Paulus Samkakai: “Government Policy puts Pressure on us”

Jayapura (4/7) Paulus Samkakai, the Secretary of the Indigenous People’s Association (LMA) in Kaiburse village, Malind District, Merauke Regency has claimed that various local government policies concerning investment were putting pressure on the indigenous people of Kaiburse. This had been going on since the MIFEE (Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate) started. Paulus said this in discussion and exchange of views about MIFEE with dozens of students form Merauke in the Maro Dormitory in Abepura, Jayapura on Wednesday (4/7).

According to Paulus, problems connected to transmigration in various places where MIFEE companies were operating had yet to be resolved. “We still haven’t settled the transmigration problem in kampung Kaiburse or in other places. This problem has been ongoing for 30 years by now. But, despite the unsolved issues, now MIFEE has arrived which just adds to the frustration”, he said.

For him, a thorough approach to transmigration is necessary. Transmigration is a regional asset which requires attention to ensure a region’s development. But the local culture and customs must also be borne in mind. Another point is that care should be taken with the names by which places are known. Paulus related how they were trying to address the transmigration problems connected with [Indonesian-language] place names such as Rawansari, Padang Raharja, Sukamaju and Kerik Enam.

“We are currently addressing these place-names. Because if the current transmigrants change the name of a place, then many more will come,” he said. However, even before this matter is settled, the Merauke local government continues to map the land to be used for the MIFEE project. He said that the government was mapping land and territory without co-ordination with the local indigenous people who own the land.

“It is actions like this that makes the indigenous people very much in disagreement with these policies that never give us any support.” he explained. Local people are living under the pressure of government policies which favour investors.

Abner Mansai, the Jayapura-based co-ordinator of the environmental advocacy and natural resources management division of Foker LSM Papua, said that until now, the government policies that have been issued about companies have never taken the local landowners’ side. It is yet to be seen how the regulations the government has made will benefit the people. On the contrary, they benefit the companies.

The MIFEE Megaproject was officially announced at the celbration of Merauke City’s 108th anniverary on 12 Februari 2010 by the former Bupati of Merauke, Jhon Gluba Gebze in the prescence of several national government ministers.

from tabloid jubi

[slightly abridged in translation by awas MIFEE]

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