//
you're reading...
Australian Current Affairs

Australia seen as patronising and arrogant by Indonesians


Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Kevin Rudd

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Kevin Rudd

Many Indonesians find it hard to control their temper each time they read or hear any kind of provocative remark from the Australian media, military, politicians or celebrities. The country is perceived as an arrogant neighbour with a strong sense of superiority towards Indonesia and no more important agenda than to destroy its territorial integrity.

To us, Australia is a nation that has little respect for Indonesia, and as a great nation we don’t believe we deserve such. We would like Australians to learn more about Indonesia because of our pivotal role in the global community. Yet we often ignore the principle “to know thy neighbour” and instead focus on forcing them to deepen their knowledge about us.

A recent poll conducted by the Lowy Institute found that 84 per cent of Australians believe their country “acts as a good neighbour to Indonesia”, while only 54 per cent agree that Indonesia acts as a good neighbour to Australia and only 30 per cent believe that “Indonesia helps Australia combat people-smuggling”.

Who among Indonesians would not feel angry at the perception that 54 per cent agree that “Australia is right to worry about Indonesia as a military threat” and that “Indonesia is a dangerous source of Islamic terrorism”? One thing we need to remember is that perception does not always reflect reality.

Most of us probably will never forgive Australia for “masterminding” the independence of East Timor, although we often forget that it was then president BJ Habibie who initiated an independence referendum for the former Indonesian colony.

It is no exaggeration to say that most of us are strongly suspicious that Australia will also be the main supporter of the Papuan people in establishing their own state despite repeated denials from Australian government officials, including Foreign Minister Bob Carr during a recent meeting with a group of visiting Indonesian journalists, since Australia was among the first countries to endorse Indonesia’s annexation of East Timor in the 1970s but later supported East Timor’s independence. The strong US military presence in Darwin only strengthens the suspicion that Papua’s independence is high on Australia’s agenda.

During the Suharto era, the then president was outraged when an Australian newspaper reported the corrupt practices of his children, although we found out later that the reports were not totally wrong (if not totally right).

Yesterday, Kevin Rudd arrived in Jakarta to meet President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Indonesia will opt to remain neutral regarding the September general election in Australia no matter who emerges as the winner (Labor or the Coalition), although in my view Yudhoyono probably has a personal preference for Rudd. Rudd’s visit itself was not at his own initiative: it was his predecessor, Julia Gillard, who tabled the visit.

I remember visiting parliament in Canberra last month. Rudd was sitting in the back row when Gillard responded sternly to a statement by an opposition legislator who teased her about an economic issue. Rudd received little attention from the media or even his colleagues because most of the Australian media was confident that Rudd would not get enough votes to exact revenge against Gillard and secure the Labor Party’s helm.

Gillard had called for an election in September, while the opposition party was leading in several opinion polls. Tony Abbott, who promised to take a much tougher stance against boatpeople, including the possible deployment of naval ships to turn around the boats carrying them, was outraged at Gillard’s announcement that she would meet Yudhoyono in Jakarta in August.

Gillard clearly wanted to get a significant concession from the Indonesian government concerning boatpeople. I met Gillard along with other Indonesian journalists as a part of an Australian Foreign Ministry program.

For Indonesia, Labor’s approach is more sensible because the burden is shared. Indonesia cannot control the flow of the boatpeople because of the vastness of the archipelago, and also because of the corrupt mentality of Indonesian officials who have direct contact with the migrants. The root of the problem lies not only with Indonesia but with the countries of origin.

Rudd’s visit would be more meaningful were he to visit again after winning the election, and if it were more of a courtesy visit.

In every way, Indonesia is a major state, and it is only right that it holds an honourable position among the international community.

But we also need to behave as a great nation, one for which its people have high respect. There are 1000 reasons to hate Australia, but we must also be ready when the same reasons are applied to us.

Kornelius Purba is senior managing editor at The Jakarta Post. This is an edited version of an article that appeared in that newspaper.
 
Source: The Australian – Patronising approach won’t impress Indonesia

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Australia seen as patronising and arrogant by Indonesians

  1. It may not be diplomatic to say it, but it is true that most Australians probably have little respect for Indonesia, In fact, most of the Eastern hemisphere probably has little respect for Indonesia. Let’s be honest here, are any other countries in the eastern hemisphere holding up Indonesia aside Korea, Singapore and Japan as countries they wont to emulate? Are people in the eastern hemisphere saying they want to migrate to Indonesia? Aside from Australians going to Bali, do many tourists want to visit?

    If a country wants respect then really it has to do things worthy of respect. Trying to play a nationalistic card to distract attention away from corruption, inequality, pollution, and separatism doesn’t inspire international respect and perhaps it is better for Australia to be honest about that than polite.

