President Jokowi’s Touch in the Land of Papua


President Jokowi’s public communication directly to contact with the Papuan people carries a positive message. Internal ministries/institutions also required to be more thoughtful and determined in interpreting and managing various policy that has been put by President Jokowi in the last 3 years. To bring the welfare in Papua, his first touch is to accommodate the approach on conceptual development based on the respective cultural areas. His second approach is by encourageing the regional approach

President Jokowi has been taking several touches to bring prosperity to the Papuan People. Here, I summarize it by five touches.

Managing Papua is not easy. With a specific context and a multidimensional nature, undoubtedly, it takes patience in touching the Papuan, especially the Indigenous Papua. However, the state measures must ongoing in the midst of a highly dynamic, internationally, nationally and regionally strategic environment.

From the history of national development, every President of the Republic of Indonesia, from President Sukarno to President Joko Widodo, was confronted with the agenda of managing Papua. Despite the differences in the policies and leadership style, all the country leaders have a primary commitment to actualize the promise of Independence 1945 to all corners of the country.

President Jokowi’s touch

Similarly, conducted by President Jokowi in managing Papua. President Jokowi’s public communication directly to contact with the Papuan people carries a positive message. Internal ministries/institutions also required to be more thoughtful and determined in interpreting and managing various policy that has been put by President Jokowi in the last 3 years.

The first touch

President Jokowi accommodates the approach on conceptual development based on the respective cultural areas, which are Saereri, Anim-ha, Mee Pago, Laa Pago and Mamta) in the National Medium Term Development Plan (RPJMN) 2015 – 2019. The development pattern adjustment stated in Presidential Regulation No. 2 of 2015. The change of sociologist-anthropological approach into technocratic planning is alongside with the primary idea of Papua Governor Lukas Enembe who is reorganizing the regional development of Papua.

Therefore, in the context of policy implementation, the approach on that five cultural areas should be interpreted  and implemented by Ministers, Directore General, Deputy and other executives in Ministries/Institutions to design more technical, in terms of sectoral and regional policy formulation, programs and projects, as well as specific budget formulations for Tanah Papua, so as to suit the needs and characteristics of the cultural areas.

The second touch

President Joko Widodo’s approach to the the lands in Papua by encourageing the regional approach. This strategy was chosen after considering various aspects, such as the vast territory of Papua, unevenly distributed populations, as well as the potential of strategically valued natural resources. For that, the clusters or regional corridors approach using inter-regional connectivity support is an appropriate measure.

Currently, the Government has established Bintuni Industrial Zone, Timika Industrial Estate, Merauke Food Center (KEK Merauke), Special Economic Zone (KEK) of Sorong and other potential areas. In particular, on 1st August 2016 President Joko Widodo ratified Government Regulation No. 31st of 2016 on the Special Economic Zone (KEK) of Sorong. With this KEK framework, the Government implements a number of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to accelerate investment in the Sorong KEK.

Alongside this policy, in 2014 – 2019, the Government give more attention towards 25 Disadvantaged Regions in Papua and 7 Disadvantaged Regencies in West Papua. Thus, this territorial strategy will connect economically strategic areas and underdeveloped areas in Papua.

* The third touch*

As part of the effort to create an equal management of natural resources in Papua, President Joko Widodo attention is concentrated on the renegotiation of Freeport Indonesia Inc. On one occasion President Jokowi once advised, “Indonesian sovereignty should be maintained in the negotiation process with Freeport Indonesia” (, 4/9/2017). We are all aware of the very high interest of the United States over Freeport Indonesia and its presence in Papua is not merely economic, but also related to the history Papua’s integration in the geopolitics of the world.

The foundation for the renegotiation of Freeport Indonesia has been laid down by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as published by Presidential Decree No. 3/2012 on the Evaluation Team for the Adjustment of Coal Mining Concessions. From 17 points requested by Papua Governor Lukas Enembe in 2013, it is finally compressed down to 6 renegotiation agendas.

Now, there is a significant progress achieved in the President Jokowi’s administration, as said by Finance Minister Sri Mulyani and Minister Ignatius Jonan on August 29, 2017. There is an agreement that Freeport Indonesia Inc. agreed to divest 51% of shares to the Government of Indonesia. Freeport committed to building a smelter within 5 years until January 2022, the contract of work become a Special Mining Permit (IUPK), so Freeport Indonesia can agreed to maintain a greater state revenue which is better than the work contract regime.

The fourth touch

The fourth touch formulates a comprehensive development acceleration strategy for Papua.

These accelerated development measures were actualized by President Jokowi on 11 December 2017, using a Presidential Instruction Number 9 of 2017 on the Acceleration of Welfare Development in Papua Province and West Papua Province. President Instruction 9/2017 is focused on the health and education sector, local economic development, basic infrastructure, digital infrastructure, and connectivity. In the process, the Government will adopt a development based on culture, the area of custom and indigenous Papua-focused, as well as communicating with all Papuan community.

Thereby, with the concentration of poverty number in rural and highlands, it appears that the President Instruction 9/2017 also implements a focus on remote, around the borders and underdeveloped areas mainly in rural and highlands areas that are difficult to reach.

The fifth touch

President Jokowi determined in supporting the Governor Lukas Enembe who is currently preparing Papua as the Host of the National Sports Week (PON) Year 2020. The determination proved with the publication of Presidential Instruction No. 10 of 2017 regarding the Support on National Sports Week XX and National Paralympic Week XVI Year 2020 in Papua Province. In the Cabinet Meeting on July 19, 2017, President Jokowi emphasized the need for a law to accelerate the development of various facilities and infrastructure of National Sports Week (PON) 2020.

After the discussion since late July 2019, finally, President Jokowi signed the Instruction 10/2017 on December 18, 2017. From President Jokowi point of view, “PON project venue development in Papua has a very important meaning, not just sporting Papua, but also Indonesia”. This was explained by President Jokowi when placing the first stone of the construction of the main stadium in Kampung Harapan, Jayapura, on May 9, 2015, ago. This view of the President is correlated with the expectations of Governor Lukas Enembe, who sees PON 2020 in Papua as an instrument in accelerating Papua’s development and as an approach to building the identity and pride of the Papuan people. Sport, identity, and spirit of unity being put together in one step.

Challenges and limitations

We are all aware that Papua agenda is multi-dimensional and complex. Managing Papua requires a holistic approach to fundamentally touch the root of the problem existed. Especially now the world draw attention to the dynamics of Papua from day to day. A number of issues such as Human Rights, the issue of “slow-motion genocide”, the issue of a referendum, and the issue of International Dialogue, became the agenda raised by various communities. The geopolitical situation of the world and the area that gives room for the Papua issues to rise become a challenge that requires intensified attention from the country.

Currently, the State (Executive, House of Representatives and DPD RI) facing a demand to reconstruct the Law no. 21 the year 2001 on Special Autonomy for Papua Province (and West Papua). The Parliament has included it in the list of Prolegnas 2015 – 2019, called Law on Special Autonomy for Provinces in Papua. For the internal Government, in depth study is needed to be able to address this growing aspiration.

Finally, the touch made by President Jokowi and the administration is a form of State presence in the middle of the Papuans. Step by step to flourishing Papuan’s assurance towards Republic of Indonesia.

Dr. Velix Wanggai

(Presidential Special Staff 2009-2014 concerning Provincial Development and Regional Autonomy, observer of Papua development)

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