Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Timor-Leste – Australia Maritime Boundary Treaty: ...

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Timor-Leste – Australia Maritime Boundary Treaty: ...:   The recently-concluded treaty between Timor-Leste and Australia on maritime boundaries is a victory for Timor-Leste which will get ...

Timor-Leste – Australia Maritime Boundary Treaty: Victory For Dili?


The recently-concluded treaty between Timor-Leste and Australia on maritime boundaries is a victory for Timor-Leste which will get a larger share of the revenue from the Greater Sunrise field in the Timor Sea. However, it will take many years before the field is developed, and the location of the pipeline remains to be resolved.

Timor-Leste and Australia signed a historic treaty in New York on 6 March 2018, witnessed by the UN Secretary-General, establishing permanent maritime boundaries between them. The Treaty was the culmination of several rounds of negotiations since January 2017 between the two countries, and was facilitated by the Conciliation Commission established under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

In a joint press release with Australia, Timor-Leste’s main negotiator in the talks, former Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, declared that the treaty “establishes for the first time, a fair border between our two countries, based on international law”. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop described the signing of the treaty as a “milestone” and stated that “It reinforces our respect for, and the importance of, the international rules-based order in resolving disputes”.

Transitioning to Fairness

The boundary issue has long been linked by Timor-Leste to the issue of sovereignty and therefore is hugely symbolic for it. Australia had sought a boundary that was aligned with its continental shelf, but Timor-Leste’s position was that that the border should be the median line between it and Australia. In January 2017, Timor-Leste terminated the 2006 Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea (CMATS) with Australia as it was not happy with this treaty.

It provided that revenues from the Greater Sunrise field would be shared 50:50 between the two countries. The CMATS also put on hold any claim to sovereign rights and did not establish any local seabed boundary, the final definition of which was postponed until the treaty’s expiration in 50 years.

Under the new treaty, oil and gas fields currently shared between Australia and Timor-Leste in the Joint Petroleum Development Area will transition to Timor-Leste’s exclusive jurisdiction. While they have agreed to maintain the existing fiscal and regulatory arrangements for the Bayu Undan and Kitan fields, Timor-Leste will derive 100 percent of future upstream revenue from these fields. However, as oil resources in these fields are drying up, this may not amount to much revenue for Timor-Leste.

On the Greater Sunrise field, the Treaty recognises Australia’s and Timor-Leste’s shared sovereign rights over the resources there. The Treaty establishes the Greater Sunrise Special Regime to jointly manage and develop this resource and to share revenue. Australia and Timor-Leste will establish a Designated Authority and a Governance Board to oversee Greater Sunrise.

Rushing Against Time

The two countries have agreed to share upstream revenue:

– In the ratio of 30 per cent to Australia and 70 per cent to Timor-Leste in the event that the Greater Sunrise fields are developed by means of a pipeline to an LNG processing plant in Timor-Leste.

– In the ratio of 20 per cent to Australia and 80 per cent to Timor-Leste in the event that the Greater Sunrise fields are developed by means of a pipeline to an LNG processing plant in Australia.

This formula, regardless of what is agreed upon finally, represents an improvement for Timor-Leste on the 50:50 split outlined in the previous CMATS Treaty. The reaction to the Treaty in Timor-Leste has been overwhelmingly positive, while expressing the expectation that the pipeline will bring the gas to Timor-Leste.

It is uncertain, however, as to how long it will take before oil and gas resources in the Greater Sunrise field are exploited and provide revenues for Timor-Leste, regardless of the location of the pipeline. Some experts estimate that it could take as long as 10-15 years. Time is of the essence for Timor-Leste as the existing fields are drying up, as revenues in the Petroleum Fund are diminishing, and as there are few other sources of non-oil income.

Too Costly, Too Risky?

As the critical issue of the location of the pipeline to transport the gas from Greater Sunrise remains to be resolved, discussions are continuing between the joint venture (the oil companies) and Timor-Leste. Woodside, the main partner in the joint venture, has expressed its preference for a pipeline to Darwin in Australia, as opposed to the option preferred by Timor-Leste, which is a pipeline from Greater Sunrise to an onshore processing facility in Timor-Leste (Tase Mane project).

