Lukas Enembe: another Papuan problem for Jakarta

From left: State Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Budi Gunawan, North Sumatra Police Chief Paulus Waterpauw, Papua Governor Lukas Enembe and Police Chief Tito Karnavian. Photo by Detik.

 

It is easy to overinterpret the body language of government officials in photographs, but Papua Governor Lukas Enembe (third from left) seems the least at ease in this meeting from 5 September.

 

The photo was taken at the residence of State Intelligence Agency (BIN) head Budi Gunawan (left). Pictured alongside Enembe are North Sumatra Police Chief Paulus Waterpauw (the former head of police in Papua) and Police Chief Tito Karnavian (right). These participants are significant. Tito has also served as police chief in Papua and Waterpauw has been mentioned as a candidate for the governorship.

 

At the meeting, Enembe was persuaded to sign a 16-point statement that included a declaration of loyalty to the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) and Pancasila and a pledge to give his support to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in the 2019 elections. Enembe equivocated about supporting a rival party, given he is the head of the Democrat Party in Papua, but nevertheless signed the document.

 

It was an eventful time for the governor. The day before the meeting, Enembe had been cross-examined by police in a corruption case related to the alleged misuse of provincial budget funds for scholarships.

 

After Tito and Waterpauw joined the meeting, Gunawan told Enembe that the president wanted him to be nominated for the gubernatorial election next year on a joint ticket with Waterpauw as his deputy. Tito also instructed his subordinates to drop the legal investigation into Enembe.

 

Police spokesman Rikwanto eventually acknowledged that there had been a meeting, but said the discussion had been about the security of the 2018 regional elections and ways to prevent recurrence of the violence seen in local elections earlier this year. Rikwanto denied the meeting discussed the governor’s support for President Jokowi in 2019 or involved a 16-point declaration of loyalty by Enembe.

 

The meeting appears to have been the initiative of BIN, whose principal concern was Enembe’s loyalty and the likelihood he will be re-elected in 2018. Having a reliable and complaint figure as governor is critical in maintaining the central government’s authority in the Papuan provinces. Recent independence referenda by provincial governments in Iraqi Kurdistan and Spain’s Catalonia will not have gone unnoticed in Jakarta.

 

The governor is both the representative of the national government and the directly elected head of the provincial government. Under the 2001 Special Autonomy Law, the governor must be an ethnic Papuan, even though the electorate includes both Papuan and non-Papuan residents of the province. The direct election of governors makes the task of ensuring ‘suitable’ politicians are nominated and elected more complicated. The meeting at Gunawan’s residence was an attempt to manage this process.

 

A joint ticket with Waterpauw would facilitate rather than inhibit Enembe’s re-election, but Waterpauw as deputy governor would also provide a means of containing Enembe’s influence and monitoring his administration through a Papuan policeman trusted by Jakarta. If Enembe continued to have legal difficulties after the election, Waterpauw would simply replace him as governor.

 

Jakarta’s suspicions about the loyalties of governors in Papua are not new. Enembe’s two immediate predecessors, Jacobus Solossa and Barnabas Suebu, were identified in a Ministry of Home Affairs intelligence document, along with well-known advocates of Papuan independence, as part of a “Papuan political conspiracy”. President Megawati Soekarnoputri’s instruction (Inpres 1/2003) to create a separate province of West Papua – a divide and rule strategy – reflected the intelligence community’s concern that special autonomy, if properly implemented, risked empowering a Papuan political elite whose loyalty was suspect.

 

Some of Enembe’s public statements could have raised the same suspicions in nationalist circles in Jakarta. Reflecting on the heated Jakarta gubernatorial election and the growing influence of hard-line Islam, Enembe said that the pro-independence National Committee for West Papua (KNPB) was preferable in a democracy to the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI). If Indonesia were dominated by “radical Muslims”, he said, Papua would separate.

 

In line with the Papuan nationalist interpretation of the history of Papua’s integration into Indonesia, Enembe recalled in 2016 that Papuans were promised their own independent state and the struggle for this state remains their objective. Enembe said that discriminatory policies have made Papuans feel that they are not Indonesians. Jakarta considers Papuans to be stupid, he said, and governs them in an arbitrary manner. But Papuans understand this and their history. They are very clever.

 

These views are common among Papuans but when they are stated publicly by the governor, they become political, resonating with the governor’s supporters in Papua and raising suspicion in Jakarta.

 

Enembe has particular significance in the electoral politics of Papua. The former Puncak Jaya District head is the first highlander to be elected governor. He won the 2013 gubernatorial election in the first round against five other candidates, recording a majority of 52 per cent. Recent surveys have showed that Enembe is in a strong position to be re-elected governor, and is well ahead of Waterpauw. Enembe has a network of support in provincial and district governments, as well as the broader community. In June, supporters in 10 highland districts organised to support his campaign for re-election.

 

Waterpauw comes from FakFak district on the coast, and in light of political tensions between highland politicians and their coastal rivals, could attract support from other coastal areas. But given that the majority of ethnic Papuans are highlanders, a coastal candidate is nearly always at an electoral disadvantage.

 

Banners have recently appeared in sites around Papua suggesting that Waterpauw has not dropped his political ambitions and that he is distinguishing himself from Enembe and the corruption allegations surrounding the governor.

 

Following news of Enembe’s investigation on corruption charges and the meeting with BIN and police, support for  the incumbent governor quickly became apparent in Papua. Several hundred supporters gathered in Sentani, Jayapura, at the grave of assassinated pro-independence leader Theys Eluay before proceeding to the governor’s office, where several thousand supporters demonstrated under the watchful eye of some 500 police and soldiers. They demanded legal action against Enembe be stopped and the “character assassination” of Papuan leaders cease.

 

Enembe and Waterpauw are unlikely partners as governor and deputy. Waterpauw held Governor Enembe and the local district head responsible for the electoral violence in February and March 2017. The governor, meanwhile, accused the police of being biased in some districts and demanded that Waterpauw withdraw police units from them. Enembe also called on Jokowi and Police Chief Tito to remove Waterpauw from his position as head of police in Papua. Waterpauw’s transfer from Papua in April coincided with the first reports that he would be nominated by Golkar Party for the governorship.

 

It is unclear whether the central government will continue to push for an Enembe-Waterapauw ticket, as there is a long way to go in the nomination process before next year’s election. News of the BIN and police intervention has probably enhanced Enembe’s reputation as a leader prepared to stand up to Jakarta, but the demonstrations of support in Papua have done nothing to quell Jakarta’s anxieties.

 

The BIN and police meeting with Enembe has highlighted the problem of ensuring a compliant governor in Jayapura, but it has not resolved the dilemma confronting Jakarta.