Letters to
the editor

Analysis worth the effort

As an Indonesian reader based in Jakarta who cares about domestic and international politics, I was expecting an adequately analytical and probably more balanced standpoint from the contents of The Saturday Paper. The article “War in West Papua” (John Martinkus, February 9-15) was pretty much written using the guerilla movement’s point of view, losing the critical perspective from either the Indonesian point of view or the civil society. Bear in mind that a survey by Tempo, which shook Suharto’s authoritarian regime 20 years ago, concluded that most Indonesians are in favour of West Papua’s Trans-Papua infrastructure project continuing despite the Nduga massacre on December 1, 2018. As much as I agree that the media should be critical towards governments, I believe we would all be better off if the media are also being critical towards the independence movements, the leftist movements, the green movements, as well as doing self-critiques, and so on. Adding variations to the sources quoted and giving more effort to explain the perspective of the Indonesian government will certainly be worth the time. It is somehow misleading to say that “there is a new war on Australia’s doorstep”. There is currently very little stake on the Australian side regarding the armed conflict, even since the 1970s. As has been said by John Martinkus in the same article, the conflict itself has been ongoing for 57 years. During the conflict, West Papuan secessionist groups have “declared war” on Indonesian military at least three times: in 2015, 2018 and 2019. Analysing the difference between the three occasions of war declaration would surely be useful for the readers.

– Matthew Sindhu, Jakarta, Indonesia

Lessons from Hakeem’s detention

The Hakeem al-Araibi case has exposed the absurdity inherent in the Australian state’s out of sight, out of mind offshore refugee detention policy (Jonathan Pearlman, “Refugee footballer back in Australia”, February 16-22). Hopefully some valuable lessons have been learnt from the trial and tribulation of Hakeem’s arbitrary detention notwithstanding his refugee status that will provide reason to rethink our attitude and approach to the treatment of refugees who seek protection by us.

– Rajend Naidu, Glenfield, NSW

Fear takes a hold

Karen Middleton writes clearly and with expert knowledge of the transfer of refugees seeking medical attention (“The defeat he hopes will save him”, February 16-22). Bill Shorten says, rightly so: “I do not believe that Australians want a government which governs by slogans and fear.” What one wants and what one gets are rarely the same. One doesn’t have to look far to see governance by fear is working, and unfortunately working too well. In fact I wager Donald Trump will sadly be re-elected with an increased majority.

– Vic Langsam, Frankston, Vic

Imran makes the most of freedom

I am full of wonder and amazement after reading Imran Mohammad’s article “Living life differently” (February 16-22). He has expressed himself very clearly in a language he only began to learn a few years ago. His message is compelling and heartfelt. Could you please pass on my congratulations to him on so many levels. His grasp of our complex language, his resilience, his humanity and his ability to make the most of life. I would encourage him to write a book.

– Margaret Edwards, Berwick, Vic

How 2019 differs from 2001

I’ve read repeatedly about Scott Morrison hoping to emulate John Howard’s 2001 election resurrection thanks to the Tampa incident but no one, including your good selves, has identified the startling difference this time around. Back in 2001, as voters, we didn’t have an option. Kim Beazley planned to follow Howard’s lead so people like me were stuck without a humanitarian option. All Beazley had to say was that he would abide by international law. Today, Labor’s recent appeasements still leave us with an option that at least acknowledges refugees have rights and are entitled to the medical treatment, protection and care of the people that dumped them in these hellholes.

– Leigh Miranda, Canada Bay, NSW

Battling the giant

I look forward even more to each edition of The Saturday Paper since the introduction of the brilliant poet laureate. Maxine Beneba Clarke’s poem “David” (February 9-15) wonderfully portrays how unions have changed Australia for the better and where would we be today without them. Her word pictures of the prime minister are so apt. And hopefully her last words are prophetic, “we remember how we watched goliath fall”.

– Susan Munday, Bentleigh East, Vic

Letters are welcome: [email protected]
Please include your full name and address and a daytime telephone number. Letters may be edited for length and content, and may be published in print and online. Letters should not exceed 150 words.

This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Feb 23, 2019.

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