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Monday, May 30, 2005

Old face, New face

Lately there have been two sides of Australia on display. Both bringing out the ugly face of nationalism as well as highlighting an emerging face of a new Australian ethnic identity.

The first
story involves the detention of illegal immigrants. In 2001, post 9-11, the Oz elections were decided on the platform of protecting fortress Australia from illegal immigrants smuggled in boats from Indonesia (the few hundreds of them; read Muslims). The PM even claimed,
"we decide who comes to this country and the
circumstances in which they come"

Fast-forward to 2005 and it turns out that a mentally-ill Australian, of German origin, was detained in one of the detention centers. Next thing you know there may have been nearly 200 Australians detained, some even deported. The decisions to detain seem to be based on the fact that the individuals did not have any form of identity and didn't have a genuine Aussie accent.

Race doesn't appear to be the deciding factor but one's Australianness (some comfort). This worries me as I know a few people that have gone through mental breakdowns and reverted to their native tongues. In a modern multicultural nation I find this to be an unacceptable treatment of citizens and would like a few heads at the Department of Immigration to roll. Could I be next? Interesting discussion at catallaxy.

Schapelle Corby, a 27yr old woman convicted of taking drugs to Bali, Indonesia (It's a cheap holiday destination). On the evidence presented, IMHO she is guilty. However
the story has a few complications and some unknowns. Indonesia is currently conducting a war on drugs.
.... trafficking cases leapt to 7410 compared with 1833 in 1999. Indonesian police havearrested more than 700 people in recent raids across the country. In Jakarta alone there were about 150 arrests in April, some resulting in shoot-outs. ....
It was just another news story until GTV9, one-time TV ratings darling but now struggling, decided to take part in populist journalism bordering on xenophobia. Could it be that the media [I recommend watching the videos] is taking its lead from the 2001 elections?

Nearly all columnists and commentators, including the hard-right oriented like Andrew Bolt, agree that the judgement seems fair. However, it caused a
shit stir and has brought out the ugly Aussie. Some want to boycott Bali, some reportedly want their tsunami contributions back and some have started using the word "monkey" with intent.

IMHO, this fear of the other is a pathological problem that manifests itself in the Australian public discourse every 5-8 years or so (more about it some other time). It seems to be grounded in a fear of invasion by south-east Asians caused by WW2 Japanese bombings. An
interesting discussion at larvatusprodeo.


  • At 3:36 pm AEST, Blogger Morquendi said…

    I work with an Australian so he's been giving me lectures on politics there. Mostly over Old Arrack.

    Oh well, Sri Lanka isn't the only fucked up place I guess.

  • At 6:30 pm AEST, Blogger ivap said…

    Don't get me wrong, It's a great place to be. I haven't got a single complaint.

    It's pretty much the same as anywhere else in the world when it comes to the reactionary behaviour of the majority. Luckily the more sane voices previal and there is enough media space for them.

  • At 11:41 am AEST, Blogger Closethisaccount said…

    Agree with Ivap, Australia is a great place to be...but as everywhere..prejudice will exist.

  • At 6:31 pm AEST, Blogger Morquendi said…

    Yeah, majorities are messed up...always...

    Like you'd think Sinhalese nationalists living abroad would understand what it feels like to be a minority.

    But they don't. Which is why we have groups like SPUR.

    Anyways, yeah, I bet it's a great place to live. Thought my only experince there was a little bitter, it was my fault. Just forgot that June was winter, and packed summer clothes. AAAAAAARGH!

  • At 9:10 pm AEST, Blogger ivap said…

    Ivap holds on to his stomach as he falls down laughing.......:)


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