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Australia denies trying to take over island JAKARTA - An Australian man says he is stunned by claims he banned locals from a remote Indonesian island where he runs a surf camp, sparking an intervention by the country's armed forces. David Wyllie, of Terrigal on the NSW Central Coast, says he was not even in Indonesia when the military said 17 soldiers landed on uninhabited Mengkudu island, where the camp is located.

The 54-year-old surfer has also revealed he was investigated by Indonesia's intelligence agency and human rights and immigration officials three months ago over "untrue" allegations he torched a village when building the camp. Colonel Airwind Nokbola, the military commander for East Nusa Tengarra province, last week told AAP that troops had raised Indonesia's flag on the island to assert its sovereignty.

He said locals had complained that Wyllie only allowed foreigners to go to the island, a palm-fringed speck lying between Bali and Timor. Colonel Nokbola also said the troops had been ordered to protect Wyllie from irate locals on a neighbouring island, who believed he was a spy. Laughing off the spy allegations, a shocked Wyllie said he had a good relationship with local people, having lived in the area for 15 of the 30-plus years he had spent in Indonesia.

"I was in Darwin when I saw an article about an Australian surfer who had supposedly taken over an Indonesian island," he told AAP in Bali. "I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw my name. "I see it as a smokescreen. I need to find out who or what is behind it." He said a local army commander had told him no troops had even landed on Mengkudu.

Colonel Nokbola could not be contacted on Sunday, but last week he told AAP: "My troops raised the Indonesian flag when they arrived on Mengkudu. It is ours. "We need to protect (Wyllie's) safety because we know the local people don't like him and we wouldn't like to see them do something to him." Wyllie said the latest allegations followed a visit "out of the blue" three months ago from Indonesia's intelligence agency, and human rights and immigration officers.

He said they investigated him over a report in Jakarta that he had "forced villagers off the island and burned down their houses". But Wyllie said the island had always been uninhabited and the investigators appeared satisfied that he'd not done anything wrong. "Mengkudu is part of Indonesia, there's no doubt about that," he said. "The Indonesian flag has always flown over Mengkudu every independence day.

"I've never banned locals, as long as they don't steal, take turtles or do bomb-fishing. "Why would I want to create an international incident over a piece of sand that doesn't even have fresh water?" Wyllie said he suspected Indonesian businessmen who wanted the land he used for his surf camp could be trying to make trouble for him before he gets final approvals for the site, and business permits.

Although he built the surf camp in 2000, he said he was still awaiting various government approvals including a 65-year lease over the 10-hectare site. Mengkudu, which is just 700 hectares in area, lies six kilometres off the south-eastern tip of Sumba island between Bali and West Timor. Wyllie said he built eight bungalows there with a syndicate of Finnish investors and the King of Ngangi district, who also supported his efforts to stop turtle hunting and bomb fishing.

Wyllie, a father of four, said he lived in south-east Sumba with his second wife, who was the daughter of a tribal chief on a nearby island. A small number of Indonesian staff stay at Mengkudu, which is currently closed for the wet season, he said. Wyllie said business has been slow at the $US35-a-night ($A47) camp. The last foreigners to visit were some of the Finnish investors about two-and-a-half months ago, he said.

Wyllie said he relied on income from traditional textile exports to keep the surf camp afloat, and said it would not be the first time local businessmen had made trouble for him. He said that when he first moved to Sumba, businessmen in the capital Waingapu complained about outside investment and he was forced to close a hotel after problems getting the necessary government approvals. Wyllie said that despite such problems, he loved living in Sumba, famous for its surf and fishing.


Related blog entry (category 'Oddly enough ...') Related blog entry (category 'Oddly enough ...'):
13 December 2005 · Indonesia sends troops to monitor Australian surfies


Posted in Oddly enough ... @ 18 December 2005 10:15 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink





Jeroen
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Oops, are the Australians coming? Emoticon: Red face



Agung
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How should we interpret this?

Are these troops there to protect the surfers from terrorists?

Or, are these troops there to protect the island from an invasion. Maybe Jakarta is scared to loose this island like they lost east Timor?

Or, are they there to protect the daughter of the local chief?

Emoticon: Smile My guess would be the last option.



Erik_
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On 14-12-2005 12:37 Agung wrote:
How should we interpret this?


I think that the only conclusion can be that we should interpret this as that the chief's daughter is very beautiful!



Agung
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You're right Erik, she must be a beauty of national importance. The next Miss World to be. Of course they're scared she will be stolen by Australia....



pbywater
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hehe, dont worry, surfie aussies dont wanna take over anything, they just want a good time Emoticon: Very funny
u should watch out for the americans though grrrrrr

hehe im australian of course Emoticon: Very funny



AnisJ
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"There are rumours 'Cocodile Dundee' is among them, ...... he could danger INDOnesias national security, or is it a strategic plan of the Australian gouvernment ..........???"

Emoticon: Yes! Emoticon: Yes! Emoticon: Yes! Emoticon: Bye bye Emoticon: Bye bye Emoticon: Bye bye



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