“I pointed out that in dealing with terrorism, one has to know the causes,” Dr Mahathir told journalists after emerging from a bilateral meeting with the Australian Prime Minister. “Adding to the causes of terrorism is not going to be helpful, I pointed that out. And Australia has not made any decision, they are looking into it.”
When winning is all that counts( ODT)
Indonesia’s relationship with Australia could be “thrown under a bus” following Canberra’s provocative move to consider relocating its embassy in Israel, a trade expert is warning.
Ever heard of it?
Indonesia suspends all military cooperation with Australia over allegedly insulting training material on display at a Special Forces base in Perth.
One of the lawyers involved in the Bali Nine drug case says Australian police should never have cooperated with Indonesia given the likelihood of death sentences being imposed.
Brisbane lawyer Robert Myers said the Abbott Government should cite the role played by Australian Federal Police (AFP) in providing intelligence on the trafficking conspiracy when it makes a bid to save the lives of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
The pair are set to face the firing squad this year after a decision by the Indonesian government to go ahead with executing all 64 death row drug traffickers.
Mr Myers became involved in the case after receiving a phone call from his friend Lee Rush, the father of now convicted drug trafficker Scott Rush who is serving a life sentence, before his son left Australia.
“He called me one evening before the boys, well, particularly before Scott left Australia, with a concern that he had received a call to say Scott had an overseas ticket, he had a passport,” Mr Myers said.
“And so I said, ‘Well look, if you’ve got a concern, I’ll call a friend of mine in the Federal Police’. I knew a police officer who was on secondment and that really started the entire thing.”
The AFP’s liaison officer in Bali, Paul Hunniford, then wrote a three-page letter to the Indonesian police.
“It really said words to the effect of whatever action you see fit to take is quite alright with us, and it seemed to be an open-ended invitation to the Indonesian authorities,” Mr Myers said.
“If they wanted to take it beyond surveillance, if they wanted to arrest these people, even wanted to charge them, even wanted to subject them to Indonesian law, that the Australians weren’t going to have any problems with that.”
Australia in a ‘terribly embarrassing situation’
Mr Myers said the AFP’s involvement could help assist in saving the lives of Chan and Sukumaran.
“I suspect it may be their only hope now because, as I understand it, the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister have appealed to Indonesia; it sounds as if the appeals have fallen on deaf ears,” he said.
There was no doubt that by allowing the Indonesians to really have cart blanche in relation to the Bali Nine, that all of the Bali Nine were being exposed to the death penalty.Robert Myers, lawyer
“It just struck me as though if the Government, if the Prime Minister could say on behalf of the Australian Government, [that] we find ourselves in a terribly embarrassing situation because this should never have happened in the first place.”
He said had the AFP asked for cooperation from the Indonesian authorities about the groups’ movements and when they were returning to Australia, the matter could have been dealt with on home soil.
“And if there’s an appeal made on a personal basis you’d hope that the president of Indonesia might say, ‘Look, I can see you’re in an embarrassing situation where our countries are allies… we’d hate to see the Australian Government terribly embarrassed by really a very bad error, a gross error on behalf of the AFP’, which was completely contrary to its own restrictions and guidelines.
“There is no doubt that the Attorney-General would have to personally approve the cooperation between foreign entities that could result in the death of Australian citizens, and there was no doubt that by allowing the Indonesians to really have cart blanche in relation to the Bali Nine, that all of the Bali Nine were being exposed to the death penalty.”
Mr Myers said he did not know at what level the AFP’s decision was made.
“[Mick] Keelty was obviously the officer in charge of the entire show at the time.
“I don’t even know if this decision was made by Keelty but one would have thought the buck would have stopped with … well, the buck stops with the Attorney-General and my understanding is the Attorney-General knew nothing about it.”
