Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Recalling an ambassador

is a political statement. 
The Australian Embassy in Jakarta will remain open - unless Indonesia decides otherwise. But recalling the Ambassador is intended to send a strong political message to Indonesia that Australia is unhappy with the state sanctioned murder of two Australian citizens.
I need to say two things here. One is that I find drug trafficking abhorrent and worthy of severe punishment. The other is that I am totally and utterly opposed to the death penalty.  The first offence does not justify the latter. Nothing justifies the latter offence. Taking someone's life, even when they have taken the lives of others, amounts to murder. It makes those who use the death penalty no better than those who kill for other reasons. Indeed, in some ways they are worse.
Indonesia is out of step with almost every other country in the world in imposing the death penalty. They compound the problem by seeking "clemency" for their own citizens facing that penalty in other countries. It is an entirely unacceptable double standard.
Australia provides considerable foreign aid to Indonesia. It comes as straight out aid from the foreign aid budget and, more indirectly, in many other ways. Australia also trades with Indonesia - something that benefits Indonesia more than it benefits Australia.
For years Australia has treated Indonesia with kid gloves. Oh yes, be so careful of that very big Muslim country next door. Australia needs to be very careful not to upset them. 
Indonesia is a very wealthy country. It has incredible natural resources. It has man power. The problem is that almost all the wealth is controlled by a tiny portion of the population. Most people are poor. They will remain poor because, even with all the aid that flows in, entrenched power and corruption will ensure that the wealth is not shared.
Sukumaran and Chan might well have stayed incarcerated in Indonesia if massive bribes had been paid. Why those bribes were not paid is a mystery and likely to remain so. (Equally it is certain that bribes were paid in the case of Schapelle Corby and that she was fortunate to be released on parole before President Widodo came to power.) The two men were executed because of another sort of corruption - the corruption that keeps a weak President Widodo in power. 
Indonesia is a political mess but a mess other countries are prepared to prop up in the belief that the alternatives might be far worse.
Indonesia may well respond to the current action by withdrawing their Ambassador to Australia. They will almost certainly respond by withdrawing support for the border protection measures - and the state sanctioned people smugglers will be back in business.
Nobody is going to win. I have just one word of advice. Don't go to Bali for any reason at all - no matter how attractive the holiday prices, how exotic the location or how beautiful the beach.

1 comment:

Cindy Dy said...


Your blog is so cute and I love it. Keep it up.Happy blogging. :)

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