Harry Pearl, Jakarta – New Zealand's ambassador to Indonesia, in response to allegations that his country had a hidden motive behind a police training project in eastern Indonesia, says New Zealand has only ever worked at the request of the Indonesian government.
Ambassador David Taylor said he was surprised to read comments by the deputy chief of the Indonesia National Police, Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti, that the $5.4 million program was shelved over concerns about its motives.
"We only do things in response to what the Indonesian government asks – and that's what we've done in this case," he said in an interview at his office in the embassy in South Jakarta on Thursday.
Taylor also reaffirmed that the New Zealand government respected Indonesia's territorial integrity and wished only to support its further development.
On Tuesday, Badrodin said the three-year training program, funded by New Zealand Aid and managed by the New Zealand Police, was canceled on advice from police intelligence reports.
"We refused it based on the input from head of [the] Police's Security Intelligent agency, Comr. Gen. Suparni Parto, that there could be a hidden motive behind the aid," Badrodin told the Jakarta Globe.
The program, which was scheduled to start in West Papua early this year, followed a pilot project in Papua, Maluku and Aceh in 2009-10. Two full-time New Zealand police staff would have been deployed to the Indonesian National Police office in Jayapura for three years, as well as short-term specialists, in the aim of providing training for up to 1,000 Indonesian police officers.
Taylor said the project had been requested by the Indonesian National Police and that they had been consistently involved in its development.
"There have been instances in the past of problems involving police in communities in different parts of Indonesia," he said. "The Indonesian government recognized that, wanted to make some improvements and they came to us and asked for help. We said, 'Sure'."
The Indonesian police informed their New Zealand counterparts several months ago that the project would not proceed, Taylor said.
However, the cancellation was not expressed "in terms of concern [about motives]," he said. "They were focused on elections this year, they said, and were concerned about security." Indonesians on July 9 will elect a new president, replacing Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose second five-year term ends in October.
Taylor acknowledged that New Zealand had turned down an offer to train members of Indonesia's police force in Java or Makassar but said that was because the program stressed practical training.
"The idea was that the community policing program that New Zealand runs is different to other community policing because it puts practical training into communities where there is stress," the ambassador said.
Human rights groups in Indonesia and New Zealand have seized upon the program's cancellation as proof Indonesian government is uncomfortable with outside scrutiny and, in particular, its repression of the West Papuan independence movement.
"We should be taking a postive stance towards peace making, rather than doing backdoor deals that the Indonesians walk away from when there is any risk of scrutiny," Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty told Radio New Zealand International.