[Recorded by Electronic Apparatus]
Thursday, November 26, 1998
The Chairman (Mr. Bill Graham (Toronto Centre—Rosedale, Lib.)): Members, I would like to call this meeting to order.
We're privileged to have with us the Hon. Raymond Chan, Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific, who's been good enough to come and talk to the committee this morning about the situation in Indonesia, and particularly the fate of the Indonesian Chinese citizens.
Minister, in light of the recent press reports of attacks on Christian minorities as well, you might wish to broaden your observations.
We appreciate your coming this morning, and thank you very much.
I understand you've distributed a statement.
Hon. Raymond Chan (Secretary of State, Asia-Pacific): Yes, I have.
The Chairman: Perhaps if you just want to talk about a few of the salient points, we could then open it up for questions from the members.
Mr. Raymond Chan: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, fellow members from the House, colleagues.
I'm here to report on my trip to Jakarta in October, which was pretty well in response to the May riot that happened in Indonesia. Particularly, the Canadian government has much concern about the reports of the massive number of rapes of the ethnic Chinese community and the riots that have caused up to 1,000 deaths. There was worry about the political future of Indonesia.
I was asked to visit Jakarta. This trip's primary, sole objective was on human rights issues, on governance issues, and the political reform process.
It was a very short visit, lasting only about three days, with only two and a half days of activity, but it was a well-packed program, starting from around 7:30 a.m. and not finishing until after dinner, at least 11 p.m.
We had many productive meetings. I met with President Habibie; Foreign Affairs Minister Alatas; the women's affairs minister; the home affairs minister; the parliamentarians; and a large group of NGOs, including, for example, the human rights commission and labour leader Pakpahan, who was just released from jail for a couple of months.
I also was allowed to go into prison to visit the East Timorese leader General Xanana Gusmao. We also were able to have round tables with the Indonesian academics and NGOs.
A particular meeting was arranged with the Volunteers for Humanity, the group that was primarily responsible for documenting the rapes of victims. As well, a new group has sprung up, GANDI, an anti-discrimination group. GANDI is a coalition between the Chinese-Indonesians and Indonesians, including some politicians.
The Indonesian legal aid foundation was attacked by mobs during my visit, so I made a point of visiting that particular organization when I was there to lend our political support to the work they're doing.
We met a group of ethnic Chinese-Indonesians and members of the business community to hear what they had to say about the future of the country.
To give you my overall impression from my visit, many of the areas affected were still not repaired. They're mainly from the Chinese district. Visits with families of the victims indicate that the reports of rape of Chinese women are real.
At the same time, as described by some of the academics there, they describe it as the most open time for change. There's a lot of participation in the political process, and debates about possible political reform. At the same time, though, it's the most dangerous time because some special interest groups would want to stir up chaos, stir up racial conflicts, to promote or to advance their own political agenda. You see then the murders of Muslim priests in the East Java district, and also intimidation of victims and witnesses of the riot.
Just a couple of days before I arrived, there was the murder of a Chinese-Indonesian girl who was poised to come to North America to testify. The family was intimidated, and they're in hiding right now.
So there are hopeful signs—lots of political parties have been created, have formed—but at the same time a spirit of fear has engulfed the whole community.
As well, in terms of the meeting with the human rights commission, particularly the commissioners who are members of the joint fact-finding team, they were very forthcoming in telling us the results they've seen, the interviews they've made. They have confirmed that rapes have occurred.
At the same time, the big opposition parties are being formed, and they're very active. There are four particular political oppositions, which I have listed in my report.
At the same time, the problem is big, because the economy continues to suffer. Particularly the lower echelon of the Indonesian people has been hit.
So the society as a whole is very unstable, because when people are hungry, when people are destitute, they are easily incited by special interest groups.
I would also like to report particularly on East Timor. When I was there, there were some very good prospects happening at that time. The government, for the first time in a long time, agreed to some very good negotiation sessions with the Portuguese government.
When I went to talk to General Gusmao in prison, it seemed that the position taken by the East Timorese and the Indonesian government were not that far apart. Mr. Gusmao's position is that they're willing to negotiate on self-autonomy as far as the results are open-ended, that the conclusion is not that East Timor is forever part of Indonesia.
On the other hand, the government's position is to provide self-autonomy, but the government is willing to lengthen out, to leave the message quite indeterminate at the end. So at this time it seems there might be a possible solution for that problem in East Timor.
However, the recent development is not as optimistic. The UN-sponsored talks between Portugal and Indonesia were suspended by Portugal on November 20, following the reports of an armed clash and possible civilian deaths in East Timor. As well, there's a report from the East Timorese that there's a massive troop military build-up in East Timor. So those are troubling signs.
We are very happy that the joint fact-finding mission has reported to the government, and has made a public report, very hard-hitting. There might be some discrepancy between the rape victims reported by the joint fact-finding team and the number reported by the NGOs, but I think there are some important parts to the report.
First, the rapes among the Chinese community are real. It's a large number. They reported that something like 50 to 58 rapes have been documented by the team. Second, it was an organized attack. Third, there was some military involvement. Particularly General Prabowo, the son-in-law of Suharto, is a suspect in the riot.
