Don’t lump Pacific issues into ‘Asia Pacific’, warns PNG’s Juffa

West Papua is seen as an Asia-Pacific issue ... "But it's not. It is a Pacific issue," says Oro governor Gary Juffa. Image: Gary Juffa/Twitter

By RNZ Pacific

The Asia-Pacific tag is a “misnomer” and should not be used to lump in Pacific Island countries, says Papua New Guinean opposition MP and governor of Oro province Gary Juffa.

The Pacific Islands should be considered as a region on its own because its ethnic make-up is distinct from Asia, he said.

Juffa also said the islands region’s surface area was huge and important enough to be a global region in itself.

“When we are lumped together with Asia Pacific, we are dwarfed. They are more vocal, they have their more complicated issues that they present, and we become just like a tag-along. I prefer that the Pacific, which is one-fifths of the world’s surface area, be recognised as a region on its own.”

Juffa said he wanted PNG, which is the biggest country in the Pacific islands, to take a lead in demanding that the Pacific be recognised as its own region.

“We are totally different from the ethnic make-up of Asia, and different from the ethnic make-up of any region,” he said.

“Look at history and culture. We ought to be our own region. Why are we together with Asia-Pacific?”

The governor said this was why the issue of West Papua, the self-determination struggle of the indigenous people of Indonesian-ruled Papua region, was “obscured”.

“It’s seen as an Asia-Paciifc issue. But it’s not. It is a Pacific issue.

“Here is another region intruding in our region, claiming our territory as their own.”

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

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