News feature: harmonious relations among Kisar, Timor Leste people

Otniel Tamindael

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Ten years have elapsed since Timor Leste seceded from the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia (NKRI) in August 1999.

But to date people in the outlying islands of Kisar and Lirang in Southwest Maluku (MBD) district continue to live in harmonious relations with their brothers and sisters in the former Indonesian province.

"Interaction among the people of Kisar and Lirang islands in Southwest Maluku district with their brothers and sisters in Timor Leste continues to happen as usual because they speak the same language, namely Fataluku dialect," MBD acting district head Jopi Patty said in Ambon on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Maluku provincial administration spokesman Semmy Huwae said on Wednesday that as of September 16, 2009, Jopy Patty has been acting MBD district head for one year.

But he said Home Affairs Minister Mardiyanto had officially agreed to the appointment of Frangky Renyaan to replace Jopy Patty as MBD acting district head for the next period.

"Following the agreement from the home affairs minister, Governor Karel Albert Ralahalu will install Renyaan to replace Patty as acting district head on Thursday, Sept 17, 2009 in Wonreli, Kisar Island," Semmy Huwae said.

Huwae added that the House of Representatives (DPR) approved the formation of Southwest Maluku (MBD) district and Buru Selatan district last year under Law Law No.31/2008 and No.32/2008.

The new MBD district was previously part of West Southeast Maluku (MTB) district while Buru Selatan district was part of Buru district.

With the population of 70,308 people, Southwest Maluku district whose capital is located in Wonreli, Kisar Island, is made up of 48 large and smaller islands, and eight sub-districts.

At a plenary meeting on June 24, 2008 the House of Representatives (DPR) officially approved the creation of Southwest Maluku (MBD) district through a split from West Southeast Maluku (MTB) district.

In addition to MBD district, the House also approved the formation of 11 other new districts and municipalities in various provinces across the country. 

Apart from Roma and Damer islands, the newly-created district of Southwest Maluku is made up of outlying islands in the province, namely the islands of Lirang, Wetar, Kisar, Leti, Moa, Lakor, Sermata, and Masela near the borders with Australia and Timor Leste. 

After being approved by the DPR and officially inaugurated by the government, it was expected the new district`s existence would prevent its abundant mineral resources such as gold, copper, nickel, iron, uranium and oil from being claimed by the two neighboring countries in the future.

Since the Dutch colonial era, the islands in the province have been known by their collective name as "Pulau-Puulau Selatan Daya" (Zuidwestereilanden).

The House`s nod to the formation of the new district of Southwest Maluku drew an immediate and enthusiastic response from the people of the new district but the location of its capital at the time remained under debate, namely between the West Southeast Maluku (MTB) district administration and the local legislative assembly.

The local people, especially those from Kisar island, expressed hope that Wonreli would be the MBD district`s capital but the MTB district administration and local councilors with certain political interest wanted it to be in Moa island.

Consequently, Orlando Petrus of Kisar island called on his people to continue their efforts to get Wonreli named as the new district`s capital.

"The people of `Selatan Daya` should continue to fight for the recognition of Wonreli as the seat of the new district administration," Orlando said.

He said the local people should make every possible effort to support Wonreli`s appointment as the capital of Southwest Maluku district because it had potential human resources.

"Although Kisar island has adequate natural resources and human resources, development has so far been ignored by the Maluku provincial administration," Orlando said, adding that the time was ripe for Wonreli to be the new district`s capital.

He also called on Selatan Daya people living in other cities and regions to jointly support the efforts to develop Wonreli as the capital of Southeast Maluku district which at the time was isolated.

He made the statement on the basis of a previous agreement that Wonreli would be the capital after Southwest Maluku had gained the administrative status as a district.
However, several days after the House approved the creation of MBD district, West Southeast Maluku (MTB) vice district head Barnabas Orno said in the Maluku provincial city of Ambon on Friday, June 27, 2008 that the development in Moa island as the MBD district capital would start soon. 

"There is no need for us to engage in polemics about the capital of Southwest Maluku district because Moa Island is slated to be the center of the new district`s administration," Barnabas Orno said.

But now it turned out that the capital of MBD is located in Wonreli, Kisar island, and the development in the one-year old new district is at present growing rapidly.(*)

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