Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Why Australia’s cure for Chinese influence is wors...

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Why Australia’s cure for Chinese influence is wors...:   Australia’s parliament launched hearings on Tuesday into new foreign interference laws which critics fear could stifle free express...

Why Australia’s cure for Chinese influence is worse than the disease


Australia’s parliament launched hearings on Tuesday into new foreign interference laws which critics fear could stifle free expression and expose industry bodies, media, non-profits and even Catholics to prosecution.

The conservative government unveiled the wide-ranging laws on espionage and overseas donations in December amid concerns over foreign meddling in domestic institutions, notably by China.

Key features include a ban on overseas political donations and a new register of lobbyists and agents working for foreign interests.

But a range of institutions have been scathing of the measures, echoing financial industry groups who said in a submission to the hearing that the bill was “cast too widely and beyond the policy intention of the government

The Law Council of Australia said most foreign influence in local politics was benign, and the law’s broad scope could instead impinge on freedom of expression and public policy debate.

Media and Catholic organisations added that the exemptions in the draft bill did not adequately or correctly cover their activities, leaving their members open to falling foul of the law.

 “The bill is drafted with extraordinary breadth,” the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said in its submission to the hearing held on Tuesday in Canberra.

It said Catholics advocating or communicating about public policies could be caught up in the laws due to their relationship with the Vatican.

“Terms in the bill such as ‘foreign principal’, ‘lobby’, ‘communications activity’ or ‘donor activity’ are very broad, general and unqualified, which means there is great potential to catch innocent and unintended persons and behaviour, and are of doubtful utility and effectiveness,” the body added.

The hearing will continue on Wednesday.

Leading media firms including News Corp Australia, owned by its US parent, said broader exemptions were needed as press campaigns on public policies could be stymied just because an organisation is a “foreign principal”.

“This is the only way to ensure public interest reporting can continue and Australians are informed of what is going on in their country, and the business [advertising and content] of media organisations is maintained,” they said.

But the head of the parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, which is conducting the hearing, told national broadcaster ABC on Tuesday no further protections were needed.

“I think if you’re seeking to build Australia and not undermine it as an Australian citizen then you shouldn’t be concerned,” said MP Andrew Hastie, of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s centre-right Liberal Party.

Domestic spy chief Duncan Lewis warned in October there was growing foreign interference in Australia which was “extensive, unrelenting and increasingly sophisticated”.

An inquiry ordered by Turnbull last year found intelligence agencies had major concerns China was interfering in local institutions and using the political donations system to gain access. Opposition Labor Party senator Sam Dastyari quit parliament in December over his China links.

Beijing has said the allegations are “paranoid” and the result of “anti-China hysteria”.  SCMP

Monday, January 29, 2018


Kerry B. Collison Asia News: TRUMP NEEDS TO MAKE PUTIN HIS NEW BEST FRIEND: TRUMP NEEDS TO MAKE PUTIN HIS NEW BEST FRIEND Okay, apologies, I have been rabbiting on about the rise of NATO member Turkey for year...



Okay, apologies, I have been rabbiting on about the rise of NATO member Turkey for years and how it must inevitably confront Russia over a dozen contested States in Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s pursuit of re-establishing the old Ottoman Empire. But Putin is also on an unrelenting pursuit of an old USSR.

Ronald Reagan’s old mate, the terminally ill Mikhail Gorbachev, (the bloke with the map of New Zealand on his scone) can now afford to assure us all that Putin is on a mission and about to capitalise on his 85 per cent approval rating. And Gorbachev (above) does that in no uncertain terms.

Although Erdogan’s approval rating is only hovering around 51 per cent, a dodgy referendum “yes” vote gives him a green light to create a monolithic presidency, much more oppressive than that of Ataturk, with the powers to personally appoint or dismiss ministers, select judges and rule by decree in a constant state of emergency. 

