A similar cartoon in an Indonesian newspaper portrayed John Howard and Alexander Downer as amorous dingoes. Most people either smirked about it or wrote it off as a pretty lame joke.
But Bill’s cartoon has got a lot of people running for cover, with Downer “disassociating” himself from it, opposition counterpart Rudd calling for a stop to the “cartoon wars”, and numerous Indonesian commentators getting very worked up.
There’s no need to get so upset.
The Indonesian media opposed Australia’s actions over West Papua and criticized that decision.
Similarly, many Australians are skeptical of Indonesia’s actions in West Papua, and are openly critical about it.
Debate between international neighbors about issues of mutual interest is a healthy thing. It would be a much less desirable situation if this sort of debate was stifled to try and appease those sensitive souls who are offended by criticism.
The debate serves a vital role – governments at home and abroad are held accountable for their actions.
If Bill Leak can have a bit of a laugh about it while contributing to the debate, then good for him!