While it is easy to condemn, ridicule and generally mock the Indonesian political system, oh ok it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Australia has little to brag about with both a Prime Minister and a major opposition leader selfishly indulging in cheap, shrill, tawdry politics of the most populist kind.
The latest example of this is these excuses for humanity using the plight of a 14 year old kid and the base fears of the most ignorant in a sleazy grab for votes. Following the recent arrest of the 14 year old lad in Indonesia for buying 3.6g of weed, we have a irresponsible Australian Media filling endless columns news print with mostly sheer hysterical nonsense coupled with the most gratuitous jockeying for tacky sound bites at the expense of the kid in question. Like the Corby case, if this kid ends up spending any but the most minimal time in detention then the Australian Media and idiot pollies need to shoulder a fair portion of culpability.
The Australian Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and the Opposition Leader are all presumably ignoring advice of real experts on Indonesia that “low key” is always the best way to solve any problem in Indonesia. The antics of these three opportunists is both appalling and cringe-worthy. The PM has even been ringing the lad direct to assure him that the Australian Government is doing all it can to have him released (Does the she-witch ring every other Australian in detention around the world with similar pledges or just the vote getters?). Not to outdone, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd rings the family and holds a press conference to assure the Australian Public that the lad is in “safe hands”. Meanwhile the Opposition Leader comes out with what must be the most ludicrous and provocative statement of all.
“He was thankful his three children did not find themselves in a similar situation during their own holidays on the Indonesian island.
“You’ve just got to be incredibly careful to stay away from any bad situations in foreign countries,” he told Triple-M.
He felt for the “terrible situation” the parents of the boy, and said he would like to see Indonesian authorities treat the boy with decency”
Really ? He was thankful his children did not end up in the same situation? What are you really saying then, what message do you think that carries in Indonesia?
For a very senior politician to make a comment like in the national media suggesting that Bali and Indonesia is some sort of haven of evil doers and malignant drug lords just waiting to take down innocent Australians is just juvenile and counterproductive to the larger Indonesian – Australian relationship. Should Abbott (the Opposition Leader) ever make PM, what kind of reception does he think he will get from his Indonesian counterpart after comments like that? It’s a sign of how low someone can go chasing votes when these three idiots are just using this lads plight to appeal to the dog whistle fear politics that so dominates Australia these days.
I think most old Indonesian hands can take a fair guess at what happened to the lad and no one would have been more surprised than the local coppers that the kid was only 14. The undue attention has probably slowed what is normally is nice regular piece of business for a nice chunk of pocket money. If these sad shadows of real leaders think megaphone diplomacy is going to help the lad then they are dumber than previously thought. Although it’s more probable the kid is just a nice wagon for some headlines to be discarded once the shrill wears down.
Of course this is dog whistle politics is no surprise. It is one of the great shames of Australia that the Australian tradition of a “fair go” is being replaced by shallow, ignorant public shrilling pandering to the ignorant and ill conceived fears of redneck Australia. One has to only look at the current debate (debacle would be a better word) over refugees to Australia. To listen to the shrills you would think that Australia is facing an Invasion of boat people. The reality is it would take over ten years at the current rate just to get a good size crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground or that 95% of all refugee claims are found to be genuine never seems to get a mention.
Is there any decent Australian who does not think forcibly sending unaccompanied children to a Malaysian refugee camp is not morally and ethically repugnant? Yet this is actually the proposal presented by an Australian Government pandering to the racist and ignorant amongst us.
Worse, Australia actually still has political parties who have a central platform calling for the complete ban of Muslim immigration to that Australia. This is nothing less than a new but no less rank version of the old White Australia Policy. We had all hoped that rancid dog was dead, yet it seems there still many only willing to put their lips to that particular, putrid corpse and attempt to bring it back to life. Bizarrely, one of Indonesia’s more regular (by volume not content) expat nuttier bloggers regularly promotes this particular Australian party as the cornerstone of moral fortitude. However, perhaps in view of a potential Indonesian reader he rather dishonestly leaves out the part calling for the complete banning of Muslim immigrants from Indonesia (bit rude really) and like most of the debate around asylum seekers and refugees fundamentally dishonest.
Australian politics and