Fourth, they asked the government to investigate thoroughly and charge those who are responsible.
So to me, we support the joint fact-finding team's report and urge the government to follow through on the recommendations of the report.
At the same time, a special session of Parliament, what we call the MPR, has passed a series of laws. We welcome many of the initiatives by the MPR.
For example, they're setting June 1999 as the latest date for parliamentary elections. They have recommendations on human rights, on regional autonomy, on the limitations of presidential terms, the revocation of special presidential emergency powers, and they have voted down racially discriminatory language in proposed decrees that have to do with economic assistance to small enterprises.
At the same time, there were large student demonstrations during the session of the MPR. Some riots broke out on November 22, which caused some deaths and injuries—some 13 deaths and 40 injuries. We now have news that the government and the military have suspended the soldiers, about 160 soldiers, that were alleged to have been involved in the shooting of live ammunition that caused the deaths and injuries.
At the same time, the opposition parties have joined together to endorse the legitimacy of the MPR, to show that in general, in Jakarta, in Indonesia, there's a willingness to resolve the differences in a peaceful, democratic manner instead of through anarchy.
So those are very good signs, but right now, I think the Canadian government's position is this. We are putting pressure on the authorities, trying to move them along to have a good, democratic reform, to have an election that is fair and transparent such that they would produce a government that is democratically elected, that will respect human rights and also the rule of law.
At the same time, we cannot guarantee the outcome of an election process. The one who's elected might not necessarily be able to respect the rule of law and human rights.
At the same time, we would like to take this opportunity to strengthen the capacity of the NGOs, the human rights foundations, the human rights commission, the legal aid foundation, and all the other NGOs in the hope that in the long run, they would continue to be a force in the political process.
This became part of the mandate of my visit. That is the reason we met with the NGOs, to make sure they had this political support.
I'll stop there, Mr. Chairman. I think the handouts we've provided give a very good, thorough description of the whole issue in Indonesia right now.
The Chairman: Thank you very much, Minister.
Before I open it to questions, I'd just like to draw to your attention and to the attention of the members that we do have a group with us this morning, Canadians Concerned about Ethnic Violence in Indonesia. We're pleased to have them with us, and we're very glad they were able to join us for the hearing.
I'm sure we'll be happy to talk to you afterwards.
I'm sure, Minister, you would be willing to distribute your statement to our guests as well, and perhaps you can have a chance to meet afterwards.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Chuck Strahl (Fraser Valley, Ref.): I have just a couple of questions.
Thank you, Minister, for coming here and talking about this. Every time we read the newspaper articles it just brings home the very difficult situation in Indonesia—everything from economics to democratic reform, and all the transition you talked about. I realize it's a very key country in the region, and also a very difficult situation.
I appreciate your interest in it, your ongoing interest, and I encourage you to keep at it, to keep your regular visits and so on. I do believe that not only the knowledge is necessary but also that you can have a good impact, I hope, as they make those transitions.
I have two questions for you. You talked about the excellent regular embassy contacts with NGOs and other key elements of civil society. Is there a formal desk or a formal tie in your embassy for that? In other words, is there a democracy desk, as there is a trade desk? Is there something formally set up or is it just excellent ties for those who happen to come through the door?
Mr. Raymond Chan: We do have a political consul who is responsible for liaising not only with the government but also with the NGOs. That tie was built that way.
I recall that at the end of my trip we had a reception in the embassy, in the residence of the ambassador. To quote our colleague from the U.S. embassy, it had the biggest participation of NGOs in any foreign diplomatic reception he had ever attended. Not only was the human rights commission there but also NGOs—the legal aid foundation, the founders, and executive directors, and many of the groups helping the rape victims.
That shows our support of NGOs in the country.
Mr. Chuck Strahl: That also would include, then, contacts with not only the government but also with opposition parties and so on?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Yes.
Mr. Chuck Strahl: Good.
I'd like to get your opinion on something. Last month the U.S. Senate approved an act, the International Religious Freedom Act. That act calls upon the President to react, especially when religious persecution takes place. As our chairman was mentioning, the latest story we're hearing is about the religious persecution of Christians in Indonesia.
This act that the Americans have—and I'm taking it, hopefully, at face value—seems to be to encourage the President to react somehow when these kinds of human rights abuses take place. That reaction can be as simple as a diplomatic note or it could, depending on what's happening, affect everything from trade to aid or who knows what. It's no doubt an escalating thing. But it does force the President to react every time.
I talked to Minister Axworthy about this the other day in the House, and he mentioned that he is going to be giving a speech on religious freedoms. I think on Friday of this week he's going to be in Edmonton, and he's going to speak out on this.
I wonder what your feeling is on the idea of something like that. I realize that in this Parliament we don't always compel the Prime Minister to do too much he doesn't want to do, but on the other hand, it would send a message to the watching world that when something happens, you can expect a reaction from Canada.
