Yesterday Sam Roggeveen provided English-language links to coverage of Prime Minister Abbott's visit to Indonesia. This post looks at the Indonesian language print media on Tuesday and Wednesday. I've covered four of Indonesia's largest daily newspapers — Kompas, Jawa Pos, Koran Tempo and Media Indonesia — in their print form. Web articles would cover a wider range of issues, and include a greater diversity of views on the issues covered below, but for brevity are not surveyed here. All translations are mine.
Coverage of the visit focused on its first day, perhaps in part because local reporters were reportedly excluded from Abbott's press conference on Tuesday.
The visit received reasonable if not saturation coverage: Kompas ran a front page photo with the story on the international page, Media Indonesia went front-page for story and photo, while Jawa Pos ran a large photo on p.16 but with little text. In the four papers surveyed, no editorial or opinion piece covered the visit.
Unusually for Indonesia, the print media coverage focused on asylum seekers and people smuggling, reflecting the negative attention the towback policy generated ahead of the visit.
The issue was all that was mentioned in Jawa Pos ('[Indonesia and Australia] Agree to Overcome Boat People'), occupied all but three paragraphs of the Koran Tempo piece ('Indonesia and Australia Wage War on People Smuggling'; Koran Tempo also covered Human Rights Watch's statement on Australia and asylum seeker rights on Monday) and all but two of Kompas' coverage. Media Indonesia was the only one of the papers surveyed to mention the trade delegation accompanying Abbott. The paper also included a graphic of 'Tony Abbott's Campaign Promises' as well as bilateral trade figures for the past six years.
In contrast to the pointed commentary preceding the talks, reportage of the visit focused on the talk of bilateral cooperation at the joint press conference, seemingly reflecting both sides' desire to move past the asylum seeker row.
Kompas headlined its coverage 'RI-Australia To Overcome (People Smuggling) Together'. An editorial in the same paper the week prior had run under the headline 'Indonesia Rejects Australia's Stance'. The piece made no explicit mention of towbacks, quoting President Yudhoyono's statement that 'This forum was not to discuss operational activities in detail', and citing Abbott's comments that Australia respected Indonesia's sovereignty. The piece opened with 'President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Prime Minister Tony Abbott are both committed to overcoming the problem of people smuggling.'
Media Indonesia ('Indonesia-Australia Stop Boat People') was more direct, at least touching on towbacks, if only to say that Abbott had not mentioned them:
In the press conference, Abbott did not touch on the sensitive issue that had previously developed, that Australia in handling boat people, would not only return the boats and refugees to Indonesia, but that Australia would also block boats carrying refugees (from departing) by placing Australian police in Indonesia. Conversely, Abbott stressed that Australia greatly respects Indonesian sovereignty.
The paper ran a follow-up piece today ('Australia Returns Immigrants to Indonesian Ship') quoting conservative commentator and international relations professor Hikmahanto Juwana, who criticised Indonesian search-and-rescue for reportedly receiving rescued asylum seekers last week off an Australian rescue boat.
Papua rated a brief mention in most of the papers after it had featured prominently in both Yudhoyono's and Abbott's remarks on Monday night. Kompas said the President had explained Indonesia's welfare and democracy approach, and reported 'Abbott conveyed Australia's stance of not wanting its territory to be used as a base for separatist groups wanting to divide Papua from Indonesia'. Koran Tempo focused only on Yudhoyono, reporting that he 'emphasised that the Indonesian Government was determined to increase the welfare of Papuans, although acknowledging that many structural and local problems still required management'.
Finally, the fact that this was Abbott's first overseas trip as prime minister was covered in three of these papers. Media Indonesia noted Abbott had fulfilled his campaign promise, while Kompas said that Abbott's choice of destination was 'in accordance with his determination to strengthen ties with Asia'.
Photo by Flickr user Just Call Me Mo.