Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs Wiranto – a former high-ranking military officer — has proposed an additional budget of 60 billion rupiahs (US$4 million) to fund diplomatic efforts related to the so-called “Papua problem”.

The proposed budget would be separate from the Coordinating Ministry for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs’ (Kemenko Polhukam) annual budget.

Wiranto said that the 60 billion rupiah would be used to pay for diplomatic efforts by the government in the South Pacific region.

“We are pursuing intense soft-diplomacy. I’m heading it up myself, going there, coordinating, and talking to them. We’re proposing an additional budget of 60 billion rupiahs (US$4 million)”, said Wiranto.

He was speaking during a working meeting with the House of Representatives (DPR) Budget Committee at the parliamentary complex in Senayan, Jakarta, last week.

Wiranto explained that just a few years ago as many as seven out of 13 countries in the South Pacific supported Papuan independence.

All of these countries had voting rights in the United Nations General Assembly.

Wiranto claimed many of the South Pacific countries had been receiving “misinformation” about Indonesia’s approach to Papua. For example, a view that the government had neglected development in Papua.

According to the former ABRI (Indonesian Armed Forces, now call TNI) commander, the government was already pursuing diplomatic efforts with the leaders of two South Pacific countries, Nauru and Vanuatu.

The national leaders had been invited to visit Papua to “see for themselves” the progress in development there.

“We’ve been forgetting, we’ve been negligent, that there are many countries there which could potentially threaten our domination. Papua is part of our territory and it turns out that this is true,” said Wiranto.

The additional budget of 60 billion rupiah proposed by Wiranto would be used for five coordinated activities.

Pacific Media Watch reports last month, the Melanesian Spearhead Group decided not to admit the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) as full members of the MSG in spite of it being widely expected to happen.

The declined membership was seen as a success of Indonesian diplomacy in the region in recent months in the face of mounting allegations of human rights violations by Indonesian military forces.