Indonesia Demands Spying Explanation, Suspends Co-operation; Abbott To Respond; Shorten Invokes ‘Team Australia’

Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has suspended intelligence exchanges and military co-operation with Australia and demanded Tony Abbott explain the tapping of his and his wife’s mobile phones.

SBY

The suspension of military co-operation includes the sharing of information for anti-people smuggling operations as well as joint military exercises of any kind.

“Facing the common problem of people smuggling, Indonesia and Australia have coordinated operations, coordinated patrolling in the sea area – I have asked for this to be suspended until everything is clear,” President Yudhoyono said.

Yudhoyono will write to Prime Minister Tony Abbott tonight demanding an explanation of the tapping carried out by the Defence Signals Directorate in 2009. He has called for new and binding protocols before the relationship can be restored. “I will officially send a letter to the Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, to obtain his response and then we will see what we can do in the future.”

Abbott

Yudhoyono said it was difficult for him to understand why the phone tapping took place. “Now is not the era of the cold war.”

Abbott and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten both made short statements to the House of Representatives just after 7pm tonight. Abbott said he would respond promptly to Yudhoyono. Shorten said the Opposition supported the government in what is a “Team Australia” moment.

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Text of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s remarks.

I know Indonesians are upset and angry about what Australia has done to Indonesia. But in international relations, in dealing with certain situations, we cannot be emotional, we must remain rational.

Our reactions will determine the future of the relationship and friendship between Indonesia and Australia which actually have been going well.

The relationship between the two governments has been going well. When disasters occurred in Indonesia, Australia responded swiftly with assistance.

I find it personally hard to comprehend why the tapping was done. We are not in a cold war era. Indonesia and Australia aren’t in the position of being against each other or fighting.

What’s the direction of this intelligence? Why was the friend and partner – not the enemy – tapped?

This problem is serious.

It’s in violation of international law and regulations, human rights and the right to privacy.

It’s also related to morality and ethics as neighbours, partners and friends, and maintaining good relations between two countries.

For a president like me, in regards to state secrets, I can’t talk about them over the phone anyway. I will call the ministers to see me and talk to them directly.

I don’t understand why it had to happen. Why Australia did it to Indonesia.

I am expecting an official statement and stance from the Australian government.

We really want an explanation. We also want to know what measures Australia is going to take on the tapping issue.

And if Australia wants to maintain good relations with Indonesia.

Tonight I will send an official letter to Tony Abbott.

There are three things Indonesia is going to do:

1. Over the next few days Indonesia will wait for an explanation and admission from Australia.

2. Because of the tapping, some co-operation agendas are being reviewed.

At the moment we are holding off the following co-operations:

- information sharing and intelligence exchange. It will be held off.

- joint military training for the army, navy and air force is to be held off.

- co-ordinated military operations targeting people smuggling. This overwhelming issue for Indonesia and Australia will be held off. We can’t possibly continue with it when we’re not sure that there isn’t tapping on Indonesia’s national forces.

3. In all future co-operations, Indonesia requests a code of conduct and guidance principles that are binding and clear in nature.

I hope – and I’m sure Australia shares the same hope – that our good relationship will continue after this problem is resolved.

I know Australia respects Indonesia sovereignty, which is the most important basis for co-operation.

The Indonesian and Australian governments have a duty and obligation to resolve this problem.

Text taken from translation published by The Guardian.

Hansard transcript of statement to the House by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

A short time ago President Yudhoyono made a statement in Jakarta. I have to say that I was encouraged by the president’s remarks about the strength of the relationship between Australia and Indonesia although obviously there are very serious issues which do need to be worked through in the near future between us. [Read more...]


Abbott Statement On Indonesian Intelligence Operations; Regrets But Does Not Apologise

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has made a statement to the House of Representatives on Indonesia and intelligence operations.

Abbott

Abbott’s remarks follow yesterday’s revelations of Australian phone-tapping of Indonesian officials, including President Yudhoyono and his wife. The Indonesian Ambassador to Australia was withdrawn late yesterday.

“I sincerely regret any embarrassment that recent media reports have caused [President Yudhoyono],” Abbott told the House. “It is in everyones’s interests – Indonesia’s no less than Australia’s – that cool heads prevail and that our relationship grows closer, not more distant.”

However, Abbott said “the first duty of every government is to protect the country and to advance its national interests”. He said Australia should not be expected to apologise “for the steps we take to protect our country now or in the past”.

Abbott said: “Importantly, in Australia’s case, we use all our resources, including information, to help our friends and allies, not to harm them.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten responded to Abbott and called on him to apologise to President Yudhoyono.

