Mon, 13 Jun 2005


Kupang officials plan overseas trip as malnutrition widespread

Jemris Fointuna The Jakarta Post/Kupang

Kupang government officials have arranged a trip to Palmerston in the Northern Territory, Australia to learn from development programs in the state after recent reports of thousands of malnourished children in East Nusa Tenggara province.

Kupang Mayor SK Lerik filed a letter, dated April 26, to the East Nusa Tenggara governor and the secretary-general of the Ministry of Home Affairs detailing the purpose of the trip: To carry out comparative studies on development efforts, including the establishment of a maternity clinic and a possible teacher exchange program.

The trip, which will be funded by the 2005 Kupang municipal budget, will also include a visit to the 2005 Darwin Expo.

Officials to go on the trip include Kupang Mayor SK Lerik, Kupang Council Speaker Dominggus Bolla and several other high-ranking administration officials.

Others on the list are Kupang Military Command chief Lt. Col. Stefanus Trimulyono, head of the Kupang Prosecutor's Office Hindiyani, Kupang District Court president Henri Silaen and Kupang Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Agus Nugroho. Interestingly, some wives of those officials will also travel to Australia, namely Mie Lerik, Anna Hindiyana and Lina Napitupulu-Silaen.

The plan has been agreed to by the East Nusa Tenggara provincial government. Provincial government secretary M. Hermanus sent a letter dated May 30 to the Ministry of Home Affairs seeking the ministry's approval.

The officials are planning to depart for Australia as soon as the Ministry of Home Affairs gives the go-ahead.

Separately, NGO activist Sarah Lery Mbuik called the proposed trip a "waste of money".

Sarah, who is the director of the Institute for Initiative and People's Advocacy, said, due to the malnutrition cases, it was an inappropriate time for the officials to depart the province for Australia.

In a press conference on Friday she demanded that the Ministry of Home Affairs cancel the trip.

The government recently disclosed that 66,833 children in the province were malnourished.