8 Feb 2007

Papua provincial name change confusing

2:08 pm on 8 February 2007

An Australian academic says that changing the name of the Indonesian province of West Irian Jaya to West Papua is confusing and demoralising for Papuans.

The name change has been approved by the legislative council of the province which was created in 2003 as one of several proposed new provinces in the Papua region.

But the change is being described as confusing because Papua, the eastern most province of Indonesia, is still widely called West Papua by supporters of Papuan self-determination.

Papua specialist at Sydney University, Professor Peter King, says Jakarta's plan to create another new province out of Papua's southern region is part of a move to gain more control of Papua's most valuable resources.

"Yes, this is all part of divide-and-rule. But it's very neat in this case because it means you get two new provinces with a lot of resources while you've got the rump Papua province which has got almost none. And then the army gets to have new bases and commands and the government gets expanded into these two new places and rump Papua that's left in the eastern end gets nothing very much."

Professor Peter King