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Statement on indulgence to the House of Representatives by the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

In the past 24 hours there have been calls for Australia to detail our intelligence operations and to apologise for them.

Madam Speaker, the first duty of every government is to protect the country and to advance its national interests. [Read more...]


Indonesia Refuses To Accept Turned Back Boat; Asylum Seekers Taken To Christmas Island

The Australian government has confirmed that Indonesia has refused to accept a boat Australian authorities attempted to turn back just south of Java.

According to a statement from Operation Sovereign Borders, Indonesia is “reviewing the request put forward by Australia”.

The boat was rescued 43 nautical miles south of the coast of Java, within the Indonesian search and rescue zone. A request was made to transfer the passengers to Indonesia. The statement says: “On two recent occasions, Indonesia has agreed to these requests and facilitated an on water transfer.”

The vessel’s passengers have now been taken to Christmas Island and will eventually be taken to Nauru or Manus Island.

The Opposition says the government’s asylum policies are in disarray and it is in retreat from its “turn back the boats” policy. The government statement says the number of “illegal arrivals” is down 75% since Operation Sovereign Borders began.




Morrison Quizzed About Stand-Off With Indonesia Over Asylum Seeker Boat

The Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison, faced a series of questions today about an asylum-seeker boat thought to be involved in a dispute with the Indonesian government that threatens the Abbott government’s ‘turn back the boats’ policy.

Morrison appeared at the weekly Operation Sovereign Borders briefing. He was accompanied by Lt. General Angus Campbell. Both men were terse in their response to some questions during a willing encounter with journalists.

Morrison

It is understood that Indonesia has refused to accept a boat turned back by Australian authorities. The boat was rescued just south of Java and within the Indonesian search and rescue zone.

Morrison and Campbell repeatedly refused to discuss “operational matters” in relation to the distressed vessel.

The dispute over the boat comes after a week of tense relations between Indonesia and Australia over allegations of spying by the Australian Embassy in Jakarta.

Campbell

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Official transcript of Operation Sovereign Borders press briefing by Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and Lt. General Angus Campbell.

Scott Morrison: Well, welcome to our eighth weekly briefing on Operation Sovereign Borders. As usual, I will ask Commander Campbell to update you on key activity during the past reporting period and I will begin, as usual, with some opening remarks. [Read more...]


Paul Keating’s Murdoch Oration: Asia In The New Order

The former Labor Prime Minister, Paul Keating, has delivered a stinging criticism of Australia’s foreign policy direction in a speech in Melbourne tonight.

Paul KeatingKeating delivered the Keith Murdoch Oration at the State Library of Victoria.

He argued the era of effective foreign policy activism had passed, replaced by a flagging sense of independence and “an easy accommodation with the foreign policy objectives of the United States”.

Keating reiterated his long-held views about the decline of the “Anglosphere”. He said that as prime minister, “I rejoiced in the diversity around us and the fact that the big and old societies of the East, formerly locked down by colonialism and poverty, were free to go their own way.”

“We need to concentrate on where we can be effective and where we can make the greatest difference.”

Text of Paul Keating’s Keith Murdoch Oration.

Asia in the New Order: Australia’s Diminishing Sphere of Influence

Keith Murdoch, in whose name this oration is given, represents an important position in the history of this institution. Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1939 to1945, of what was then the Melbourne Public Library, he came to the position from an industry devoted to information, namely, newspapers.

He was appointed editor of the Melbourne Herald in 1921 and played a corporate role in the Herald acquiring the Sun News-Pictorial in 1925, becoming managing director of the Herald and Weekly Times in 1928. And so began the entrepreneurial career of the first Murdoch, building the Herald and Weekly Times, which sixty years later his son Rupert acquired. [Read more...]


President Obama’s Jakarta Speech: Text & Audio

President Barack Obama has delivered an address in Jakarta at the University of Indonesia.

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This is the text of President Obama’s speech at the University of Indonesia.

Terima kasih. Terima kasih, thank you so much, thank you, everybody. Selamat pagi. (Applause.) It is wonderful to be here at the University of Indonesia. To the faculty and the staff and the students, and to Dr. Gumilar Rusliwa Somantri, thank you so much for your hospitality. (Applause.)

Assalamualaikum dan salam sejahtera. Thank you for this wonderful welcome. Thank you to the people of Jakarta and thank you to the people of Indonesia.

Pulang kampung nih. (Applause.) I am so glad that I made it back to Indonesia and that Michelle was able to join me. We had a couple of false starts this year, but I was determined to visit a country that’s meant so much to me. And unfortunately, this visit is too short, but I look forward to coming back a year from now when Indonesia hosts the East Asia Summit. (Applause.)

