Four regents and a mayor are supporting the establishment of a new province, Sumbawa Island, to accelerate equal development on the island.
The support was given at a ceremony for the signing of a declaration at a people’s congress in Sumbawa regency on Sunday.
Aside from the regents and the mayor, the congress also attracted two members of the House of Representatives, several NGO activists and students.
The declaration’s signing was witnessed by several noted local figures and nearly 2,000 people.
The chairman of the committee to establish Sumbawa Island province, Siti Maryam, 84, said that the idea first came about 11 years ago in conjunction with the law on regional administration in 1999 and continued after the law was revised in 2004.
“The law guarantees that regions can be divided. We feel we have met all the requirements for a division and it is just in front of our eyes now,” she said.
Maryam, who is the daughter of M. Salahuddin, the last ruler of the Bima Sultanate, said that the declaration would be used as momentum to form a new province, separate from West Nusa Tenggara.
“The objective of the division will be to make government services closer to the people in Sumbawa Island,” she said.
A license and recommendation for the formation of the new province were given by the West Nusa Tenggara Legislative Council during a plenary session on Saturday.
The committee is now waiting for another license and recommendation from West Nusa Tenggara’s governor before forwarding
their request to the Home Ministry and President Susilo Bambang
The chairman of the congress’ committee, Sulaiman Hamzah, said that the declaration was intended to show the seriousness of Sumbawa’s people to have their own province.
“The establishment of the new province is expected to help speed the equal distribution of the fruits of development in Sumbawa,” he said.
Thus far development in West Nusa Tenggara has been focused on Lombok Island despite abundant resources on Sumbawa Island.
“What’s wrong with giving a kind of trust to the Sumbawa people to tap their own potential?” Sulaiman said.
The declaration, which was read to the audience by West Sumbawa Deputy Regent Mala Rahman, was jointly signed by the regents of Sumbawa, West Sumbawa, Dompu, and Bima and Bima mayor, as well as several noted local figures.
The declaration demanded, among other things, that the West Nusa Tenggara province and the central government respond positively to the aspirations of Sumbawa’s people.
It also asked the House of Representatives to enact a draft bill on the establishment of Sumbawa Island province into law.