Wednesday, January 4, 2017

1) Australia scrambles to heal military rift with Indonesia

2) House backs TNI`s decision to suspend cooperation with ADF
3) Suspension of Co-op with Aussie Military a Right Decision: Expert

4) MSG considers West Papua membership


1) Australia scrambles to heal military rift with Indonesia
Sydney, Ausralia | Thu, January 5, 2017 | 12:56 pm
Kristen Gelineau Associated Press

    Sydney, Ausralia | Thu, January 5, 2017 | 12:56 pm

    Australia scrambled to calm tensions with Indonesia on Thursday, promising that an investigation was nearly complete into an alleged insult of Indonesian state ideology that prompted Indonesia to suspend military cooperation with its neighbor.
    The exact cause of the rift between the two allies remained slightly murky one day after Indonesia's announcement of the suspension took officials in Canberra by surprise. Military ties between the two nations have been relatively warm in recent years, having improved since Indonesia downgraded its relations with Australia in 2013 over the alleged bugging of phones belonging to Indonesia's president.
    Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne said Thursday that the current issue began in November, after an Indonesian military officer raised concerns about some teaching materials and remarks made at an army language training facility in western Australia.
    Indonesian military spokesman Maj. Gen. Wuryanto said there were reports an Indonesian instructor at the facility felt that a "laminated paper" on display was insulting. According to Indonesian media, the paper contained words that demeaned Pancasila — a set of vague principles that mandates belief in one God and unity among Indonesia's 250 million people. Wuryanto said the training material was among many factors behind the decision to suspend cooperation with Australia.
    On Thursday, Payne was asked about reports that the material also suggested West Papua should be given independence from Indonesia, which is battling the remote region's separatist movement.
    "The issue of West Papua was raised by the Indonesian defense minister, yes," Payne told reporters.
    Payne said an inquiry was launched in November to look into the incident, and its completion was "imminent." The training material in question had been removed, and would soon be replaced with "appropriate" material, she said.
    "We have indicated our regret that this occurred and that offense was taken," she said.
    Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo told reporters in Jakarta that his country's relationship with Australia remained good.
    "Indonesia and Australia have agreed to respect each other, to appreciate each other and not interfere in each others' domestic affairs," Jokowi said. "We have already agreed on that and now I have ordered the minister of defense and the military chief to address the problem."
    The neighboring nations, though close partners on many issues including terrorism and trade, have long had a turbulent relationship. Tensions have repeatedly flared over Australia's policy of turning back boats to Indonesia that are carrying asylum seekers from other countries. Indonesia's use of the death penalty — which Australia opposes — has also strained ties, particularly in 2015 when Indonesia executed two Australians for drug crimes.
    And in 1999, the relationship suffered one of its most serious blows after Australia led a UN military force into the former Indonesian province of East Timor following a bloody independence ballot.
    Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.


    2) House backs TNI`s decision to suspend cooperation with ADF
    Rabu, 4 Januari 2017 19:30 WIB | 
    Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The House of Representatives Commission I, whose duties include foreign, defense, and information affairs, approved the Indonesia National Militarys (TNIs) decision to stop all forms of military cooperation with the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

    The decision was taken as the Commission sought to unearth the main causes behind the suspension.

    Commission I Chairman Abdul Kharis Almasyhari made the statement in Jakarta on Wednesday.

    "I do agree with the decision to halt cooperation, but we should look deeper into the causes, so that it does not affect bilateral relations between the two countries," he noted.

    Almasyhari further stated that he had yet to receive details regarding TNIs decision, but he believes that as neighboring countries, there should be mutual respect between Indonesia and Australia.  

    Earlier, the National Military Headquarters had decided to suspend all military cooperation with its Australian counterpart.

    "Yes, there has been a suspension, but it is not a termination of cooperation," Chief of the TNI Headquarters Information Unit Major General Wuryanto remarked in Jakarta on Wednesday.

    He pointed out that the TNI had decided to impose a suspension in its military cooperation with the ADF following an evaluation that revealed a technical issue, deemed to be disadvantageous to the Indonesian Military Force.

    "The key point is that cooperation should be beneficial to both parties. There should be mutual respect and appreciation," he noted.

    The suspension covers areas, such as joint training, education programs, soldier exchange, and official visits, he revealed.

    (Reported by Imam Budilaksono/Uu.KR-ARC/INE/KR-BSR/H-YH)

    THURSDAY, 05 JANUARY, 2017 | 08:58 WIB
    3) Suspension of Co-op with Aussie Military a Right Decision: Expert

    TEMPO.COJakarta - Hikmahanto Juwana, a professor at the University of Indonesia, said that the National Armed Forces (TNI) commander General Gatot Nurmantyo has made a right decision on halting military cooperation with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) because it has forced the ADF to promise an investigation into insult against the Indonesian national ideology Pancasila.
    The Australian military had altered Pancasila into PANCAGILA, which could be interpreted as five crazy principles. “A cooperation suspension is the right thing to do because the ADF commander has promised to investigate into the matter,” Himahanto said in a written statement received on Wednesday, January 4, 2017.
    Hikmahanto said that a halt in military cooperation between Indonesia and Australia was made following a series of incidents at Australian military base. The first was desecration of former Indonesian military leader Sarwo Edhie over his role in the 1965 tragedy. The second was essays written by trainees on Papua. The last was the Pancagila writing at the principal’s office.
    The TNI spokesman Major General Wuryanto said that military cooperation will continue to be suspended until investigation results are announced.
    Hikmahanto said that investigations may reveal that the offensive materials were made by certain individuals in the ADF, meaning that those were not official stance of the ADF. The notion has been corroborated by the Australian government’s reaction to the issue.
    Australian Defense Minister Marise Payne believed that the ADF takes the matter seriously. She has also expressed her commitment to restore bilateral cooperation.
    “Such investigation results can salvage military cooperation between the TNI and the ADF,” Hikmahanto said. He said that the ADF and the Australian government will not sacrifice its good relations with Indonesia in order to protect its military personnel.
    Hikmahanto said that Indonesia has set a good precedent following the incident. He expects Australian officials would refrain themselves from insulting Indonesian officials or touching on sensitive issues to Indonesia.


    4) MSG considers West Papua membership

    THE Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) is considering full membership by the United Liberation Movement for West Papua.
    Indonesia currently has associate member status with the MSG and is strongly opposed to West Papua being granted full membership.

    It is Indonesia’s view that West Papua already falls under their (Indonesian republic) representation in the MSG.

    Foreign Ministers of the MSG member countries met in Port Vila last week to discuss guidelines which relate to the bid by West Papua for membership in the group.

    Solomon Island’s foreign minister, Milner Tozaka, said the MSG leaders in July requested legal clarification on guidelines for membership.

    “So that request has been attended to appropriately by the legal people and they have made a recommendation to be used for the foreign ministers to look at and then we will recommend it to the leaders for endorsement,” he explained.

    Mr Tozaka confirmed that there won’t be a decision on the Liberation Movement’s application however he did say that they already have observer status.

    MSG countries that have shown their support for the Liberation Movements full membership include Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and the FLNKS Kanaks movement.

    Papua New Guinea and Fiji, have however leaned towards the Indonesian side on this issue.

    Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai, said his country’s foreign policy remained firm that Vanuatu is not completely free of colonial bondage until all of Melanesia is free.
    - PacNews

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