18 June 2015
President Joko Widodo (popularly known as Jokowi) has affirmed that special attention will be given to the Papua region, comprising the two provinces of Papua and West Papua. The region has endured a low-level guerrilla insurgency from a militant Papuan independence movement since 1969. Under the nationalist Trisakti doctrine, the new policy will focus on bolstering greater security capabilities in the conflict-prone outermost areas of Indonesia, such as Papua.
The two Papuan provinces significantly contributed to Jokowi’s victory in the 2014 presidential election. Owing to the trust that Papuans have shown in him, Jokowi has scheduled three visits a year to that region, which are seen as largely symbolic and intended to win the hearts of Papuans. The scheduled visit on 1 May 2015 coincided with the anniversary of Papua’s integration with Indonesia, which some Papuans derisively term ‘annexation day’. The trip was postponed, reportedly due to strong resistance from one of the armed criminal groups, which had threatened to spread chaos if the president proceeded with the visit.
Jokowi is aware that Papua is of strategic importance to Indonesia and it cannot afford to lose the region, like it did Timor-Leste in 1999. Papua is one of Indonesia’s richest regions in natural resources. Its forests are the largest in Indonesia, at more than 32 million hectares, while as much as 45 per cent of national copper reserves are located in Papua. It also has huge strategic value for Indonesia’s defence. It is perceived as a buffer against both foreign intrusion by countries such as Australia and the United States, which have increased their presence in the Southwest Pacific, and also potential intrusion from the north, such as illegal fishing boats coming from the Philippines.
… Emirza Adi Syailendra is a Research Analyst at the Indonesia Programme of the S. Rajaratnam of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 16/11/2015