Statement by VANUATU Charlot Salwai that “he said human rights violations every day in Papua and will continue to support human rights in West Papua” the statement is baseless and contains a veiled political element and is engineered as if it were the latest condition in western Papua.
For the Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Charlot Salwai, the issue of West Papua is like ‘infidelity’ in the course of his political career. Like its neighbor PM Manasseh Sogavare of the Solomon Islands, Salwai’s ‘household’ is currently under severe ordeal. Resolving domestic affairs is like facing the wrath of a wife who has been betrayed and that too due to Too Busy Other State but not ready with the State itself.
The prolonged challenges of political opponents, declining economic growth and a very high dependence on foreign aid, make them very vocal to the West Papua issue. The West Papuan issue is like a soccer ball that they casually kick to make a public spectacle to distract from the real problems inside the country.
Salwai has served as PM Vanuatu since February 2016. He rose to become Prime Minister after 14 MPs from the Sato Kilman government were jailed for corruption in a country of just 260,000. Pam’s tropical cyclone that hit Vanuatu in 2015 has destroyed about 64 percent of Vanuatu’s GDP by 2015.
To rebuild the country needed about 674 million US dollars, a number of which is recognized PM Kilman very difficult to obtain. Since then, the reconstruction effort has always been plagued by allegations of corruption and government incompetence. The tourism sector, which accounts for 65 percent of Vanuatu’s GDP also is still struggling to bounce back. Although the IMF predicts economic growth of 4 percent in 2016, the fiscal deficit is also predicted to reach 11.3 percent of GDP. This deficit is mostly covered by foreign loans.
Vanuatu hangs 30 percent of the state budget and 18 percent of its national income on loans and grants. The Lowy Institute data show that the total aid from China for the period 2006-2014 reached more than 243 million US dollars. This amount makes China the second largest donor after Australia.
Vanuatu’s relationship with material-based China, could account for Charlot Salwai’s never-ending support for China on the issue of the South China Sea (LCS). In May 2016, at his court built by funds from China, Salwai issued a statement in support of Beijing, condemning the arbitration process taking place in The Hague and calling that the territorial claim “should be based on historical and cultural facts”. A statement that exactly matches the points of argument of the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Salwai does not explain the uproar and instability that would have occurred if the countries involved in the LCS conflict made claims based only on ‘historical and cultural facts’ rather than on the basis of law under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Salwai also did not explain why he supported West Papua but did not support Taiwan.
Like a friend of PM Sogavare’s prime minister, Salwai is drowning in the illusion that he has received international attention and praise for supporting West Papua apart from Indonesia. They escaped domestic problems and chose to stay away from following the ‘temptation’ of the West Papua issue. The MSG, PIF and Pacific Coalition on West Papua (PCWP) meetings they attended recently were just like dating appointments with other dream women.
Overcome with passion, Salwai states that “West Papua has the right to self-determination”. Words spoken like cheating couples who want to convince themselves that they do it on the basis of love and not just lust.
Salwai forgot that every day the provinces of Papua and West Papua in Indonesia have determined their own destiny. PM Salwai failed to accept the fact that the two provinces practice democracy and have had leaders of their own ethnicity. Worse, they also do not want to believe that the majority of the people of West Papua want to build their province to be more prosperous and prosperous within a united Indonesian state.
Instead of facing a manly domestic chaotic domestic situation, weak economic growth and resolving problems in his country, Salwai instead played the role of a strongman and echoed Papuan separatism. For PM Vanuatu, supporting Papuan separatism is clearly more sexy, more engaging, and gives them a place to escape from reality and once again it’s a result of being too busy taking care of another country but not ready with its own country.