    Posted by redearthbluesky | July 6, 2013, 12:43

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pingback: Indonesia frees Australia’s most wanted people smuggler; allowed to return to Afghanistan | Craig Hill - July 13, 2013

  2. Pingback: Australian helicopters used in ’70s massacres in West Papua | Craig Hill - November 14, 2013

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 14,942 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

  • RT @danilic: From friend in UK "the first 10 minutes of the BBCs 9pm news tonight was dedicated to Australia’s appalling commitment to clim… 53 minutes ago
  • While the Chinese government's stated aim is to lift their people out of poverty, the Australian government seeks t… twitter.com/i/web/status/1… 9 hours ago
  • RT @marquelawyers: As it turns out, The Australian Way is to dodgy up a pile of bullshit the night before your assignment is due and try to… 15 hours ago
  • So the Courier Mail and the Daily Telegraph published a fairly positive and in depth analysis of The Australian Dem… twitter.com/i/web/status/1… 16 hours ago
  • RT @TamePunk: “[we] would not see it as one that aligns directly to what Grace is wanting to achieve. [The Healing Foundation] are broader… 23 hours ago

Most Recent Posts Post on My Blog About China: China News

Cadence Column: Asia, October 25, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, October 25, 2021

Taiwan was thrust into a position without being asked. In 1971, the United Nations removed the Taipei-seated government known today as “Taiwan” and switched to recognizing the Beijing-based government known as “China”. The Taiwanese were elbowed out of the global forum. Now, the US is working to bring Taiwan back in, but not the same […]

China’s trade practices come under fire

China’s trade practices come under fire

China’s trade policies have come under strong criticism during a review at the World Trade Organization (WTO). The US accused China of “skewing the playing field” by using “unfair trade practices” such as preferential treatment for state businesses. Meanwhile Australia said the country’s behaviour was “inconsistent” with its WTO commitments. China said it was committed […]

China’s economy weakens, then gets even worse and now there’s a global shipping crisis. What’s next?

China’s economy weakens, then gets even worse and now there’s a global shipping crisis. What’s next?

The world is waking up to the fact that maybe being dependent upon China for its goods is not such a good idea. In 2019 at about the same time the US was closing on the trade deals with China, COVID emerged in China. In 2019 China’s economy was also beginning to slow down. COVID […]

U.S. needs nuclear spacecraft to compete with China, NASA official tells Congress

U.S. needs nuclear spacecraft to compete with China, NASA official tells Congress

A NASA official told Congress on Wednesday that the United States needs more nuclear spacecrafts in order to compete with China. “Strategic competitors including China are aggressively investing in a wide range of space technologies, including nuclear power and propulsion,” Bhavya Lal, NASA’s senior advisor for budget and finance, told the House Science, Space, and […]

China shows off drones recycled from Soviet-era fighter jets

China shows off drones recycled from Soviet-era fighter jets

China has for the first time showed off retired 1950s era fighter jets that have been converted to unmanned drones, with satellite photos of two of its east coast bases near Taiwan showing a large number of the jets on site. The People’s Liberation Army’s Eastern Theater Command published the photos of two Shenyang J-6s […]

China’s propaganda machine is intensifying its ‘people’s war’ to catch American spies

China’s propaganda machine is intensifying its ‘people’s war’ to catch American spies

“Let’s fight a ‘people’s war’ against the spies, so that they cannot move a single step and have no place to hide!” That was the rallying cry of a Chinese military newspaper on social media over the weekend, as Beijing urges public vigilance against American espionage following the launch of a CIA mission center dedicated […]

China’s blackouts break power cutoff pledge

China’s blackouts break power cutoff pledge

As China struggles to control the latest surge of power shortages, the government seems to be hoping that the public will have short memories for how it has dealt with similar problems in the past. After months of downplaying the power crisis and recommending partial fixes, central government authorities belatedly acknowledged the spread of electricity […]

Cadence Column: Asia, October 18, 2021

Cadence Column: Asia, October 18, 2021

According to Chinese and US claims, China has a high-orbit, hypersonic missile that can hit a target within 24 miles. And, that’s why China is the new boss of the world and everyone else should hate America. The end. But, that’s not the end in the mind of Taiwan or the US Pentagon. This week, […]

China ‘making its nuclear submarines harder to detect’

China ‘making its nuclear submarines harder to detect’

China is upgrading its nuclear missile-equipped submarines to make them harder for rival powers such as the US to detect, reports suggest. The People’s Liberation Army Navy has redesigned its type 094 submarines to make them quieter, The South China Morning Post reports. Defence experts believe the Chinese 094 submarine can carry and launch the […]

Could China’s economy collapse?

Could China’s economy collapse?

For almost half a century, Chinese officials have overseen one of the greatest economic transformations in human history. The country has gone from collectivized farms and famine to world-leading tech companies and gleaming megacities connected by superfast trains. More than 800 million Chinese have been pulled out of poverty as the Communist Party and its leader […]

%d bloggers like this: