Deakin University » Communities »

Blogs

If you think the disability insurance scheme is not your problem, think again

AT THE moment there is no automatic right of access to disability support across the board in this country. If your child fell out of a tree tomorrow and sustained serious brain damage, what sort of help would you expect and hope for?

He or she would be entitled to care in a public hospital, but once discharged, you'd be largely on your own.

This article first appeared in The Age 26 April 2012.

Pace at last in Timor-Leste?

As Timor-Leste went to the second round of the presidential elections, the peace that marked the first round appears to be holding. Apart from an incident in Viqueque District, there have been no notable outbreaks of violence, so far, to mar this electoral process. Many have congratulated Timor-Leste for this important achievement.
The peaceful environment that has greeted these elections was in part as a result of an agreement between the leaders of political parties to restrain their supporters from attacking each other. This stands in marked contrast to the 2007 elections, in which there were few if any such restraints and violence and destruction were widespread, both before and after the elections were held.
Many of Timor-Leste’s friends wondered at this time what the purpose was of achieving independence if this was to be its result. Many in Timor-Leste asked the same question, and have since rejected violence.

Post-Colonialism in Timor-Leste

States that have been colonised commonly reflect elements of their colonial past. Timor-Leste has the unusual distinction of having been colonised by two different powers in living memory, with each leaving significant elements of themselves imprinted upon Timorese society.

The imprint of Portuguese colonialism is officially recognised and embraced, not least through official language, architectural heritage, religion and a continuing affinity with Lusophone states. Even Tetum, an indigenous trading language developed from the older Tetum Terik, is heavily inflected with Portuguese, particularly in its courtesies.
Despite the often neglectful and sometimes brutal nature of Portuguese colonialism, Timor-Leste’s elites in particular retain fond memories of Portuguese paternalism. Their relationship to the other colonial power is more qualified, yet Indonesia has also left indelible imprints in Timor-Leste.

Hitler's Faith: The Debate over Nazism and Religion

During last week's Q & A debate between Cardinal George Pell and Richard Dawkins, it was interesting that both men had perspectives on Nazism that were at once opposed and yet entirely congruent. Pell argued that Nazism and Stalinism were the "two great atheist movements of the last century." Dawkins responded that while Stalin was an atheist, Hitler was not. However, they both agreed that Hitler represented the "personification of social Darwinism" (Pell) or that certain of what he tried to achieve arose "out of Darwinian natural selection" (Dawkins).

Part of this to and fro was certainly the kind of argument that often arises in contemporary debates, often through a process one could think of as Nazification: one disputant involved in a debate on any given topic attempts to associate their opponent's views with the Nazis. 

East Timor's Presidential election

When East Timor’s outgoing president, Jose Ramos-Horta, won office in 2007 by a crushing 69 per cent, many outsiders attributed the victory to his high profile as a campaigner for the country during the 24 years of Indonesian occupation. There is no doubt that Ramos-Horta was well known and well liked within East Timor, as well as outside, but his first round vote was a more modest 21 per cent.
So, too, when Taur Matan Ruak stood for the presidency last month, he achieved a respectable but modest 26 per cent. On Monday, his voted jumped to just over 61 per cent. It was backing and organisation by Xanana Gusmao that elevated Ramos-Horta to his unassailable final position. It was Xanana Gusmao’s backing that also secured the Taur Matan Ruak’s victory over Fretilin candidate Francisco ‘Lu-Olo’ Guterres.

Aceh, earthquakes and politics played rough

The massive but, happily, largely benign earthquake off the coast of Sumatra on Wednesday left millions of people in Aceh reliving the nightmare the engulfed them on Boxing Day 2004, when a similarly large but different type of earthquake sent a wall of water across the lowlands, killing around 180,000 people.
That the earthquake and fear of another massive tsunami came just two days after a local elections and a major political upheaval only added poignancy to the otherwise frightening occasion. In the wake of the 2004 tsunami, Aceh separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) reached a peace agreement with the government in Jakarta, ushering in a period not just of rebuilding but of relative peace and electoral politics.
Contrary to such opinion that exists on Aceh, the peace agreement was not a consequence of the tsunami as such. Rather, and agreement to start peace talks had been reached just days before the tsunami struck.

Bounty on Pakistani will not pay off

(A version of this blog was published in The Australian on 11 April 2012)
 
Washington’s decision last week to post a US$10 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), a terrorist organization accused of being behind the Mumbai attack in 2008 which killed 166 people, will not help put US-Pakistan relations back on track. 
 
On the contrary, it will complicate matters further, both bilaterally and regionally. 
 
This award is on par as the one offered for the leader of the Afghan Taliban, Mullah Omar, who is said to be hiding in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan’s province in western Pakistan.
 

GAM vs GAM: Aceh elects the other faction

Informal results show that elections in Indonesia’s tsunami-devastated and war-ravaged province of Aceh have dumped the incumbent governor and put in office the political party of the former separatist guerrilla movement. This outcome marks a major victory for the political vehicle of the former separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM), the Aceh Party (PA).
 
In a sometimes violent campaign process, in which 13 people were killed and intimidation was widespread, preliminary results show that former GAM ‘foreign minister’ Dr Zaini Abdullah and his deputy, former GAM military commander, Muzakir Manaf, won 54% of the vote in a five cornered contest. Incumbent governor and former GAM intelligence chief, Irwandi Yusuf, secured 34% of the vote.

Peace should now be the norm for Timor-Leste’s political contests

As Timor-Leste goes to the second round of the presidential elections, the peace that marked the first round appears to be holding. Apart from an incident in Viqueque District, there have been no notable outbreaks of violence, so far, to mar this electoral process. Many have congratulated Timor-Leste for this important achievement.

The peaceful environment that has greeted these elections was in part as a result of an agreement between the leaders of political parties to restrain their supporters from attacking each other. This stands in marked contrast to the 2007 elections, in which there were few if any such restraints and violence and destruction were widespread, both before and after the elections were held.

Many of Timor-Leste’s friends wondered at this time what the purpose was of achieving independence if this was to be its result. Many in Timor-Leste asked the same question, and have since rejected violence.

Aceh’s troubled elections

Indonesia’s province of Aceh goes to the polls on Monday, in what has been a bitterly contested election for the position of governor. In Indonesia’s other provinces the position of governor is important but, in the autonomous province of Aceh, following a three decade long separatist war, it is critical.
As a result of the Boxing Day 2004 tsunami, Aceh was also the site of the world’s largest ever emergency relief program, at $9 billion. The tsunami devastated large areas of the heavily populated coastal regions of Aceh, leaving around 170,000 dead and missing.

Syndicate content