous tribes, many of whom until today still live in isolated mountain hamlets or in untamed marshland, with only a small number of coastal towns developed here.  In its once impenetrable interior surrounded by dense jungles along the Equator loom snow-capped mountain peaks.  Only lately, the modern mining town of Timika rises in stark contrast to its very primitive surroundings.  
During World War II, General McArthur broke through Japanese military defense by staging air attacks on Hollandia (today’s Jayapura in Papua), after which conquest he made Hollandia the US command base from which point he staged military operations against the Japanese. 
It was only after the restoration of Papua to Indonesia since 1969 that Irian Jaya was gradually opened to the outside world. Later, Indonesia’s second President, Soeharto, gave copper mining concessions to PT. Freeport, which until today remains the largest mining company in Indonesia.
In 2001, the province of Irian Jaya was granted a Special Autonomous Province status and was renamed Papua.  
(Sources: Kompas daily, Papua website, Periplus Guide to Indonesian New Guinea)
 (Tuti Sunario)