Australians rate Indonesia as their greatest military threat
SYDNEY: The Australian public ranks Indonesia as the country’s greatest military threat, a study by a defence think-tank said on Wednesday.
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute surveyed opinion polls on defence issues dating back to the 1960s and found Australians now saw less chance of an foreign security threat than at any time in the past 30 years.
“However, to the extent that the public identifies a security threat to Australia, there is a greater consensus than ever before that the threat comes from one country: Indonesia,” it said.
“Notwithstanding improved bilateral relations particularly during the 1980s and 1990s, the public’s concern about Indonesia has increased almost consistently since opinion polls first began to track it in the late 1960s,” it said.
“This worry does not seem to be justifed, either by Jakartas intent, or by the level of Indonesian military capability. In part the poll data reflects the recent experience of instability in East Timor (in 1999).” The report also attempted to gauge Australian attitudes towards casualties in major military operations.
It found the public would accept unlimited casualties if the military were directly protecting Australia from external threat. But the tolerance for fatalities declined markedly for lesser operations against drug dealers, people smugglers, in peacekeeping operations or when supporting the United Nations.
About one-third of Australians were not ready to accept any casualties at all in these operations, the report found.
Meanwhile in Canberra, Australia would leave no stone unturned in pushing Indonesia to lay fresh charges against a militant Muslim after he was acquitted of involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings said Prime Minister John Howard.
Idris, alias Jhoni Hendrawan, was sentenced on Tuesday to 10 years jail for the 2003 bombing of the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, but acquitted on a terrorism charge relating to the Bali blasts that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians. In acquitting Idris, the Indonesian court cited a July constitutional court ruling that annulled a law allowing anti-terror legislation to be used retrospectively in the Bali case and that has already been used to convict several people.
Howard said he was concerned the court ruling that allowed Idris to be acquitted would also be used by others to successfully appeal their Bali bombing convictions. “We will continue to put all the legitimate pressure we can on the Indonesian government to make certain that these people remain in jail, remain punished and remain fully accountable before the law,” Howard told Australian radio. “I can promise the families of the victims that no stone will be left unturned by my government to see that these people remain behind bars,” he said. afp/reuters