For those of you in Australia particularly, we trust you will have a very special Christmas and enjoyable holiday period. For our friends in Indonesia and other parts of Asia, our best wishes for the festive season.
As the year comes to a conclusion, our board extends our thanks from all of us at the Indonesia Institute (Inc) for your membership, support and comments during the year. Your institute has enjoyed a year of increasing membership (145 members) and considerable activities.
We also saw the bi-lateral relationship get back to 'normal' - although many of us feel 'normal' is below the level that we should accept; particularly in business and trade. There is much work to do.
As we head into 2015 our region, and World, faces some extreme challenges on a number of fronts. Most obvious is the rise-and-rise of what people refer to as 'extremist Islam' such as ISIL and its offshoots. A number of thoughtful Muslim leaders feel that in many cases Islam has been simply hijacked by despot regimes made-up of bitter and dis-affected people. This is a valid point , but the challenge for Muslim leaders around the world is: what are you going to do about it?
Australia works very closely and successfully with Indonesia in monitoring and rejecting extremist groups such as JI and MIT, plus radical preachers including Abu Bakar Bashir. Yet the number of people joining the ISIL network continues to increase in Indonesia. In the meantime, Malaysia is moving towards a more fundamentalist approach to not only religion, but also politics. This is a disturbing trend.
So there is much to be done. A close bi-lateral relationship between countries such as Indonesia and Australia is absolutely critical and with a new Indonesian president being elected in 2015 there is much to feel positive about.
So from all of us at ii we wish you every happiness for the festive season and may 2015 bring harmony and respect for humans throughout our region.
With warmest wishes
Ross B. Taylor AM