Then Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao explained in a speech in 2013 that the plan was to develop the south coast as a sub-regional centre for the petroleum industry, providing direct economic dividends for the country.

The Tase Mane project includes three operational clusters along the country’s south coast facing the Timor Sea: a supply base in Suai, where logistics and service works will be undertaken and sourced for the petroleum industry; a refinery and a petrochemical industry to be established to the east; and further to the east the government has designated a sizeable area for the development of LNG projects. This will be the location at which the natural gas pipeline reaches Timor-Leste.

The joint venture has claimed that the Timorese proposal is too costly, too risky and not commercially viable. It is uncertain as to what will happen to the Tase Mane project if there is no agreement on bringing the gas to Timor-Leste, or if this will be a deal-breaker. Timor-Leste will still get 80% of the revenues if the pipeline goes to Australia.

Complicated Negotiations with Indonesia?

Another complication for Timor-Leste is that the lateral lines of the new agreement join with the existing 1972 continental shelf boundary between Australia and Indonesia. This means that Australia’s and Timor-Leste’s new boundary arrangements do not affect Indonesia’s rights or change Australia’s existing boundaries with Indonesia.

Timor-Leste has also yet to reach an agreement on its maritime boundaries with Indonesia, and although bilateral boundary negotiations were initiated in late 2015, agreements have yet to be concluded.

Following the signing of the Treaty, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri was quoted in the Timor media as stating: “If we do not have agreement with Indonesia… it has not yet been completed, therefore it is necessary for us to negotiate with Indonesia.” Hernani Coelho, Timor-Leste’s Petroleum Minister, said recently that the negotiations with Indonesia on the maritime boundaries could be “complicated.”

*Viji Menon is a Visiting Senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. The former Singapore Foreign Service Officer previously served with the United Nations in Timor-Leste for several years.


Kerry B. Collison Asia News: All countries spy on other countries…

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: All countries spy on other countries…: All countries spy on other countries… Russia does, the UK does, the US does and Australia does. Or do we set up foreign embassies and...

All countries spy on other countries…

All countries spy on other countries…

Russia does, the UK does, the US does and Australia does. Or do we set up foreign embassies and consulates because used-by-dated politicians fancy the local tucker and hookers? 

The Russian Ambassador’s stunning Press conference today disclosed a few home truths to the rude inquisitors. Just as well Ambassador Logvinov has a sense of humour because any reasonable Russian would have punched a few lights out. Which is exactly what this press gallery of Lefty ANU clubbies and ABC reps deserves.

                  So why wouldn't they knock him off when he was back in Russia?

The few countries that have responded to UK’s nerve agent attack, by expelling Russian diplomats, are reacting to an unimpressive PM May’s interpretation of events. “There is no proof”, explained the Nikita Kruchev look-alike. And he is right!

If Vlad Putin is responsible for the attack then he has suddenly lost his marbles because he not only has the prestigious World Cup happening, but he was only days from his now successful Presidential election.


The vertically challenged Russian President is far from losing his marbles and would run rings around women like May and a few other leaders of NATO nations.

It makes no sense for Putin to sanction hit jobs on his own citizens in the UK when they were living in Russia for years previously. He would understand the unwanted furore it would cause. 

The little ex-KGB bastard is no angel, but neither was Stalin who fought back the Nazis, losing more of his own people than all the Allies in total. Russia’s defence of the Eastern Front meant the Western Front fell to the Allies. 


Stalin was not shunned as a pariah and painted into a frozen Siberian corner of the globe surrounded and engulfed by a corrupted NATO, that pummels it with trade sanctions. No, he was an, albeit dodgy, ally to the US and UK.

Germany was the enemy of all three, but today it is only a pretender to friendship, inviting millions of unknown Islamists into a borderless continental Europe.


It is very unlikely that Putin even knew about the nerve agent attack. Duma operatives, (above) many rungs down the ladder, may have ordered the hit on non-political grounds. No-one knows!



