“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 .

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