The aftermath of this week’s shocking news of Australia’s alleged phone tapping attempts of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife Kristiani Herawati continues to embroil deeply, with relations between Indonesia and Australia intensifying, and Fairfax claiming they have “hit a new low.”
Indonesia recalled its ambassador in Australia this week after the controversy surrounding documents allegedly revealing the phone tapping of the Indonesian President, his wife and those in the President’s inner circle ensued; today the relationship between Australia and Indonesia has been scrutinised beyond the recent burning of Australian flags in Indonesia, with a front page caricature of Prime Minister Tony Abbott being published in Rakyat Merdeka, a Jakarta broadsheet.
The cartoon, shown below, portrays Tony Abbott as a luridly unflattering, masturbating peeping tom. The same artist of this cartoon similarly depicted Australia in an unfortunate light in 2006, depicting former PM John Howard mounting former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer (while both being depicted as dingoes – if you must, view the cartoon here). The two incidents, it has been noted, are rare occurrences in what is generally considered a formidable relationship between the two nations; the caricatures and contested amiability between Australia and Indonesia now and in 2006 have only appeared, according to SMH, during periods of diplomatic mayhem.
But any press is good press, right? Right…? :/
— margo kingston (@margokingston1) November 23, 2013
It appears that the controversy and implications surrounding the phone tapping scandal is not likely to cease anytime soon. News.com.au today reports that an immigration official has announced that he will cease to take measures in stopping asylum seekers taking boats to Australia.
Prime Minister Abbott has been called upon by handfuls of government officials and press to quell the row with Indonesia. In a statement in Parliament on Tuesday, the Guardian reports that Mr Abbott said, “Australia should not be expected to apologise for the steps we take to protect our country now or in the past, any more than other governments should be expected to apologise for the similar steps that they have taken … importantly in Australia’s case we use all our resources including information to help our friends and allies, not to harm them….I don’t believe Australia should be expected to apologise for reasonable intelligence-gathering activities.”