Fri, 03 Nov 2000

Failure of a development plan

By Sri Edi Swasono

JAKARTA (JP): We have failed in the past three decades to correct the existing uneven development. Instead, our national development plan has, intentionally or otherwise, brought about wide gaps among regions.

We have adopted national development programs which ignored the fact that Indonesia is a unique archipelago -- pluralistic and rich in local specifics -- facing multidimensional challenges.

We have long realized that we have been tardy in developing Irian Jaya. Yet we remain inactive, motionless and trapped in a cultural impasse. We remain incapable of being more creative in handling the developmental challenges to accommodate the local regional demands.

President Abdurrahman Wahid has committed an irreversible mistake by agreeing that Irian Jaya be renamed Papua without the House of Representatives' approval, ignoring the political and legal implications of the move. Senior diplomats including Sumaryo Suryokusumo have argued that changing the name was a big mistake. West Irian is the name that is accepted by the international world, according to the United Nations resolution.

I have also protested the President's decision but we need to try to understand the goodwill, if misplaced, of Abdurrahman as a novice in state affairs.

Former president Soeharto in 1993 had assigned then minister B.J. Habibie to lead a national commission to accelerate eastern Indonesia's development.

Had this project been completed, this mess would not have happened. True, there was development in Irian Jaya, but only of routine projects. In addition it was merely a development taking place in Irian Jaya, not a development from the people, by the people and for the people of Irian Jaya.

There were no participation or emancipation for the Irianese in the developments. They were national development objects but the local people did not become the subjects of the development.

President Abdurrahman set up the office of state minister in charge of the acceleration of developments in east Indonesia.

Will Junior Minister for the Acceleration for the Development of Eastern Indonesia, Manuel Kaisiepo, be able to achieve this goal and establish models of development that involves the participation and emancipation of, in particular, the Irianese?

The signs of neglect abound. Ten percent of (mining giant) Freeport Indonesia's shares was easily granted to leading businessman Aburizal Bakrie -- no trace of discomfort on his part when so easily acquiescing them. It was reported later that the shares were transferred to another businessman, Bob Hasan.

These 10 percent shares, or more if possible, should have been owned by the Irian Jaya regional administration.

But Irianese have merely become spectators of the developments. They have been sidelined. But our brethren in the eastern part of Indonesia should know that most of us in the western part of the archipelago have never agreed to the injustices occurring in Irian Jaya or elsewhere. The pain of the Irianese, the East Timorese and the Maluku people, is also ours.

Police have declared a state of red alert, following the recent unrest in Wamena which claimed dozens of lives. Thousands of people have been displaced and this is extremely sorrowful and heartrending.

The incident followed the forceful hauling down of the Morning Star (Bintang Kejora) flags by police troops, as instructed by National Police chief.

A directive on how to carry out this instruction should have been issued to prevent such incidents from taking place.

Perhaps President Abdurrahman should issue guidelines to anticipate the consequences of the existing national policy on prohibiting the hoisting of the Morning Star flag (or the Free Aceh Movement flag of Aceh).

The Morning Star flag will continue to fly in Irian Jaya unless there is real development -- one that welcomes local participation and emancipation.

The Morning Star flag is the West Papuan's identity, a personification and expression of the customs and culture of their ancestors; it is their heartbeat.

The flag is at the same time a strong protest against arbitrary actions, injustice, and sociopolitical and sociocultural insubordination.

The problem is, where should the Morning Star flag be placed or positioned in the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia which has its own independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity?

The Morning Star flag should be allowed to fly under the protection of the national Red and White flag. It must not be placed on equal heights on the mast or be of the same size.

It must be smaller than the Red and White and it must be positioned under the Red and White or on the left side of it, especially in local and customary ceremonies.

The flags of states or provinces in other countries also fly under such subordination, though this is not known as yet in Indonesia.

However, if this flag policy were applied to Irian Jaya exclusively, it would discriminate against other provinces. So there should first be a national legislation that is enforced throughout the country stipulating that provincial flags shall fly under the protection of the Red and White.

Similarly it may be identified, determined and agreed upon that provincial flags exist as a reflection of the personality and identity of the provinces. The flags of all provinces, like contingent flags, must be seen as "components" of the Red and White.

Take the logo of the Jakarta administration for example; it used to grace the left and right front doors of Jakarta's official cars. Why not hoist flags showing the logos in local offices, positioning them under or on the left-hand side of the Red and White?

This move may alleviate fears of separatism while recognizing the customs, culture and identity of the societies in the provinces concerned.

The writer is chairman of a mass organization called SOKSI- Reformasi and leader of the National Reform Movement.