Saturday, October 07, 2006

Survey: Australians still afraid of Indonesia

TEMPO Interactive, Sydney: Many Australian citizens still regard Indonesia as a threat and only a few know that their neighboring country is not controlled by the military. These are at least shown by a poll of which the result was announced early this week.

The survey entitled “Australia, Indonesia and the World” was held by a policy analyst institution The Lowy Institute in Sydney. The survey took samples of 1,007 Australian respondents and 1,200 Indonesian.

The survey was carried out from June 19 to July 6. The age of the respondents are 18 and above (Australian) and 17 and above (Indonesian). The margin of error is 3.1 percent.

Two-thirds of the respondents believe that Indonesia is a source of Islamic terrorism. . The same amount stated that Australia may be alert to Indonesia as one of Australia’s military threats.

Only 20 percent of the respondents correctly named Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as the current Indonesian President. “Many of the respondents have little knowledge,” Allan Gyngell, Executive Director of Lowy Institute, told reporters on Monday (2/10) in Sydney.

However, the respondents’ opinion was split when asked whether cooperation between Jakarta and Canberra is an important matter in helping Australia solve terrorist threats in the region.

According to Gyngell, the survey which is in its second year also shows “much ignorance and suspicion of one another.”

In the survey of Indonesian citizens, around two-thirds of the respondents view that Australia has a tendency to interfere with Indonesia’s interests and tries to separate the West Papua Province from Indonesia.
Nonetheless, most of the respondents regard that it is very important that Australia and Indonesia cooperate to build a closer relationship.

This was believed by Murray Goot, poll expert from Macquarie University, Australia. “Opposition between Australians and Indonesians is less than what the experts have imagined so far,” said Goot two days ago. However, he acknowledged that the two countries’ relationship has its ups and downs.

Goot cited, a large portion of respondents agree that Australia’s policy on Indonesia and Asia-Pacific region has been impeded by Australia’s alliance with the United States.

The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, Bloomberg and Dwi Arjanto

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