The IIS UGM’s Faculty of Social Sciences Research Grant research team has conducted a visit to Dili, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, which took place from July 7-12 2019 as part of FISIPOL UGM’s Research and Community Service 2019 and East Nusa Tenggara entitled ‘Solving the Territorial Border Dispute between the Republic of Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste in Hau Meni- Ana and Manusasi, District of Kefamenanu, Regency of North Timor-Leste, Province of East Nusa Tenggara through Compliance to the Agreement and Prevention of Issue Internationalization”. The research team consisted of Dr. Siti Mutiah Setiawati, MA, Dra Ratnawati, SU, and Drs. Susi Daryanti, M.Sc and assisted by Muhammad Indrawan Jatmika, MA as research assistants, have the opportunity to conduct hearings and in-depth observations of policy makers, the public and other relevant parties related to the affairs of Indonesia’s borders and Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
On July 8th, 2019, the team had the opportunity to conduct an audience with the Indonesian Ambassador to Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Mr. Sahat Sitorus. On the occasion, the Ambassador and the research team discussed the policy-making process related to border issues that emerged after the independence of Timor-Leste from the Republic of Indonesia. Mr. Sahat Sitorus delivered the concern on unsurveyed border that was caused by geographical constraints and challenged the commitment of the two countries to establish a Joint Border Patrol as a form border violations anticipation measures. The topography that tends to be hilly and influenced by various natural phenomena are the main obstacles in the survey to determine the border, and will potentially complicate the process of resolving border problems between Indonesia – Timor-Leste. Surveillance of the border is also still hampered by complicated bureaucratic processes in both countries. Negotiations related to the Joint Force Border Patrol to supervise the border region are slowed down by institutional problems and buck passing on patrol responsibility. The difference in the institutions responsible for border patrols also affected and hindered the negotiation process on border control; Indonesian patrols were carried out by the Army, while the Timor-Leste authorities handed over the responsibility to the Police.
In addition to the border problems, the hearing also discussed the reconciliation process between the two countries, which was also related to the border issues between the peoples of the two countries. On the one hand, bilateral relations at the government level (G to G) work well in solving border problems, yet at the community level, the process becomes more difficult because each individual or group has their own interests. For this reason, negotiations and discussions that uphold local wisdom are always recommended to avoid potential conflicts. Furthermore, the Ambassador emphasized that law enforcement and supervision from the central government must be improved. In addition, a neutral zone is also needed to reduce the potential for conflict in solving Indonesia – Timor-Leste border problem.
On July 9th, 2019, the Research Team continued the visit to the Motaain National Border Post, one of the busiest border checkpoints in the Indonesia – Timor-Leste border, and Wini National Border Post which is also one of the latest border checkpoint built in the border between the Republic of Indonesia and Oecusse District, Timor-Leste. Border Checkpoint functions to settle immigration and customs affairs, quarantine, security, and other necessity needed before entering Indonesian territory. During the visit, the team conducted field observations on the Border Checkpoint’s operations and an in-depth interview with the manager of the Checkpoint, Mr. Tyolan Hutagalung. From the visit, the research team saw significant developments in the construction of border checkpoints. The development carried out to renovate the Border Checkpoint is one of Nawacita’s manifestation launched by the President of the Republic of Indonesia where the border is positioned as a “terrace” of a country so it must look appealing in order to describe the country generally.
But according to the Checkpoint’s Manager, the rapid development has not been followed by optimizing the Checkpoint’s functions. It can be seen that the number of people crossing through the Checkpoint are somewhat minimal. It is noted that the Motaain Border Checkpoint as the busiest checkpoints, for example, only sees 150 travelers crossing the border from the 400-500 passersby per day target. In other checkpoints the figure is much lower. The Wini and Motamasin Border Checkpoints, which have spent tens of billions of Rupiah for development, have only been traversed by around 40-50 people per day. To increase the number of passers and the economy of the people around the checkpoints, the government is trying to accelerate infrastructure development surrounding it, such as by building roads and improving telecommunications signal quality. In addition, people’s market is currently being constructed and developed within the Border Checkpoint complex to improve the economy of the communities around the border and to attract residents to use the Checkpoint facilities provided by the government.
Writer : Indrawan Jatmika & Raditya Bomantara
Editor : Denise Michelle
Translator : M. Ilham Ramandha Adamy