Asian editorial excerpts -2-

Selected editorial excerpts from the Asia-Pacific press:

JAKARTA, Nov. 19 Kyodo - AUSTRALIA HAS GONE TOO FAR THIS TIME (Jakarta Globe, Jakarta)

There is no doubt that if Australia wishes to limit the damage from the fallout of the spying scandal, it needs to apologize to the Indonesian government and the Indonesian people.

We all know that spying is an old art and has been conducted for centuries. But there are limits to the extent "friendly" countries can go when it comes to eavesdropping. In tapping President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's and the first lady's personal phones, Australia has crossed the line.

Emotions are running high in Jakarta, with Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa summoning back to Jakarta his ambassador from Canberra.

Pretending that nothing has happened will not help heal the wounds. "We are not satisfied with the dismissive explanations from Australia," Marty said at a press conference.

The revelations of the phone tapping are doubly damaging as the two countries signed the Lombok treaty in 2006 aimed at enhancing bilateral security cooperation. The minister has every right now to reexamine the treaty and review Indonesia's level of cooperation with Australia.

Indonesia and Australia have not always had smooth relations. But over the past few years, both sides have put in great effort to normalize bilateral relations and improve economic ties. The recent visit of newly elected Prime Minister Tony Abbott was a success and went a long way to cementing ties.

This relationship now lies in tatters. Indonesia's sovereignty has been violated and relations can spiral downhill very quickly. The ball is in Australia's court if it wishes to repair the damage it has done. It will have to own up to its actions, apologize as demanded by Indonesia and promise not to carry out such espionage in the future.

Nothing short of that will do.

(Nov. 19)