Resources, leadership the key to a prosperous Papua

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Thu, 01/18/2007 3:21 PM

Soon after his election for a second term as Papua governor in July last year, Barnabas Suebu said he had a dream of building a prosperous province for his constituents. He recently outlined his vision in an interview withJakarta Post contributor Neles Tebay. The following are excerpts of the interview.

QuestionWhat exactly is your dream or vision for Papua?

Answer: Having reflected on the history of development in the province and the current conditions here, I have come to the conclusion that a new Papua should be the vision of the province. The island of Papua is so beautiful and rich in natural resources, both in its soil and in the sea, and even in the air. I hope to see a new Papua where its people can live and enjoy a just, peaceful, and prosperous life.

I envision indigenous tribespeople, the owners of the land, living together with immigrants in an atmosphere of brotherhood. I hope immigrants can respect and recognize the rights of the indigenous people and likewise the local people can provide a comfortable and peaceful place to live together.

It’s my dream to see Papuans work hard and study to enable them to draw even with and perhaps exceed the rest of the nation in terms of prosperity.

The level of education and health of Papuans must be more advanced than that of the people on other islands. They must be highly civilized and dignified, disciplined and faithful to God and laws, and respect humanitarian, moral and ethical values, justice, and truth.

What qualities do Papuans need in their leaders to make these dreams come true?

Papuan leaders must be democratically elected and possess a high capacity and capability for leadership, but at the same time they must be modest. They must be free from corruption, collusion, and nepotism, and against any form of discrimination. The ideal leaders are those who manage to blend authority and charisma and be role models for their people.

Leaders who run a clean government that provides the best services to their people will win respect and trust from the people.

How are you going to realize the vision?

It will require hard and never-ending work. To realize the vision, the process of development is a must. We need to go through a process of cultural and social transformation toward a new society.

We need to fulfill three prerequisites to reach this vision, namely, power, resources, and leadership. With regard to power, we already have it through Law No. 21/2001 on special autonomy for Papua. The law provides us with quite broad authority, space, and opportunity. We also possess abundant resources in human resources, natural resources and financial resources. What we have to do now is to organize all the resources effectively and properly.

However, we are also facing difficult and complicated problems. Due to some problems in Papua which remain unsettled, the existence of the Unitary State of Indonesia is even at stake. Such a situation requires a great leader. I am challenged to become that kind of leader.

Having analyzed our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, I have decided to adopt sustainable development as the basic strategy for development in Papua. This strategy suggests that we place human beings at the center of development. Development must promote ethical and moral values, justice, truth and human dignity.

Sustainable development requires us to apply an environmental perspective. We want to keep the balance between the necessity of exploitation and conservation of our environment. We do not want to exhaust our natural resources for short-term interests. We need to maintain our environment and natural resources, so that they can be utilized from generation to generation.

How should the basic strategy be implemented?

We need three basic policies: growth-centered development, people-centered development, and development stability and continuity. These three basic policies will work if we can maintain continuity, balance, efficiency, effectiveness, self-reliance and accountability.

Then what will be the priorities of your government?

Based on the reality in the field, I have decided to focus on reorganization of the bureaucracy at all levels in order to create clean governance and good governance, build Papua as the land of peace and prosperity, improve human security, and accelerate the development of basic infrastructure. We will execute each item of the agenda through programs every year.

If all of these four items are implemented, I believe we can eradicate poverty and improve the quality of life of all people living in Papua, particularly the indigenous people.

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