In the midst of the many issues and problems the world is facing today, countries are stacking their solutions and managing their priorities based on their abilities and resources. Several ripples big and small would arise, and in some extend, such as ULMWP in the Pacific Countries.
The presence of ULMWP has caused a slight disturbance for the unity of the Pacific Countries. There’s a divide in the opinions of the Pacific countries about ULMWP. Some countries support West Papua freedom, such as Vanuatu, Salomon Island, and New Caledonia. Then there are countries that honours Indonesia’s sovereignty such as, Papua New Guinea and Fiji. The ULMWP supporters strongly oppose and blame countries that support Indonesia, as expressed by the ex Vanuatu Prime Minister Barak Sope during his Interview with radionz.co.nz, Monday (3/10).
Some political figures in the Pacific Countries try to enter ULMWP as a member in Melanesian Spearhead Groups (MSG). One of them is the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Manaseh Sogavare, who is very vocal about Papua issues, even though currently he is facing charges from ex -political figures in Solomon Islands. His charges are for fraudulence in the Solomon Island’s 2015 election. If these charges are proven to be correct, and in October 2016 the Solomon Judicial system convicted him as guilty, Sogavare will face impeachment.
“My view regarding this matter is that, it’s just a game between the government of Papua New Guinea and the government of Fiji,” he said. “I think they’re working with the Indonesians, and they’re not supporting the Melanesian people in West Papua who want their independence. The postponements just keep going on and on,” he added.
Barak Sope himself is not a saint. He got a 3 years conviction in 2002 on the charge of forging millions of US dollars worth of Vanuatu Government Guarantees. He was later pardoned by the Vanuatu government in 2003, despite strong opposition from the governments of Australia and New Zealand.
In the other hand, there are actually real threats faced by the Pacific nations. For instance the climate change that needs to be addressed in the fullest extend by the Pacific countries. According to an Australian researcher in a journal that was published in May by the online journal Environmental Research Letters, as cited from theguardian.com, there are five tiny islands in Pacific that disappeared due to erosion and rising seas. The submerge islands are part of Salomon Island, because 10mm (0,4in) rise in the annual sea level.
Head of the Solomon Islands’ National Disaster Council Melchior Mataki, has already asked for the help of international organizations and community to help his country in dealing with these problems. Solomon Islands itself is a part of 177 countries that have signed a global agreement in Paris to handle climate change. According to the independent , in 2015, over thousands of people had fled from countries in the Pacific, because they are grossly affected by the climate change.
In the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Micronesia, September of 2016, ULMWP demanded to follow up decisions of the 46th PIF in 2015, Papua New Guinea. The decision is for PIF countries to send Fact Finder Team to come to West Papua and gather facts about their allegations that will strengthen their arguments to separate West Papua from Indonesia. Their demands were not being responded. The leaders in PIF understand the sensitivity of the issues of Papua. They agree that those issues are just propaganda.
For countries who are prone to natural disasters such as the Pacific Islands countries, the list is still filled with the many challenges ahead. Small disturbances would likely be prevented, and priorities should be assessed. The position being taken by the leaders in the 2015 PIF is deemed wise. There are bigger problems to be solved and higher priorities to be addressed.