“Send 10,000 young Australians a year to Indonesia to learn Indonesian,” says security analyst Professor Hugh White

One of Australia’s leading security analysts, the ANU’s Professor Hugh White, has taken the Australian government and people to task for their neglect of Indonesia (The Age, May 29, 2012). Australia is too preoccupied with “a kaleidoscope of negative images” he says, and is “missing the big story.” The big story is that Indonesia’s economy is growing so strongly it will likely be the fourth largest in the world by 2040. “Our big neighbour,” says White, “will then be three or four times richer than us. Already its GDP has overtaken ours by about 15 per cent.”

Professor White warns that Australians are kidding themselves if they think Indonesia needs Australian help to succeed. “No one likes receiving charity, especially from neighbours,” he writes. “Those who offer it are more often resented than thanked. In fact, the more Indonesia grows, the more our aid program damages rather than fosters the kinds of links we want with them.” White urges Australia to give Indonesia much higher priority in foreign policy.

Read the full text of Professor White’s views at: http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/indonesias-rise-is-the-big-story-were-missing-20120528-1zf72.html

In a related interview on ABC Radio (The World Today, May 22, 2012) Professor White calls for the establishment of a program to send 10,000 young Australians a year to Indonesia to learn Indonesian. “When young British people want to learn French, they go to France. When young Australians want to learn Bahasa, they should go to Indonesia.” he says. Australia should have “an imperative to build a relationship which maximises the chances that we can work together – that’s going to be in our interest as Indonesia becomes stronger.”

Read the text of Professor White’s remarks and listen to audio of his interview with the ABC’s Eleanor Hall at: http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2012/s3508221.htm .

Discrimination against Indonesian prisoners in Australian jails?

A news report in The Sun-Herald (May 27, 2012) claims that Australian prison services are withholding the wages earned by Indonesians currently in Australian jails. A spokesman for the Minister for Corrective Services in Western Australia, Terry Redman, said wages earned in jail were given to the Indonesians on their release and prior to deportation. But Australian human rights lawyers say this kind of action is hurting poor families in Indonesia. The Australian Lawyers Alliance said there had been deaths in Indonesian families as a direct consequence of the detention of Indonesians in Australia and their consequent loss of income.

Read the full report at: http://m.smh.com.au/national/freeze-on-indonesian-prisoner-pay-20120526-1zbl0.html

Arrangements for the extradition of prisoners between Australia and Indonesia need to be improved say Indonesian law specialists Tim Lindsey and Simon Butt

Both Australia and Indonesia have citizens in each other’s jails. Given the ever increasing numbers of Australian tourists visiting Indonesia (already above pre-Bali bombing levels), and given that Indonesians flock to Australia in preference to any other country for overseas study, it is likely that the numbers of Australians in Indonesian jails and Indonesians in Australian jails will only increase.

This is the judgement of Tim Lindsey and Simon Butt in an opinion piece that appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age on May 25. They observe that senior Indonesian government figures have drawn explicit links between the recently announced clemency for convicted Australian marijuana smuggler Schapelle Corby and Australia’s decision to send home to Indonesia underage Indonesian fishers arrested crewing on people-smuggler vessels. This is a reminder that the extradition process between the two countries is currently politicised, and “the fates of Australians in Indonesian jails are mortgaged to the health of the bilateral relationship.”

The authors call for “greater predictability and formal procedures that lawyers can use on a routine basis, without having to reinvent the wheel each time someone is charged”.

Tim Lindsey is Malcolm Smith Professor of Asian Law in the Asian Law Centre at the University of Melbourne. Simon Butt is Senior Lecturer at Sydney Law School.

Read the full text of their views at: http://m.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/schapelle-corbys-parole-catch22-20120525-1z9r3.html?page=1 or http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/schapelle-corbys-parole-catch22-20120525-1z9r3.html

Many Australian employers do not value Indonesia literacy skills, Arjuna Dibley and Rebecca Cole report

“Where individuals are equipped with in-depth knowledge about Indonesia, they are able to work in the Indonesian economy in new and creative ways,” write Arjuna Dibley and Rebecca Cole in the Lowy Institute’s Interpreter web site (8 March, 2012). Both are members of the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association (http://www.facebook.com/AIYANational)

But a survey by the the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association has found that Australian employers often do not value or do not make use of employees with Indonesian-literacy skills. “For instance, 40% of AIYA’s respondents found that their Indonesian literacy was not valued by employers when they applied for jobs, with several employers considering this a strange area of study.”

Arjuna Dibley and Rebecca Cole are graduates of the Indonesian studies program at the Australian National University. Both have studied and worked in Indonesia. Read their opinion piece in full at: http://www.lowyinterpreter.org/post/2012/03/08/Indonesia-literacy-in-decline.aspx

“Moving forward” in relations with Indonesia? The reality is otherwise says Nicholas Stuart

Writing in The Canberra Times (26 May 2012, page 7) columnist Nicholas Stuart says that Australia’s obsession with China’s rise has seemingly blinded us to the inexorable ascendency of Indonesia. Australia has benefited enormously from the stability of the archipelago to our north, he writes. “If Jakarta had really backed the militia violence in East Timor, thousands more would have died and we’d still be consumed in the conflict. By simply waving the armada of asylum seekers through, Indonesia could, within days, destroy the fiction that we possessed control of our borders.”

Stuart argues that, “if it wasn’t for the mining boom, Indonesia’s economic trajectory could have overtaken our own by now.” Indonesia, he says, is the fourth-largest country in the world by population and is a diverse, fascinating region that we should be interested in for its own sake. “A greater understanding of the vibrancy of the islands would enrich our lives, yet instead we go to Kuta to drink and party. The waste of opportunity is tragic.”

Read the opinion piece in full at: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/opinion/australia-has-to-redirect-its-focus-and-engage-in-the-region-20120525-1zaj2.html?skin=text-only

“Know Indonesia, know thyself”

In a thoughtful and eloquent article titled “Know Indonesia, know thyself” in The Interpreter (Lowy Institute), Ariel Heryanto argues that study of Indonesia and the Indonesian language is an affordable path to self-discovery for near-neighbour Australians. Command of a language, he says, is “not just about collecting more or new knowledge about other people, or greater control over relations with them.” It also means “participating in social relations in an extremely complex world of unequals.” It can be a path to self-discovery. “You cannot say you have mastered a new language if you have not discovered a brand new world, and your new self in it, through the experience of learning it.”

Ariel Heryanto is an Associate Professor in the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University. Read the full text of his article at:


Sydney University to revamp its program of studies on Southeast Asia

Writing in The Australian (May 15, 2012) Bernard Lane reports that, over the next few months, Sydney University plans to develop a new centre for Southeast Asian studies. Bringing together the university’s 179 academics with Southeast Asia expertise, the new centre will concentrate on cross-disciplinary projects with a focus on big, practical issues such as infectious diseases, emergency management or regional economic integration. In the field of Southeast Asian language studies, the centre will “look at programs with more time spent studying in-country.”

Read the full report at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/sydney-revamps-southeast-asian-studies/story-e6frgcjx-1226355077880