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Weekend catch-up: Bali 9 executions, Refugee Convention, Greece-IMF and more

Weekend catch-up: Bali 9 executions, Refugee Convention, Greece-IMF and more
Published 2 May 2015   Follow @BrendanTN_

Australian drug smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed in Indonesia this week, along with six others. The Abbott Government responded by recalling Ambassador Paul Grigson on Wednesday. Aaron Connelly wrote on the motivations behind Jokowi's decision to proceed with the executions, despite significant pressure from Australia and the international community:

While SBY appeared to many Indonesians to be peragu, a vacillator, Jokowi has always appeared to be a man of action. He has sped up infrastructure projects, sped up subsidy reform, and – tragically – sped up executions.

While capital punishment is anathema to most Australians, it enjoys broad support in Indonesia, and the decision to carry out death sentences issued over the last decade represents for most Indonesians a return to the regular order under a president who is unafraid to enforce Indonesian laws even when placed under intense pressure to offer foreigners special dispensation. To most Indonesians, this is reform.

There is also a streak of 'victimhood' in Indonesian politics, writes Catriona Croft-Cusworth:

Jokowi called for 'reformasi' of global financial architecture, including institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank. He also called on Asian and African nations to support an overhaul of the UN 'so that it can function as a world organisation that supports justice for all nations'.

So it's no surprise that Jokowi did not respond to an appeal from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon over the weekend to call off the executions. As elaborated by University of Indonesia International Law professor Hikmahanto Juwana in an interview with local media last week: 'The Indonesian[s] also have a right to ask why there was not a statement from the UN Secretary-General recently when two Indonesian domestic workers were executed in Saudi Arabia'. 

Khalid Koser published a paper with the Lowy Institute this week, Australia and the 1951 Refugee Convention, as well as writing on what lessons Europe can learn from Australia's immigration policies: [fold]

Second, Australia's quota for resettling refugees should be an embarrassment to the EU. Australia resettles more refugees than the entire EU area of over 500 million people. Resettlement may not satisfy the growing demand for entry into the richer countries, and probably would not reduce the number of people seeking asylum in Europe, but at least it demonstrates solidarity with some of the poorer countries of the world which continue to shoulder the burden of the global refugee crisis.

Jane McAdam from the University of Sydney responded to Khalid's paper:

There is clearly a need for states to take a different approach to the management of asylum movements. But the current Australian response is not it. Indeed, given Australia's disdain for any international criticism of its approach (see, for example, the Prime Minister's recent attack on the Special Rapporteur on Torture) it would be difficult for Australia to take the lead on any multilateral reform of the international protection system. Its credibility on this issue is at an all-time low.

Rodger Shanahan on Tareq Kamleh, the Australian 'medical jihadi' that appeared in an ISIS propaganda video earlier this week:

In one way Tareq Kamleh is different to other Australian jihadis because of his education and academic qualifications. But his actions are the same as all the others. He has made a conscious decision that his religious identity transcends his national identity. We shouldn't be too concerned that he is educated rather than a minor criminal or a teenage delinquent. What should concern us is why he and others can come to believe that their religion justifies participation in the imposition of an intolerant and violent ruling system, and the belief that their own government has no right to stop them from being part of the project. Until we can address that, people like Tareq Kamleh will continue to pop up in strange places.

Did the IMF learn it's lesson with Greece? Stephen Grenville:

Meanwhile, the IMF has acknowledged some of the mistakes made in 2010, but the unhappy legacy remains. Having established the precedent of lending to countries which have an unsustainable debt level, Ukraine has also been given substantial assistance. The broad issue of rescheduling sovereign debt, which the Fund has struggled to resolve for more than a decade, remains. Perhaps most important all, this story is a reminder of why governance reform is so vital for the Fund's credibility. 

Chinese firms will most likely be the biggest benefactors from Beijing's regional development initiatives, argues Julian Snelder:

Informed Chinese experts tell me that Chinese firms expect to scoop 93-94% of the contract value of all projects funded by the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) plus the Chinese unilateral initiatives (like Silk Road Fund) combined. By Goldman Sachs' calculation, local expectations for China's newly re-combined train-making monopoly assume a clean sweep at home and an heroic 55% share of all railway rolling stock bought overseas in the next five years. These firms expect a bonanza of construction in which Chinese money, materials, management and manpower can build grand overseas projects. Foreign firms will have to settle for spillover business, in the form of subcontracts.

Samir Saran from the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi reviewed Modi's first year in office:

He is determined at one level, as he stakes his political capital on reforming the land acquisition law, and while pushing forth a slew of new initiatives like replacing the economic planning body (the Planning Commission) with a contemporary organisation. On the other hand, you sense there are some wrinkles that are yet to be ironed out. There are times when you can see him pensively watching parliamentary proceedings as the lack of majority in the upper house impedes him. There is reluctance while communicating his vision and policies, and an inability to deploy the same communication means to reach out to citizens that got him the top job in the first place.

Two presidential aspirants, Aung San Suu Kyi and Hillary Clinton, need each other, said Elliot Brennan:

Suu Kyi desperately needs Clinton's support. Suu Kyi's political standing has already diminished. Many of her supporters (both her strong Buddhist conservative backers and the human rights advocates) have criticised her handling of the Rohingya issue. She has wavered and remained mute on other important headline issues. Most problematic is that advocating too hard for the constitutional change that would allow her to run would make Suu Kyi look power hungry and self-interested. Yet if she doesn't advocate for the change, no one will. At some point soon, if the constitutional amendment doesn't go forward, she has to roll the dice and either boycott the elections or back another candidate while she sits on the sidelines.

And Sam Roggeveen on Julie Bishop's speech to the Sydney Institute early this week:

I am not ready to credit Bishop with Churchillian prescience. I think she's wrong about the scale of the ISIS threat. But if she turns out to be right about ISIS in the way Churchill was right about the Soviet Union, it's worth pointing out that Churchill's speech called on the world to act through the United Nations, including by giving it armed forces, initially in the form of air squadrons from each of its member states ('They would not be required to act against their own nation, but in other respects they would be directed by the world organisation').

That's a bold proposal, to say the least, and what's notable about Bishop's speech is that she proposed nothing remotely as radical to meet this allegedly world-historical threat. Australia has sent a handful of fighter aircraft and a few hundred soldiers to Iraq to fight ISIS, a response Bishop calls 'proportionate and appropriate'. That tells a rather different story about how seriously Bishop takes the ISIS threat.

Photo by Flickr user Moe-tography.

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