There are many hidden gems and talented people in Papua, sadly because there are many challenges, these hidden gems may not shine as bright as they should. However, for some, they can get past trough those challenges and shine though all across the nation and even the world.
Maybe you already know about Septinus George Saa, the brilliant mind that becomes a great Physicists and has won a Nobel award when he was still a high school student. In Papua there are many people like him, that can shine brightly, despite the obstacles that they have.
Some of them even achieved one of the most prestigious seat in the government, a Minister. Until now, there are four Indonesia Ministers from Papua, one of them is currently still serving. These Ministers from Papua are, Manuel Kaisiepo, Freddy Numberi, Balthasar Kambuaya, and Yohana Yembise.
These Ministers have done many contributions for Indonesia during their time as a Minister, even before and after their assignment. Manuel Kaisiepo for instance, before he became the State Minister of Eastern Indonesia Regional Development Acceleration in National Unity Cabinet (2000-2001) and Gotong-Royong (Indonesian term for joint cooperation) Cabinet (2001-2004), he has always been fighting for the equality and the welfare of the people in eastern Indonesia Regions, especially the Papuan people, through his work as a journalist and editor in Journal Prisma (LP3ES, a journal about economy, politic, social, and government policy). During his time as a Minister, he also managed to show his commitment, which is shown by his achievements in creating Special Autonomy Act for Papua No. 21 of 2001, that gives Papua special autonomous right to govern their own region. Not only that, he even wrote a book entitled “The Commitment of Manuel Kaisiepo: Indonesia Eastern Regions in Natural Resources and Human Resources Policy-Indonesia Eastern Regions Development Series” that was published by State Ministry of Eastern Indonesia Regional Development Acceleration in 2004.
After Manuel Kaisiepo, there is also Freddy Numberi, a Papuan man who has many contributions to people of Indonesia and has many achievement in his career. He is the first Papuan who ever held a position as Vice Admiral in the Indonesian Navy, not only that, he even held a position as a Commander in the Main Base of Papua-Maluku. After retiring from the navy, he became the Governor of Papua in 1998 and 2000, President Abdurrahman Wahid decided to assign him as the Minister of State Apparatus Empowerment and Bureaucratic Reform. Moreover, he also held a position as the Ambassador of Indonesia for Italy and Malta in 2001-2004. During President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono administration, he even held a position as the Minister twice, as the Minister of Sea and Fisheries in 2004-2009 and the Minister of Transportation in 2009-2011.
There’s also Balthasar Kambuaya’s, who is a former Rector in Cendrawasih University (2005-2011). During his time as a lecturer in UNCEN, he has shown his dedication in education, development, economy, and business, not only in Papua but also the whole nation of Indonesia. Balthasar uses his knowledge to educate the Papuan people to have better education in order to develop Papua. His dedication, impressed President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, which made him to choose Balthasar as a Minister in the second Indonesia Unite Cabinet as the Minister of Environment and Forestry (2011-2014).
Last but not least, is Yohana Yembise, a strong Papuan women that has made President Joko Widodo to assign her as the Minister of Women Empowerment and Child Protection in 2014. Previously, in 2006, she received her Doctoral Degree in University Newcastle of New South Wales. Furthermore, she is also a symbol of women empowerment, by becoming the first Papuan women, who becomes a Distinguished Professor and Minister of Indonesia. She spends most of her life as a lecturer in UNCEN, and has given many contributions to the education of the Papuan people.
These four Papuan men and woman are the solid prove that the Papuan people have given great contribution to the Indonesian government and to Papua itself. These Minister from Papua have also set an example, that every Indonesia citizens can contribute and achieve high ranking officers in Indonesia, as long as they have the capability and ability to do so. Indonesia itself is a democratic country which was built by the hands of its own citizens. Therefore, every citizens in Indonesia are involved in choosing their leaders and representatives. everyone in Indonesia have the same right and freedom to speak and act, under the right law.