Solomons govt accused of lacking cohesive policy on West Papua
Solomon Islands government accused of lacking a cohesive policy on West Papua amid contradictory signs from Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo during his state visit to Indonesia.
The deputy leader of Solomon Islands' opposition says the government lacks a cohesive policy on West Papua.
The Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has this week been on a state visit to Indonesia where local media reports portrayed him as supporting Indonesian control over West Papua.
The opposition's Mathew Wale says that Mr Lilo's comment that he was quite impressed with the progress in Papua seems ill-informed.
MATHEW WALE: There is generally a level of ignorance about the ploght of West Papuans, certainly in the Solomons but I think elsewhere in the Melanesian region. Some statements were made during the recent jubilee celebrations for the Melanesian Spearhead Group that the MSG is not restricted to just Melanesians, obviously everybody living in the region. But I have this to say: if the MSG is not for Melanesians, who is for Melanesians? The poor West Papuans, who is going to stand up for them and speak for them? Who is going to afford them the opportunity to have a voice in the internatinal arena if it's not their Melanesian brothers and sisters?
JOHNNY BLADES: In your view, what does Solomon Islands need to do?
MATHEW WALE: Well, Solomon Islands needs to team up with Vanuatu, and I understand the Fijian dictator is on board now on the West Papua issue. The three of them need to team up and take (PNG's) Peter O'Neill on, and rationally disabuse him of his fears on the West Papua issue. Out of respect for PNG, Vanuatu, Fiji and Solomon Islands have basically deferred to PNG, saying well you PNG determine what our policy regarding West Papua is. Because of their common border issues, PNG has decided that it will retain its current policy of co-existence with Indonesia. It really is an irrational policy because we're not trying to kick Indonesia out of West Papua - not at this stage in any case - what we're saying is that it is not good enough, the way that Indonesia has been ruling West Papua and all the abuses that have been perpetrated under their watch.
JOHNNY BLADES: At the last MSG Leaders Summit, just a couple of months ago, Mr Lilo spoke very passionately about the need for West Papuan self-determination rights to be recognised. Now he's saying in Indonesia that he's impressed with the progress in West Papua. What do you think about his stand?
MATHEW WALE: You know, I wanted to move a motion in the Solomon Islands parliament to basically have a process so that Solomon Islands' foreign policy on West Papua could be better informed and have a proactive policy platform with which to engage with the rest of the MSG and of course with Indonesia on the West Papua issue. The Prime Minister shot it down basically by saying oh let's do this through diplomacy and so forth, and we stand to gain a lot from Indonesia. It really is a terrible statement to make. One, we don't benefit anything from Indonesia. But two, even if we did benefit from Indonesia, we would be mercenaries, selling our brothers down the river to get a few bucks here and there. It's just a terrible statement to make.
Mathew Wale hopes to question the Prime Minister about West Papua in parliament after his return from Jakarta.
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