Friday, December 09, 2005

Famine in Papua, shame on us!

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said he would punish government officials who had failed to prevent 55 people in Papua from dying and 112 others from falling seriously ill by food scarcity.
"I ask that this problem be overcome. We must save our brothers (in Papua)," the head of state told participants of a regular course of the National Resilience Institute`s 38rd generation at the State Palace here Friday.
Well, Mr President, Papuans saved our life for so many years thanks to their generosity to let us exploiting the region's rich natural resources. They should be the beneficial owners of the resources and do not deserved such humiliation of famine.
The President made the statement following news reports that 7 out of 14 subdistricts in Yahukimo district at the center of Jayawijaya mountain were suffering from a food shortage which had already killed 55 people and make more than 100 others sick.
The food scarcity is threatening the lives of some 15,000 to 200,000 Yahukimo residents.
Shame on us! Officers are bussy to polish their image, spending a lot of money from the state budget to place advertisements for their own good. One of ministers is willing to pay US$10,000 a day for ads in five national newspapers only to say that he is good enough as a minister. He spent US$40,000 in the last four days already.
Our legislators enjoy super-high salary that enough to feed thousands of people. Our officers enjoy trillions of rupiah from illegal logging in Papua. Hundreds of millions US dollars in tax and non-tax flows to Jakarta each year. We should not let one single person in Papua to die of famine.

House Speaker Agung Laksono put the blame on leaders negligence. But most likely the problem is worse than that. Poor infrastructure for example. Agung was right when he said that if natural disasters such as floods affected the people, it would be understandable. But if what happened was famine, then it indicated that there were mistakes in the government`s infrastructures so that the incident was taking place undetected.
Agung suggested that the government should improve the existing infrastructural facilities to open isolations of villagers in remote areas so that they would no longer experience protracted shortage of food.
More money, off course not necessarily solve the problem in Papua. Newspapers reported involvement of Indonesian military and police officers in illegal logging operations in West Papua, and noted its corruption of local officials to facilitate the operations.
In fact the more the money flows back to Papua, the bigger the amounts corrupted. Remember sometimes ago when a regent in Papua involved in a US$10 million corruption case and Papua governor accused minister of forestry took US$5 million from reforestration fund?
In August 2005, Papua legislators asked President SBY to immediately establish a team to investigate irregularities in the spending of around US$600 million funds disbursed by central government under the special autonomy arrangement in the last three years.
A stupid math would result a US$4,000 per Papuan, three times the national per capita income and that would ensure no Papuans should die for hunger.
Multinational companies like Freeport McMoRan made huge profits from their mining operations. Next year Beyond Petroleum would start the US$3 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG) project.
Oh, shame on us!

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