Australia dominates the Jakarta Post front page again this morning. Along with a report on the Australian apology for breaching Indonesian territorial waters there are extracts from a just published book by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. In the book President Yudhoyono has expressed disappointment at the way Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott handled tensions between the two nations after revelations emerged of Australia’s suspected wiretapping of the President and his wife in 2009.
SBY resents Abbott in his new, controversial book
In the book, titled Selalu Ada Pilihan (There is Always a Choice), Yudhoyono said he initially refrained from following a harsh policy that could have affected relations between the countries after the eavesdropping revelations.
However, Yudhoyono said the final straw came when he learned that Abbott viewed the incident as normal.
“When my best friend Tony Abbott made several statements before the Australian parliament suggesting the case was normal and refused to apologize, I could no longer stay silent,” said Yudhoyono in his book, which was launched on Friday.
He also said that as a strategic partner, he could not accept the rationale behind the incident, which violated Indonesian, Australian and international law.
“Also important is that the incident related to the moral and ethical side of being a good neighbor,” the President went on.
Yudhoyono said he deeply regretted the incident amid all-time high relations between the two countries.
Due to Abbott’s handling of the matter, Yudhoyono finally decided to suspend cooperation in the areas of military and defense, joint patrols on boat people, as well as intelligence and information sharing with Australia, resulting in ties between the two nations plunging to their lowest level.
Yudhoyono also said in the book that Australia should have honestly briefed Indonesia over the wiretapping incident two months before it was revealed in November.
“When I read the news of the wiretapping involving the US and Australia, I instructed Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa to seek clarification from Australia,” he said.
“But their reply was between ‘yes’ and ‘no’,” he said.
Yudhoyono said he had not received sufficient explanation from Australia since the incident occurred.
The row with Australia is dealt with in a chapter entitled “A leader has to be firm, but remain rational”.