Defence Minister steps in to settle Australian, Indonesian military feud

Defence Minister steps in to settle Australian, Indonesian military feud
Defence Minister steps in to settle Australian, Indonesian military feud. Commonwealth of Australia

Minister for Defence, Senator Marise Payne, has addressed the press and contacted her Indonesian counterpart in an attempt to reinstate defence co-operation after the Indonesian military suspended all defence ties with Australia last month.

The feud began late in 2016 when an Indonesian Kopassus (special forces) languages instructor teaching in Perth took offence to a Wikipedia article an Australian soldier was using, and then a poster ridiculing Pancasila, Indonesia’s founding ideology, which was on display at the Special Air Service Regiment base at Swanbourne, WA.

The Wikipedia article in question is believed to have been a derogatory piece regarding Indonesian hero, General Sarwo Edhie Wibowo.

“We have indicated our regret that this occurred and that offence was taken,” said Minister Payne at the press conference.

“We should endeavour to ensure that the material we use is culturally appropriate and not gratuitous.”

The saga came at the same time as an ABC report in which the Indonesia military chief General Gatot Nurmantyo accused Australia of recruiting his top special forces soldiers as spies, and has therefore stopped sending them to Australia.

The move by the Indonesian military to suspend defence co-operation was not done with the approval of Indonesian defence ministers or President Joko Widodo.

An investigation is currently being conducted by the Australian Department of Defence.

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