Timor From Australia
Overall, the Australian media has been supportive and proud of Australia's involvement in East Timor, even though the risks are high.
When the Australian soldiers were sent in, the media coverage was emotional and touching-- the peacekeepers were portrayed as heroes rescuing people in danger.
Cost becomes a concern
However, a couple of days after the landing of the U.N. forces, several reservations began to surface. The media doesn't seem to be blaming the government, but raising issues to watch. First there is the question of cost. The first estimates were that the mission would cost AU$500 million (US$320 million). It now looks like it will cost AU$2billion (US$1.3billion).
Another concern being raised in the papers is the damage done to the Australian economy. Australia has built a great working relationship with the Indonesian government over the last 25 years. We basically kept quiet when Indonesia occupied East Timor 21 years ago because the former president, Suharto, was important to trade relations.
Now, Indonesia is one of Australia's major trade partners. Furthermore, Australia is looking forward to joining a trade organization headed by Indonesia, ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Already there have been demonstrations outside the Australian Embassy in the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta. Anti-Australian sentiment is very likely to lead to a boycott of Australian goods and services, especially the very important wheat and cotton exports. Australian companies have employees in Indonesia, even though many were pulled out a week before the peacekeepers landed.
Differences and contradictions
There were some differences
and some major contradictions in the portrayal of the Indonesian government
throughout the East Timor Affair. The major differences in the coverage
of East Timor has been the connection between the government and the
Some papers and TV shows asserted that the Indonesian government and Indonesian President Habibie were behind the bloodshed. Other media said that Habibie was not sending orders to kill East Timorese who voted for independence, especially government owned like the SBS and ABC (ABC stands for Australian Broadcasting Company, SBS stands for Special Broading Service which is aimed at the ethnic minority communities of Australia). Both stations generally gave Habibie credit for the way he has handled the East Timor affair.
How long will it stay positive?
As a whole, the Australian media have covered East Timor in a positive way, but for how long?
Two Australian soldiers were wounded October 6, in the first clash since the peacemakers landed. We haven't seen Australian soldiers injured in combat since the Vietnam War. One of the Australian soldiers is 26 years old. He suffered a bullet wound to his leg, shattering bone below the knee. The other soldier, a 34-year-old, is said to be recoverying from a bullet wound in his neck.
Also, tensions are filtering to different parts of society, even my school. Before, Indonesians made up largest number of international students. Already, the number of Indonesian students is dropping.
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