Before I go any further, I want to say that our thoughts and prayers are with all of those Indonesians who are affected by the recent tsunami and the volcanic eruptions — particularly those who’ve lost loved ones, and those who’ve been displaced. And I want you all to know that as always, the United States stands with Indonesia in responding to natural disasters, and we are pleased to be able to help as needed. As neighbors help neighbors and families take in the displaced, I know that the strength and the resilience of the Indonesian people will pull you through once more.

Let me begin with a simple statement: Indonesia bagian dari didi saya. (Applause.) I first came to this country when my mother married an Indonesian named Lolo Soetoro. And as a young boy I was — as a young boy I was coming to a different world. But the people of Indonesia quickly made me feel at home.

Jakarta — now, Jakarta looked very different in those days. The city was filled with buildings that were no more than a few stories tall. This was back in 1967, ’68 — most of you weren’t born yet. (Laughter.) The Hotel Indonesia was one of the few high rises, and there was just one big department store called Sarinah. That was it. (Applause.) Betchaks and bemos, that’s how you got around. They outnumbered automobiles in those days. And you didn’t have all the big highways that you have today. Most of them gave way to unpaved roads and the kampongs.

So we moved to Menteng Dalam, where — (applause) — hey, some folks from Menteng Dalam right here. (Applause.) And we lived in a small house. We had a mango tree out front. And I learned to love Indonesia while flying kites and running along the paddy fields and catching dragonflies, buying satay and baso from the street vendors. (Applause.) I still remember the call of the vendors. Satay! (Laughter.) I remember that. Baso! (Laughter.) But most of all, I remember the people — the old men and women who welcomed us with smiles; the children who made a foreign child feel like a neighbor and a friend; and the teachers who helped me learn about this country.

Because Indonesia is made up of thousands of islands, and hundreds of languages, and people from scores of regions and ethnic groups, my time here helped me appreciate the common humanity of all people. And while my stepfather, like most Indonesians, was raised a Muslim, he firmly believed that all religions were worthy of respect. And in this way — (applause) — in this way he reflected the spirit of religious tolerance that is enshrined in Indonesia’s Constitution, and that remains one of this country’s defining and inspiring characteristics. (Applause.)

Now, I stayed here for four years — a time that helped shape my childhood; a time that saw the birth of my wonderful sister, Maya; a time that made such an impression on my mother that she kept returning to Indonesia over the next 20 years to live and to work and to travel — and to pursue her passion of promoting opportunity in Indonesia’s villages, especially opportunity for women and for girls. And I was so honored — (applause) — I was so honored when President Yudhoyono last night at the state dinner presented an award on behalf of my mother, recognizing the work that she did. And she would have been so proud, because my mother held Indonesia and its people very close to her heart for her entire life. (Applause.)

So much has changed in the four decades since I boarded a plane to move back to Hawaii. If you asked me — or any of my schoolmates who knew me back then — I don’t think any of us could have anticipated that one day I would come back to Jakarta as the President of the United States. (Applause.) And few could have anticipated the remarkable story of Indonesia over these last four decades.

The Jakarta that I once knew has grown into a teeming city of nearly 10 million, with skyscrapers that dwarf the Hotel Indonesia, and thriving centers of culture and of commerce. While my Indonesian friends and I used to run in fields with water buffalo and goats — (laughter) — a new generation of Indonesians is among the most wired in the world — connected through cell phones and social networks. And while Indonesia as a young nation focused inward, a growing Indonesia now plays a key role in the Asia Pacific and in the global economy. (Applause.)

Now, this change also extends to politics. When my stepfather was a boy, he watched his own father and older brother leave home to fight and die in the struggle for Indonesian independence. And I’m happy to be here on Heroes Day to honor the memory of so many Indonesians who have sacrificed on behalf of this great country. (Applause.)

When I moved to Jakarta, it was 1967, and it was a time that had followed great suffering and conflict in parts of this country. And even though my stepfather had served in the Army, the violence and killing during that time of political upheaval was largely unknown to me because it was unspoken by my Indonesian family and friends. In my household, like so many others across Indonesia, the memories of that time were an invisible presence. Indonesians had their independence, but oftentimes they were afraid to speak their minds about issues.

In the years since then, Indonesia has charted its own course through an extraordinary democratic transformation — from the rule of an iron fist to the rule of the people. In recent years, the world has watched with hope and admiration as Indonesians embraced the peaceful transfer of power and the direct election of leaders. And just as your democracy is symbolized by your elected President and legislature, your democracy is sustained and fortified by its checks and balances: a dynamic civil society; political parties and unions; a vibrant media and engaged citizens who have ensured that — in Indonesia — there will be no turning back from democracy.

