local languages
Local languages in West Papua are dying. Photo by Amador Loureiro/Unsplash

Papua legislative to protect local languages through regulation


Jayapura, Jubi – Civil groups comprising Balai Bahasa representative, local language speakers, academicians, and indigenous people have submitted the regional regulation draft on the protection of local languages and literature to the Papua Regional Legislative Council (DPR) lawmaker, John NR Gobai.


“The spirit to push for a regional regulation on the protection of local languages must be supported by various parties,” secretary of the Tabi Traditional Council Irenius Pepuhi said on Monday, May 10, 2021.


Pepuhi, who speaks the Sentani language, said the protection and preservation of local languages was one of the mandates in the Papua Special Autonomy (Otsus) Law.



“There must be a regulation to protect regional languages. This must be taken seriously. The loss of local languages is the loss of our identity,” he said.


Former member of the West Papuan People Assembly Wolas Krenak said the regulation must be a special regional regulation as Papua was a special autonomy region.


“Article 8 of Law No.21/2001 on Otsus stipulates that the protection and preservation of local languages need to be adopted into special regional regulation,” Krenak said. However, he added, the regulation must be clear and explicit, such as saying that the provincial and city/regency administration were obliged to prepare funds for the development of local languages and literature.


“Slangs are also important in the development of local languages. It is varied in each region. For example, when I meet an Amungme brother I would greet him with ‘Meno’ but if I meet with a brother from Paniai I would say ‘Nai’,” he said.


Meanwhile, lawmaker Gobai said he would propose the draft regulation to the Papua’s Legislative Body (Bapemperda). “This will be my local initiative. If we are careful and keep pushing for it, we can make it. I make sure I will keep pushing for the regulation so that it can be passed this year, ” he said.


According to Gobai, the draft regulation was born out of the initiatives to preserve local languages in Papua. For example, there should be certain days when people speak local languages. He added that in the near future, a language and literature division needs to be formed in the relevant agency.


“With such effort, there will be more local language speakers. The draft regulation is our first step in preserving local languages in Papua, ”said Gobai.


Reporter: Arjuna Pademme

Editor: Edho Sinaga

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