Month: April 2019

  • Bali nine executions: Australia may have to simply ride out the next four years under Joko Widodo

    Domestic politics is dictating Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s decision-making. Photo: Bullit Marquez
    Shanghai night field

    Domestic politics is dictating Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s decision-making. Photo: Bullit Marquez

    Painting of Joko painted by Bali nine member Myuran Sukumaran. Photo: Zul Edoardo

    Domestic politics is dictating Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s decision-making. Photo: Bullit Marquez

    Domestic politics is dictating Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s decision-making. Photo: Bullit Marquez

    AFP to face grilling over Bali nineBishop expected a call, it never cameAnalysis: Cold comfort in diplomatic deep freeze

    Nobody thought Joko Widodo would be as easygoing towards Australia as his fondly remembered predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

    But Joko’s behaviour – and that of his Attorney-General HM Prasetyo – over the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have in their obstinacy and seemingly calculated efforts to add insult to injury been a jolt to the Abbott government and close Indonesia observers.

    It has senior people now asking just how the relationship is going to function under a leader who is so brazenly conducting his foreign relations through the narrow prism of domestic populism and whether Australia might even need to just wait out Joko as it was forced to wait out Malaysia’s former leader Mahathir Mohamad.

    The normally mildly spoken Kevin Andrews emerged on Wednesday as the mouthpiece for the government’s frustrations, saying the fact the executions were announced on Anzac Day and the treatment of the two men and their families “reeks of a calculated snub at Australia” that would be a “very serious miscalculation on the behalf of the leadership of Indonesia”.

    Much of the public discussion has centred around Australia’s immediate diplomatic response.

    But quite apart from the short-term response, it is what we’ve learnt about Joko and his administration that bodes poorly for the medium term.

    As Fairfax Media’s Peter Hartcher illustrated this week with his descriptions of the excruciating treatment of Joko at his own party’s national congress recently, the president is completely under the thumb of elder stateswoman Megawati Soekarnoputri.

    Megawati has always had a prickly relationship with Australia and, in her own unremarkable term as president, saw more mileage in kicking her neighbour than working with it.

    At this stage, the same appears to be true of Joko. And that is what is deeply concerning Australia’s foreign policy community.

    Even seasoned, hard-headed officials, accustomed to looking beyond the vicissitudes of public opinion and pondering foreign relations in terms of decades, have privately described Indonesia’s conduct as “appalling” and “disgraceful”.

    Being charitable, the excessive security during Chan and Sukumaran’s prison transfers may be seen as police overzealousness, while the chaos their families faced in reaching them on their final day was likely just a stuff-up. But the Anzac Day announcement and Jakarta’s studied dismissiveness, which included not even formally notifying the Australian government that two of its nationals were poised to be executed, cannot be seen as anything but deliberate slights.

    There is also a widespread belief that Filipina Mary Jane Veloso was given a last-minute reprieve because her story as a migrant worker resonated with ordinary Indonesians. Once again domestic politics was dictating Joko’s decision-making.

    All this happened despite the steady, behind-the-scenes reasonableness of the Vice President Jusuf Kalla and the quiet helpfulness of SBY throughout the Bali nine case.

    In the wake of the executions, the possibility of simply having to wait Joko out for the next four-and-a-half years is a real one. The mere fact that it is being talked about in foreign policy circles at all signals the depth of the pessimism about the rest of Jokowi’s term.

    Follow us on Twitter  Australian Politics – Fairfax

  • Bali 9 executions: Waleed Aly on the five ways Chan and Sukumaran were let down

    Executed: Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.Journalist and academic Waleed Aly has delivered a passionate condemnation of the treatment of Bali nine duo Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, outlining the five ways he believes the pair were let down in the lead-up to their executions in Indonesia this week.
    Shanghai night field

    While acknowledging that the former Sydney men were criminals and drug smugglers, Aly said Chan and Sukumaran had been failed by some of the very people meant to protect them.

    Among those coming under fire in Aly’s powerful segment on The Project on Wednesday night was Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose comments about Australia’s aid contributions to Indonesia were seen as a threat in that country, and the Australian Federal Police, who had tipped off the Indonesians about the Bali nine’s arrival in 2005.