But even as this land of my youth has changed in so many ways, those things that I learned to love about Indonesia — that spirit of tolerance that is written into your Constitution; symbolized in mosques and churches and temples standing alongside each other; that spirit that’s embodied in your people — that still lives on. (Applause.) Bhinneka Tunggal Ika — unity in diversity. (Applause.) This is the foundation of Indonesia’s example to the world, and this is why Indonesia will play such an important part in the 21st century.

So today, I return to Indonesia as a friend, but also as a President who seeks a deep and enduring partnership between our two countries. (Applause.) Because as vast and diverse countries; as neighbors on either side of the Pacific; and above all as democracies — the United States and Indonesia are bound together by shared interests and shared values.

Yesterday, President Yudhoyono and I announced a new Comprehensive Partnership between the United States and Indonesia. We are increasing ties between our governments in many different areas, and — just as importantly — we are increasing ties among our people. This is a partnership of equals, grounded in mutual interests and mutual respect.

So with the rest of my time today, I’d like to talk about why the story I just told — the story of Indonesia since the days when I lived here — is so important to the United States and to the world. I will focus on three areas that are closely related, and fundamental to human progress — development, democracy and religious faith.

First, the friendship between the United States and Indonesia can advance our mutual interest in development.

When I moved to Indonesia, it would have been hard to imagine a future in which the prosperity of families in Chicago and Jakarta would be connected. But our economies are now global, and Indonesians have experienced both the promise and the perils of globalization: from the shock of the Asian financial crisis in the ‘90s, to the millions lifted out of poverty because of increased trade and commerce. What that means — and what we learned in the recent economic crisis — is that we have a stake in each other’s success.

America has a stake in Indonesia growing and developing, with prosperity that is broadly shared among the Indonesian people — because a rising middle class here in Indonesia means new markets for our goods, just as America is a market for goods coming from Indonesia. So we are investing more in Indonesia, and our exports have grown by nearly 50 percent, and we are opening doors for Americans and Indonesians to do business with one another.

America has a stake in an Indonesia that plays its rightful role in shaping the global economy. Gone are the days when seven or eight countries would come together to determine the direction of global markets. That’s why the G20 is now the center of international economic cooperation, so that emerging economies like Indonesia have a greater voice and also bear greater responsibility for guiding the global economy. And through its leadership of the G20’s anti-corruption group, Indonesia should lead on the world stage and by example in embracing transparency and accountability. (Applause.)

America has a stake in an Indonesia that pursues sustainable development, because the way we grow will determine the quality of our lives and the health of our planet. And that’s why we’re developing clean energy technologies that can power industry and preserve Indonesia’s precious natural resources — and America welcomes your country’s strong leadership in the global effort to combat climate change.

Above all, America has a stake in the success of the Indonesian people. Underneath the headlines of the day, we must build bridges between our people, because our future security and prosperity is shared. And that is exactly what we’re doing — by increasing collaboration among our scientists and researchers, and by working together to foster entrepreneurship. And I’m especially pleased that we have committed to double the number of American and Indonesian students studying in our respective countries. (Applause.) We want more Indonesian students in American schools, and we want more American students to come study in this country. (Applause.) We want to forge new ties and greater understanding between young people in this young century.

These are the issues that really matter in our daily lives. Development, after all, is not simply about growth rates and numbers on a balance sheet. It’s about whether a child can learn the skills they need to make it in a changing world. It’s about whether a good idea is allowed to grow into a business, and not suffocated by corruption. It’s about whether those forces that have transformed the Jakarta I once knew — technology and trade and the flow of people and goods — can translate into a better life for all Indonesians, for all human beings, a life marked by dignity and opportunity.

Now, this kind of development is inseparable from the role of democracy.

Today, we sometimes hear that democracy stands in the way of economic progress. This is not a new argument. Particularly in times of change and economic uncertainty, some will say that it is easier to take a shortcut to development by trading away the right of human beings for the power of the state. But that’s not what I saw on my trip to India, and that is not what I see here in Indonesia. Your achievements demonstrate that democracy and development reinforce one another.

Like any democracy, you have known setbacks along the way. America is no different. Our own Constitution spoke of the effort to forge a “more perfect union,” and that is a journey that we’ve traveled ever since. We’ve endured civil war and we struggled to extend equal rights to all of our citizens. But it is precisely this effort that has allowed us to become stronger and more prosperous, while also becoming a more just and a more free society.

