Keerom district should be RI`s showcase on PNG border

Jayapura (ANTARA News) – Keerom district bordering Papua New Guinea (PNG) should be treated as the country`s “front yard” and therefore it should have adequate public facilities and a community welfare improved through empowerment programs, a regional official said.

The efforts needed to be made to make a positive impression with neighboring countries, said Keerom District Chief Celcius Watae here Tuesday.

He said the border region had strategic potentials but was also prone to security , political, socio-economic and cultural problems. Therefore, it should receive more attention, in order to create harmony with the neighboring country and prevent its community from becoming poorer than people on the other side of the border.

However, in reality development in the border area was making very slow progress as if it was the country`s “backyard,” he said. . This way of things should be changed and the border region should be regarded as the country`s front porch in which outsiders could see the face of the nation, he said.

He said conditions in Keerom district on the border with PNG had unique characteristics because its people still had ties of kinship, culture and indigenous ownership of traditional lands with people on the other side of the border. Many people in Keerom still had relatives living just across he border with PNG with whom they shared customary ownership of land.

Conversely, many PNG citizens had relatives living on Indonesian territory and even owned land in the Republic of Indonesia.

“Resident who lives here (Indonesia) and there (PNG) experienced life as one big village that makes them need each other over the yearsm,” he said and pointed out that the Walsa and Fermagem tribes were each actually part of the same extended family but lived in both Indonesia and PNG.

Both these tribes, he said, had members scattered in 14 villages living on PNG territory and in six villages on Indonesian territory , namely Kampung Ampas, Kalifam, Banda,: Pund, Kalimo and Yuwainde. Until July 2009, as many as 464 people from PNG were still living in and had settled down in the villages of Kampung Yabanda, Sengi sub-district, Keerom district.

Despite the efforts of the government to make the local people aware of their Indonesian citizenship the mobility of people between villages along the border was difficult to stop, especially in Keerom where a market selling a variety of basic needs was also attracting buyers from across the border.

To anticipate developments in the neighboring country, the Indonesian government which had the authority to handle the border areas to build public facilities such as roads, bridges, educational facilities, health services and schools.

Regarding the security situation on the border with PNG, Cenderahwasih XVII regional commander Maj. Gen. AY Nasution said security conditions there were expected to improve in 2010.

Moreover, the Free Papua Organization (OPM)figure Nicolaas Jouwe who had settled abroad, returned to Papua and chose to be an Indonesian citizens. Nicolaas, reportedly arrived in Jakarta on Monday (Jan 111) and will soon head to Jayapura. (*)

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