"For the first time in the history of our republic, we are changing our ruling system”, Erdogan ominously preached to supporters last year.The recent military coup led to a reported 200,000 protesters being either murdered or gaoled for indefinite periods. The transition has started.

Erdogan is now aping the late Sadam Hussein of Iraq who used poison gas to ethnically cleanse the border of the Kurds. Obama refused to assist the Kurds in fighting ISIS, but Trump sees the conflict differently and is now assisting the Kurds to contest their homeland againstTurkey. This puts NATO itself on shaky ground.

Was Turkey aspiring to be part of, and assisting, an ISIS Caliphate? It certainly seems so. Their brands of extreme Sunni Islam were similar and Turkey for years would not allow the US landing rights for US jet fighters to be used against ISIS. 


Turkey stood by in tanks and watched ISIS slaughter thousands of women and children in Syrian border towns like Kobane . All the while Turkey was killing off the Kurds under the pretense of them promoting terrorism.

Kurdish terrorism to Turkey is simply the act of resisting being slaughtered.  

Turkey was providing a safe haven for ISIS terrorists and was retailing oil stolen from the Syrians and Iraqis it couldn’t use itself to reward Arab States. 

If you still doubt what I say consider Erdogan’s eagerness to down a Russian jet fighter when it accidently overflew a sliver of land in Turkey’s noman’s land in the Mediterranean West. Or note Erdogan's unabashed four-finger salute “the Rabaa” of the original terrorist organisation the Muslim Brotherhood, (below). 


The Turkish State has been determined to destroy the Kurds’ cultural identity since the 1980s and has been waging a guerrilla war ever since. The Turkish armed forces want Ataturk’s secularism to be maintained while Erdogan wants the Ottoman Empire restored. Erdogan is winning under the radar, and by a large margin.

But the Ottoman Empire, including Bulgaria's Sofia, Vienna, Belgrade, and most of Eastern Europe including the Baltic States and all Warsaw Pact nations, comes in direct conflict with Russia’s ambition to restore the USSR to a once-great power. And of course that includes Europe’s food bowl of Ukraine and all the odd bod “ikistan” States that border both Turkey and Russia.

This area is now an ignored smouldering powder keg and while Europe has been rejecting Turkey’s application to join the EU since 2005,  it is still accepting of the fact that Turkey is welcome as part of NATO as a bulwark against Russia and in support of the corrupt Ukraine's Poroshenko (above) . 

Europe’s West in Germany, France and even Italy are oblivious to this anomaly and Trump is not aware of the invidious position of having to align with and protect a Turkey at war with Russia (under Article Five’s collective defence treaty) and at the cost of the US as a NATO member. 

As Putin prepares to emulate Erdogan’s power play with his upcoming election in March, in which he is assured of 85 per cent approval, Trump must re-evaluate Turkey and prepare to accept the Democrats’ false claim of Russian “collusion”. Because he now needs to actively “collude” with Russia or face a new Islamic caliphate without limits. 

If he doesn’t we will have to contend with a new extreme Muslim power based in old Constantinople, and far greater than ISIS, with Turkey’s well-armed population of an economically sound 80 million, and a resurgence of the evil Muslim Brotherhood and Qatar against allied Egypt.

Obama had already aligned with Turkey and the Muslim Brotherhood against the Kurds, Trump will reverse that alignment

Larry Pickering

Four-time Walkley Award winning political commentator and Churchill Fellow, has returned to the fray over concern that the integrity of news dissemination is continually being threatened by a partisan media.


Sunday, January 28, 2018

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Calls himself 'Sir John'. Digregorio was deported ...

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Calls himself 'Sir John'. Digregorio was deported ...: This guy lives in Singapore. John DiGregorio is his name. Deported from Indonesia 1972 for subversive activities. Calls himself 'Si...

Calls himself 'Sir John'. Digregorio was deported from Indonesia in 1972

This guy lives in Singapore. John DiGregorio is his name.
Deported from Indonesia 1972 for subversive activities.
Calls himself 'Sir John'.