Like other countries that emerged from colonial rule in the last century, Indonesia struggled and sacrificed for the right to determine your destiny. That is what Heroes Day is all about — an Indonesia that belongs to Indonesians. But you also ultimately decided that freedom cannot mean replacing the strong hand of a colonizer with a strongman of your own.

Of course, democracy is messy. Not everyone likes the results of every election. You go through your ups and downs. But the journey is worthwhile, and it goes beyond casting a ballot. It takes strong institutions to check the power — the concentration of power. It takes open markets to allow individuals to thrive. It takes a free press and an independent justice system to root out abuses and excess, and to insist on accountability. It takes open society and active citizens to reject inequality and injustice.

These are the forces that will propel Indonesia forward. And it will require a refusal to tolerate the corruption that stands in the way of opportunity; a commitment to transparency that gives every Indonesian a stake in their government; and a belief that the freedom of Indonesians — that Indonesians have fought for is what holds this great nation together.

That is the message of the Indonesians who have advanced this democratic story — from those who fought in the Battle of Surabaya 55 years ago today; to the students who marched peacefully for democracy in the 1990s; to leaders who have embraced the peaceful transition of power in this young century. Because ultimately, it will be the rights of citizens that will stitch together this remarkable Nusantara that stretches from Sabang to Merauke, an insistence — (applause) — an insistence that every child born in this country should be treated equally, whether they come from Java or Aceh; from Bali or Papua. (Applause.) That all Indonesians have equal rights.

That effort extends to the example that Indonesia is now setting abroad. Indonesia took the initiative to establish the Bali Democracy Forum, an open forum for countries to share their experiences and best practices in fostering democracy. Indonesia has also been at the forefront of pushing for more attention to human rights within ASEAN. The nations of Southeast Asia must have the right to determine their own destiny, and the United States will strongly support that right. But the people of Southeast Asia must have the right to determine their own destiny as well. And that’s why we condemned elections in Burma recently that were neither free nor fair. That is why we are supporting your vibrant civil society in working with counterparts across this region. Because there’s no reason why respect for human rights should stop at the border of any country.

Hand in hand, that is what development and democracy are about — the notion that certain values are universal. Prosperity without freedom is just another form of poverty. Because there are aspirations that human beings share — the liberty of knowing that your leader is accountable to you, and that you won’t be locked up for disagreeing with them; the opportunity to get an education and to be able to work with dignity; the freedom to practice your faith without fear or restriction. Those are universal values that must be observed everywhere.

Now, religion is the final topic that I want to address today, and — like democracy and development — it is fundamental to the Indonesian story.

Like the other Asian nations that I’m visiting on this trip, Indonesia is steeped in spirituality — a place where people worship God in many different ways. Along with this rich diversity, it is also home to the world’s largest Muslim population — a truth I came to know as a boy when I heard the call to prayer across Jakarta.

Just as individuals are not defined solely by their faith, Indonesia is defined by more than its Muslim population. But we also know that relations between the United States and Muslim communities have frayed over many years. As President, I have made it a priority to begin to repair these relations. (Applause.) As part of that effort, I went to Cairo last June, and I called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world — one that creates a path for us to move beyond our differences.

I said then, and I will repeat now, that no single speech can eradicate years of mistrust. But I believed then, and I believe today, that we do have a choice. We can choose to be defined by our differences, and give in to a future of suspicion and mistrust. Or we can choose to do the hard work of forging common ground, and commit ourselves to the steady pursuit of progress. And I can promise you — no matter what setbacks may come, the United States is committed to human progress. That is who we are. That is what we’ve done. And that is what we will do. (Applause.)

Now, we know well the issues that have caused tensions for many years — and these are issues that I addressed in Cairo. In the 17 months that have passed since that speech, we have made some progress, but we have much more work to do.

Innocent civilians in America, in Indonesia and across the world are still targeted by violent extremism. I made clear that America is not, and never will be, at war with Islam. Instead, all of us must work together to defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates, who have no claim to be leaders of any religion — certainly not a great, world religion like Islam. But those who want to build must not cede ground to terrorists who seek to destroy. And this is not a task for America alone. Indeed, here in Indonesia, you’ve made progress in rooting out extremists and combating such violence.

In Afghanistan, we continue to work with a coalition of nations to build the capacity of the Afghan government to secure its future. Our shared interest is in building peace in a war-torn land — a peace that provides no safe haven for violent extremists, and that provide hope for the Afghan people.