    “Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were guilty men. They were criminals, they were ringleaders of an operation to smuggle drugs into this country, but they were also let down time and again, right up to their final hours,” Aly said.

    Below is Aly’s list of the five ways the Bali nine duo were let down:

    1 – The Australian Federal Police tipped off the Indonesian authorities, after receiving information from the father of Bali nine member Scott Rush.

    “Lee Rush was trying to protect his son. He did the first thing that many of us would have done; he went to the police. He trusted that the AFP would stop the Bali nine from leaving the country and stop this catastrophe in its tracks.

    “Instead the AFP let them leave and told the Indonesians they were coming, knowing that this could end with a bullet put through Andrew and Myuran’s chests. And the AFP have never explained this.”

    2 – Alleged corruption in the Indonesian court system

    “The judges who would eventually convict them allegedly offered Andrew and Myuran the chance to pay $130,000 to take the death penalty off the table. They should have taken it, they probably would have taken it, but they were let down by an even higher level of corruption.”

    That higher level of corruption, Aly said, was when Indonesia’s Attorney-General and Supreme Court allegedly demanded that the pair be put to death, robbing them of a fair trial.

    3 – The election of Joko “Jokowi” Widodo as Indonesia’s President

    “I’m talking here about hard-line politics, I’m talking about an obsession with being seen to be a tough guy in front of a domestic audience,” Aly said of Mr Joko.

    “Jokowi cared more about his image than he did about the facts of the case, or Andrew and Myuran’s rehabilitation. He didn’t even know where the drugs were meant to end up.

    Maybe once Jokowi was elected, there was nothing we could have done.”

    4 – Tony Abbott’s comments about Australia’s aid to Indonesia

    In February, Mr Abbott publicly stated: “Let’s not forget that a few years ago, when Indonesia was struck by the Indian Ocean tsunami, Australia sent a billion dollars worth of assistance.”

    Aly said on The Project: “This is a moment that I’m sure Tony Abbott himself regrets. He was just desperately trying to come to Andrew and Myuran’s aid by reminding Indonesia what good friends Australians have been to them in the past. The reminder was taken as a threat by the Indonesians. Our generous aid came with strings attached, and one of those strings was an expectation that Indonesians would bow to political pressure from Australia and show clemency whenever we demanded it.”

    5 – Chan and Sukumaran were denied chosen spiritual guides before execution

    “The six others who were to be executed alongside them were not denied that right, only Andrew and Myuran were. It was so provocative, it was so pathetic, and so pointless. At the 11th hour, the Indonesians allowed Andrew and Myuran’s guides access to the pair, but by then a final message of disrespect had already been sent.”

    Some praised Aly’s commentary, with one person saying it was “measured, hard hitting and unmissable”, while others claimed it was another example of his “anti-Abbott agenda”.

    Waleed Aly’s comments hit the nail on the head. Systematic failures and political ego led to the deaths of Chan and Sukumaran #bali— Dave (@Tills086) April 29, 2015

    Loving how Waleed Aly is bringing real edge to @theprojecttv : http://t/Lg6wxO9FV5 Measured, hard hitting and unmissable.— Monica Attard (@AttardMon) April 29, 2015

    Waleed Aly is the truth dropping saviour our media landscape needs so badly, let’s be honest. #WaleedAly— Stephanie Jones (@stephaniejjones) April 29, 2015#bali9#waleedaly Why do you never praise the PM Walleed? They knew the risk. Your obvious anti Abbott agenda is turning many off theproject— KevinspiresTV (@kevinmcnamara88) April 29, 2015

    Chan an Sukumaran let down by Australian Government because they did everything they could??!! Nonsensical diatribe. Get real #WaleedAly— Adam Watson (@aj8watson) April 29, 2015Waleed Aly will take any opportunity to take a cheap shot at Tony and co, the only people that the Bali 9 was let down by was themselves— chels (@chelsbieberxo) April 29, 2015

  • ‘Outraged and offended’: bipartisanship breaks down on Bali nine executions

    Justice Minister Michael Keenan has attacked Labor. Photo: Alex EllinghausenGovernment quietly scrapped death penalty directiveAnalysis: Australia may have to ‘ride out’JokoAly reveals five ways Bali pair were let downAFP to face grilling on Bali executions role
    Shanghai night field

    The bipartisan response to the execution of the Bali nine drug smugglers has collapsed only a day after the men were killed, with the Abbott government accusing Labor of playing politics with “tragedy” by raising concerns about its approach to the death penalty.

    Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has praised the government for its handling of the matter and supported the decision to withdraw Australia’s ambassador to Indonesia in response to the executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

    On Wednesday, opposition justice spokesman David Feeney wrote to Justice Minister Michael Keenan seeking an explanation to why the government changed its official directions to the Australian Federal Police last year.

    In 2010, Labor’s then minister for home affairs, Brendan O’Connor, included Australia’s opposition to the death penalty in his official ministerial direction to the AFP. This was removed from a new ministerial direction issued last year by the Abbott government.

    Mr Feeney said the omission “raises concerns that protecting Australians from the risk of being subject to the death penalty in a foreign jurisdiction is no longer to be considered a critical priority for the AFP”.

    When asked why he removed the reference to the death penalty in his ministerial directive, Mr Keenan said: “I’m pretty outraged and offended that the Labor Party would use the tragedy of two Australians being executed to make what is an incredibly cheap and invalid point.

    “I think they should take a long hard look at themselves if they think this is the sort of time to be politicking in a way that is completely inaccurate.”

    Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she was “very angry” Labor had questioned the government on the directive.

    “To think that less than 24 hours after the executions have taken place, the Labor Party is seeking to take a cheap, political shot. Shame on them,” she said.

    Mr Keenan said Labor was deliberately creating confusion because the AFP’s internal guidelines on dealing with the death penalty have not been changed since Labor’s time in office.

    The AFP’s National Guideline on International Police-to-Police Assistance in Death Penalty Situations requires the AFP to consider “the degree of risk to the person in providing the information, including the likelihood the death penalty will be imposed” when co-operating with overseas agencies.

    “The guidelines are the same as when they were in office and applied in the same way by this government,” Mr Keenan said.

    Mr Keenan said that the ministerial directive is a “high-level strategic document” and was a “red herring”.

    “This has no bearing on the way the AFP deals with cases potentially involving the death penalty,” he said.

    Mr Feeney responded by saying: ‘We’re not playing politics; we’re asking questions. We’re not accusing the government of anything; we are seeking an explanation on an important issue.

    “Why did Mr Keenan remove the requirement from the ministerial directive? We haven’t received a sufficient anwer.”

    Asked to explain the difference between the guidelines and the ministerial directive, Ms Bishop said: “Please. Twenty-four hours after the death of these two young men and the Labor Party is getting the media to quibble about the AFP guidelines that are the guidelines under which the AFP operate. They are precisely the same guidelines that Labor put in place. They are precisely the same guidelines that operate today. A ministerial directive is an entirely different document that does not dictate the operational activities of the AFP. I’m not going to answer another question on that.”

    Speaking after the execution of Chan and Sukumaran on Wednesday, Ms Bishop said she believed the AFP’s guidelines relating to the death penalty were sufficient.

    The AFP is set to break its silence on its role in delivering Chan and Sukumaran to Indonesian authorities in 2005 after previously declining to comment in detail because the mens’ case was being heard before the courts.

    The AFP has said it will hold a press conference in coming days while independent senator Nick Xenophon has said he will pursue the matter with the AFP at upcoming Senate hearings.

    Senator Xenophon said the removal of any mention of the death penalty from the ministerial directive was “disturbing”.

    It – and the AFP’s role in Chan and Sukumaran’s arrests – should be examined urgently by the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, he said.