Was found guilty in the Singapore Courts in the 1990s for his questionable activities in Vietnam

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Massive campaign to cover up Dengvaxia debacle lau...

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Massive campaign to cover up Dengvaxia debacle lau...: Massive campaign to cover up Dengvaxia debacle launched A MASSIVE and extremely well-funded campaign has been launched to portray San...

Massive campaign to cover up Dengvaxia debacle launched

Massive campaign to cover up Dengvaxia debacle launched

A MASSIVE and extremely well-funded campaign has been launched to portray Sanofi and former President Aquino as totally guiltless for the 2016 mass vaccination program of 830,000 children using the French firm’s Dengvaxia, which has turned out to have put at higher risk many of those injected, and may even have already led to the death of 26 children.

Sanofi itself only two months ago, on November 29, 2017, admitted that its own studies showed “more cases of severe disease following vaccination upon a subsequent dengue infection.” Sanofi also pointed out: “If it is given to individuals who haven’t been exposed to dengue, they could get more serious infections when they encounter the virus naturally.”

The World Health Organization a year and eight months before that, in March 2016 already issued a warning that Dengvaxia “may be ineffective or may even increase that risk in those who are seronegative (never had dengue) at the time of first vaccination.”

Yet President Aquino, his health secretary Janette Garin and Sanofi had ignored that warning and launched a mass vaccination program in April 2016, just two months before his term expired.

There has been widespread suspicion that the Aquino camp made money from the P3 billion paid to Sanofi for 1 million dosages of the vaccine. Ironically, at the time, the program was also used as a bribe of sorts to get more people to vote for Aquino’s presidential candidate, Mar Roxas, in the May 2016 elections.

I became even more convinced that such a well-funded campaign has been launched, upon reading a column of lobbyist and PR man Wallace in the Philippine Daily Inquirer a few days ago.

“Hysteria,” he says. “Dengvaxia works, a remarkable vaccine,” he says.

Wallace runs his Wallace Business Forum, which provides consultancy services and “advocacy assistance” to a number of foreign

companies in the country. My sources claimed that Sanofi or a firm associated with it had contracted Wallace as a “consultant” in dealing with its Dengvaxia crisis in the Philippines. I was also told that Sanofi-Aventis has been a client of Wallace’s firm client for years. He reportedly even accompanied Sanofi officials in their appearances in the Senate investigations.

Wallace in his column reduces the concern over the Dengvaxia as “hysteria,” created by “opportunistic lawyers.” That kind of ad hominem arguments, together with his clever twisting of facts, and exaggerations (“Dengvaxia is a remarkable vaccine”) led me to very much suspect that this is a highly paid crisis-PR man at work. There’s nothing really wrong with that, but Wallace should tell his editors, and the public, when he is doing PR work or not in his columns.

“Let’s stop the hysteria and start with a basic fact: Dengvaxia works,” Wallace wrote. Of course Dengvaxia works, as a host of other drugs that cured a particular disease or symptom but which later on were totally banned from the market for their horrific side-effects.

Examples of these include the notorious German-made thalidomide marketed in the late 1950s as a wonder drug that indeed cured women’s morning sickness and insomnia but was found later to result in deformed infants; Bayer AG’s anti-cholesterol drug Cerivastatin, which led to deaths due to renal failure; and more recently Merck & Co.’s Vioxx that relieved arthritis pain but led to heart attacks for some.

But this phenomenon is so well-known in the pharmaceutical industry that I am shocked Wallace is ignorant of it, or pretends to be for his demagogic purposes. Efficacy is not the only thing important in a new drug. More important is its safety. Pharmaceutical history is replete with cases in which a new drug cures a particular disease or symptom but causes even more more deadly diseases.

Terrible side-effect
In the case of Dengvaxia, its terrible side-effect is this: If one who has not had dengue before is injected with it, and gets dengue the second time, it will be a worse case of the disease.

