The Jakarta Post
Friday, March 28, 2008
Marcellus Rantetana, Jakarta
The Papuan local government is facing serious bureaucratic
problems, such as disorganization, poorly skilled personnel,
overlapping duties and complicated bureaucratic procedures. The
number of units under the provincial government, for example,
exceeds the number legally required. The province currently has
19 dinas (ministry offices), where it should have 18, and 16
badan (technical units), where 12 should be sufficient.
Various studies have also identified the incompetence of
officials as the primary reason behind bureaucratic problems.
Many officials do not have adequate appropriate skills and
expertise to undertake their duties and responsibilities.
Bureaucratic reform should be at the center of Papuan
development programs. Undertaking such reform in Papua, however,
will not be as straight forward as in the other areas of this
country, because besides introducing professionalism, improved
skills and education are required by locals.
Blindly applying the Fit and Proper test, for example, will
attract professionals but will close doors for most Papuans,
which contradicts the purpose of developing the region. The
reform must be tailored in such a way it will allow locals to
strengthen their capacity to work.
Efficient and effective bureaucracy is necessary; it is not
sufficient to implement development programs. Competent
bureaucrats without adequate public oversight will lead to power
abuse and corruption, as we have witnessed all these years
throughout the country.
We are informed almost every day of local government officials,
even parliament members, embezzling public money. Things tend to
be worse in Papua as the information gap between local
government officials and the public is still large compared to
those in other parts of the country.
Therefore, building the working capacity and education of
Papuans is a sine qua non condition — they will only be able to
meaningfully participate in the development process if they can
comprehend the things going on around them.
Governor Barnabas Suebu’s commitment to focus on education and
nutrition by allocating more funds to the areas is timely and
strategic in this regard.
The governor has also put in place a program called RESPEK
(Village Strategic Development Program) targeted directly to
Papuans at the grass roots level. Under this program, villages
throughout Papua are allocated a sizable amount of funds through
grant schemes that can be used for particular purposes from food
and nutrition to security and human rights. Some kampungs have
ended up with between Rp 300 million and Rp 500 million in
It should be ensured external workers do not take over jobs of
the local people. Quite often, under the assumption the locals
do not have the required skills, the external supporters end up
undertaking most of the program’s tasks. We need to keep in mind
the people — even those we think are least knowledgeable —
have their own ways of solving their own problems, as has been
proven by Sragen Regent Untung Wiyono.
These programs will only be effective and efficient if a proper
accountability system is established. The government has
internal control systems at all levels, however, the
effectiveness of these systems is questionable for various
Therefore, I recommend they set up a special task-force
specifically to monitor and evaluate the progress of various
programs in place and provide information directly to decision
makers, in particular the governor. As such, the governor and
other policy makers in Papua will be well informed about the
state of the program.
The writer is a staff member of the Partnership for Governance
Reform in Indonesia. The views expressed in this article are
solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those
of the partnership.