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Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
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Calm political communication best solution to RI-Oz asylum seeker tension: Lawmaker

  • Dylan Amirio

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Wed, June 17, 2015 | 03:47 pm

House of Representatives member Hanafi Rais has said that calmly engaging in political communication is the best way for Indonesia and Australia to resolve the increasingly their heated dispute over asylum seekers.

Hanafi, a member of House Commission I on defense, intelligence and foreign affairs, said it was up to both countries on how to reach a mutual agreement on the asylum seeker issue, but added that Australia must appreciate Indonesia and not treat it lightly.

The National Mandate Party (PAN) lawmaker made the statement in response to an allegation that Australian officials paid thousands of dollars to crew members of a boat carrying asylum seekers to turn back to Rote Island in East Nusa Tenggara.

'€œIndonesia must protest Australia'€™s actions. We must remind them that they have to respect our sovereignty and our government as well. Political communication could be conducted at a bilateral level or in the context of ASEAN; either way, Australia must respect its neighbors,'€ Hanafi told The Jakarta Post at the House complex on Wednesday.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has neither denied nor confirmed that such a payment occurred. He just said that Australia would do whatever it took to combat people smuggling.

"By hook or by crook, we are going to stop the trade," Abbott said.

"We have stopped the trade and we will do what we have to do to ensure that it stays stopped." (ebf)(+++)