    “There are legitimate questions to be asked about whether Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan would be alive if not for the actions of the AFP.” Follow us on TwitterAustralian Politics – Fairfax

  • Witness in Colleen Ayers murder trial lied to protect immunity, defence claims

    Victim: Colleen Deborah Ayers. Photo: Police Media Police at the Lakesland property where the body of Colleen Ayers was found. Photo: Seven News
    Shanghai night field

    The Lakesland property where the body of Colleen Deborah Ayers was found. Photo: Channel Seven

    A young Sydney woman at the centre of a murder trial was lying to protect her immunity from prosecution, a defence barrister alleged on Wednesday.

    Rachael Margaret Evans has pleaded guilty to strangling 33-year-old Colleen Ayers to death in 2012 but the trial before the NSW Supreme Court turns on who may have aided her.

    The Crown alleges that Evans and Micheal John Duffy together killed Ms Ayers on her family’s Lakesland property, south of Sydney, after a drug binge.

    Mr Duffy has pleaded not guilty. His barrister, James Trevallion, said Evans and the young woman were to blame.

    The defence said the young woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was lying about not being in the room at the time of the killing, a claim she denied. She has been granted immunity from prosecution over the crime.

    The young woman testified on Wednesday that, on the night of the murder, she and Evans were sitting outside a room in which Mr Duffy and Ms Ayers were having sex.

    She said Evans was talking to herself, saying: “I’m going to do it, I’m not going to do it, I should do it, I shouldn’t do it.”

    The young woman told the jury that, before entering the room, Evans had muttered, “I’m going to become the first woman serial killer in 25 years’ time.”

    The court heard previously that the young woman, Evans, Ms Ayers, Mr Duffy and another two men were drinking and taking drugs including methylamphetamine at Ms Ayers’ parent’s house that night.

    The night before, the young woman had filmed Ms Ayers, Mr Duffy and Evans having a threesome in a hotel room at Picton.

    The young woman said she was not in the room at the time of Ms Ayers’ death and that she entered only after hearing through the wall Ms Ayers’ pleas to “stop”.

    The defence said the young woman was in the room, that she hit Ms Ayers over the head with a bottle or her fist, and assisted Evans in the killing.

    “You’ve been telling lies about this since the first time you spoke to police so you could avoid being prosecuted for anything,” Mr Trevallion suggested.

    The witness denied lying but said that Evans twice told her to “blame Duffy”.

    Evans testified on Wednesday afternoon that she and Mr Duffy had planned, before they arrived at Ms Ayers’ parents’ property, to take guns from it to sell.

    The trial before Justice David Davies continues.

  • Justin Bieber to join Zoolander 2, if Ben Stiller Instagram is to be beliebed

    Ben Stiller and Justin Bieber face off in an image from Stiller’s Instagram account, suggesting the singer has joined the cast of Zoolander 2. Photo: Ben Stiller/InstagramMovie session timesFull movies coverage
    Shanghai night field

    Justin Bieber has nailed his Blue Steel in what appears to be a sure sign he is joining the cast of Zoolander 2.

    Ben Stiller, who is directing and starring in the belated sequel to the 2001 comedy, has posted a picture of himself and the Canadian pop star in full stare-off mode on Instagram and Twitter.

    Though uncaptioned, apart from the tag #Zoolander2, it most likely indicates the 21-year-old has a role of some sort in the film.

    In fact, Bieber has all but confirmed it. On April 28, he posted on his facebook page that he was “working on something big right now in Europe.”

    He concluded the post with the words “he is so hot right now”, a line from the 2001 film.

    Stiller – whose most recent movie is the comedy While We’re Young, in which he plays a documentary filmmaker suffering a mid-life crisis, is showing he is far from out of touch when it comes to drumming up interest in his forthcoming film by announcing much of the casting news via social media.   #Zoolander2 @justinbieberA photo posted by Ben Stiller (@benstiller) on Apr 29, 2015 at 12:24am PDT

    The casting of Penelope Cruz, Fred Armisen and Billy Zane all cropped up first on Instagram, though none can compete with the exposure granted by the 63.1 million followers to whom the really-really-good-looking Bieber retweeted the photo from his own Twitter account.  

    Working on something big right now in Europe. To learn more follow me on Fahlo. He is so hot right now :)Posted by Justin Bieber on Monday, April 27, 2015