Meanwhile, we’ve made progress on one of our core commitments — our effort to end the war in Iraq. Nearly 100,000 American troops have now left Iraq under my presidency. (Applause.) Iraqis have taken full responsibility for their security. And we will continue to support Iraq as it forms an inclusive government, and we will bring all of our troops home.

In the Middle East, we have faced false starts and setbacks, but we’ve been persistent in our pursuit of peace. Israelis and Palestinians restarted direct talks, but enormous obstacles remain. There should be no illusion that peace and security will come easy. But let there be no doubt: America will spare no effort in working for the outcome that is just, and that is in the interests of all the parties involved — two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. That is our goal. (Applause.)

The stakes are high in resolving all of these issues. For our world has grown smaller, and while those forces that connect us have unleashed opportunity and great wealth, they also empower those who seek to derail progress. One bomb in a marketplace can obliterate the bustle of daily commerce. One whispered rumor can obscure the truth and set off violence between communities that once lived together in peace. In an age of rapid change and colliding cultures, what we share as human beings can sometimes be lost.

But I believe that the history of both America and Indonesia should give us hope. It is a story written into our national mottos. In the United States, our motto is E pluribus unum — out of many, one. Bhinneka Tunggal Ika — unity in diversity. (Applause.) We are two nations, which have traveled different paths. Yet our nations show that hundreds of millions who hold different beliefs can be united in freedom under one flag. And we are now building on that shared humanity — through young people who will study in each other’s schools; through the entrepreneurs forging ties that can lead to greater prosperity; and through our embrace of fundamental democratic values and human aspirations.

Before I came here, I visited Istiqlal mosque — a place of worship that was still under construction when I lived in Jakarta. And I admired its soaring minaret and its imposing dome and welcoming space. But its name and history also speak to what makes Indonesia great. Istiqlal means independence, and its construction was in part a testament to the nation’s struggle for freedom. Moreover, this house of worship for many thousands of Muslims was designed by a Christian architect. (Applause.)

Such is Indonesia’s spirit. Such is the message of Indonesia’s inclusive philosophy, Pancasila. (Applause.) Across an archipelago that contains some of God’s most beautiful creations, islands rising above an ocean named for peace, people choose to worship God as they please. Islam flourishes, but so do other faiths. Development is strengthened by an emerging democracy. Ancient traditions endure, even as a rising power is on the move.

That is not to say that Indonesia is without imperfections. No country is. But here we can find the ability to bridge divides of race and region and religion — by the ability to see yourself in other people. As a child of a different race who came here from a distant country, I found this spirit in the greeting that I received upon moving here: Selamat Datang. As a Christian visiting a mosque on this visit, I found it in the words of a leader who was asked about my visit and said, “Muslims are also allowed in churches. We are all God’s followers.”

That spark of the divine lives within each of us. We cannot give in to doubt or cynicism or despair. The stories of Indonesia and America should make us optimistic, because it tells us that history is on the side of human progress; that unity is more powerful than division; and that the people of this world can live together in peace. May our two nations, working together, with faith and determination, share these truths with all mankind.

Sebagai penutup, saya mengucapkan kepada seluruh rakyat Indonesia: terima kasih atas. Terima kasih. Assalamualaikum. Thank you.


No Role For United Nations: Howard

John Howard, Prime MinisterIt is not the role of the United Nations to oversee aid process in Southern Asia in the aftermath of the Tsunami, according to the Prime Minister, John Howard.

Speaking at a press conference after the ASEAN leaders’ meeting in Jakarta, Howard said: “The UN for example won’t be overseeing the implementation of the partnership between Australia and Indonesia and that’s not meant disrespectfully of the UN. But it’s just not practical.”

Howard said his mantra “is what works and what works is Australia offers $1 billion over five years to Indonesia, we have a joint commission, we jointly approve the projects, we have people working within the Indonesian agency, the two governments work together, you don’t need that to be overseen by the UN, the UN’s aware of it and the UN will obviously take it into account in relation to the programmes that it puts in place. But it’s just unnecessarily bureaucratising the situation and also frankly unacceptably passing control of the Australian taxpayers’ money into the hands of others for us to deal with that on a bilateral basis.”

This is the transcript of the press conference given by the Prime Minister, John Howard, at the Mulia Hotel, Jakarta, Indonesia.

Well ladies and gentlemen, the special meeting convened by the President of Indonesia has finished, it’s been an extremely successful meeting, called in very tragic circumstances, it had three main beneficial outcomes.

It’s confirmed and facilitated the need for co-operation amongst all of those countries and agencies that are contributing to the relief effort. I’m sure that it has both accelerated and lead to an increase in pledges and commitments made by countries and organisations. It has formally laid the groundwork for the establishment of an Indian Ocean tidal wave warning system which is obviously needed in the wake of this terrible disaster.