C’mon, would anyone really want to be injected with Dengvaxia if it is explained to him that it does not only prevent the disease 100 percent, but will also even make him sicker, and even in danger of dying, if he contracts the disease after all? Would a doctor risk his patient’s health if he recommends Dengvaxia to be administered even if his patient never had dengue before?

Note that thalidomide, Cerivastatin and Vioxx were doctor-prescribed drugs, which means that a doctor had examined a particular person, and told him to take the drug.

In the Dengvaxia debacle, a mass vaccination program for 830,000 children was undertaken by Aquino’s health and education departments. Would you believe that the department’s medical staff or the teachers took meticulous care in asking a child or his parent that to qualify for the vaccination, he or she should have had dengue before?

Another of Wallace’s jaw-dropping statement: “Dengvaxia is working seemingly without problems in Brazil, where a similar program is being conducted. It has been licensed in 19 countries and is commercially available in 11 of these countries.”

The Brazil Dengvaxia program targeted 100,000 people—compared to 830,000 in our case—in a narrowly targeted area in its subtropical Parana state’ s in towns near jungles, where dengue incidence was 90 percent. In our case, the mass vaccination program was undertaken in three vote-rich regions (National Capital Region, Calabarzon, and Central Luzon), without targeting barangays where dengue was prevalent.

‘Prescription drug’
Yes, Dengvaxia is licensed in 19 countries, but as a “prescription drug,” ordered by a doctor after determining if a patient had dengue before or not. In our case, Dengvaxia was administered en masse, which was of course a boon for Sanofi since its studies showed that only a few doctors were willing to prescribe it to patients. It would take a century for it recover the $1.8 billion cost of developing the drug, if it remained a prescription-only drug.

Wallace also wrote: “WHO recommended inoculating a populace if the prevalence of dengue infection was over 70 percent. It was 85 percent in the areas vaccinated here.” This is a classic case of obfuscating the truth through figures.

“Infected area’ in the case of dengue infestation is a very small one, usually in areas where dengue-carrying mosquitoes have proliferated because of stagnant pools. A barangay may be 100 percent infected, while an adjacent one is 100 percent clear of dengue.

By its own admissions and published orders, both the health and education departments simply ordered all its offices in the four regions to undertake the mass vaccination program through the public schools there, without any qualification as to whether an area was dengue-infected or not, or whether a recipient of the vaccine had dengue before or not.

Wallace wrote that Aquino’s mass vaccination program using a defective drug was a “judgment call.”

Aquino violated budget laws to raise the P3.5 billion to buy Dengvaxia and administer it to a targeted 1 million children, as this wasn’t in the 2016 budget authorized by Congress. His health secretary pressured the Food and Drug Administration and the Formulary Council of the Philippines to issue the clearances necessary for the government to buy the vaccine. All this were done as he was scheduled to step down from power.

If it was a judgment call, it was a judgment that his Yellow Regime would continue in power and therefore his Dengvaxia vaccination program, which could have earned for him or his cabal hundreds of millions of graft money, wouldn’t have been unearthed.

Wallace also wrote: “Dengaxia doesn’t cause dengue. None of those (injected with Dengvaxia) who suffered died.”

Tell that, Mr. Wallace, to the parents of the 26 children who never had dengue when they were injected with Dengvaxia, but contracted the disease, and have died from the symptoms it causes.

Rigoberto Tiglao


Friday, January 19, 2018

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: West Papuan Deaths by Neglect

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: West Papuan Deaths by Neglect: West Papuan Deaths by Neglect The woodcarvings of the Asmat people of Papua are world famous. But it has been the shocking reports of...

West Papuan Deaths by Neglect

West Papuan Deaths by Neglect

The woodcarvings of the Asmat people of Papua are world famous. But it has been the shocking reports of the death of over 65 infants mainly from malnutrition and measles that have turned the spotlight on the regency’s health conditions. Hundreds more including several adults are being treated at a hospital in the capital Agats as medics and aid pour in.

