Prime Minister Tony Abbott will have an opportunity to deliver on his election promise of ''more Jakarta, less Geneva'' by building rapport with Indonesia's president-elect, Jokowi Widodo, at the latter's inauguration on October 20. Mr Abbott's ambitions for the Indonesia relationship were famously interrupted by his uncompromising stance on asylum seeker boats and revelations that Australian agencies had been tapping the Indonesian first lady's phone.
But he was also, of course, making a broader commitment to focus on near neighbours and the Asia-Pacific region. On this score he has not delivered with Indonesia, or with smaller nations in the Pacific, including the crucial neighbour of Papua New Guinea. But he has succeeded in tightening ties with north-east Asia - where the weight of Australia's economic and strategic interests lie.
The high point was his April tour of Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing, where he managed to strengthen economic relations with all three nations without being damaged by the dangerous strategic conflicts between them.
Since then Mr Abbott's foreign policy compass has swung unavoidably towards the immediate threats to Australian lives posed by Russian-backed insurgents shooting down MH17 and the shock expansion of Islamic State (ISIS). But Mr Abbott's resolute and commendable international leadership on Ukraine, ISIS and ''foreign fighters'' does not alter the fact that the weight of Australian interests are much closer to home, where he has a chance of making an enduring, positive impact.
Participating in air raids in Iraq must not divert focus from bigger strategic challenges such as helping to co-ordinate a regional response to China's muscular behaviour, deepening economic relationships with south-east Asia, and stemming the breakdown of governance in Melanesia and especially Papua New Guinea.
In November, Mr Abbott will host the G20 summit of world leaders in Brisbane, as well as separate state visits by China's President, Xi Jinping, and, if all goes to plan, India's Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. It is imperative Mr Abbott grasps these priceless opportunities to refocus on
Australia's long-term interests in this region.
The obvious place to resume the policy of ''more Jakarta, less Geneva'' is at Mr Widodo's inauguration. Mr Abbott needs to demonstrate that the relationship is ''extraordinarily important'', as he put it in his congratulatory message. He needs to rebuild the confidence that was dented by the ''turn back'' boats policy, phone-tapping and a long list of older issues, ranging from Schapelle Corby to Australia's banning of live cattle exports during the holy month of Ramadan.
The trust deficit was articulated by both candidates in the Indonesian presidential campaign debates. The unsuccessful candidate, Prabowo Subianto, said: ''Honestly, I think that the problem is not in Indonesia. Perhaps Australia holds some kind of suspicion towards Indonesia, a kind of phobia.'' And Mr Widodo said: ''There is a problem of trust, which is what led to the spying problem. We are regarded as a weak nation. It's a matter of national respect, a matter of integrity.''
That trust deficit is also evident here in Australia, where Indonesia ranks below China, India and Japan in the popularity stakes, according to a Lowy Institute public opinion poll.
With the rise of Islamist extremism, repeated setbacks to democracy, and economic growth slowing across most of the world, Mr Widodo's predominantly Muslim, rapidly growing and resiliently democratic nation deserves all the support Australia can provide.
2) Committee for West Papua Association in Vanuatu Clarification Conference Schedule
Author: Admin MS | Saturday, September 27, 2014 22:18 Viewed: 481 Comments: 0
Head of Mission at the Australian WPNCL, Paula Makabory (center) with a number of sympathizers. Photo: Ist
Jayapura, STEP MAGAZINE - Committee for West Papua Association in Vanuatu has clarified over error reports Radio New Zealand International, associated time delays implementation Papuan Peoples Conference.
Previously it was reported that the implementation will be postponed until the date of December 4, 2014.
However, the committee has clarified that the activities of the union will be held from November 30 to December 4, 2014.
2) Call to lift restrictions on foreign journalists in Papua
Updated at 8:46 am today
The Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club is calling on the incoming administration of Joko Widodo to immediately lift all restrictions on foreign journalists travelling to the Papua region.
It says it's concerned by the continued detention without charge of French journalists Valentine Bourrat and Thomas Dandois.
The pair were arrested in August in Wamena, and remain detained in Jayapura by Indonesian police, accused of violating their visas.
The Jakarta Foreign Correspondents Club says indications that the pair could face a five-year prison sentence for a visa violation, or even a much more serious charge of sedition, are of particular concern.
It says the larger issue is the continuation of restrictive state policies on journalists reporting in the Papua region and wants all restrictions on foreign journalists travelling to the region lifted.
The club says these restrictions only harm Indonesia's international reputation as a country that values press freedom, and encourages inaccurate and simplistic reporting of the issues in the region.
Jakarta. The Blacksteel Group, a property developer, is developing three malls in Sorong regent, West Papua, at a total investment of Rp 600 billion ($50 million), the company’s chief operating officer said in Jakarta recently.
“The first project is to build The Plaza Sorong [mall], which is targeted to be completed by end of 2014,” Isaac Bliss Tanihaha, the COO of Blacksteel Group, told Investor Daily.
Isaac, who founded the Blacksteel Group, said that The Plaza Sorong will have the tallest high-rise building in Sorong, at 14 stories. The mall will be supported by Siloam Hospital, retailer Hypermart and a hotel.