But the hysterical response from UK PM May, who badly needs this distraction, has been mindlessly aped by our two prized idiots, Turnbull and the Stick Insect. Only to be carbon copied by an out of control press gallery of female junior cadets.


Here is the problem that our two geese will never understand. Putin wants the old Soviet empire back and he has said so! 

NATO’s Turkey wants the old Ottoman Empire back and Erdogan has said so! 

That makes for contested States and a smouldering fuse where only Russia has a first world military and a third world economy to protect.

We are painting the wrong snake into an inescapable corner.

It was extreme Islamic Turkey that killed almost a thousand ANZACS, but it was the Soviet that saved us millions. 

         Turkey says Aussies may not have access to Gallipoli now that we have issued                                                protection visas to persecuted Turks

MH-17? More likely Russian cowboys on the Eastern Ukrainian border shot a heat-seeking missile into god knows where and that heat sought out an airliner (which should not have been there) by mistake. 

The Crimea? No-one says so, but the Russians held a plebiscite to determine if they were wanted back on the peninsula. It came back 80 per cent in favour. So the Russians rightly reclaimed its warm water port that berths its Navy with access to the Mediterranean only if Turkey decides to allow it access through the Bosphorus.


Ukraine? It has NATO’s backing to stop Russia having any land bridge access to its Crimean Navy. Russia is fighting back against Ukraine’s Poroshenko who is arguably the most corrupt leader and prolific liar in Europe.

Russians are among the most fervently patriotic people in the world. 


                 It’s not me, it’s history that is saying we are backing the wrong horse.   

The Pickering Post

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Blood and money in the sand: The tragic story of t...

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Blood and money in the sand: The tragic story of t...: Blood and money in the sand: The tragic story of the Atis of Boracay JUST like any paradise beach that lures tired bodies and souls ...

Blood and money in the sand: The tragic story of the Atis of Boracay

Blood and money in the sand: The tragic story of the Atis of Boracay

JUST like any paradise beach that lures tired bodies and souls to soak in its waters and bask in its sands, there is a narrative that is conveniently hidden behind the poster-perfect scenery of Boracay.

And it is one that is written in the narrative of blood and money.

In February 22, 2013, a 26-year-old Ati youth leader named Dexter Condez was brutally murdered, shot six times by an unknown assailant as he was walking with two female companions after attending a meeting. Condez was the spokesman of the Boracay Ati Tribal Organization (BATO). As such, he was at the forefront of the Ati struggle to assert their ancestral rights over their land. The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), as supported by anthropological studies, has established that the entire Boracay Island is the ancestral domain of the Atis in that they were its earliest settlers. In fact, the island’s name is in their language.

But like the fate of many indigenous peoples, the Atis were displaced and forced to retreat into the forested areas of the island when tourism investors began to descend on Boracay in the 1970s. But before that, local peoples from the Panay mainland began occupying parts of the island and later were able to secure land titles over what used to be legally considered as common property, and historically should have been considered as Ati ancestral lands.

A competing narrative is used by these local migrants to negate the ancestral domain claims of the Atis. They argue that the latter are also from the Panay mainland and only go to the island to forage during certain seasons. However, this is a weak argument since it only affirms the characteristic nature of Atis as nomadic tribes, and it even strengthens their claims not only on Boracay but even on those other areas mentioned. After all, the festival that has become a symbolic representation of the culture of Panay is named after the Atis, and historical accounts validate the claim that they were the very first people encountered by the Spanish colonizers there.

But the Atis were not even fighting for the entire island anymore, more so the entire Panay mainland, but only for a piece of land, some 2.1 hectares, which was awarded to them by the Philippine government in 2011 and for which a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) was issued. However, this was contested by local migrants who claimed that they hold land titles over the area covered by the CADT issued by the government.

Until today, the murder of Condez has yet to be finally resolved even as a suspect, a security guard working for a major hotel in the island, was arrested in 2014. Still to be clearly established is the motive behind the murder. Friends of Condez, including the nuns who were helping the Atis, said that he had no personal enemies, and that the only issue in which he was involved was the land dispute over the CADT.

