Who the hell told these idiots from the Australian Coast Guard to go to the rescue of Muslim welfare seekers in Indonesian waters?
Indonesia’s nationalists are punishing AustraliaÂ for claims we are spying on them by refusing to take responsibility for boat people picked up from Indonesian boats in Indonesian search-and-rescue territory:
After 24 hours of discussion over the fate of about 60 asylum-seekers taken last night from a fishing boat on to an Australian vessel, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa yesterday virtually rejected Canberra’s request to return them to Indonesia.
An even more aggressive rejection came from Indonesia’s Co-ordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Djoko Suyanto, who is responsible for top-level liaison with Canberra on people-smuggling issues.
“The Indonesian government never agreed to such wishes or policies of Australia,” General Djoko, a confidant of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, told news outlets by text message.
There you go. They took our money and told us to f*kc off. And we are taking it lying down.
“Australia already has its own ‘detention centres’ in Nauru and PNG,” he wrote. “That’s where the asylum-seekers should be sent, not to Indonesia.”…
The ABC reported last night that a distress call had been made from the asylum-seeker boat on Thursday morning. About three hours later, HMAS Ballarat arrived, but left after assessing that the boat was in no immediate danger. Some time later, the Ocean Protector arrived and found the asylum-seeker boat without power and stayed with it during negotiations between Canberra and Jakarta.
The Weekend Australian was told by Australian officials yesterday that an Indonesian vessel also responded to the distress call, but after examination concluded the passengers and crew did not need to be rescued….
Dr Natalegawa …Â has taken the hardest line against Australia’s alleged spying on Indonesia, in collaboration with the US, a problem that Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in Bali and Tony Abbott at home tried yesterday to put to rest.
Responding to the most recent allegations last weekend, the Indonesian Foreign Minister warned that his government would have to reappraise its security information exchanges with Australia, citing counter-terrorism and people smuggling.
Yesterday he played down the political linkages between the electronic espionage controversy and boatpeople issues, though not decisively. “I think we shouldn’t be linking one to the other in such a direct manner,” Dr Natalegawa said. “But we’ll take each issue on its merits.”…
The shift appears to have taken the new government by surprise because in two recent incidents confirmed by Jakarta – and at least two others known to The Weekend Australian – Indonesia agreed to take back asylum-seekers rescued by Australian vessels from boats in danger of sinking.
There is absolutely nothing helpful they can say or do about Australian intelligence activities of the past. Nor can they promise the Indonesians not to do it again. Basically, they must make soothing small talk and let the incident pass.
In some respects, this plays to Abbott’s strengths as a politician. Abbott stands against the tyranny of the constant news cycle, hyper-realised in the endless inanities and unanchored, roaming hatreds of social media….
The Indonesian reaction appears at least a little excessive… So much of the Indonesian reaction is understandable. But there is a challenge to Indonesia’s leadership not to overdo it, in its own interests more than in Australia’s. It is difficult to know whether the strength of the official reaction was driven by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who may want his administration to look respectably nationalist, or by the Foreign Minister, who would like to have a high-level future after the elections next year.
The trouble is that letting the storm pass may mean giving more boat people hope that this government isn’t as tough as it seemed.
Once again the Abbott government has needlessly antagonised Indonesia. Attempting to return a vessel laden with asylum seekers to Indonesia at a time when the country is furious about Fairfax Media’s revelations of Australian spying activity across the archipelago was dumb.
On theÂ Sydney Morning HeraldÂ goes:
Returning boats to Indonesia is hardly critical operationally to stemming the flow of asylum seekers to Australia. It is a purely political policy.
It really thinks Abbott’s resolution on turning back boats makes no difference – when in fact boat arrivals have gone from Labor’s high of two or three a day to none for nearly three weeks.
You have to despair at this level of denial.
Indonesia refuses to compromise and Australia loses. Immigration Minsiter Scott Morrison has ordered the navy to bring the boat people to Christmas Island.
Morrison says the Indonesians were still considering his request to take back the boat people, but he claims he decided the boat people could not wait that long.
Now to see what damage this will do to the Government’s deterrence of boat people.