Protesters burn Abbott images outside embassy
Indonesian correspondent Michael Bachelard captures the fiery demonstrations outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta.INDONESIA has moved to beef up its own spying apparatus in response to revelations that Australia tapped the phone of its president.
As the fallout over the spy row continues to widen, Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa confirmed that all cooperation on people smuggling — from police information sharing to search and rescue — had now halted.
A presidential decree issued on Friday means that the intelligence chiefs the country’s police, military, Attorney-General’s department, and all other public sector departments will be drawn together and meet regularly under the authority of the State Intelligence Agency to coordinate their resources.
The new body, to be called the Central Intelligence Committee, is a direct response by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to his shock and sense of betrayal that Australian intelligence services were able to bug his phone and that of his wife and inner circle in 2009.
“BIN has been positioned as the coordinator of [all] state intelligence agencies and [the committee] will be headed by the BIN chief,” the decree says.
According to the Jakarta Globe newspaper, the chairman of BIN, Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman, has told his agents that foreign spies operating on Indonesian soil are his priority targets.
General Marciano will also boost the capacity of the intelligence service to gather information and protect Indonesia’s own secrets, the newspaper reported.
The country’s former spy chief, Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono, told Fairfax Media during the week that Indonesia had both intelligence and counter-intelligence capability and that “black intelligence” collection was standard operating procedure.
However, he also said that leaks that exposed a country’s weakness were often used by intelligence agencies to beef up their own resources. That principle appears to apply in Jakarta in the wake of the Snowden revelations.
BIN has thousands of employees working in both internal and external security, but in Indonesia traditionally, the internal security function has been more important because of the danger posed by separatist and radical movements.
A senior cattle industry source said if the row continued, he was worried that it may affect the 2014 quotas for live exports from Australia to Indonesia. The source, who did not want to be named, said those quotas would be announced in the next two to three weeks.
Australia’s live cattle trade is only now beginning to recover from Australia’s 2011 suspension of the trade, followed by Indonesia’s ill-thought through self-sufficiency policy.
Indonesian trade minister Gita Wirjawan has already announced he wants to throw the country open to beef imports from countries such as Brazil and India, which, though blighted with foot and mouth disease, maintain some export zones they say are free of it.
In Bali, the police chief and the head of the country’s tourism board moved to assure tourists that they were safe to visit despite widespread anger and protests and flag burning outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta.
“The spying will not affect people-to-people contact between Indonesians and Australians,” the head of the tourism board I Gede Pitana Brahmanda said.
“So Australians should not be worried about holidaying in Indonesia.”
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