A new defense agreement with
Singapore is dredging up old animosities, and causing popular demands that the
agreement to amended. Basically, the treaty allows Singaporean troops to train
in Indonesian training areas. Singapore has a population of only 4.5 million,
crammed onto only 704 square kilometers. There's no space for military training
areas, and Singaporean forces travel as far as North America to train.
Singapore is the wealthiest nation in the region
(over $32,000 per capita GDP, about the same as Australia.) While the
Indonesians resent the wealthy Australians, for being foreign (European)
interlopers, they have a similar attitude towards Singapore. That's because
most Singaporeans are ethnic Chinese. For over a thousand years, Chinese
merchants have settled throughout Southeast Asia, and prospered. Although there
has been some intermarriage, many of the "Overseas Chinese"
communities maintain the Chinese language and customs. Superior Chinese culture
and all that. The usual story. This is resented by the locals (be they
Indonesian, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Filipino, well, you get the picture.) The
Indonesians believe, with some justification, that the Chinese look down on
them, and exploit them. The Chinese are more ambitious and work harder, and
smarter, and the locals often respond by persecuting their Chinese minority.
Indonesia has a GDP of only $4,600 (one seventh of Singapore or Australia).
Indonesia believes Singapore, in particular (because of about four million
Indonesians of Chinese ancestry) should do more to help Indonesia become
wealthier, and better equipped for combat. The new defense agreement provided
Indonesia with one important benefit;
extradition of Indonesian criminals who have fled to Singapore. This
includes corrupt officials, which Indonesia, per capita, has far more of than
Singapore. Meanwhile, Singapore believes it has done its share, and resents
being extorted by Indonesian politicians who are merely exploiting racial
animosities and stereotypes.
July 7, 2007: Australia has warned its citizens
that there may be more Islamic terrorist attacks in the Indonesian island of
Bali. Here, the mainly Hindu population runs some of the most popular tourist
resorts in the country. These areas have been targets of Islamic terrorism in
the past. The Islamic radicals resent the Hindus, and the foreigners the
July 4, 2007: In East Timor, the ruling party,
Fretilin, won the national elections, and will try to form a government that
does not trigger a resumption of the civil disorder that has brought in the
current bunch of peacekeepers.
July 1, 2007: In the Malukus, police arrested 31
people for displaying a separatist Maluku flag when the Indonesian president