BOUNDLESS PAIN TO SHARE
Among his long list of reasons that explain why the Abbott government is failing to impress voters, Andrew Bolt yesterday suggested that its “most successful minister, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, has been given not a single new problem to solve since stopping the boats”. In the absence of anything else to do, then, it appears that Morrison has now decided to stop the boats even earlier. Anybody who arrived in Indonesia after 1 July this year and who applies for refugee status will now be ineligible to be resettled in Australia – even if he or she has been assessed as a refugee by the United Nations. Today the UNHCR confirms that Australia is “undertaking an internal review” of its global humanitarian resettlement program.
Morrison continues to claim that his policies are consistent with the Refugees Convention, though such claims should probably be seen as “mere puffery” – a legal term allowing a salesperson to lie about his product if his lie is so obvious as to not be taken seriously by any rational observer. The Refugee and Immigration Legal Centre’s David Manne points out that Morrison’s latest policy change “does nothing to improve the plight of refugees needing protection”, and aids Australia in “failing to shoulder its fair share of the responsibility to protect refugees”. The ABC has spoken to asylum seekers in Indonesia who say the changed rules might actually prompt them to get on a boat.
Morrison wants asylum seekers – including Hazaras fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan – to apply for refugee status in the “country of first asylum”, but the only parties to the Convention between Afghanistan and Australia are Cambodia, where Sarah Hanson-Young is currently learning that refugees “have no real rights”, and the desperately poor Timor-Leste. Presumably Morrison wants the developing world to shoulder even more than the 80 per cent burden it already carries for refugee welfare, but Indonesia has been “briefed”, rather than consulted, on the latest move.
Indonesia says Australia has burdened it with the responsibility of looking after thousands of refugees and asylum seekers, after the Federal Government decided to cut its resettlement intake.
Indonesia’s minister for law and human rights, Yasonna Laoly, said his country could only accommodate 2,000 asylum seekers and refugees.
Mr Laoly said it was a human rights issue and the decision placed a burden on Indonesia.
“It’s Australia’s right, but it becomes a burden for us,” Mr Laoly said.
On last month’s figures, there were 10,500 asylum seekers and refugees registered with the United Nations (UN) in Jakarta.
As Indonesia is not a signatory to the refugee convention, the UNHCR seeks to resettle them in countries like Australia.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop will not say whether she discussed the policy with her Indonesian counterpart at last weekend’s G20 summit but said Indonesian authorities were briefed on the plan.
“I spent quite some time with the new [Indonesian] foreign minister over the weekend in Brisbane at the G20,” she said.
“We spoke about a whole range of issues including the issue of border protection and asylum seekers policy and we agreed to work closely.
“The Indonesian authorities have been briefed in detail about this.”
Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announced on Tuesday Australia would cut the number of refugees it would resettle from Indonesia and would not accept anyone who had registered in Indonesia after July 1.
Mr Morrison described the decision on Wednesday as “taking the sugar off the table”.
“We’re trying to stop people thinking that it’s OK to come into Indonesia and use that as a waiting ground to get to Australia,” he said.
Mr Morrison said Indonesia, as a transit country, was used by smugglers.
“We’ve had great success in stopping people coming to Australia by boat and for most of that time over the past year, that has seen a significant reduction of people moving into Indonesia,” Mr Morrison said.
“In recent months, we’ve seen a change to that and that’s because people think they can transit and sit in Indonesia and use that as a place to gain access to Australia.”
Indonesia’s foreign ministry said it would monitor the impact of the decision and would consider taking measures to protect Indonesia’s interests.
The ministry’s spokesman did not say what those measures might be.
What do we take from the fact that yet another Muslim country has more female representation in its cabinet than Australia? The reality is both the Muslim world and the West remain contradictory places for women, writes Ruby Hamad.
Yesterday, recently elected Indonesian president, Joko Widodo, unveiled his new cabinet. Out of a cabinet of 34 in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, eight appointees are women.
While this is by no means a veritable paradise of gender equality, it once again serves to highlight just how poor gender inclusivity and representation is in Australian politics. When Prime Minister Tony Abbott revealed his own cabinet last year, the inclusion of just one woman, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, led to many jokes of the “Even Afghanistan has more women in cabinet” variety.