The Health Ministry has just revived its “Flying Health Care” program to help address the measles outbreak and the complications exacerbated by malnutrition, including pneumonia — although too late for dozens of grieving families.

The rapid response will hopefully save lives. However the warnings and reports of low immunization coverage and malnutrition reached the Health Ministry in September, officials said. What happened between September and January? Apart from low immunization coverage — not only against measles — many breastfeeding women were known to be malnourished.

As in the 2009 reports of famine in neighboring Yakuhimo, the remoteness of villages has been cited as one reason for difficult access to health services. Over 100 died in the highlands back then, blamed on a failed harvest, not famine, the government said. In Agats district, villagers can only reach the nearest health facility by an hours-long boat journey along the river, when the only boat in their hamlets is not being used for other purposes.

In Jakarta the blame game quickly began, with the Health Ministry insisting that under regional autonomy the primary responsibility lay with the local governments — and Papua’s provinces and regencies have received huge sums of special autonomy funds, derived from their rich natural resources, for education and health services.

How often local authorities attempted to implement mobile health services is unclear, as many communities will forever be “remote” from their capitals in Papua, located in part of the world’s second-largest island. One third of Asmat’s population is categorized as living below the poverty line.

So given the four months or so since the warnings of a health crisis were first raised, maybe the real question is: Who really cares? Would a much smaller outbreak not cause much greater uproar among netizens if it occurred, say, in Java or Sumatra? Indonesians are whipped up instantly not by the conditions of our chronically poorest province, but anytime a separatist flag is raised. Few question the arrest, torture and shooting of Papuan protesters, without questioning why anyone in a poor province would demand independence. As critics among Papuans reiterate, most Indonesians care about the rich land much more than their Melanesian brothers and sisters living too far from the capital and other more developed areas.

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Terrorist arbitrage in Southeast Asia

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Terrorist arbitrage in Southeast Asia:   Map of the Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines triborder, annotated by former JI commander Abu Tholut Small islands, sharply divided, gi...

Terrorist arbitrage in Southeast Asia

Map of the Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines triborder, annotated by former JI commander Abu Tholut

Small islands, sharply divided, give a conflict a certain focus and intensity—think Northern Ireland, Cyprus, East Timor. Sebatik Island, located off the northeast coast of Borneo, does not typically come to mind. But it is one of the few islands in the world cleaved in two by an international border. An unnaturally straight line, drawn by the Netherlands and Great Britain in 1891, now separates rivals Indonesia and Malaysia.

As a result, Sebatik’s inhabitants live a quaint transboundary existence. Some wake in an Indonesian bedroom and breakfast in a Malaysian kitchen. Citizens of both countries use the Malaysian Ringgit to trade at the nearest market town, Tawau, on the mainland of the Malaysian state of Sabah. Both are caught in the middle of an international conflict that has played out in minor local disputes and in litigation at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague.

It was on the basis of the Sebatik border that Indonesia made its claim to the small islands to the east, Ligitan and Sipadan. Malaysia’s claim to those islands relied on its guardianship of local turtles, in accordance with its Turtle Preservation Ordinance of 1917. In a 2002 ruling that had implications for the rights to nearby oil and gas reserves, the ICJ accepted the turtle argument, awarding sovereignty of the islands to Malaysia. But far from resolving tensions, the ruling fed into Indonesian narratives of perfidious Malaysia: a neighbour that conspires to take for itself Indonesia’s national heritage.

