Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Poverty blamed for insecure Indonesian borders

Poverty was blamed for insecure borders in Indonesia, according to participants at a conference on border security. Statistics show that most people along the border of Indonesia live in poverty. Being poor makes them vulnerable to being lured across the border to commit crimes.

The Jakarta Post covered the conference on border security, and writer Adianto P. Simamora received quotes from some of the presenters.

State Minister for the Development of Disadvantaged Regions Muhammad Lukman Edy said Monday the long-standing poverty problems had also worsened security relations with neighboring countries, which could make unilateral claims to Indonesian territory along the borders.

"The economic hardship along border areas can push people to engage in illegal activities and can degrade our people's sense of nationhood," he said Monday at a seminar on the development of border areas.

At present, 199 regencies are categorized as disadvantaged regions, with economic growth of less than 3 percent. Twenty-six of them lie in border areas.

The minister said residents of Belo regency on the border with Timor Leste, for instance, had a per capita income of Rp 1 million in 2005, compared with the national average of Rp 11 million.

Some 60,456 families live in poverty in Belo - 80 percent of its population.

In Kalimantan's border regions, per capita income of local residents is about US$300, far lower than that of their Malaysian counterparts just over the border, who make between $4,000 and $7,000.

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