Updated 8.10am AEST.
Australia has been accused of betraying Indonesia and “destroying” the countries’ diplomatic relationship in an outbreak of nationalist rhetoric following fresh spying allegations.
As Indonesia’s ambassador to Australia, Nadjib Kesoema, departed Canberra for Jakarta on Tuesday, the pages of the country’s newspapers were dominated by calls for an even tougher response to the latest claims.
The scandal was front page material in all Indonesian and English language newspapers, and led television news bulletins.
One of the largest selling Indonesian language newspapers, Media Indonesia, also carried an editorial under the headline “Not Inferior Nation”, calling for a “harsh response to the Kangaroo Country which has betrayed the good relationship”.
“It’s time to remind the world that Indonesia is not a nation to be treated (in this way),” the editorial read.
Another nationalist leaning newspaper, Republika, led its front page with the headline: “Tapping Destroys Diplomacy”.
University of Indonesia international relations expert Hikmahanto Juwana said the latest spying scandal had awoken nationalist fervour in Indonesia, adding that expelling a number of officials would probably have a calming effect.
He warned the Indonesia government had to be careful to not let public anger spiral out of control.
“Just expel some of (the) US and Australian diplomats, just two or three of them. Then after we calm down, then start a fresh new chapter,” Professor Hikmahanto said on Tuesday.
The comments come after Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono described Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s response to the developments as deplorable.
Indonesia has demanded an explanation but Mr Abbott told Parliament that Australia should not have to apologise or explain intelligence operations and the “steps we take to protect our country”.
Dr Yudhoyono refused to accept Mr Abbott’s statement to parliament, saying he “regretted” the response and is still waiting for an official explanation – rather than a speech aimed at Australian domestic politics.
Dr Yudhoyono made his feelings clear in a series of tweets to his four million followers about the claims Australian spies targeted his mobile phone in 2009.
It’s alleged Australia’s Defence Signals Directorate also monitored the phone activity of the president’s wife Kristiani Herawati, better known as Ibu Ani, as well as that of Vice President Boediono and former vice president Jusuf Kalla.
It has been alleged the president’s mobile activity was tracked for 15 days during August 2009 and at least one eavesdropping attempt was made.
The president says the claims, which stem from a leak from fugitive US intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden, have “injured” Indonesia’s strategic relationships with Australia and the US.
“We will also revisit our bilateral co-operation agenda,” he said, going on to warn of “painful consequences”.
“I also deplore the Australian Prime Minister’s statement that plays down the spying issue on Indonesia, without feeling guilty,” he said, according to a translation of his recent tweets.
The deputy chairman of the Indonesian parliament’s foreign affairs and defence committee, T.B. Hasanuddin, has also warned of the potential for an explosion in anti-Australian sentiment in Indonesia as a result of the spying allegations.
The commander of Operation Sovereign Borders, Lieutenant Angus Campbell, has stressed that Australia is grateful for Indonesia’s help.
“All cooperation is very much appreciated and as I said earlier, it is about building and maintaining a relationship and looking for opportunities where mutual benefit emerges,” he told Senate Estimates yesterday.
He says any help provided by Jakarta is welcome, but he deflected questions about whether people smuggling cooperation will be damaged by the spying row.
He says it is Indonesia’s “sovereign right” to decide how to handle people smuggling.
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young says the Coalition has not struck new formal agreements on border protection since being elected
“Aside from the media strategy, what has actually changed?” she asked.