Australia's Prime Minister John Howard and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono presided over the official inauguration of the Australia-Bali Memorial Eye Center located at Denpasar's Sanglah General Hospital on Friday, July 27, 2007.
President Yudhoyono cited the AU$7 million eye clinic as a "living memorial" to those who lost heir lives in the October 2002 terrorist attack on Bali and living testament to the spirit of humanity and friendship that exists between Australia and Indonesia.
In response, Mr. Howard told those attending the inauguration: "This is a gift from the Australian people to the future health and well-being of the people of Bali and Indonesia, It is a practical memorial to those who died in the attack on 12 October, 2002, and also a practical expression of the ongoing affection of the people of Australia towards the people of the island of Bali."
The Center is targeted to treat 3,000 Balinese suffering from cataracts each year. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that of the 55,000 Indonesian afflicted with blindness two-third of that total are victims of treatable catarcts.
Not an Eye for an Eye
Much to the credit of Australian diplomacy, Mr. Howard reportedly did not use his Bali visit to substantively raise the case of the "Bali Nine" and the fate of six Australian drug smugglers now sitting on death row in Bali's Keorbokan prison.
Declining from commenting on the matter while the young Australian's case is still before the courts, Howard did say he: "fully respected and supported the tough approach taken by Indonesia in relation to drug trafficking. No one should be in any doubt that in Australia there is scant regard for people who believe they can breezily ignore the drug laws of Indonesia."
While President Yudhoyono refused specific comment on the case during his Bali meeting with Howard, he has been steadfast on the issue in the past, insisting he would grant no pardons to drug traffickers. Asked by the press in Bali if he would consider clemency for the Australians slated to end their days before an Indonesian firing squad, President Yudhoyono diplomatically replied, saying: "Drug-related crimes are very serious crime in Indonesia. We take strong measures to fight that kind of crime, to save our future, to save our (next) generations."
New Consulate Inaugurated
Mr. Howard also used his visit to Bali to inaugurate a new Consulate located Jalan Tantular 32, Renon in Denpasar.
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