The governor of Oro province, Papua New Guinea, Gary Juffa, has been a strong, vocal supporter of West Papuan independence. He was involved in several interviews, sounding his view on how West Papua should have its referendum. There is also a recent footage of him delivering a battle cry speech for the Free West Papua movement, making him a major instrument for the separatists’ propaganda.
It seemed like Juffa has a rigid idea on how a good governance in West Papua should be conducted. However, the government of his own country, Papua New Guinea, is doing much worse than West Papua in many vital aspects. If a newly independent West Papua will ever be established, the future of the country can be predicted to be nothing than bleak.
Contrasted to his firm stance on the importance of independence for Melanesian nations, one cannot say that Gary Juffa is as optimistic as he used to be. Juffa made a statement back in 2014 that Australia is implementing neo-colonialist policy(s) towards Papua New Guinea. Juffa might have just realized that the political interests of surrounding countries are not going to go away that easily, following a declaration of independence.
Corruption is also outstandingly high in Papua New Guinea. Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perception Index ranks Papua New Guinea 136th place out of 176 countries. Compared to the status quo of PNG, Indonesian government is doing a better job in protecting clean bureaucracy and safeguarding the distribution of wealth among people. West Papua is a part of a country where a dedicated anti-corruption agency is currently working nationwide, independent from the main law enforcement system.
In 2017, Juffa stated that he was ‘fooled’ by the promises of the PNG government. He was referring to the difficulties he faced when trying to criticize government policies.
Papua New Guinea is also often ranked as the worst place in the world for its violence against women. 27% of men on Bougainville Island, PNG, were reported for having raped a non-partner, while 14.1% committed gang rape. Nearly half of reported rape victims are under 15 years of age and 13% are under 7 years of age.
As a governor who might aspire to achieve higher post, garnering support and sympathy of the voters is easier when Juffa uses West Papua as one of his main issue. The solidarity of Melanesian people between Pacific countries is a simple, compelling idea to be sold 1. In spite of that, Juffa’s actions will be put to a better use if he focus his effort on the betterment of women empowerment and eradicating corruption in Papua New Guinea. Last but not least, Gary Juffa should remember that Indonesia is not an enemy, but rather a neighboring archipelago with Melanesian population.
Transparency International 2011 (2011). “CORRUPTION PERCEPTIONS INDEX 2011”. Transparency International 2011.