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Indonesia Tourism Minister Comments on Pasir Island and Australia's Claim

25 October 2022 10:10 WIB

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno on Monday commented issue regarding Pasir Island located in the East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) reportedly claimed by neighboring country Australia, which he had verified but emphasized that such territorial claim is not in his authority. 

“The territorial claim of the location [is the jurisdiction] of the Foreign Affairs Ministry,” said Uno in the Ministry’s weekly press brief on October 24.

However, he said that the Tourism Ministry is currently coordinating with the Foreign Affairs Ministry upon handling the situation. “Surely, each and every meter of Indonesian land should be defended. Especially if the destinations could potentially improve the welfare of locals.”

Previously, the Customary Rights Mandate Holder of the Timorese Sea Indigenous People, Ferdi Tanoni, warned to file a lawsuit over Australia’s ownership of Pasir Island to the Australian Commonwealth Court in Canberra.

"If Australia does not want to leave the Pasir Island cluster, we will be forced to take a case to the Australian Commonwealth Court in Canberra in regards to the rights of our indigenous peoples," Ferdi said on Tuesday, October 25, Antaranews reported.

Ferdi, who is also the chairman of the West Timor Care Foundation, said that Australia's claim of Pasir Island – an island 120 kilometers from Rote Island in NTT – has sparked reactions from Indonesians. According to him, the Australian government seems indifferent despite being pressured to leave the Island’s cluster, 

He claims an oil drilling activity was observed in the area of the island cluster. He insists that the area absolutely belongs to the indigenous peoples of Timor, Rote, and Alor. 

"It is proven that there are graves of the ancestors of Rote and various other artifacts in the Pasir Island cluster," he explained.

In addition, the island is also used as a resting spot for fishermen coming back from the ocean after a night of harvesting sea cucumbers and fish in the vicinity of Pulau Pasir waters. It is also often used as a transit point by Indonesian fishermen from other areas as they sail far to the southern Indonesia hemisphere.

However, said Ferdi, since there was a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Indonesia and Australia in 1974, Australia immediately claimed that Sand Island belonged to him. He also considered that so far Australia has done everything as if Pasir Island were its own, even though the island cluster is an absolute right of the indigenous peoples of Timor, Rote, Sabu, and Alor, he insists. 

MOH KHORY ALFARIZI | ANTARA

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