Noken System: How the Papuanese Speak Out Their Right Today

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Indonesia as a large country with a variety of natural wealth and values ​​of local wisdom is increasingly eroded by the times, especially in Papua. As one of the biggest islands with various cultural values, Papua experienced similar things in various aspects of their community life. One of them is the existence of the noken system as one of the media for the people of Papua to speak out their rights, especially in democracy.

Noken system is a voting system that has been used by the people of Papua, especially those who live in the central mountain areas. Noken as the main tool in the selection process is a knitting bag made from the roots that are used daily by the people of Papua, whether to bring goods selling, saving money or other purposes. Noken and Papua are two things that cannot be separated because the noken itself has become the identity of the Papuanese.

In the Noken System, there are several steps that must be done before the final choice is determined. When the first time the names of those candidates to be a president, regional head or legislator appears in public, the community starts to actively conduct discussions at home, in the market or other places.

This process will reveal the important information to be known by the voters about the candidate. Like, the background of his life, occupation, educational background, habits and what things he has done during his career, especially community service activities. With a variety of information that has been obtained, then the local people can get a general idea of ​​the candidates who will he selected and deserve to vote in the election process.

After determining the personal choice, then the discussion continued again. In this case, the voters choose the candidate who would be chosen. After that, the polls will continue by using cultural appraisals and eventually a name will come to be agreed upon as a common choice and the the choosen candidate will get the majority supports of  the voters and then will be presented by the custom chief  as the representative of the community during the election.

So, it becomes clear that this noken system is not a form of individual domination, because the unifying noken system itself comes from the choice of individuals who have passed the feasibility test and become the people’s choice generally.

In the Indonesian electoral system, the Constitutional Court itself has given a decision on the existence of a noken system in the general election. In its verdict, the Constitutional Court declared that the use of the noken system was legal and this was taken to accommodate the existence of local Papuans’ own local values.

The noken system became so essential for Papuans to declare their political rights driven by several factors. As such, the vast geographical nature of Papua and many areas that cannot be accessed directly, this is supported by uneven distribution of voters. Making it difficult for them to come directly to the election area. So, the noken system is chosen because it is considered more effective in its implementation and the voters who live in distant places still can participate in the national election.

In addition to being more efficient in accommodating the needs of the Papuan in granting democratic rights, there are several benefits derived from this noken system such as transparent elections, since all citizens have agreed to vote for the candidates together without any secrets among them, other than that the existence of the system this also reduces the conflicts  that may occur after the elections, this is because all the decisions taken are the result of a joint discussion.

Another thing is the creation of public sovereignty symbolized by Noken. This happens because decisions are made by common sovereignty in terms of political participation. In addition, the existence of the noken system can also save the election budget that should be spent.

However, there are pro cons occurred about this system, especially after the noken system was used in some Papua’s areas during the presidential election. Several parties have challenged the existence of a noken system that is considered to harm the Indonesian democratic process that should take place directly, publicly, freely, secretly, honestly, and fairly.

Some countries also have different electoral mechanisms tailored to the conditions in each country itself but by democratic principles. In the constitution of Indonesia, there is article 18 B paragraph 2 of the 1945 Constitution which reads:

The State recognizes and respects the unity of indigenous and tribal peoples along with their traditional rights as long as they are alive and in accordance with the development of society and the principle of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia regulated in the Law.

Under this article, the State must respect and protect traditional rights in various places in Indonesia. Both as a cultural identity and as a tool of democracy, such as the noken system used by the people of Papua to voice their political rights in the national elections system of Indonesia.