The second mall being built is Sorong City Center and another mall is also located in Sorong regent. The three malls had commenced construction in 2013, Isaac added.
”We are cooperating with the Lippo Group. We hope this project will stimulate the economy in the local area,” said Isaac, who is a brother-in-law of Michael Riady.
Michael serves as chief executive of the Blacksteel Group, which is independent from the Lippo Group.
In May Michael had said the company plans to build 17 malls in the next five years and is targeting its development in remote areas of Indonesia.
1) Indonesian government to construct road in Papua`s middle mountain area
Kamis, 25 September 2014 19:08 WIB | 466 Views
Photo document of Baliem valley communities in Jayawijaya, Wamena, Papua. (ANTARA/M. Agung Rajasa)
Jayapura, Papua (ANTARA News) - The Public Works Ministry is prioritizing the construction of a road in the middle mountain area of Papua Province giving the local people another option besides air transportation.
His institution is prioritizing the road development that connects several districts, Chief of the Tenth National Road Project Agency, Thomas Setiabudi, told ANTARA here Thursday. The roads will connect districts that are located in the mountain area with areas located on the coast, Thomas said. The ministry is developing a road that connects Wagete to Timika, and from there it will continue to Paniai, Nabire and Ilaga districts. They will also develop a road from Wamena-Habema-Kenyam that will continue to the Dekai-Oksibil-Iwur-Tanah Merah areas, Thomas said. The road will connect to other areas such as Yetti, Senggi, Usku and Mamberamo apart from Tenggon, Elelim and Wamena. The Papuan people can use several roads that have been connected including Wamena to Mulia, Wamena to Tiom and Nabire to Enarotali. "Even the road that connects Jayapura and Mamberamo can be used even though it is only connected by a bridge," Thomas said. Additionally, the ministry will also develop several roads that connect the coastal areas such as Jayapura-Sarmi and Serui-Menawi-Saubeba. "We hope none of the regions will be isolated after the increasing number of areas that will be connected through the roads," Thomas added. (Uu.B019/INE/KR-BSR/A014)
2) Statement by head of LP3BH for the President-elect
Statement by Yan Christian Warinussy, Executive-Director of LP3BH
[Institute for Research, Study and Development of Legal Aid] issued on 22 September 2014 At this time as preparations are under way for Joko Widodo to take over as the President of Indonesia along with his deputy Yusuf Kalla, we have heard that the president-elect intends to visit West Papua a number of times and intends to meet people there from all walks of life. This is indeed very interesting and welcome and we very much hope that Indonesia's forthcoming president will succeed in acting in accordance with the Indonesian Constitution which means responding to the problems and sufferings of the people throughout Indonesia and in particular the people living in the Land of Papua. In this connection, it is our strong belief that the people of West Papua should submit their thoughts to the president-elect about the priorities that need to be dealt with in the coming five years. First and foremost, it is extremely important that the new president of Indonesia take steps to hold a dialogue between Papua and Indonesia. as the way to achieve a peaceful Papua. In this connection, we urge that the President and his subordinates take action to resolve the many basic human rights violations that have occurred during the past decades (1963-1983) as well as problems that have continued to occur up to and since 1998. All this would mean acting in accord with articles 44 and 45 of Law/2001 on Special Autonomy for the Province of West Papua as well as Law 26/2000 on setting up a Court of Human Rights based on universal rights and principles' To set up a Commission on Truth and Reconciliation for the provinces of Papua and West Papua. This would mean taking action against crimes perpetrated by members of the security forces especially in the Central Highlands as well as in Puncak Jaya, Lanny Jaya and other places. It is also necessary for a review to be conducted of the system of security under the Indonesian Army and Police Force which should be dealt with in accordance with military laws as well as civil laws, in accordance with the process of reformation which has been under way in Indonesia since 1998. In addition, one matter of extreme urgency is to conduct an evaluation of the implementation of Law 21/2001 on Special Autonomy for West Papua, based on the stipulations in Article 77. In all this, the role of the Provincial Governments of Papua and West Papua as well as administrators of the regions and municipalities and such agencies as the DPRP, DPR, MRP and MRP-PB is of great importance. With all these achievements, it will be possible to conduct an evaluation of the special laws regarding Special Autonomy for the Land of Papua. Doing all this it will make it possible to conduct an evaluation of all those measures and actions that have been the source of conflict between Papua and Jakarta for the past fifty years. If all this can be achieved, it will make a great contribution towards constructive efforts to ensure that the Land of Papua is a Land of Peace, in accordance with the social-political, social-cultural and social-economy reality for the people of Papua as an integral part of the Republic of Indonesia. ------- Signed by Yan Christian Warinussy, Executive-Director of the LP3BH-Manokwari, recipient of the Humphrey Freedom Award 2005 in Canada, member of the Steering Committee of Foker LSM [Working Group of NGOs throughout the Land of Papua] and Secretary of the Human Rights Commission working in collaboration with The Council of the Evangelical Churches on Manokwari. Translated by Carmel Budiardjo