As of today, the Atis remaining in the island, now estimated to be around just 20 families, have yet to occupy the land awarded to them. They are now confined in an enclosed complex called the Ati Village, which is in fact a former dumpsite. Fenced-in, isolated from the entire island, but still linked to it as a tourist attraction, the original settlers were symbolically dumped there. While some can consider the fact that the Atis are now living in more convenient houses, and no longer foraging, hunting and gathering like they used to, as evidence of development, others see this as a pathetic image of how the original settlers of the island have been reduced to, becoming an enclosed and controlled spectacle, disoriented and uprooted from their culture.

Now, their ancestral lands from where the Atis have been alienated, with its white sand beaches and pristine waters, and which developed in leaps and bounds to become a prime tourist attraction, have literally turned into a dumpsite for uncontrolled and unregulated development. A rough estimate reveals that more than half of the island’s establishments are not connected to the island’s sewerage system, even as they do not have their own to show. A significant number of these establishments are unregulated, and operate under the radar, if not with the tacit consent of the local government which has continued to issue building permits even in the absence of environmental clearances from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, during an onsite inspection visit, was reported to have been shocked at the scale and magnitude of environmental violations in the island.

The lure of tourism profits is just too much to resist, that even beaches and forests were encroached into by developers, even as human waste was dumped into the waters of Boracay, undermining the very resources that the island was capitalizing on. Ecological Marxists call this the second fundamental contradiction of capitalism, where the pursuit of profit leads capitalists to destroy the very physical base of their production.

In the process, it is not only Condez who suffered physical death. The blood that was spilled in the sands of Boracay on that fateful evening of February 22, 2013 is but a physical reminder of the many other deaths that attended this so-called development. The death of culture and the silencing of indigenous rights is revealed when the original settlers are now confined, contrary to their very nature, in a village that used to be a dumpsite. Their ancestral land is now home to an alien culture that fed on cash but has produced garbage.

But there is another side to this tragic story unfolding in what otherwise would have been paradise. In cleaning up the mess, the underbelly of the Boracay economy, the small-time establishments run by locals, and the migrant labor force that dominate even the bigger hotels and resorts, may suffer the same fate as that of the Atis that were displaced by the very economy within which they now exist and benefit from. (Next: The fate of the local economy and small-scale tourism industry, and the local migrant labor force)



Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Indonesian province considers beheading as murder ...

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Indonesian province considers beheading as murder ...: Indonesian province considers beheading as murder punishment   - Implementation of sharia law has become increasingly harsh in conservat...

Indonesian province considers beheading as murder punishment -Implementation of sharia law has become increasingly harsh in conservative region of Aceh

Indonesian province considers beheading as murder punishment  -Implementation of sharia law has become increasingly harsh in conservative region of Aceh

 A man being caned in public last year after he was convicted of gay sex. Photograph: Heri Juanda/AP

The conservative Indonesian province of Aceh, which already carries out public caning of gay people, adulterers and gamblers, is considering the introduction of beheading as a punishment for murder, a top Islamic law official has said.

Syukri M Yusuf, the head of Aceh’s shariah law and human rights office, said the provincial government had asked his office to research beheading as a method of execution under Islamic law and to consult public opinion.

“Beheading is more in line with Islamic law and will cause a deterrent effect. A strict punishment is made to save human beings,” Yusuf told reporters. “We will begin to draft the law when our academic research is completed.”

The public flogging of two gay men and what it says about Indonesia's future

Aceh is the only province in Muslim-majority Indonesia to practise shariah law, a concession made by the central government in 2005 to end a decades-long war for independence.

Its implementation has become increasingly harsh and also applies to non-Muslims. Last year, the province for the first time caned two men as punishment for gay sex after vigilantes broke into their home and handed them over to religious police.

Yusuf said if sharia law was consistently applied, then crime, particularly murder, would decrease significantly or disappear.

He said punishment for murderers had in practice been “relatively mild” and they could re-offend after release from prison. He pointed to Saudi Arabia as an example to follow in carrying out severe punishment for murder.

