Report – By Isaac Nicholas in Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea’s Opposition Leader Belden Namah has warned that more than 10,000 PNG citizens from the Indonesian border area have moved across into West Papua and may next demand they move with their land to Indonesia.
Namah, who is also the Vanimo-Green MP from near the Indonesian border, told a grievance debate in Parliament that successive governments had failed to address the border issues.
He said the Indonesian side was more developed in terms of services, which was luring Papua New Guineans to move across the border to access these better services.
“If we are not careful, many of our citizens living near the border who are already attracted by Indonesian government services on the other side of the border, especially the 12 to 15,000 people in my electorate of Vanimo-Green, may move to the Indonesian side of the border, basically because successive PNG governments have not provided necessary services on our side of the border,” Namah said.
“If the Indonesian government so desires to attract our citizens to the other side, our citizens will demand that they move with their land and become part of Indonesia.
“As responsible leaders we must take serious action and that is for both governments to sit with landowners from both sides of the border and clearly define where the border should run to make sure we protect our resources and land.”
Namah said he welcomed the announcement by the Prime Minister to increase trade and investment between Indonesia and PNG, but urged both governments to do first things first, which was a permanent determination and demarcation of the international border between Indonesia and PNG.
“Once the landowners identify their traditional boundary both governments must take careful note and create a permanent border once and for all.”
He recommended that a north to south border highway be built right across the entire land border, and PNG should build two border townships in the south and northern ends.
“Without this strategic infrastructure, nothing meaningful will happen on the border.”
Namah said the landowners along the border had initiated the move in a petition to the Deputy Prime Minister Leo Dion on the issue of permanent demarcation of the border.
He said the current Batas market in Indonesia was in fact sitting on PNG land and permanent demarcation should be along the Tami river.
Namah said there were recent raids on the southern end of the border where there is poaching by Indonesians, and recent joint patrols by police and PNGDF discovered that the Indonesian navy has built a jetty on Torrasi River inside PNG border.
“While I welcome PM’s announcement for increased trade and investment along the border, we as a country need to have a serious look at the demarcation of our border.”
Meanwhile, Radio NZ International reports that the Papua New Guinean cabinet has approved US$2.5 million to deploy defence force soldiers to patrol and protect the border with Indonesia.
Source: PNG Post-Courier