Further complicating matters, the Philippines also has a claim to Sebatik and its hinterlands. It had sought to intervene in the Sebatik case on the grounds that North Borneo is a region historically ruled by the Sultan of Sulu. An unwelcome reminder of this history came in February 2013 when a group of armed men from the Philippines—the “Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo”—sailed out of the 19th century and into the Malaysian palm oil town of Lahad Datu, on the Sabah coast. The raid was swiftly repelled by the Malaysian armed forces, but the incident brought new light to a curious fact: Malaysia, since a 1963 agreement, has quietly paid the heirs to the Sulu Sultanate in the Philippines RM5,300 every year for its continued possession of Sabah—a payment the Malaysian government refuses to call “rent”.


These echoes of the colonial past, like so many footnotes to James Warren’s definitive history of the region, The Sulu Zone, are not mere academic distractions. They speak to an enduring geopolitical reality that renders the Indonesia–Malaysia–Philippines triborder a uniquely permissive environment for terrorists and other actors who, in alliance with ISIS or Darul Islam, are unlikely to call themselves “non-state”. It’s an environment that makes the border zone ground zero for what I would describe as terrorist arbitrage in Southeast Asia.

In economics, arbitrage at its simplest refers to the practice of buying a good in one market in order to sell it for a higher price in another. Although the strategy entails a transaction cost, it is one of little risk so long as the arbitrageur understands the prices in both markets—an informational edge. Theoretically, in a model that assumes arbitrage, discrepant prices should converge as arbitrageurs exploit the discrepancy for easy financial gain.

In Southeast Asia transnational terrorists engage in a type of triangular arbitrage to exploit the geopolitical differences between Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Instead of being motivated by profits, they seek to marshal scarce resources for attacks against their ideological enemies. In so doing, they rely upon their knowledge of the different costs of mobilising resources across a diverse region, the fragmented archipelagic geography of maritime Southeast Asia, and the failure of the three major states of the archipelago to cooperate in order to shut down arbitrage opportunities.

Most members of militant groups are not nimble arbitrageurs or entrepreneurs. But I’ve found in my research on the history of cross-border jihadism in the region that key transnational militants possess specialist knowledge of “market conditions” across the archipelago and the regional linkages they need to access them. Like the former senior Jemaah Islamiyah figure Abu Tholut—the Mantiqi III chief responsible for the triborder area in the 1990s—such highly mobile operatives know the byways and backwaters connecting Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines better than almost anyone.

Terrorists attempt two main types of arbitrage: input factor and regulatory. Input factor arbitrage occurs when terrorists leverage geographical differences in the distribution of factors needed to produce an attack. Due to the diversity of archipelagic Southeast Asia, island-hopping arbitrageurs might find, for example, that the cost of acquiring weapons is lower in the Southern Philippines (but higher in Indonesia), the cost of international travel is lower in peninsular Malaysia (but higher elsewhere), and access to high-value targets (foreign and local) is lower in Indonesia (but typically higher elsewhere).

These basic examples can also describe a form of regulatory arbitrage, in which terrorists exploit the differences between regulations and laws across states. The cost of international travel is low in Malaysia due both to its status as a hub for low-cost airlines and to the country’s lax immigration regime. The cost of weapons is high in Indonesia compared to the Philippines due both to the absence of a large armed insurgency in Indonesia and to Indonesia’s relatively strict gun control regime.

To return to Sebatik Island: the territorial tensions between Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines neatly play into the arbitrage strategies of terrorists. But not just because those tensions frustrate the ability of the three governments to cooperate against terrorists on the triborder—a fluid space at the centre of the Malay Archipelago that allows international travel in 360 degrees. To the extent that they reduce the ability of the major parties to cooperate more generally, regional tensions promise terrorists ongoing discrepancies across a fragmented geopolitical seascape, presenting myriad opportunities for arbitrage that seldom escape their notice. Such opportunities will remain open so long as states are unable to work together to even out discrepancies or to raise barriers to arbitrage.