Indonesia has the death penalty for crimes such as murder and drug trafficking, which it carries out by firing squad. Its last executions were in July 2016, when three Nigerians and one Indonesian convicted of drug offences were shot on the Nusa Kambangan prison island.

Associated Press in Banda Aceh

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Beware Of The New Xi Jinping: China’s President Fo...

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Beware Of The New Xi Jinping: China’s President Fo...: Chinese President Xi Jinping is now officially the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong who died more than 40 years ago afte...

Beware Of The New Xi Jinping: China’s President For Life – Analysis

Chinese President Xi Jinping is now officially the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong who died more than 40 years ago after the National People’s Congress voted overwhelmingly in favour of a constitutional amendment which gives Xi the right to remain in office indefinitely. Not that there was any doubt about it but when it finally happened it seemed to be marking another red line in China’s evolution as the pre-eminent global power of our times.

It was only last month that China’s ruling Communist Party had moved a proposal to remove a constitutional clause limiting presidential service to just two terms in office. This is one of the most significant developments in global politics today given China’s growing heft in the global order.

Xi began his second term as head of the party and military last October at the end of a once-every-five-years party congress. His real source of authority emanates from him being the CPC’s General Secretary — a post that has no term limit — as well as being the head of the powerful Central Military Commission. His political doctrine, “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era”, is now part of the amended constitution. This takes China back to the good old days of Mao when he was the supreme leader, deciding on the fate of millions based on his whims and fancies. Xi’s elevation also marks a significant change in Chinese  political thought. Recognising the dangers of one man rule, Deng Xiaoping got the limit of two five-year presidential terms written into China’s constitution in 1982 after Mao’s death. That seems to have been put aside for now.

 There have been some isolated critical voices in China, mostly on social media who have compared their changing political system to that of North Korea or underlined the dangers of a Mao-type cult of personality, but mostly there has been support for the move in the name of protecting the country’s long-term stability. Some have argued that as Xi’s anti graft movement and his key Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are still in their infancy, and whether such a move was necessary.

But let there be no doubt that this is all about Xi’s ambition. In a marathon address to the 19th party congress last October, Xi had unveiled his vision of China’s future of achieving ‘moderate’ prosperity in the next four years, and emerging as an advanced socialist nation by 2050.

Underlining that China would pursue its own path of developing “socialism with Chinese characteristics” and inviting “peoples of all countries to join China’s effort to build a common destiny for mankind and enduring peace and stability,” he was building a case for the “Beijing Consensus” as an alternative to the so-called Washington Consensus.

Like the rest of the world, India will also be affected by this change in manifold ways. New Delhi has no option but to deal pragmatically with whoever is ruling China, given the enormous stakes in Sino-Indian relations. Yet at a time when Sino-Indian bilateral ties are passing through one of their worst times, a centralising figure in China’s governing system will only complicate matters.

China has always managed to have a consistent strategic approach towards India — to contain Indian within the confines of South Asia by assisting Pakistan to balance India. It has refused to recognise New Delhi’s global aspirations and not budged an inch on key issues pertaining to Indian interests. But the growing power disparity between India and China as well as lack of any effective leverage vis-à-vis China has also meant that India has not been in any position to challenge China.

The Modi government started off promisingly by resetting the terms of engagement with China. Its principled position on the BRI has been effective in shaping the global discourse and its effective handling of last year’s Doklam crisis enhanced its stature. But there is a danger now of slipping back into the old mode of China policy where a mistaken belief that only if India can brush aside the hard issues, a semblance of normalcy will return to Sino-Indian ties.

It is a myth and especially now when Xi who remains unambiguous about his desire to make China a global superpower and has all the time and resources at his command to do so. It is highly unlikely that New Delhi can attain a win-win outcome from Beijing.

Xi’s growing authority will mean that he will double down on his efforts to militarise the Indian Ocean and expand Chinese influence in South Asia. His pet project BRI will also see a renewed focus and Indian opposition will rankle at his ambitious outreach. He will also wait to teach New Delhi a lesson for what many in China feel was a diplomatic drubbing for Beijing in Doklam. And this will happen when India goes into election mode and political bickering will attain new heights.

