12 September 2007

Go East Policy, What Went Wrong?

Flores Pos daily

In his press conference after meeting President Megawati Soekarnoputri in a few weeks ago, Governor of Central Bank of Indonesia Burhanuddin Abdullah told to media that Megawati urged him and his offices to pay more attention to eastern Indonesia.

As the same moment Minister of Eastern Indonesia Affairs Manuel Kaisiepo in his speech in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara admitted that go east policy faced many problems in its implementation.

When the former President Soeharto launched go east policy in 1990s, it is believed that the central government in Jakarta had a serious commitment to solve abject poverty situations with strengthening economic growth and empowering the people in eastern Indonesia. They are all eastern Indonesia greeted enthusiastically.

The same expetations have arisen when Soeharto in April 1996 launched the thirteen Integrated Economic Development Area Programme (Indonesian acronym Kapet). And as a part of go east policy there were twelve of thirteen in eastern Indonesia. But in fact they are all in stagnant hitherto.

But what goes wrong today? According to evaluation of Minister of Eastern Indonesia Affairs, there are some Kapet succesed to push the investor to invest their money, although there are no significant progress. They are Bitung-Manado (North Sulawesi), Pare-pare (North Sulawesi), Kathulistiwa (West Kalimantan), Sesama (East Kalimantan), Batu Licin (South Kalimantan), Biak (Papua) that have given economic advantages and investments are growing rapidly. But how about Mbay of Flores, East Nusa Tenggara? Kaisiepo said a hopeless because of there are two main reasons.

First, the central government in Jakarta failed to support executive boards of Kapet for financial and facilities. Poor facilities like a telephone, internet, offices, and bad transportaion in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara are direct impact of lacking government’s support to this programme.

Maybe someone blames the change of regime and political transition and economic and political crises since 1997 as the reasons but since in the beginning people know that twelve Kapet Programme in eastern Indonesia including Mbay of Flores are just a political rethoric Soeharto’s regime. There is no real progress in its implementation.

Second, poor profesionalism and lack of entrepreneurship spirit. In a case of Mbay, appointed governor as chairman ex officio and pensioner as a executive director brought some problems. It is true when Kaisiepo said that two reasons are the main problems that caused the programme fail today.

I remembered that President Megawati once stated that the Indonesian bureaucracy was like a waste basket. I think that President also realise that the bureaucracy lacks more than just professionalism and it is true for the pension’s bureaucrats.

Media reported a year ago it is estimated that 200 billions rupiah spent by the executive boards to promote and to attend the meeting and seminar in a five years. In 1997 executive boards attended seminar in Darwin Australia, Manado meeting’s North Sulawesi in 1998 and went back to Darwin to promote again as following the Manado Meeting’s in 1999, and the same year took promotion in Japan and Europe. The results there are no investments.

Besides the two reasons I would like to say that in fact at local context, there are still problems that must be solved by the local government.

First, eradicating primordialism. In Ngada district of Flores, the two largest ethnics are Nagekeo where Mbay is a part of Nagekeo ethnics and Ngada, still dominate at political local context. The Ngada’s regent now Albert Nong Botha comes from Ngada ethnics. And the critics said that he does not have more commitment to this programme.

When the former Ngada’s regent Johanes Nani Aoh (1994-1998 periods) that comes from Nagekeo ethnics tried to solve the poor facilities and infrastructures with changing the capital of the Ngada district from Bajawa to Mbay, he faced rigid reaction of Ngada’s ethnics. Nani Aoh believed that two policies could be optimalization the Kapet Programme because Mbay is to become a centre of government administrations and centre of business activities. The two big programme has not finished yet until Nani Aoh resigned to an early retirement. Albert Botha held the power in 1999. But until now changing th capital of the regent is still a sensitive issue.

Second, taking the trust back to the local people. To succes this programme, local government mobilized people to offer their land to build the regent’s offices and Kapet’s offices without a just price.

At the same time the haves came to Mbay to buy the farmer’s land and abject poverty caused of the people without thinking clearly sold their land to earn money.

What does happen today after five years? They are disappointed. They forfeited their land, and give their future to the state but now they feel that they have been cheated by the development and the past promise of the old regime. And now again the government give them a promise. Florinesse people needs a new chapter of this programme that giving them adventage sothat reposition is needed urgently to do.

*Ende, June 24, 2003.

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