Not only do both Afghanistan and Indonesia have more diverse gender representation in the upper echelons of power, but, as academic and religious scholar Reza Aslan recently noted, seven Muslim democracies have elected women as their heads of state.
This, however, does not mean women are more equal in Muslim societies. Rather, it shows the complicated relationship between gender oppression and political representation, and highlights the dangers of using only one index by which to measure gender inequality. The rise of some of the Muslim women leaders, for instance, was in some cases more a result of nepotism than gender equality.
Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto, for example, was regarded largely as an extension of her father, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Like other female leaders in overtly patriarchal South Asian societies such as India’s Indira Gandhi and Bangladesh’s Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, Bhutto attained power following the death of a close male relative.
In the immediate aftermath of her father’s execution following a military coup in 1979, Pakistan’s Peoples Party assigned a “safe” seat in a deliberate move aimed at keeping his legacy going.
I’m not saying that Muslim women can only achieve political success in these circumstances. Indeed, other Muslim women such as Turkey’s Tansu Ciller gained power in vastly different circumstances. What I am saying is political success neither negates nor proves gender oppression. What it does show is that women in all societies can – and do – navigate sexist structures in their everyday life to varying degrees of success.
In the case of South Asian countries such as Pakistan and Indonesia, these women’s success was made possible by their family connections, which as CBS reports, is “no coincidence in a corner of the world where family often dictates one’s occupation, be it as a street sweeper or a prime minister.”
In other words, religion is not the only factor that leads to either the oppression or the success of women. We associate Islam with the most egregious abuses of women’s rights. Indeed, despite the fact that Islam has a long history of women leaders, going right back to Aisha, one of Mohammed’s wives who often fought alongside him in battle (and indeed led at least one battle of her own), Muslim countries are regularly over-represented in the annual “worst places to be a woman” lists.
However, also as noted by Reza Aslan, what we often put down to religion is actually regional influence. Indeed Muslim women in Malaysia and Indonesia (with the possible exception of the increasingly fundamentalist Aceh province) enjoy far more freedom than their Middle Eastern and African counterparts.
And yet, even in the most repressive Middle Eastern societies, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, women are able to achieve career heights that western women struggle to attain. Saudi Arabia has seen a recent surge in women entrepreneurs, who run their own successful businesses even as they need their husband’s permission to travel. Meanwhile, Iranian women make up the majority of law students and work as lawyers and judges, who must nonetheless submit to enforced dress regulations in their own courtrooms.
In other words, the Muslim world, like the West, and indeed the rest of the world remains a contradictory place for women.
Earlier this year, Mariam al-Mansouri became the UAE’s first female fighter pilot and led a strike against Islamic State. Regarded as a hero by Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador the US who boasted about her on American television, she was also referred to as “Boobs on the ground” by Fox News presenter Eric Bolling.
The derisive sexualisation of al-Mansouri by a white, male media personality highlights how Western societies also marginalise and dismiss women, even as they revile Muslim countries for doing the same. The West is no less sexist, it’s just that the sexism manifests differently. The western tendency to conflate sexualisation with empowerment mistakenly assumes that because women are not legally restricted in their clothing choices or their everyday movements, then our liberation is complete.
Unlike Muslim women, we can wear what we like, hence we are free and equal and therefore the lack of women’s representation in parliament isn’t a failing of our political system or a sign of continued oppression, but due to “merit”. When questioned about the single woman in his cabinet, Tony Abbott claimed to be “disappointed” (as if it wasn’t solely his doing) and essentially blamed women for their own exclusion by arguing that if only women were better, then they too would hold more positions of power.
So what do we take away from the fact that yet another Muslim country has more female representation in its cabinet than Australia? While it would be wrong to assume this is automatically a sign of greater gender equality, it is no less of a mistake to dismiss the lack of women in power as unrelated to women’s oppression.