For me personally not only has it been an opportunity of course to finalise and announce on behalf of Australia the largest ever aid package, the $1 billion commitment we are making to the reconstruction of those parts of Indonesia and generally for Indonesia over the next five years a partnership of historic proportions in the relationship between Australia and Indonesia and as always at conferences such as this it’s been an opportunity to further confirm and renew bilateral links with leaders on a smaller level, but nonetheless of immense importance to the country concerned.

I’ve been able to confirm that Australia will provide between 10 and 15 school teachers to the Maldives to assist with the recommencement of the school year in that tiny country that has been so badly affected.

I’ve also responded positively to a request from the Prime Minister of the Maldives for assistance in relation to the ecological challenges that are now faced in relation to the reefs that surround that country and because of Australia’s experience and expertise through CSIRO and other organisations, which would be obvious to all of you, we’ll be able to provide assistance to that country.

I mention that as an illustration of the smaller yet nonetheless very important ways in which a country such as Australia can help and it’s only by actually being here and having a personal discussion with the prime minister of one of the smaller countries affected that we find out that we are able to help in these intensely practical ways.

And it’s been my mantra from the very beginning that Australia is in the business of helping in a practical way and to send volunteer school teachers to be able to help in the restoration of the reef, which is so important to that tiny country which depends so very heavily on tourism, that’s one side of it, the other side of it of course is the huge assistance package we’ve provided to Indonesia and it was also of course an opportunity for me to talk informally to the Prime Minister of Japan, the Prime Minister or Premier of China, the Prime Minister of Korea, the American Secretary of State and all the other leaders that were present, the British Foreign Secretary who I know well and the President of the Philippines.

It has taken a very tragic event to bring all of this about of course, we all would have hoped if we could turn the clock back it wouldn’t have been necessary, but the world has come together in a remarkably compassionate and effective way and we should all be very proud of the contribution that different people and different countries have made, not least of course the contribution that’s been made by Australia which has been widely applauded and respected as it should be because it does represent an extremely generous contribution from a country that has been blessed by providence and good fortune over the years and we’re in a position to help but it’s one thing to be in a position, it’s another thing to actually provide the assistance.

And could I just conclude my introduction by saying this, that I continue important though it is for Australia to help other countries, I continue as Prime Minister of Australia to have my principal thoughts for those Australians who are still going through the agony of not knowing whether their loved ones have died in this tragedy or not, in the human experience there is nothing worse than that and I would want those Australians to know that they are very much in my thoughts and in the thoughts of my wife and the members of my Government. Thank you. Any questions?

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, it’s one thing to pledge money, I’m not referring to Australia, it’s one thing to have pledged money but the other thing to go all the way, the UN Secretary General almost seemed to be saying show me the money.

PRIME MINISTER:

Well that won’t be a problem with Australia. I think the world has been very generous and I have no doubt that, I mean obviously Australia will deliver every dollar of what it has promised and I believe that countries like the United States will, I mean I can’t believe that any countries will go back on their pledges. Can I just say that I think some of the criticism that has trickled out about the United States has been completely unreasonable, when it comes to the deployment of assets, of helicopters and men and materials to use an expression beloved of American English they’re second to none and I think it’s a pretty sorry thing that people use every occasion to have a swipe at them.

JOURNALIST:

Are you confident that the UN can oversee this process…

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I don’t think it’s the role of the UN to oversee the whole process, I mean the UN for example won’t be overseeing the implementation of the partnership between Australia and Indonesia and that’s not meant disrespectfully of the UN. But it’s just not practical, my mantra Ian is what works and what works is Australia offers $1 billion over five years to Indonesia, we have a joint commission, we jointly approve the projects, we have people working within the Indonesian agency, the two governments work together, you don’t need that to be overseen by the UN, the UN’s aware of it and the UN will obviously take it into account in relation to the programmes that it puts in place. But it’s just unnecessarily bureaucratising the situation and also frankly unacceptably passing control of the Australian taxpayers’ money into the hands of others for us to deal with that on a bilateral basis.

JOURNALIST:

So would it be better if everybody was doing it on a bilateral basis rather then…

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I think it varies a bit, it depends on the country, it depends on the situation, it depends on the need. In the case of Australia and Indonesia the way to do it is the way we have agreed to do it and I have don’t think it’s necessary to run that through anybody else and I think it works more effectively if we do it that way. But there will be other situations where UN involvement and UN agency involvement is the better way of doing it.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, you mentioned that you had talks with several of the leaders…

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes.

