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Jakarta's Governor Says U.S. Embassy Overreacts

Governor Sutiyoso Says Latest U.S. Travel Warnings an "Overreaction." Calls on U.S. Diplomats in Jakarta to be more objective. Bali joins the call for U.S. Diplomats to please "Get a Grip."

(8/18/2001) The English language Jakarta Post carries a story in which Jakarta's Governor Sutiyoso has urged the U.S. Embassy to stop "overreacting." The Governor's plea comes in the wake of the latest U.S. travel warnings urging all American citizens to "defer nonessential travel to Indonesia" and instructions for various aid workers to leave based on information that U.S. interests and American tourists in the country might be subject to unspecified attacks.

Sutiyoso asked American officials to be "more objective in viewing the social conditions of the country." He went on to say, "As (representing) a more sophisticated country, the U.S. Embassy should be able to 'read' the social conditions here."

The Governor expressed some confusion surrounding the U.S. travel warnings citing how the U.S. Ambassador generally praised security conditions in the Capital. He also pointed to a number of successfull international events recently held in Jakarta without incident.

Similarly, the tourism community on the island of Bali becomes increasingly dumbfounded by warnings issued by the U.S. Embassy that are tantamount to an U.S. economic embargo against the people of the island whose economy is largely dependent on tourism. Clearly, the current situation in Bali where the peace has been successfully maintained, the U.S. travel warnings represents something of a bittersweet reward to people who dedicate themselves to keeping their island safe for international visitors.

In contrast to the blanket condemnation of the Indonesian security situation by the U.S. Embassy, the Australian and U.K. Embassies are more circumspect in their travel advisories, with both these Governments' Embassy Web sites assuring their nationals that "most visits to Indonesia are trouble free" and that Bali's tourist services "are operating normally."

As any old Indonesian hand will tell you, it's impossible to generalize about anything in a country with more than 350 ethnic groups spread across 17.508 islands. Impossible unless, of course, you work for the U.S. State Department.