The Indian political class is yet to learn to speak in one voice in national security matters. How easy it is to divide the Indian polity was clear when even at the height of the Doklam crisis, the leaders of India’s main Opposition party decided to get a briefing from the Chinese Ambassador than its own government! So as Xi’s power rises to its zenith, there are many reasons to worry, but mostly it is India’s own ability to get its own house in order which should concern us the most.

This article originally appeared in DNA.

Observer Research Foundation  By Harsh V. Pant


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Party Cartelisation Indonesian-style

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Party Cartelisation Indonesian-style:   Democracy and political opposition are supposed to go hand in hand. But opposition did not emerge as automatically as expected afte...

Party Cartelisation Indonesian-style


Democracy and political opposition are supposed to go hand in hand. But opposition did not emerge as automatically as expected after Indonesia democratised in 1998. Instead, Indonesian presidents shared power widely among political parties. The result has been an Indonesian style of party cartelisation that differs significantly from canonical cases of party cartelisation in Europe. Yet it exhibits the same troubling outcome for democratic accountability: the stunted development of a clearly identifiable opposition.

Party cartelisation occurs when political parties are willing to share executive power with all other parties regardless of political affiliation. All significant political parties are brought into a ‘party cartel’ — a ruling coalition of political parties that share power despite some having campaigned directly against each other.

Presidential power sharing is a strategic political game. Of particular importance are the rules governing selection of the chief executive — in Indonesia’s case, always a president. If a president is elected by the Parliament, as in Indonesia from 1999–2004, then the president is an agent of the Parliament. The president can be expected to share power, roughly proportionally, with the parties in the Parliament that selected the president.

Since the advent of direct presidential elections in 2004, Indonesian democratic competition has unsurprisingly assumed more of a government-versus-opposition cast. A president elected by the people should theoretically be an agent of the people and therefore face less imperative to share power with those who not only played no role in electing the president but in many cases directly opposed the new president’s candidacy.

There is an implicit assumption that a president will share power with whichever parties helped put the president in power. This can be described as a power-sharing arrangement where presidents only share power with parties that were supportive during the election campaign. Call this arrangement ‘victory’. In this situation, the opposition is easily identifiable as whoever lost the election.

But what if ‘victory’ is not the power-sharing game presidents play? A president might offer to share power with any and all parties that promise to support the new presidency, even if those parties earlier opposed the presidential candidate. Call this other power-sharing arrangement ‘reciprocity’. If a president prefers or is pressured into a ‘reciprocity’ arrangement, identifiable party opposition may vanish — as it did in Indonesia from 1999–2004 — even in a perfectly functional and democratic electoral system.

Party cartelisation in Indonesia rests upon presidential willingness to share executive power with any and all other political parties (‘reciprocity’). Direct presidential elections will only disrupt or dismantle the cartelised party system if presidents build coalitions comprised of supportive parties from the election campaign as well as non-party allies whose election promises roughly align with the president’s (‘victory’).

There are two critical wrinkles in this analysis to consider, however.

The first is that presidents not only make strategic choices about whom to share power with but also about how much power each partner will receive. Presidents can reward existing supporters by handing them a disproportionately large share of cabinet seats while punishing previous opponents by giving them a disproportionately small share.

This means that it matters not only whether presidents share power with parties that opposed them during the election (‘reciprocity’) but also whether presidents hand out a disproportionate number of cabinet seats to certain coalition partners. The more willing Indonesian presidents are to sideline their former opponents, the more they shift from a ‘reciprocity’- to a ‘victory’-style power-sharing arrangement and the better the prospects become for identifiable opposition to emerge and strengthen in Indonesia.