Recently, a number of positive attempts have been made to increase regional cooperation, including trilateral maritime patrols. But such efforts are in their infancy. One sign of the continued lack of trust between Malaysia and the Philippines is the failure to work together to ascertain the identities of dead militants. Malaysian militants—who are important in an arbitrage scenario because, among other factors, the cost of fundraising is relatively low in Malaysia—were crucial to the coalition that captured the Philippine city of Marawi under the banner of ISIS. Yet, to date, the Philippines authorities have failed to request a DNA sample from the Malaysians that would allow them to cross the key financier of the Marawi attack, Dr Mahmud Ahmad, off everyone’s list. The same has occurred in other cases, so that militants, whose aliases and kunya are deceptively effective, might ghost through the region unmolested.

Still no regional structure exists for authorities to map how militants mobilise across national borders. Jihadists in Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines are each embedded in distinct and dynamic local networks that facilitate transnational mobilisation. In a July 2017 report, the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) recommended short courses in which counterterrorism officials from all three countries might learn from “real case studies of cross-border extremism”. Taking up the idea, in December officials from the three countries met at a workshop hosted by the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC). But due to the failure of officials from all three to sign off on the case study program, the practical mapping of transnational linkages was replaced by a series of standard presentations.

It is a truism that while terrorists slice through international borders, counterterrorists are “contained” in nation-states. But it is failure to understand transnational linkages that allows militants to maintain their critical informational edge. In terrorist attacks, such linkages act as a force multiplier, allowing processes of arbitrage and collaboration through which key actors aggregate and deploy resources that they might have otherwise lacked. The scenario is analogous to that of a corporation seeking to establish a transnational production chain for a new product. The “product” in this case, a novel attack, has the potential to catch local authorities by surprise because it is the result of a combination of factors, some of them from beyond the horizon.

The January 2016 Jalan Thamrin Starbucks attack in Jakarta, in which four civilians were killed, might have been a massacre were it not for a chance failure of arbitrage. A key arbitrageur in the Jamaah Anshorut Daulah network, the weapons smuggler Suryadi Mas’ud, abandoned his task to bring multiple automatic rifles into Indonesia from the Philippines via the Sanghie-Talaud island chain. Others who then attempted to complete the job failed to get the weapons to Java.

But such a failure shouldn’t make anyone complacent. It is common for terrorists to work through a process of trial and error, until at some point they succeed. The prospect of a mass casualty light arms attack in a crowded space remains the greatest terrorist threat in Indonesia. The risk of such an attack can only be higher than it was in 2016, with hundreds of militants, now experienced in urban warfare, returning from former ISIS strongholds in Syria and Marawi.


In practice, arbitrage is far from frictionless or risk-free, as the case of Suryadi Mas’ud, who was arrested last year in West Java, illustrates. Transaction costs may pose a significant barrier. Yet in a globalising world marked by a strong pattern of regionalisation, the cost of arbitrage will only decrease as general Southeast Asian integration proceeds. As Pankaj Ghemawat has found in his work for the logistics company DHL, “East Asia & the Pacific” is second only to Europe in intraregional connectedness, with Southeast Asian countries receiving unexpectedly high global connectedness scores.

Increased connectivity was a factor in last year’s attack on Marawi. While some jihadists used traditional sea routes through the triborder to get to the Southern Philippines, perhaps even more took advantage of the growth in low cost regional air travel. Regional airlines now connect a surprising schedule of provincial capital cities in the region with domestic or international flights to other provincial capitals—or to national capitals, like Manila.


Mishandling the return of civilian evacuees risks creating new pockets of sympathy for violent extremist groups.

Haironesah Domado 10 November, 2017

Sceptics of transnational linkages’ importance might say that Marawi and other incidents indicate quite low numbers of militants travelling across international borders. One estimate by Indonesia’s counterterrorism police, Densus 88, is that a total of only forty Indonesian citizens were involved in the fighting in Marawi. Even as the mujadhidin dug in to make Marawi ISIS’s most successful urban campaign anywhere in the world outside Syria and Iraq, desperate appeals via Telegram for Indonesian supporters to join the battle appear to have gone unanswered.

