People in East Indonesia are Watching the Aceh Draft Law

Aceh Helsinki Accord raising expectations in East Indonesia

By SAMIAJI BINTANG,

JAKARTA (27 February 2006) – If anyone thinks that the draft law about Aceh only concerns the Acehnese, they are making a big mistake. A number of people in Sulawesi, Maluku and Papua are closing watching discussions about this bill.

Provinces which feel they have been left behind as compared with Java also want the same kind of autonomy that is being offered to Aceh.

This became apparent during discussions on the bill last Monday (27/2)

Legislator Andi M. Ghalib from Partai Persatuan Pembangunan: “If Aceh succeeds, I think other regions should have the same right, particularly places in Eastern Indonesia.”

Ghalib is Buginese and was a supreme court judge under Habibie, whose father is from Gorontalo and mother is Javanese

Habibie is often remembered as the only president to have come from Eastern Indonesia.

The meeting of Commission II of Parliament was attended by Aceh Governor, Azwar Abubakar, Chair of DPRD Aceh Said Fuad Zakaria, representative of GAM Faisal Putra, and a number of NGO activists.

Ghalib told the meeting: “We will fight hard to ensure that this draft is adopted as a law that can bring peace and prosperity to the people of Aceh.’
Some people may be surprised to hear this. Ghalib’s words strengthen efforts by the Buginese to use the Helsinki agreement to reinforce demands from regions outside Java

In other words Helsinki is not about talks between GAM and Indonesia but is providing space for Buginese to raise the question of structural change of the Indonesian state.

Vice President Kalla and his aides, Faris Husain and Hamid Awaluddin spearheaded the Helsinki agreement with their friend Juha Christensen, a Finnish consultant who lived for a time in Makassar.

On 24 December 1976 GAM described Aceh as a Javanese colony. They took up arms against Indonesia, up to the time of the tsunami in December 2004 when GAM entered into talks with Indonesia in Helsinki. The result is that the Acehnese will be able to run their own affairs with the exception of monetary affairs, foreign affairs, fiscal affairs, the judiciary, defence and religious freedom, which are under the authority of the Indonesian state.

But this has raised concerns among politicians not only in Senayan

Permadi Satrio Wiwoho of Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan believes that the most important aspect of this draft law is not about name and flag. A flag does not bring prosperity. ‘For us, the most important thing is peace in Aceh and improving their prosperity.’

With regard to the flag, GAM’s flag can now theoretically fly side by side with the Indonesian flag.

Permadi is a Javanese who was active on consumer affairs and has been involved in politics since the authoritarian Suharto era.

He fears that Aceh will win their independence with the help of this bill.

One of his friends, Sutradara Gintings, says that the “stakeholders” of this bill are not only the Acehnese, but people in other regions. ‘We must listen to the views of people elsewhere.’

He said that there are several references to ‘self government’ in the bill. ‘ We need to know what this means in detail.’

But, he said, it is certainly true that more backward areas should be given greater authority than other areas.

GAM representative Faisal Putra says GAM will stay within the boundaries of the Indonesian constitution. At first, he said, we were not too happy with the word Indonesia but we agreed to make a commitment to the agreement in Helsinki because the peace model is being raised on the international arena.

Faisal is a lawyer from Lhokseumawe who has been involved in talks with Indonesia since the talks in Geneva during the government of President Abdurrahman Wahid in 2001.

The Aceh Helsinki model is often mentioned at meetings of the Majelis Rakyat Papua in Jayapura. In Manado, Ambon and Ternate, Helsinki has raised similar expectations. They all want greater freedom to manage their own affairs and not have everything decided for them in Jakarta.

Tapol
Mar 03, 2006 08:47 PST http://www.wpngnc.org/matapolb3march2006.htm

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