JOURNALIST:

Did you talk with Kofi Annan and what did you discuss?

PRIME MINISTER:

Did I talk to Kofi Annan? Yes, I sat next to him at lunch and we had a very pleasant chat and he was very impressed, so he told me, with the contribution that Australia was making, it was a perfectly amiable discussion.

JOURNALIST:

Do you have any plans to contribute, he was calling today for a…

PRIME MINISTER:

Well, I think, we have made a very big contribution and you know judge our contribution according to its quality and its size, not according to the bureaucratic process employed to provide it.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, in his speech to the summit meeting SBY made an interesting point, he said talking about the whole situation and the way that the countries have come together he said let’s not go back to business as usual, which I assume was a reference to petty differences or past differences between countries. Do you share that view?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I certainly do. I mean there is no doubt that this tragic experience has brought Australia and Indonesia closer together. That’s not to say we were a long way apart. But when you go through an experience like this and when Indonesia knows and benefits from the fact that Australia was the first country to actually provide help, that I was the first foreign leader to speak to him, that we have offered this extremely valuable and supportive package. The experience of that adds value to the relationships. I think what he was really saying was that a tragedy like this and the unity it brings forth puts our differences into perspective and I think that’s a lesson that all of us can learn, that’s a point that was made by a number of people but I thought he made it most eloquently.

JOURNALIST:

The UN’s saying they’d like to see upwards of $1 billion in the bank this week. Do you think that’s possible?

PRIME MINISTER:

Oh look, I don’t want to get into you know analysing every single thing that the UN or anybody else has said. I know what we are doing, and I know that what we are doing is as speedy and as prompt and is as practical and effective on the ground as any contribution of any country. I also know that we’ve committed ourselves to an unprecedented level of assistance to the country that is worst affected. So I’m not going to start sitting in judgement on others.

JOURNALIST:

In the short term though do you think the world is doing enough to get the money in now?

PRIME MINISTER:

Look I think the most important thing is to save lives and that is to get emergency relief into places like Aceh, that’s the most important thing at the moment, let’s not lose sight of it, let’s not get so obsessed with what I might call the aid politics of it to lose sight of that fact and no country has been quicker in providing that kind of assistance than Australia.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, have you been given any information on the risks of disease, the second wave of disease (inaudible)?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well I think to some degree people are holding their breath about that but the early indications are that the medical help that’s been provided may have acted to prevent it but it’s probably a little too early to be completely confident about that.

JOURNALIST:

… some reports from Australia that Australia may considering taking some of the refugees that could be displaced…

PRIME MINISTER:

That’s not an issue that’s been raised. Look the most important thing that we can do for the affected countries is to rebuild the lives of people that have been shattered in the countries where they are. If you’re somebody who’s lost everything in Sri Lanka or Indonesia you want your country rebuilt and that’s the best thing that we can do.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, there were some concerns (inaudible) about Burma and exactly what the situation..

PRIME MINISTER:

About which?

JOURNALIST:

Burma.

PRIME MINISTER:

Burma?

JOURNALIST:

Yes, and exactly what the situation is there. Were you satisfied with their presentation?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well a presentation was made by the Burmese Prime Minister and I have no grounds on which to dispute it, equally I have no independent verification of it. The difficulty with a country like Burma is that it is a rather closed society and it’s inevitable when things like this occur that people will ask questions. But I’m not in a position to say to you that what we were told was wrong, equally I have no capacity to independently verify it.

JOURNALIST:

It seems a very low figure, a death toll of 39, given the loss of its neighbours (inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER:

That is not necessarily given the location of Burma, not necessarily wrong. I don’t know.

JOURNALIST:

Are you concerned of reports from Australia that Australian seismologists are perhaps (inaudible)

PRIME MINISTER:

Where are you, I’m sorry there you are.

JOURNALIST:

There were reports last night that Australian seismologists did have information about the tsunami and mistook it for I think a land earthquake rather than an undersea earthquake. Are you concerned that Australian scientists may have got that wrong?

PRIME MINISTER:

No.

JOURNALIST:

Can you update us on the death toll from Australia?

PRIME MINISTER:

I can’t really add anything to what has been previously released, the figures of what some 13 confirmed or is it 16 and then there are others missing. I have no additional information, no I don’t.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister a couple of days ago said that talks were being held with the Australian Navy about the possibility of sending more assets, is there any…

PRIME MINISTER:

No, we haven’t taken any decision to send more assets, we could but we haven’t in the last couple of days.

Okay. Thank you.