But low numbers of key transnational actors have always driven the most serious terrorism in Southeast Asia. The archetype is the former Indonesian militant Hambali. When Hambali was arrested in 2003, the threat to the region was much reduced, partly because he was a unique link to al-Qaeda, but also because he uniquely understood how to exploit geopolitical differences across Southeast Asia. As the arbitrage model suggests, terrorist “markets” no more encourage large numbers of arbitrageurs than do traditional markets. An arbitrage opportunity might only attract a few geographically flexible actors capable of understanding conditions in more than one country at a time. Southeast Asia will continue to be vulnerable to transnational terrorism until there are at least equal numbers of counterterrorism officials who can do the same. (Photo: and storyQuinton Temby)

Thursday, January 18, 2018


Kerry B. Collison Asia News: BALI TRAVEL WARNING ISSUED BY AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMEN...: BALI TRAVEL WARNING ISSUED BY AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT We continue to receive information that indicates that terrorists may be planning...



We continue to receive information that indicates that terrorists may be planning attacks in Indonesia. Attacks could occur anywhere, anytime. Be particularly vigilant at places of worship and during significant holiday periods. The level of our advice has not changed. Exercise a high degree of caution in Indonesia, including Bali. Higher levels apply in some parts of the country.

Page Content


·         Exercise a high degree of caution in Indonesia, including in Bali and Jakarta, because of the high threat of terrorist attack. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor media for the latest information about safety or security risks.

·         Reconsider your need to travel to Central Sulawesi, Papua and West Papua provinces because of safety and security risks. Example: Attacks have occurred around Freeport Mine in Papua Province. See Safety and security.

·         We continue to receive information that indicates that terrorists may be planning attacks in Indonesia. Attacks could occur anywhere, anytime. Be particularly vigilant at places of worship and during significant holiday periods. See Safety and security

·         Indonesian authorities continue to arrest terrorists in the advanced stages of attack planning. Be aware of the ongoing high threat of a terrorist attack. See Safety and security.

·         Be aware of ongoing demonstrations at U.S. government diplomatic facilities throughout Indonesia in response to the U.S. announcement on Jerusalem. Media has reported that certain groups may agitate protest activities directed towards US interests. Be vigilant and aware of your own security; avoid protests and demonstrations. Monitor local media for the latest information on security. See Safety and security.

·         Avoid protests, demonstrations and rallies, which can turn violent without warning. Be aware of your surroundings. See Safety and security.

·         Mount Agung, an active volcano in Karangasem Regency in East Bali, has been erupting since 21 November 2017, emitting ash, gas and steam. Volcanic activity may escalate with little or no notice; Indonesian vulcanologists are forecasting a larger eruption. Depending on the weather conditions at the time of an eruption, an ash cloud could affect flights and ash fall may impact Denpasar and neighbouring airports in East Java and Lombok, causing widespread disruption to the travelling public. Contact your airline or tour operator directly for up-to-date information. See the Mount Agung Volcano bulletin and Additional information.

·         Indonesia has severe penalties for narcotics offences, including the death penalty. See Laws.

·         Be conscious of your personal security. Be aware of risks, particularly in tourist locations such as Bali and Lombok, relating to violent and petty crime; sexual assault; drink-spiking and consumption of alcohol contaminated with harmful substances such as methanol; scams and credit card/ATM fraud. See Safety and security.

·         Carefully consider risks involved in using motorcycles, including licence and insurance issues. See Local travel.

·         Indonesia can experience natural disasters, including volcanic activity, earthquakes, tsunamis and floods. Pay close attention to emergency procedures. Monitor local warnings and follow local instructions. See Additional information.

·         Indonesia has some health risks, including rabies. Rabies occurs throughout Indonesia, particularly in Bali and Nias. Avoid contact with dogs and other animals, including monkeys. See Health.

·         Smoke haze may affect your health and travel plans. Smoke haze is typical across much of the north-west part of the archipelago