Media in NZ have maneuvered (again) to twist facts related to issues on West Papua, Indonesia. It is Radio New Zealand (RNZ) that recently tried to convince the public that West Papua is internationally represented by an organization called the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). And, that organization should represent West Papua in the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG), whatsoever.
MSG is an organization, consisting of countries in the sub-region of Melanesia, namely Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and FLNKS of New Caledonia.
It is hard to understand how NZ media like RNZ keep believing that ULMWP does or should represent West Papuans in international forums. It is a fact that West Papua and Papua provinces or West Papua as you wish has been officially led by Native Papuan leaders that are surely not related to ULMWP.
Recently, RNZ tries to confirm the public that Melanesian Spearhead Group has turned their back to Indonesia and started favoring ULMWP (15/2/2018). A globally well-respected organization that lead many countries that have Melanesian citizens, MSG is set to refer ULMWP as one of its full members, claimed RNZ.
The media states that, “A long-pending application for Spearhead membership by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, which has observer status in the group, is to be processed under new guidelines for membership.”
It is unknown whether it is technical or political about how RNZ has come to that baseless conclusion. Because, at the 21st MSG Summit in Port Moresby, 15 February 2018, our source reported that the application of a West Papua separatist group again reaches a dead end.
This is not the first time the group attempted to upgrade its status in the MSG. At the Group’s Special Summit in Honiara, Solomon Islands in 2016, the separatist group failed to change its status.
At this year’s Summit, the majority of the MSG Leaders questioned the appropriateness and relevancy of upgrading the status of this separatist group in the Melanesian grouping, as also reported by RNZ.
The Leaders’ Retreat discussion agreed on a revised membership guidelines but returned the ULMWP’s application back to the MSG Secretariat. The Leaders instructed the Secretariat to explore and draft the details of the criteria for the membership.
With that development, further discussion is needed on the substance of the membership criteria, and applying the proper mechanism of reviewing membership application which must be through the Secretariat, and must be recommended by senior officials to ministers before tabling any applications to leaders.
A dead end
The Agreement Establishing the MSG, which was revised in 2015, stipulated that members must respect the principles of sovereignty and non-interference in the domestic affairs of states.
The decision by the MSG is based on consensus. There are solid commitment and support by the majority of the members for Indonesia’s position. In addition, the majority of members are committed to honor and respect the principles and objectives of the MSG, in particular that of respect for sovereignty and non-interference in the internal affairs of states.
Based on those facts, the membership application of the separatist group will always reach a dead end and will not succeed. The result of the 2015 MSG Summit clearly stipulates that the separatist group as one of the observers, is only representing a small group of West Papuan individuals living abroad.
Also, it has to be noted that the statement of the separatist group claiming to represent the people of West Papua in the MSG, as implicitly stipulated by RNZ in many of their reports, is unfair for the 3.9 people of the Papua and West Papua provinces.
NZ media in general accuse that development and democratic processes are a rare thing in Papua. However, that claim sounds quite baseless because it a fact that In West Papua, more than two million West Papuan voters have been exercising their democratic rights through internationally free and fair public elections. The aspiration of West Papuans is channeled through the open democracy system in place in Indonesia.
West Papua even has special rights for Native Papuans, that they are the only ones that can be elected as regional and local leaders, both civil and military.
In its global survey in 2018, the highly respected Freedom House found that the elections in Indonesia, including in West Papua, are free and fair.
As with other provinces in Indonesia, communities in Papua and West Papua provinces are politically free. The freedom of democracy, managing budget and development is internationally recognized.
Indonesia’s commitment to MSG
“At this 21st Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Summit, Indonesia has expressed its commitment to be a strong partner for MSG member countries in realizing the MSG 2038 Prosperity for All vision, a 25-year plan for improving the welfare of communities in the sub-region of Melanesia,” Desra Percaya the Director General for Asia Pacific and African Affairs of the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the head of the Indonesian delegation stated.
Indonesia reaffirms its commitment to promote development, improving the welfare and security of the Melanesian sub-region under the leadership of Papua New Guinea at MSG.
The MSG leaders believe that it is important for MSG to focus on the common objectives of achieving prosperity, sustainable development, good governance and security. It would be detrimental if the attention of MSG is distracted by issues that are not relevant to those purposes.
Indonesia was granted the Associate Member Status at the 20th MSG Leaders’ Summit in Honiara, in 2015, during Solomon Islands’ chairmanship.
The 21st MSG Leaders’ Summit was concluded with the visit to the PNG’s Parliament and APEC Haus, on 15 February 2018, as part of the preparation for PNG’s chairmanship in APEC 2018. (*)