News

Indonesians Want Closer Ties with Australia; Aussies Wary

A billboard offering information about Islam is seen on a main road in west Sydney. The billboards, paid by an Islamic group called MyPeace, offer free information about Islam, a free copy of the Koran and other Islamic literature. (2011 File)
A billboard offering information about Islam is seen on a main road in west Sydney. The billboards, paid by an Islamic group called MyPeace, offer free information about Islam, a free copy of the Koran and other Islamic literature. (2011 File)

Indonesians have significantly warmed towards Australia and want a much closer bilateral relationship with Canberra, according to a new poll by the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based research group.  The study also indicates that many Australians are wary and fearful of their giant Muslim neighbor to the north.

Australia’s relationship with Indonesia is complex.  The two countries are separated by the Timor Sea and have vastly different cultures.  Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim nation, while modern Australia was founded as a British penal colony in the 18th century and retains strong European traditions.

The Lowy survey suggests the majority of Indonesians want much broader education, health and trade ties with Australia.  According to the poll, Indonesians are increasingly warming to their relationship with their southern neighbor.

However, the study reveals an entrenched suspicion of Indonesia by Australians, fueled by Jakarta’s invasion of East Timor in the 1970s and by bombings which killed 202 people - including 88 Australians - on the holiday island, Bali, a decade ago.  The attack was carried out by a radical Islamic group.

Michael Wesley, the executive director of the Lowy Institute, says misconceptions about Indonesia still persist in Australia.

“Indonesia is the closest Asian country to Australian and I think for a lot of people it plays into a lot of very old Australian fears and prejudices about Asia; a crowded, impoverished country that is poised to come down and take over the riches of the Australian continent," he said. "There is a strong stereotype of Indonesia as a military dictatorship and therefore a military threat to Australia.”  

The study says Indonesians are far more worried about China's rise than Australians are.  More than half of Indonesians say it is likely the Chinese will become a military threat to Indonesia in the next 20 years.   However, antipathy towards Australia still lingers in some quarters, with 15 percent of polled Indonesians expressing support for a boycott of Australian goods.

Wesley says there is still a small group of Indonesians that support terrorism.

“We asked Indonesians what they thought about, you know, was suicide bombing ever justified.  While we got 88 percent saying no, it was never justified, there was still a small core of people, probably around eight percent that said it was justified in some circumstances," he stated. "So, look. we have to acknowledge that there is an extremist element in Indonesian society.”      

The Lowy Institute surveyed the views of almost 1,300 Indonesians, toward the end of last year.

In Canberra, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has again warned Australians to reconsider travel to Indonesia following the deaths of five men suspected of planning robberies to fund terror attacks on Bali.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs