TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The suspension of military cooperation between the Indonesian National Defense Forces (TNI) and the Australian Defense Force is only a small issue in the military relations between the two countries.
The decision made by the TNI Commander General Gatot Nurmantyo is quote firm but there’s no need for exaggeration.
As announced by TNI spokesperson Major General Wuryanto, the cooperation was only temporarily suspended.
TNI considers that the understanding of the Australian of the history of the independence of Timor Leste and the history Papua is not in line with the understanding of the framework of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia.
The Australian Government has issued an apology after Indonesia’s Pancasila (The Five Precepts) was tweaked to become "Pancagila" (The Five Crazies) and pledged to investigate the incident.
It is indeed a serious issue but it can be addressed without ruining relations between the two countries.
Indeed, understanding of history needs to be straightened so that Australian troops do not misunderstand the historical context of the TNI and the two provinces.
Papua and Timor Leste have always been a thorny issue in the Indonesia-Australia relations. Therefore, this training is important to clarify the historical context.
The issue of the two provinces have always become the cause of the tense in the relations between the two countries.
During the East Timor war, intelligents of the two countries wiretapped the conversation of leaders of the two countries, leading to the news on the chasing of three Australian intelligents who were receiving intelligent documents on the latest situation in Timor Leste from a high-ranking TNI official in Jakarta.
The relations between the two countries become strained and full of anger.
It seemed that wiretapping between the two countries continued.
In 2013, Sydney Morning Herald published an intelligent report that revealed the wiretapping of telephone conversation of former First Lady Kristiani Herawati and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY).
SBY then cut diplomatic relations by recalling Indonesian Ambassador in Canberra. Regime in the two countries changed and relations between the two countries got warm again.
It means that suspension of military cooperation between the two countries is a common thing.
The stand of General Gatot is a strong and firm signal that Indonesia can always be firm to Australia.
The apology issued by the Australian Defense Forces Australia is an elegant way not to prolong the issue.
It would have been wise, indeed, if both institutions talked about it first between themselves without taking to the media.
Because this news initially was covered by media in Australia, it was the ADF officials who should have restrained themselves and weight the impacts if vague issues are revealed to the media and can cause speculation.
Diplomatic relations is very prone to turbulence and misunderstanding.
The statement of cutting cooperation has made officials of both countries found themselves occupied to clarify the statement.
To restore it, the TNI and the ADF have to sit together and announce the result of the investigation of the tweaking of Pancasila, then announce that the issue is resolved.
Come what may, as two neighboring countries, Indonesia needs Australia especially in investment and trade relations.
Australia needs Indonesia because Indonesia is the biggest market for Australian commodities.
It would not be advisable if relations become strained because of an issue that should have been resolved in the negotiation table.