Indeed, the more Australia insists – and believes – it is an equal society, the easier it is to mask the deliberate exclusion of women from the corridors of power behind the façade of meritocracy.
Pursed lips I’m off really off
Unexpected visit to Papua New Guinea.
The ABC understands Mr Abbott met PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill today and discussed the threat of the Ebola virus as well as resettling asylum seekers.
Mr Abbott said in a video statement that Mr Widodo’s inauguration was an important event for Australia as “Indonesia is a hugely important neighbour”. I’m gate crashing and shirt-fronting
” Shit It has the world’s largest Muslim population, it is the world’s third largest democracy and, along with India, it’s the emerging democratic superpower of Asia,” he said. ” I can talk coal” but Shhhhhhhh!!!!
“Almost one million Australians visit Indonesia, including Bali, every year and over 17,000 Indonesian students study here in Australia each year.” Business first we guess because Andrew Bolt Murdoch news and 2GB assure us he hates Muslims apart from Scott Morrison’s suggestion ” they will improve our poll ratings”.
Mr Abbott said “uninvited he is looking to strengthen Australia’s social and economic ties with the nation.”
“Indonesia will be the fourth biggest economy in the world by mid-century. This is why our foreign policy needs a Jakarta focus rather than a Geneva one.”
Oh I forgot I said that ages ago but I have been busy polling in Aus you know using every opportunity to hide the budget.
So much for the pivot to Asia
Our focus on joining the war in the Middle East has effectively derailed the so-called pivot or rebalance to Asia. We should be focussed more on our own immediate region, writes John Blaxland.
This was supposed to be the Asian century. but the Middle East’s shenanigans were like a red rag to a bull.
After the 200,000 or so estimated deaths in Syria in the last few years of conflict failed to crystallise a response, all it took was two American journalists and a British aid worker to be beheaded for the West, led by the US, to be goaded back into the fray.
And to what end?
With the Sunni heartland captured, there was little impetus for them to press far into Shia and Kurdish territory. There’s also considerable local resistance as they are not welcome there by Iraq’s Shia and Kurds, let alone among the concerned neighbouring states.
Defeating them in detail is virtually impossible. They remain well ensconced in Syria and happily blend in among the local population in the cities and towns where aerial precision targeting is of limited utility and generates considerable negative repercussions. Actions in Syria also are likely to earn the wrath of an aggressive Russian administration under Vladimir Putin. Have we thought that through? I think not. Then what do we do?
Support for the US alliance is an enduring priority and one that continues to receive widespread support across the community in Australia. But how much is enough? Are we not better suited at focusing on regional engagement in Australia’s neighbourhood? The Us thought so.
Australia has been surprisingly front-footed about offering to participate in the US-led coalition far from Australia’s shores, citing domestic concerns as a primary motivator for seeking to extinguish the flames of extremism in Iraq. Yet it was in Indonesia, in Bali and Jakarta, where Islamist extremism has most directly affected Australians not in Australia.
As Australia seeks to deal a blow to violent extremism, perhaps it is appropriate that we ask what Malaysia and Indonesia think is the best thing to do. Perhaps, as modern democracies with a predominantly moderate Muslim electoral base, they might have some pointers for us Mr Abbott. Whether our actions are helping or hindering the cause. Our efforts in the Middle East can be expected to have significant knock-on consequences in South-East Asia as well.The focus on Iraq appears to have effectively derailed the so-called US pivot or rebalance to Asia. Shouldn’t this concern our Australian policymakers, countries, shouldn’t we remain focused on regional security concerns, while America is distracted once again by the Middle East.
Instead Australia has appeared equally willing to abandon the pivot. throwing its weight and its policy efforts into the Middle East rather than its own immediate region.
A significant rethink of policy positions is in order as it is not the disengagement from the Middle East and beyond that we had been told was to be expected.
We should return to Prime Minster Tony Abbott’s advice way back when he was spouting “more Jakarta and less Geneva”, or anywhere else for that matter. Malcolm Fraser is so right that he is the most dangerous PM we have seen.