Solomon Islands have conveyed their recognition to the political identity of the separatist group of United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP). During the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) of 2015 in Honiara, Solomon Islands, this separatist movement applied for membership to MSG, and although it has now been rejected, the submission was recorded and reviewed. MSG is currently lead by Peter Forau from Solomon Islands, which during the MSG summit in Honiara, Solomon Islands, also formed a special representative regarding West Papua issue.
This move is actually unwise since separatism is condemned in the international community. By recognizing ULMWP’s demand to separate Papua from Indonesia, Solomon Islands does not recognize the sovereignty of Indonesia to govern its province, Papua. Then who should be the leader for Papua? Is Solomon Islands a better leader for Papua? Lets see from these examples below.
Solomon Islands is a small country of 28,400 km2 which gained its independence in 7 July 1978. It is a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as the monarch and head of state. The politic of Solomon Islands is characterized by weak political parties and highly unstable parliamentary coalitions. It is also still tainted with ethnic tension and civil unrest.
Education in Solomon Islands is not compulsory. Moreover, with limited facilities for education, only 60 percent of school-age children have access to primary education. While in Papua, under the 12 years of Indonesian compulsory education age, the papuans have access to Papua Scholarship Program.
Income Per-Capita in Solomon is 1.940 USD (2015 data) while Papua has a whopping 54.218.295 IDR (2015 data) of income per-capita. The ratio for income per-capita comparison between Solomon to Papua is 1:2. This disparity between Solomon Islands and Papua is quite big by any standards.
In terms of infrastructure, for example transportation which is essential in any country’s development, Solomon Islands only has a total of 1,390 km of road and only around 33 km has been paved. While Papua already has Trans Papua being developed, with the total road of 4,325 km, and 3,667 has been completed. All are paved. Not to mention other infrastructure developments that are being carried out in Papua, such as Trans Papua Railway, better international and national airports, and many others.
From these several examples alone, it is quite unclear why Indonesia can’t not be the better leader for Papua, compared to Solomon Islands. Especially now that the Indonesia government has implemented the development acceleration programs in this province. There are facilities being built and programs underway, and many others.
Governing a country with many aspects is indeed a grand work. Solomon Islands may have a say on what’s better for Papua, but facts still speak louder. What do you think?