Attitudes to Australia

Apr 2nd, 2006, in News, by

A look at some of the current attitudes towards Australia of prominent Indonesians in the wake of the granting of temporary visas to Papuan refugees and the subsequent cartoon wars.

Former Speaker of the parliament in Jakarta, and the leader of the PAN, National Mandate Party, Amien Rais claimed that the granting of visas to the Papuan asylum seekers was part of a dirty campaign being waged internationally that sought to paint Indonesia as a country that was unsafe for its own citizens.

He added:

To be precise I regard the Australian government as having soured the relations between us and as being a bad neighbour…. Why hasn’t the Indonesian government issued a formal protest? I think that if the battle is only fought in newspapers or in the mass media nothing will come of it.
(Tepatnya, saya menilai pemerintah Australia telah melakukan politik bertetangga yang sangat buruk atau bukan tetangga baik…. Mengapa pemerintah RI tidak melayangkan protes resmi kepada Australia? Saya pikir hanya dengan perang di koran atau media massa tidak ada implikasi atau dampak apapun.)

He said that Indonesia had to stand up for itself and take on the Australian government, which was belittling Indonesia, but did not recommend breaking off diplomatic ties.


Regarding the publication of an offensive cartoon of the Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the Weekend Australian newspaper Rais said it was not an important matter and that such caricatures of leaders were just normal in western countries.

The leader of the Islamic Defenders Front was predictably less moderate in his reaction to the cartoon, no doubt sniffing an opportunity to rally the troops. Habib Riziek, chairman of the FPI, said the Indonesian nation was extremly offended and that the cartoon showed the racism of the Murdoch owned press. He recommended a diplomatic note of protest, or “if necessary”, the cutting off of relations.

Effendi Choiri, a member of parliament, urged the president to file a legal suit against the offending newspaper in Australia.

As the leader of a great nation president SBY has to be forthright in his opposition and file a suit against the Australian media which carried out this insulting of him.
(Sebagai pemimpin bangsa besar, Presiden SBY harus berani memberikan perlawanan dengan mengajukan gugatan hukum kepada media Australia yang telah melakukan penghinaan kepadanya.)

He said the suit could be filed in an international court but declined to mention exactly what would be the substance of it. He added that the cartoon was just the latest in a string of outrages committed by Australia and that Indonesia, as the fourth most populous country in the world, had to throw its weight around.

The deputy speaker of the House, Muhaimin Iskandar advised the Department of Foreign Affairs to carry out a special watch of Australia in anticipation of Australian attempts to interfere in internal Indonesian business. Because of the granting of the 42 visas Australia was clearly trying to assert influence in west Papua, he said. On the question of severing relations he said the advantages and disadvantages of it had to be considered first. If, after this, the advantages were seen to trump in the equation he said the Indonesian government should not be afraid to cut off relations.

Meanwhile the secretary general of the Foreign Affairs department, Imron Cotan, said that the Australian government had shown it wasn’t serious in its desire to see good relations with its easily offended neighbour.

Australia has misread the seriousness with which we take the consequences of their granting the temporary protection visas.
(Australia salah membaca tentang keseriusan kita terhadap dampak yang bisa ditimbulkan melalui pemberian visa proteksi sementara.)

Imron, who is a former ambassador to Australia added:

We already warned that if Australia made the wrong decision this would have a short term negative effect on our relations. The proof of this is that the number of visitors has begun to decrease and cooperative efforts between us have been postponed.
(Sudah kita kasih “warning”, kalau Anda mengambil keputusan yang salah, ini akan ada implikasinya terhadap hubungan jangka pendek. Buktinya, kunjungan-kunjungan sudah mulai dikurangi. Kerjasama kedua negara ditunda.)

However, taking the long term view, Imron was more optimistic about prospects for good relations, but threatened:

Hopefully in the future they will no longer misread the seriousness with which we take the Papua problem. This is what they have to be told: don’t misunderstand us.
(Mudah-mudahan mereka di masa yang akan datang tidak lagi salah baca tentang keseriusan kita mengenai masalah Papua. Ini yang perlu disampaikan kepada mereka: don’t misread (jangan salah membaca) Indonesia.)

The Australian foreign affairs department recently issued a revised travel warning for Indonesia, with the claim that a terrorist attack was imminent and may occur specifically on 2 April. It read:

We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Indonesia, including Bali, at this time due to the very high threat of terrorist attack. We continue to receive a stream of reporting indicating that terrorists are in the advanced stages of planning attacks against Western interests in Indonesia against a range of targets, including places frequented by foreigners. These reports include information about potentially heightened risk of attack on particular dates. Recent reports suggest Sunday 2 April 2006 could be a potential date for attack but we emphasise that attacks could occur at any time, anywhere in Indonesia. If you are in Indonesia, including Bali, and are concerned for your safety you should consider departing. If you do decide to travel to Indonesia, including Bali, you should exercise extreme caution.

In reference to this alert a member of parliament from the Islamist leaning PBR, Reform Star Party, laid proto blame on Australia for any terror attack that might occur in the country.

Ali Muchtar said if an attack occured Australia must be behind it because it had foreknowledge.

If a bomb really did go off today then tonight or tomorrow I could point the finger at Australia as the one behind it because Australia [apparently] knows the movements of terrorists, when and where they will strike.
(Kalau memang itu benar bom itu meledak sore, malam nanti atau besok saya bisa menuding bahwa Australia di balik teroris yang memainkan perannya itu, karena Australia tahu gerak-gerik teroris kapan, di mana dan apa yang mereka lakukan.)

He then claimed that the travel warning was an attempt by Australia to create fear among Australians in Indonesia and a way to lessen any good feeling felt towards Indonesians by the Australian people.

One Comment on “Attitudes to Australia”

  1. Felis says:

    The truth is that our government MUST (the law) issue temporary visas if the self proclaimed refugees ask for political asylum on Australian soil.
    This is why our Navy tries to intercept “boat people” in the open sea so they can be held in transit camps outside Australia (UN handles their apeopleications but Oz still provides for them).

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