President Joko Widodo instated three extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassadors (LBBP Ambassadors) to friendly countries on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, at the State Palace, Jakarta, as reported by This time the induction of the ambassadors is an important event for the people of Papua. The reason is that President Jokowi appointed a woman from Papua, namely Fientje Maritje Suebu, as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Indonesia (LBBP RI) to New Zealand and also Samoa, Kingdom of Tonga, Cook Islands and Niue, who is domiciled in Wellington New Zealand. She replaced the previous ambassador, Tantowi Yahya.

The Kingdom of Tonga is an island nation in the southern Pacific Ocean, about a third of the way from New Zealand to Hawaii. Tonga is located south of Samoa and east of Fiji. The country consists of 176 islands, 36 of which are inhabited. The largest island is Tongatapu. The Cook Islands is a government within a free association with New Zealand.

The fifteen islands in the southern Pacific Ocean have an area of 220 km². The capital city is Avarua which is located in Rarotonga. Niue is an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean. Niue is freely associated with New Zealand. This means that New Zealand’s leader is also the head of state of Niue, and most of Niue’s diplomatic relations is governed by the mother country. Niue is located 2,400 km northeast of New Zealand.

Fientje Suebu is a woman born in Sentani. Previously, she had studied at the Foreign Service School. After graduating, she dedicated herself to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for 31 years.

Prior to becoming Ambassador to New Zealand, Fientje also served as Deputy Head of Representative at the Indonesian Embassy (KBRI) in India. She held the position since February 2018. Then in July 2021, the DPR declared Fientje to have passed the fit and proper test as an ambassador.

Fientje is the first Papuan woman to be successfully appointed as an ambassador. With this, Fientje has a great desire to show that Papuans can also be empowered. She also believes that Papuan women can become agents of change in their respective fields.

“Proud to be entrusted with this position and it is an honor for me and my family to be able to serve the nation,” Fientje told the media.

Fientje adds to the long list of big names of Papuans who have served as ambassadors. Michael Manufandu was the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to Colombia in South America, then Barnabas Suebu who was the Indonesian Ambassador to Mexico in charge of Mexico, Honduras and Panama for the 1999- 2002 period.

There is also Theo Waimuri who was the Indonesian Ambassador to Namibia in 2000-2003. Then, Johannes “John” Rudolf Gerzon Djopari was the Indonesian Ambassador to Papua New Guinea from 2002 to 2006. Then there was Freddy Numberi as the Indonesian Ambassador to Italy and Malta. Of all the names, the only career diplomats are Fientje and Theo Waimuri.

Grappling in the world of diplomacy and being a mother of three is not an easy thing for the wife of Philpus Sarwom. The profession required her to travel from one country to another when needed. The main challenge is the different educational systems.

“We have to manage very large cultural differences, both in schools with different subjects and homework. At one point in time, families were asked to move during school exams, as a result, the children had to be demoted,” she said.

However, all these obstacles were covered by Fientje’s great intention to show that Papuans can also be empowered. She believes that Papuan women are capable of becoming agents of change in their respective fields. Her desire to take part in promoting and working for the benefit of the nation to friendly countries became her main motivation as a diplomat.

Fientje received the support of her husband who chose to stay in Jakarta with her three children in order to complete their education. “Achievements lead to happiness. We strive to do our best in life and feel good about it, whether at work, at home, raising a family and nurturing relationships, educating children, or anything that leads to satisfaction is success,” Fientje said.

Fientje’s current task is not light. One of them is maintaining good relations with these countries and is required to be able to explain well about Papua. It should be noted that in New Zealand, there are still groups supporting Papuan independence who often hold demonstrations. In addition, it is also important to maintain a well-maintained trade climate between the two countries.

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