Thursday, January 10, 2008

Faleomavaega thwarted in Papua

People who have been around Washington long enough remember a Virginia U.S. Senator named Bill Scott. Not considered by many to be the sharpest tool in the box, some publication one year named him one of the 10 dumbest members of Congress. As if to prove the point, Scott held a press conference to deny he was dumb.

Well, it often seems Faleomavaega follows the Bill Scott school of press release writing. You will recall that after his most recent re-election, he announced that Papuan self-determination towards independence would be the top priority on his agenda in the new Congress (not American Samoa's problems, of course--but that's a story for another day).

So, on one of his frequent overseas junkets during the summer, he went to Jakarta with the expectation of traveling on to Papua for some self-determination seminar. Only thing is that the Indonesian government wouldn't give him permission to go. So he left, saying he was nevertheless satisfied with the progress Indonesia was making with its troubled province. Immediately after he cleared Indonesia airspace, the central government rounded up all the dissidents Eni wanted to meet and hauled them in for some, um, routine questioning.

Fast forward to December, now. Indonesia is hosting in Bali the latest International Conference on Climate Change. Of course, our lead junketeer is front and center. Okay, we'll give him a break this time. After all, he is the chairman of the House subcommittee on Asia, Pacific and Global Environment.

This time he makes a big deal about having gotten permission to travel to Papua while he is in the country. Only problem is the government hardly lets him out of the airport in Papua.

Naturally, when he returns to Washington he issues a press release about his failure to get to see people in Papua. Maybe they didn't like his bolo tie.

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