Indonesia is currently strolling on a path of authoritarianism that was naïve to think for the Muslim nation a few years back. With a concoction of islands that crosses the mighty number of 17,000, Indonesia is creating grounds to create new provinces in the Papua region in the garb of getting off the snail-paced development in the eastern region.
Papua sees a fight
Lawmakers announced that Jakarta is moving ahead with its plans to add three more provinces in the region which will sum up to a total of five provinces. The move didn’t sit well with the people of the Papua region who all flocked in protest against the hasty take of the government without showing the basic niceties of consulting with the Papuans about this move.
Governor Lukas Enembe of Papua province told Reuters “There are so few of our people here to create new provinces.”
This statement from the governor opens up the new playbook that Jakarta seeks to implement in the Papua region. Papuans are the original settlers of the land who live mainly in the southern section of the island. Although about two-thirds of Papua New Guinea’s population is Christian, traditional religious beliefs and rituals are still widely practiced. After the formation of the independent state in Papua New Guinea, the Papuans got split up between the two territories.
For a long, Papua was mired in territorial conflicts over Indonesia with the decade-old struggle sprouting back in 1969 after its ascension to Indonesia. It is being said that the government in Indonesia has failed on all accounts to help develop this region. This was evident in the human development index which indicates the island region touching the nadir in the list.
So, to fend off all the disputes and make new marks in the region, Jakarta is gliding along with new policies that will see the region getting three more provinces. The indigenous Papuans are a paltry few in numbers, which will make it impossible for the native tribes to occupy the newly created provinces. This gives leeway for the government in Indonesia to open up more space for people in urban terrain to occupy the spacious abode of the three newly created provinces, which will indeed dilute the demography of the region.
Indonesia does a China
This move is simply a mock on the face of the ethnic Papuans which will cause division and disturbance within the indigenous section who were always left ostracized by the government in Jakarta on the cards of economy and development.
Accusations are also floating about why Jakarta looks keen on zeroing in on the Papua region for development even when countless other islands haven’t seen any better days of development either. Papua Island is a resource-rich region that has been left unexplored for long. With the Ukraine war amputating the economy of Jakarta by large, the government is forced to make a disturbing move to bring back the old halcyon days the country rode on.
Indonesia is thus wearing a new robe that has many similarities with its counterparts in Beijing. The CCP has its kitty full of infamous anecdotes on how it wrested control over regions that showed any kind of resistance. Beijing has achieved the mastery long back. There is chock full of stories to spill out whether be it on Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Taiwan, or the heavenly abode of Tibet. In every one of the above-mentioned territories, China diluted the demography of the place with people from the mainland thus making it easier for the government to move ahead with decisions of their interest.
So, Indonesia cruising ahead on a path emulating China is undoubtedly a talking point concerning the recent stance on policy decisions taken by the island nation. Nevertheless, the small milieu of Papuans will continue showing its boldness and certainty to fight forever.