The second caveat is that presidential coalitions do not necessarily reflect the president’s strategic preferences. Although presidents can choose to enter a ‘victory’ arrangement by decree, a ‘reciprocity’ arrangement requires both the president and a given political party to come to an agreement before the latter is brought into the party cartel. Whether a president seeking to share executive influence with political parties regardless of political affiliation can actually find willing coalition partners thus depends on hard political bargaining. Even when a coalitional outcome seems to reflect a desire to drop an unsupportive political party, the president may have just failed to ‘seal the deal’ with active negotiating partners in an ongoing attempt to enter a ‘reciprocity’ arrangement.

Has the shift to direct presidential elections emboldened Indonesia’s presidents since 2004 to pursue ‘victory’ coalitions? Or are the directly elected presidents still trying to form broad and politically disparate political coalitions (‘reciprocity’) and simply failing to strike bargains?

Both former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and current President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo made vigorous efforts to forge alliances across the full range of Indonesian parties. The spectre of full party cartelisation of Indonesia’s 1999–2004 period lingers, more than a decade after direct presidential elections were introduced and the party cartel was first disrupted.

Indonesia’s experience with democratic power sharing suggests that presidents may sometimes see broad coalitions as a source instead of a drain on their power and resources. Oversized coalitions are typically thought of as being more expensive to maintain. But this may not be how presidents see things at all, at least under certain conditions. Oversized coalitions may be a way for presidents to spread the same amount of resources across more claimants, thus ensuring that no single partner can become too strong as a rival.

Party cartelisation has abated in Indonesia, but not vanished. And it could still easily come back in its most extreme form. Even if it does not, the public willingness of all parties to consider such power-sharing alliances means that Indonesia’s voters can never be confident that a vote for one party is a vote against any other.

Dan Slater is Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Australia-Indonesia border tensions resurface

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Australia-Indonesia border tensions resurface: Australia-Indonesia border tensions resurface Canberra's settlement with Timor Leste on the Greater Sunrise gas field is making w...

Australia-Indonesia border tensions resurface

Australia-Indonesia border tensions resurface

Canberra's settlement with Timor Leste on the Greater Sunrise gas field is making waves for other maritime boundary disputes

Indonesia’s long-held resentment over Australia’s sprawling maritime claims along their ill-defined border have spilled into the diplomatic arena following a recent settlement of a parallel dispute in neighboring Timor Leste, also known as East Timor.

Jakarta contends that the Timor agreement, which affects the jurisdiction of energy reserves worth billions of dollars in the Greater Sunrise gas fields, will nullify a 1997 treaty demarcating the exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of Indonesia and Australia.

Bottom of Form

Foreign ministry director-general of legal affairs and international treaties Damos Agusman said the Perth Treaty, which Indonesia has never ratified, “cannot enter into force as it stands now as it, inter alia, covers area that now belongs to TL [Timor Leste], and is the object of the conciliation.”

Precise details of the Timor Leste deal have not yet been released, but it is thought to have redrawn the border with Australia midway between the countries instead of relying on a Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) that had left the best of the Greater Sunrise’s gas fields mostly in Australian hands. It is believed to hold at least US$31.5 billion of energy reserves.

About 80% of Greater Sunrise will remain in Australian territory if the border is simply moved an equal distance between the countries, as the field is outside the JPDA.

For Timor Leste to benefit, the JPDA would also need to be shifted east, taking it into Indonesian waters. Timor Leste and Indonesia have an equidistance agreement on their own territories in the eastern region.

Indonesia has responded as one would expect: it now wants to negotiate an equidistance agreement with Australia that would move their border further to the south and thus give Indonesia an 80% share of Sunrise. The coveted field is already closer to Indonesian territory than to Australia.

The existing border, based on a complicated series of 1972 compromises, is both east and west of the expected new Timor Leste-Australia boundary.

Like the original Timor agreement, it resulted from the inability of the new countries to agree on a demarcation; a series of fruitless negotiations was set aside in the 1980s and the de facto border became the edges of a JPDA, where royalties from oil and gas explorations would be shared.

Operating from a position of strength while Indonesia was rebuilding from the tumultuous Sukarno era, Australia took advantage of now-discredited international laws on marine boundaries that allowed signatories to use continental shelves as a basis for delineation.

Indonesia’s borders were pushed well north of the midway point, creating inevitable acrimony.

