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Heightened policy action to address Indonesia’s security concerns

Updated On: Nov 10, 2006

Policy actions to address security concerns reached a crescendo in Indonesia over the past week.

The 27th Indonesia - Singapore Joint Working Group (ISJWG) meeting held last week in Singapore produced further bilateral will to intensify the "Indosin" coordinated marine patrol scheme (ISCP), through conducting patrols four times a year starting in 2007, to combat piracy and improve sea transportation security.

First Marshal Imam Sufaat, head of the Indonesian delegation to the meeting, commented that "there has been a continuous decline in piracy cases, especially with the existence of the three-nation coordinated patrol scheme of Malsindo in the Malacca Strait involving IndonesiaSingapore and Malaysia".

Elsewhere, the latest bilateral breakthrough comes from a renewed security treaty between Indonesia and Australia, scheduled to be signed in Indonesia's Lombokisland on November 13. The new defence pact came about after negotiations were stalled by an Australia-led intervention in East Timor, and presently included a clause requiring both countries not to support separatists, especially with Canberra granting visas earlier this year to 43 Papuan asylum seekers.

The seven-page security treaty also included joint cooperation in civilian nuclear research and Australian sales of uranium to Indonesia, as well as joint border patrols, fighting human trafficking, counter-terror cooperation, closer intelligence sharing, maritime and aviation security, and cross-border crime.

Aussie Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer is quick to add that, “if we were to sell uranium to Indonesia we would negotiate a nuclear safeguards agreement”. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also earlier issued a statement determining that Indonesia will not develop nuclear weapons and that the country has met all the prerequisites for the construction of a nuclear power plant.

The forward-looking treaty also met with some opposition, such as Greens leader Bob Brown’s criticism that the Howard Government has compromised Australia’s democratic ideals, as the agreement “will actually suppress people who want to work towards independence for West Papua” as well as encourage the proliferation of nuclear weapons by Indonesia.

Another bilateral activity is in the mix with US President George Bush’s planned visit to Jakarta on November 20. Responses have not been welcoming thus far. Prof Muin Salim, political observer of East Indonesia University (UIT), opined that the visit will not be profitable for Indonesia, as the US’ bilateral goodwill is overshadowed by its double standard policy on human rights issue and terrorism, primarily through its treatment of Israel.

South Sulawesi Muslim Syariah Enforcement Committee (KPPSI) spokesman Sirajuddin maintained a more extreme view by saying that the visit will be a threat toIndonesia, as President Bush intends to keep tabs on Muslim activist movements across the country.

On a workshop on human trafficking held on November 8-9 involving around 125 participants from 41 Asia-Pacific countries, Foreign Minister Hasan Wirajuda emphasised the urgency of the workshop to address the widespread problem of "modern-age slavery” in the region, such as the illegal trading of more than 880 babies among Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia over the past few years.  At the meeting, 36 countries in the Asia-Pacific region also pledged to strengthen cooperation in eradicating human trafficking practices under the Bali Process.

Meanwhile, sectarian conflict continues to rage in Poso, Central Sulawesi, as the local police conduct its 29 militant man-hunt for instigating the October 22 clash in which a Muslim man and a toddler were killed. Earlier tensions in the area were roused by the execution of three Christians convicted of masterminding a massacre in a Muslim village in 2000. More recently, the trial of three Muslim men accused of the gruesome beheading of three young Christian girls has begun on November 8, which may prompt further unrest.

To add fuel to the fire, controversial cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir has told his followers in his sermon on November 5 to wage holy war against infidels in foreign lands where Muslims are "subject to injustices". Much remains to be seen how further ‘religious’ security threats play out from within the country vis-à-vis promising bilateral initiatives to promote peace and cooperation. 

Sources:

RI, Singapore agree to intensify coordinated marine patrols (Antara, 7 November 2006)

Bush visit considered unprofitable for Indonesia (Antara, 8 November 2006)

Indonesia and Australia to sign security pact (Antara, 8 November 2006)

Aust-Indonesia security pact 'undemocratic' (ABC News Online, 8 November 2006)

Take the fight overseas, Ba'asyir tells jihadists (Jakarta Post, 8 November 2006)

Trust in police key to ending Poso conflict: Analyst (Jakarta Post, 8 November 2006)

Fm Wirayuda to open workshop on human trafficking (Antara, 8 November 2006)

Trials of three men accused of beheading girls open in Jakarta court (Antara, 8 November 2006)

No reason to suspect RI developing nuclear weapons, IAEA says (Antara, 7 November 2006)