West Papua: From Colonialism to Development Era

Papua - abc.net
Papua - abc.net

Papua in the Colonial Era

Papua - abc.net
Papua – abc.net


In the colonial era, the west part of New Guinea (Papua and West Papua Province nowadays) was named Dutch New Guinea. This region was claimed by the Dutch Indies Government as their colonial territory in 1660.

During the colonialism era in Papua, Dutch Indies Government opened their Government bureau in the region that was close in distance to the Harbor. In 1898, Manokwari city was chosen as the center for Dutch controller office to cover North New Guinea region and Fak-Fak city was selected as the center for controller office that covered West and North New Guinea. In 1901, the Dutch built another controller office in Merauke that served South New Guinea region, apart from Fak-Fak city.

Join with Indonesia

Papua - abc.net
Papua – abc.net


When Indonesia declared its independence in 1945, The Dutch Government still held their power claim over Papua or West New Guinea. The Dutch also gave a promise to Papuan to declare their independence in 1961 apart from Indonesia which absolutely was against by the Indonesia government.

In December 1961, Soekarno, Indonesia’s president at that time, declared war on the Dutch government to reclaim Papua. Soekarno saw this option was the only way, because Indonesia had gone through several negotiations with the Dutch regarding Papua with no results. In 1962, the world then took part to mediate this conflict. The USA push Dutch government to agree to have another negotiation with Indonesia, which resulted in the New York agreement in August 1962. Papua then reunited with Indonesia in 1963.

In 1969, under the supervision of United Nations, Indonesia’s Government held the Act of Free Choice or well-known in Bahasa Indonesia as PEPERA. This act requested the 1,025 representative leaders from all Papuan regions to be involved in determining their future. On that day Papuan representatives had chosen to stay with Indonesia. The United Nations then created a resolution during their general meeting to make sure that the power transfer from Dutch Government to Indonesia was running well.

The new province in New Guinea Island was called West Irian during 1969 to 1973, then changed into Irian Jaya when Soeharto (president at that time) inaugurated Freeport, a copper and gold mining company from the USA. Irian Jaya remained the same until 2002. This province name then changed again to Papua based on Law No.21/2001.

The term “irian” itself means ‘Join with The Republic of Indonesia Anti-Netherlands’, while Papua means curly hair in Malayan language.

Later in 2004, Papua province grew into two provinces: Papua and West Papua

Papua Rapid Development

Papua - goodnewsfromindonesia.id
Papua – goodnewsfromindonesia.id

After reuniting with Indonesia in 1963, Indonesia then started to develop Papua although the progress was considered slow compared to other Indonesia’s regions. For example, in the middle of 1980, Indonesia’s government activated the transmigration policy to Papua to balance the population inhabitation in Indonesia.

Today, the economic scale of Papua is increasing. One of its main factors is of the development of Trans Papua road, especially in West Papua, which has opened easy access for people who live along 1,070 Kilometers of the road from total 4,330.07 kilometers. The Trans Papua road has two segments in West Papua province. The first segment connects Sorong – Kambuaya – Manokwari, this 594,81 kilometers long segmented road has been 100 percent completed. The second segment serves to connect Manokwari – Wasior – and Papua borderline. The 475, 81 Kilometers road is currently still in the development process.

The second factor that triggers the Papuan economic scale is how the oil fuels cost has now become cheaper due to the flat price regulation. For years and years, the oil fuel in Papua could reach 100,000 rupiahs per liter, while in other regions the price was less than 1/10 of it.

Because of this road and the cheaper oil fuels, the transportation cost is cheaper. In turns, it allows Papuan to allocate their gas budget for other necessities, such as building a more decent house and buy more basic needs, due to the cheaper logistics. Back then, Papuan relied on Airplane for the logistic shipment, which was mainly bought from other islands. When the weather went bad, however, all shipments were delayed. By now, despite the weather condition, the shipment process can still on going through the Trans Papua road.

Another goal that the Government wants to achieve is full electrification in Papua and West Papua province. The electrification ratio in booth province right now is only 47 percent. Therefore, by the end of 2019, the Indonesia government is expecting all Papuan people will have access to electricity

The development project in Papua and West Papua last year spent 85,7 billion rupiahs of budget and it will increase next year. The main aims of the development that rapidly moves in Papua nowadays is to increase the access for Papuan. The Government wants them to be able to use the decent transportation facility, obtain the affordable basic needs, better access to information, education, and health, also to decrease the mortality index. The government also intends to show the world that Papua and West Papua are important for Indonesia—that the Papuan is being involved in the development process for a better future.