Jail for people smugglers: Yudhoyono

Visiting Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono says legislation will soon be introduced to the Indonesian parliament that would make people smuggling an a criminal offence that would carry a penalty of up to five years in prison.

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In his addressing the Australian parliament, he said both Australia and Indonesia agreed that people smuggling was a regional problem.

“Indonesia and Australia believe in the authority of the Bali process which recognises that people smuggling is a regional problem that requires a regional solution involving the origin, transit and destination countries to work together.”

An agreement between the two countries to establish a framework for greater cooperation on tackling people smuggling would ensure future cases could be handled in a “predictable and co-ordinated way”.

The issue has long plagued relations as asylum-seekers from the world’s trouble-spots transit Indonesia en route to Australia, which has seen dozens of boats arrive in recent months.

SBY pledges cooperation on terrorism, climate change

Dr Yudhoyono said the great challenge for Indonesia and Australia was how to respond to issues such as terrorism, natural disasters, people smuggling and drug traffickers.

Infectious diseases, the world financial crisis and climate change were also new, non-traditional threats that he said the two countries had to tackle.

“The unique part of the Australia, Indonesia partnership in the 21st Century is how we cover it beyond a bilateral context, to tackle issues of global significance,” he said.

“I believe that Indonesia and Australia are on the same page on the need to foster a more democratic world order, to reflect the changing global political and economic landscape.”

He was heartened the two nations both valued multilateral relations and believed in the need to reform the United Nations system.

Dr Yudhoyono called for a new spirit of geopolitical and geoeconomic co-operation between Australia and Indonesia.

Speaking at a joint sitting of the Australian parliament, Dr Yudhoyono says both Indonesia and Australia believe in the authority of the Bali process, which recognises that people smuggling is a regional problem that requires a regional solution.

He says an agreement to establish greater cooperation on tackling people smuggling will ensure future cases can be handled in a predictable and coordinated way.

“Australia is a destination country and Indonesia is a transit country,” Yudhoyono said. “We cannot resolve this issue by ourselves. Every country must be on board… and also international institutions have to cooperate.”

The issue has long plagued relations as asylum-seekers from the world’s trouble-spots transit Indonesia en route to Australia, which has seen dozens of boats arrive in recent months.

Yudhoyono praises relationship but says challenges remain

Earlier he said Indonesia’s partnership with Australia is now “solid amd strong”, but challenges remain.

Dr Yudhoyono said there still needed to be a change in the mindset of some Indonesians and Australians.

“The most persistent problem in our relation is the persistence of age-old stereotypes … that depicts the other side in a bad light,” he said.

“There are Australians who still see Indonesia as a authoritarian country or a military dictatorship or as a hotbed of Islamic extremism, or even as an expansionist power.”

On the other hand some Indonesians remained afflicted by “Australia-phobia”.

“Those who believe that the notion of White Australia still persists.

“That Australia harbours ill-intention towards Indonesia.”

SBY says action needed to boost trade

Dr Yudhoyono said more work was needed to strengthen economic ties between Indonesia and Australia.

Indonesia had a GDP of $US514 billion, the third highest growth of G20 nations, a population of 240 million, a growing middle class and rich natural resources, he said.

Meanwhile, Australia, a developed nation, had the 18th largest economy in the world, with high-level corporate governance and a GDP of $US920 billion.

“These impressive statistics need to be reflected in our partnership,” Dr Yudhoyono said.

He said Australia was the 12th highest investor in Indonesia, with interests in 26 projects worth $US79 million in 2009.

“We need to do better to harness these economic benefits, we need to encourage our private sector to do more business with one another,” he said.

Dr Yudhoyono said there had been 69 ministerial visits between the two nations since the Rudd government came to office.

“That is an impressive number, we must sustain this good momentum.”

He announced a new annual leaders retreat, that will take place alternatively between the two countries.

Indonesia’s and Australia’s foreign and defence ministers will also meet annually.

“I am sure that this new arrangement will further cement Indonesia-Australia relations and enhance trust between us.”

Yudhoyono confirms Dulmatin killed

Earlier the president confirmed that a suspected Bali bombing mastermind with a 10-million-dollar bounty on his head had been killed during a raid by counter-terrorism forces in the Indonesian capital on Tuesday.

“We can confirm that one of those that were killed was Mr Dulmatin, one of the top Southeast Asian terrorists that we have been looking for,” Yudhoyono told a luncheon in Australia’s parliament house

An Indonesian police source had said officers believed that Dulmatin was among three people killed in two raids in Jakarta, but had refused to formally identify the dead until forensic tests had been carried out.

Dulmatin was a leader of the Southeast Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI). The news comes as US President Barack Obama, whose country had offered the 10-million-dollar reward, prepares to visit Indonesia and Australia.

Dulmatin was accused of helping JI plan and carry out the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people on the Indonesian resort island, most of them foreign tourists, including 88 Australians.

Rudd praises anti-terrorism efforts

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd praised Indonesia’s efforts to dismantle terror networks as the two nations also vowed to step up their joint fight against people-smuggling after several high-seas standoffs.

Just before Yudhoyono confirmed Dulmatin’s death, Rudd congratulated the president on the raids in Jakarta.

“This has been a very professional operation by the Indonesian security forces and it comes on top of other successful operations in recent times,” Rudd told a joint news conference.

“The breakthroughs which Indonesia has made in undermining various terrorist networks have been significant.”

Rudd said links between Australia and its giant, mainly Muslim northern neighbour now stood at a “new level” after years of flare-ups.

“We have agreed to upgrade our relationship to become one of a comprehensive strategic partnership,” Rudd told reporters, adding that leaders and key ministers would meet annually in Australia or Indonesia.

Yudhoyono has enjoyed a warm welcome in Australia, which handed him its highest civilian honour shortly after his arrival on Tuesday, as both sides turn the page on their recent skirmishes.

Relations were tested in October by a standoff over a boatload of asylum seekers which was picked up by Australian authorities and taken to Indonesia. Some 200 Sri Lankans are still refusing to disembark from a second boat.

The countries have also clashed over death sentences handed to three Australian drug-smugglers convicted in Bali, while the Australian public was incensed at a 20-year term given to a beautician for drug offences in 2005.

However, they have enjoyed strong cooperation against extremism, including after the 2002 Bali blasts. Yudhoyono, as security minister, oversaw the investigation into the attack.


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