The souring bilateral relationship between Indonesia and
Australia of late is not a new phenomenon and will not affect the country’s
people-to-people relationships, alumni of a leadership exchange program told a
conference on Tuesday.
REDD+ senior advisor at the Presidential Working Unit for
the Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4), Kevin Evans, told the
Indonesia Australia-People Talk Series conference that he had arrived in
Indonesia during a similar situation back in 1986.
It was the year when Australia relations with Indonesia
deteriorated after a report on the corruption and nepotism of then president
Soeharto's family was published in the Sydney Morning Herald.
This has led to a short-lived ban on Australian tourists to
Bali. Despite this, Evans arrived in Indonesia as part of the
Australia-Indonesia Youth Exchange Program (AIYEP) and said his experience was
not affected by the Canberra-Jakarta issue.
Another alumnus, Indonesian Urban and Regional Planners
Association chairman Bernardus Djonoputro, said, similarly, Indonesian students
had not experienced any problems in Australia and the program had “built trust
and care between the two countries”.
AIYEP is an exchange program, established in 1981 by the
Australia Indonesia Institute, which aims to provide young people from both
countries with the opportunity to appreciate the culture, development and way
of life of each country.
In order to build better relationship between both
governments, Bernardus said to further develop the cooperation between cities
and towns. "We need to connect our communities more," he said.
Among other ideas, Bernardus recommended regulatory reforms
related to service sectors to successfully implement infrastructure projects
and support the establishment of institutions that can champion Public-Private
Partnerships (PPP), for the private sector to finance infrastructure
speaker, Wakatobi Regent HE Hugua said that as a regent he cooperated with
Perth administration without telling the Indonesian central government first.
between local administrations in both countries make it more effective to solve problems rather than coordinating with the national governments first,” he said.
Also present at the conference, Australia Ambassador to ASEAN Simon
Merrifield and other alumni of AIYEP.
The writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post