Of the Shared Interest in the Incoming PON XX Papua
Annalia Bahar — August 2021
Currently, the people of Papua are preparing to welcome the National Sports Week (PON), where Papua province was chosen to become the host. Although it was postponed due to pandemic reasons, the Indonesian government has announced that the PON will be scheduled to run from 2–15 October 2021.
Various preparation has been massively implemented. Moreover, this event is categorized as a people’s party nationally attended by all provincial representatives, from Sabang to Merauke. It can be spotted that the Papuan authority and the PON committees are working hard to facilitate the event. They are starting from recruiting the youth volunteers and completing the construction of venues for various sports.
This condition is strengthened by the statement of the Indonesian Minister of Youth and Sports during a press conference that the preparation for the National Sports Week (PON) in Papua has reached 90%. There are only view aspects that need to be resolved.
However, the implementation of the Papua PON still reaps various pro and con responses. This was echoed by several Papuan communities/organizations who believe that PON Papua was not a unifying agenda but to accommodate the “state” interest. The word “state” referred to political elites keen on pursuing some benefits from the XX Papua PON event.
Other objections emerge from past experiences that befell Papua, such as the recent armed-group action that killed several civilians, not to mention the old wound regarding the human rights violations. It has not been worthy of being healed. For them, PON is held on the scars of Papuans with problems that the state has never taken seriously.
The Indonesian government revealed from the beginning that the PON is to be carried out in Papua as a peaceful effort and to raise the status of the province. This, however, could not be a cure for the old wounds for most of the Papuan.
These are two different realities. The first situation requires the Papuan people to be happy and rejoice since the National Sports Week for this year is being held in Papua. PON can also consolidate the hidden talents of Papuan children, and most importantly, stimulating economic activities. In a different situation, the refusal voices relating to the unwise government in addressing the existing problems are echoing.
Then is it true that the PON agenda accommodates the interest of the “state” alone? And how to deal with the aforementioned reality?
Brief History of PON
Based on the history, PON was formed in 1946 (a year after the Indonesian Independence) recognized as PORI (Sports Association of Indonesian Republic), which is assisted by the KONI (Republic of Indonesia Olympic committee). The implementation of the first PON was on the 8 -12 of September 1948. The first PON launched a mission to show the world that Indonesia is in a difficult situation due to the Renville Agreement, the agreement between Indonesia and the Netherlands regarding territorial boundaries.
In various literature, PON is a national sporting event attended by all provincial representatives in Indonesia and is usually held every four years. The last PON was held in 2016 in East Java. After that, the central government set the province of Papua as the host of the 20th PON through the decree (SK) of the Minister of Youths And Sports 0110/2014 dated 2 April 2014.
Therefore, it is clear that PON is the official agenda of the central government of Indonesia, which is held evenly in all regions of Indonesia. This year is Papua’s turn.
PON: An Optimism and Opportunity For Peace
Efforts to resolve the conflict through a persuasive approach by the government to the indigenous Papuan people are an important note for the government that should be followed up immediately. After all, it is not a secret that the state must immediately resolve a pile of problems in Papua province.
The state must be present as a protective party. The government must prioritize the family way (jalur kekeluargaan) through dialogs and considering the wishes of the indigenous Papuan community as long as it does not contradict with the law. The government must fully understand the philosophy of Papuan life. By way of; first, the state must be wise in governing and providing welfare for all Papuan. Both parties must honestly and fairly disclose all human rights violations without being motivated by particular interests, other than the interest to prosper Papua. This is expected to be a middle ground for the pros and cons of organizing PON.
Next, it is important for all parties to look at the PON from the point of view of optimism and momentum for peace. Although PON is a part of the routine state agenda, PON is a way to reconcile. Therefore, all parties can claim the positive impacts.
The government and the people of Papuan province should mingle well and talk to each other. The reason is that the efforts of indigenous peoples’ resistance so far have not only been essentially pursuing the recognition but also the concrete actions that can raise their social status in front of Indonesia, and even the world. That is, through PON, if Papua is successful, it has explicitly denied all the bad news that has been attached to the eyes of the world about Papua.
So this optimism must exist. However, this will certainly have positive impacts on Papua, predominantly for the economic sector, development, transportation, and even tourism. In addition, in terms of culture, Papua can also show itself and be in touch more and longer with various ethnic groups and races throughout Indonesia. (*)
This piece fully represents the writer’s idea. It does not express any ideas or stances of specific institutions or organizations she works at or is affiliated with.