In 1997, Canberra sought a similar treaty on maritime resources above the seabed, but was unsuccessful because a proposed zone extending 370 kilometers from Australian shores would have created overlapping. As is customary in such cases, a border was declared midway between the two countries.

With separate agreements for the upper and lower seabed, Australia has continental possessions that are a short distance from Indonesia, yet cannot prevent Indonesian fishermen from sailing past these islands into the midway point of the maritime border much further to the south.

The islands of Ashmore and Cartier are only 170 kilometers below the island of Roti, which Indonesia claims through its West Timor territory; yet they are 320 kilometers from Australia, which has claimed the islands since 1933. Moving the border to a midway point would make them part of Indonesia.

Uninhabited and mostly visited by Indonesian fishermen, their loss would not be felt much in Canberra. But there are bigger concerns over the fate of Christmas Island and the Cocos island group, both closer to Indonesia than to Australia, which play a vital role in Canberra’s forward defense strategies.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop quickly moved to dampen calls for the negotiation of a permanent border, but nationalist feelings are running so high in Indonesia that Jakarta’s hands may be tied. There is particular anger over the disputed status of Ashmore and Cartier, which some Indonesian academics say was controlled by the Dutch, Indonesia’s colonial masters.

Indonesia would technically have the upper hand if the issue went to arbitration, as the equidistance rule is now standard practice under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

However, Australia withdrew from the UNCLOS tribunal and maritime jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice to halt Timor Leste’s claims in the 1990s.

The re-negotiation of Timor’s agreement was overseen by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, an inter-governmental organization that oversees the UNCLOS and the International Court of Justice. The PCA will hear disputes in special tribunals if either party rejects these covenants.

Canberra kept Timor Leste at bay for decades and could do the same to Jakarta. But this may be only the start of Australia’s problems, as there is a fourth country that wants a share of the oil and gas riches in the Timor Sea.

Papua New Guinea is now keen to overturn laws dating back to the 1870s that handed many of its maritime resources to the state government of Queensland in the era before the British colony became part of an Australian federation.

A new treaty was negotiated in 1978, but many inshore islands remained Australian territory in exchange for a deal granting Papua New Guinea extended fishing rights. One of these islands, Kussa, is just 200 meters from Papua New Guinea’s shores at low tide, which has apparently become too close for comfort


Monday, March 12, 2018

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Featured Title Release “A Clear Vision” “Seeing th...

Kerry B. Collison Asia News: Featured Title Release “A Clear Vision” “Seeing th...: Featured Title Release “A Clear Vision” “Seeing the Invisible: Mehmet T. Madakbas” Author: Maureen Carolan ISBN-13: 978-1-925230-...

Featured Title Release “A Clear Vision” “Seeing the Invisible: Mehmet T. Madakbas”

Featured Title Release “A Clear Vision”
“Seeing the Invisible: Mehmet T. Madakbas”

Author: Maureen Carolan

ISBN-13: 978-1-925230-35-2


342pp including 24pp photo section

Biography / Memoir


RRP $34.95

Sid Harta Publishers Melbourne Australia

In 1961, Mehmet Madakbas, then an enthusiastic young science scholar, left Turkey for Sweden after successfully receiving a scholarship to study physics at Uppsala University.

Completing his first academic degree in record time, this intrepid young man, who dared to believe in his science, went on to become a successful scientist, inventor and entrepreneur.

In this book of recollections, Mehmet shares his experience as a specialist in the study of imaging and light science. He recounts his endeavours in linking scientific and academic exploration, through to the industry application and the eventual commercialisation of his discoveries and inventions.

Mehmet reflects on pivotal moments in his career by covering a broad range of applications relating to science and business and by analysing the utility and cultural capital that his products created. Mehmet also explores crisis periods and about avoiding collapse or financial ruin through careful and considered business decisions.

This book is a wealth of knowledge, wisdom and experience for both scientific enthusiasts and business entrepreneurs generally. By being open and transparent throughout his journey Mehmet’s story offers guidance and even a degree of mentorship for readers.