Aussie perception of Indonesia lowest in decade: Poll

Aussie perception of Indonesia lowest in decade: Poll
A supporter of Australians on death row in Indonesia, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, participates in a vigil at Martin Place in Sydney on April 28, 2015. About 300 supporters gathered to hold a vigil ahead of the imminent executions, calling for Indonesia's President Joko Widodo to show mercy to the convicted drug smugglers.

A survey released on Tuesday revealed that Australian people's feelings toward Indonesia had their lowest in the past nine years amid escalating diplomatic tension due to alleged "bribery" by Australian officials of people smugglers to return their boat to Indonesia.

The 11th annual survey conducted by prominent Australian think tank the Lowy Institute, which used a thermometer degree scale to measure Australians' feelings toward other countries, showed that the country's citizens' feelings toward neighbour Indonesia had fallen to a cool 46 degrees.

It was considered equal to the previous lowest point in the past decade registered in 2007 when the sentiment hit 47 degrees, after a period of discord in relations following the jailing of Schappelle Corby's for drug offences and Australia's granting of asylum to Papuans in 2006.

The 2015 feeling, which was eight points lower than the 54-degree peaks in 2010 and 2012, was on a par with Australians' sentiments toward Russia (45 degrees) and Egypt (48 degrees).

The most positive sentiment is toward New Zealand, with 83 degrees, followed by the United Kingdom (79 degrees).

The major drop in Australians' warmth towards Indonesia this year is thought to have been triggered by the April executions of Australian drugs convicts Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.

The asylum seeker issue has also been a source of tension in the relationship. The vast majority of Australians (87 per cent) believe that "Indonesia should do more to help Australia combat people smuggling," says the study.

In a finding that may portray how concerned the Australians are about the issue 42 per cent of respondents said they supported Australian Navy vessels "entering Indonesian territorial waters without permission, as part of Australia's efforts to turn back asylum seekers." A slim majority, (55 per cent), however, disagree that such incursions are justified.

As many as 85 per cent of respondents also said that Indonesia should do more to combat terrorism.

One more interesting finding is that, the widely popular Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo turns out to be not so popular in Australia. As many as 42 per cent of respondents said they did not know Jokowi.

Among 10 world leaders surveyed, Jokowi came as the second-least admired leader after Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

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