Know Better about the Special Autonomy for West Papua

West Papua
Source : Policy Forum

Papua is one of Indonesia’s richest territories, yet it is also one of its most volatile. From the Dutch colonial times until now, news of bloodshed and resistance between those seeking independence and Indonesia has kept the Papuans busy.

To calm the turmoil, the Indonesian government issued a policy supposed to benefit both Indonesia and West Papua. It is known as “Special Autonomy.” So, let’s learn more about this matter by reading this article all the way through.

The Special Autonomy for West Papua

West Papua
Source : Eureka Street

It was previously stated that special autonomy was granted to assist in overcoming the turbulence that occurred in the land where the bird of paradise lived. This program is meant to enhance the economic prosperity of the Papuan people, who have historically lagged behind other regions in Indonesia, and maintain a political agenda to keep the separatist movement at bay.

So, with Special Autonomy, it is envisaged that Papua would be able to build a viable economic climate and improve poverty, including life expectancy, education, and standard of living, that has entrapped the Papuan people despite their immense natural endowments.

It is crucial to know that this special autonomy is accorded to West Papua and Aceh. It was done because the two areas were the most contested, and fragments of the Indonesian liberation movement still survived.

The Reality

Special autonomy, which is a government gesture to support a region’s economy, is not granted to all regions in Indonesia. So, certain locations receive preferential care.

One such treatment is allocating more money every year than agreed in the Draft State Budget, often known as the RAPBN.

Since 2002, when the reform was implemented, the special autonomy funds for Papua have been disbursed. So far, the central government has released a special fund of 138.65 trillion rupiahs during the last 20 years.

The Changes 

The government then amended the status and provisions of special Autonomy for West Papua in July 2022, followed by several adjustments to the previously effective legal regulations.

At least 20 altered articles, three of which are government recommendations, while the remaining fifteen are not. In addition, two new articles have been added: Article 6A and Article 68A. One of the amended articles is about the west  Fund for Papua’s long-term viability.

The special autonomy fund allocation was prolonged until 2041, changing Article 34 of the Special Autonomy Law. The amount was also adjusted from 2% to 2.5% of the national general allocation fund’s cap.

Article 6A relates to members of the Papuan Regency/City House of Representatives (DPRK). Papuan natives account for 25% of DPRK members, with women accounting for 30% of the total. This section, however, makes no political endorsements for native Papuans to pursue politics.

Conversely, Article 68 establishes a special agency for accelerating Papua’s advancement, which will be directly accountable to the President and managed by the Vice President. The nation-state is expected to spend 234 trillion rupiahs during 20 years.

For your information, this policy regulates the allocation of income from gold mining and other natural resources, with 80 percent going to local governments and the rest going to the central government.

That is the goal of the particular funds provided to support the rapid development of each of these special sectors. They are granted the authority to manage and distribute it to each district, for example, to assist in the development of tourism, culture, and local infrastructure.

Unfortunately, some unwelcome news to report: special autonomy is exercised with an iron hand or under duress. It is done to stop the separatist movement that threatens Indonesia’s sovereignty.

Consequentially, some argue that this new legislation of special autonomy for West Papua still falls short of meeting the aspirations of the indigenous people of this grand land.