And I don't want a knee-jerk reaction, but it'll be , “Take note: We will respond, and we will be observant”. For what it's worth, our good name around the world will be used to comment on it in varying degrees.
Is that a worthwhile exercise?
Mr. Raymond Chan: First, I have to say that the advocacy role of the Canadian government on the particular subject of respect of religious freedom is a very strong part of our foreign policy. It's an ongoing concern of our diplomats and our department.
On the issue of China, when we heard of the arrests of the independent Christian community in China we continued to raise concerns with the Chinese government. So the issue of religious freedom is part of our policy.
As well, the cabinet of the Government of Canada is part of the parliamentary system, in the House day in and day out for questioning and so on. I think that's very different from the American system, where the government is not there, in the Congress.
So on whether it's worthwhile, to me, the government is very well aware of the issue, and is working on the issue. But encouragement from fellow colleagues, and support, is I think important.
Mr. Chuck Strahl: And I said that to Mr. Axworthy. I do want to support him when he speaks out. What Canadians, I think, need to see and want to see is that they want him to speak out, but they don't want him just to speak out at the big speech in Edmonton.
All too often, I see it's an Associated Press article that details some religious persecution of Baha'is, perhaps, in Iran. Eventually we find out that the minister has said something, but it's sometimes well after the fact and not well known to Canadians.
I would encourage you and the government to think of ways to have a rapid response on that, not a knee-jerk response but to let Canadians know that the government is seeing this, that they have taken action, and the action is, as I said, anything on the scale from a note to a press release. I don't know what it might be.
Sometimes I find out about the reaction almost by accident. If as an MP I have to dig for the reaction, then I think a lot of Canadians would look on and say, you know, I don't want to have to dig for it; I want to see the reaction and be able to know what's happening.
Mr. Raymond Chan: We talked about this earlier with Mr. Robinson. We have sent out press releases, and sometimes they are not covered by the press. But I will recommend that we make sure opposition parties get a copy of the release so that you have information as to what our response is.
Mr. Chuck Strahl: Thank you.
The Chairman: Thanks.
I don't know; maybe this isn't the appropriate time to interject with this, but members of the committee might want to pursue this suggestion of yours, Mr. Strahl, in a discussion.
This came up at the usual Canada-United States discussions we have, and it was drawn to our attention in our committee there that this bill was coming down. There were some members there who expressed extreme concern about that bill because of its trade implications in the sense that you have international obligations in the WTO, for example, and if you have a bill that says every time something goes wrong, you have to slap a trade sanction on somebody, then in fact what you've done is blown up the WTO. You've destroyed the integrity of the trade arrangement. Because those are actual obligations.
The United States is in the same problem, for example, with China. If China comes into the WTO, they have a U.S. obligation every year to review their trade thing with China. Well, they can't do that and have China in the WTO. You can't have it both ways.
So if we wanted to look at that type of idea, it seems to me the committee would want to get into it. We might want to look at that.
Mr. Chuck Strahl: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for that clarification. I'll check with the Canada-U.S. folks we have on that committee. But the key is the range of response, I think, and then that's possible, perhaps.
The Chairman: Yes. Anyway, that's a really interesting proposal.
Mr. Daniel Turp (Beauharnois—Salaberry, BQ): Thank you, Mr. Chan, for appearing before the committee and reporting on your visit to Indonesia. I had the opportunity, a few weeks earlier, to be part of the mission of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, and this group will be testifying before the committee in a few minutes. It would perhaps be interesting for you to stay and hear what these witnesses will have to say.
I was therefore able to see first hand what was happening in Indonesia. I was deeply disturbed by some of the things I saw; I was saddened by others. The tour of Jakarta, and of other communities in Yogyakarta and in other parts of Indonesia especially, made me realize that the situation in Indonesia was unstable and that the international community should come to the rescue of a country where there have been wholesale, systematic human rights abuses. We met with young people and students whose rights had been violated; they are behind Mr. Suharto's departure and, it would appear, they want to see President Habibie, in turn, step down as the country's leader. I am glad that you were able to see firsthand what was happening there.
I'll ask my two questions in English so that you may understand more easily.
I have two great concerns, Mr. Chan—East Timor and the whole political process in Indonesia. In East Timor, as you mentioned in your statement today, there have been negotiations. You've met one of the leaders of the East Timorese. He wants autonomy but doesn't want the future to be withheld by a solution that would be imposed on the East Timorese people.
I don't know if that was what led to these extrajudicial killings in the past days. I'd like to know what you think about the present situation in East Timor, because apparently—or it's quite obvious; it's been documented by the East Timor Human Rights Centre in Australia—there has been military repression in East Timor.
I wonder what the government is doing about that. Has it condemned these attacks by the military, and if it has, when has it done it? Have you issued a press release yourself, or has the minister issued a press release on what has happened in East Timor where there were, I remind the committee, 50 extrajudicial executions, and 28 East Timorese are also considered disappeared? This is dramatic, what's happening in East Timor now. So that's my first question.
My second question is Parliament, and the assembly held between November 10 and 13, one month after your visit. I think this session was to confirm the idea that there should be elections, a more open and transparent government, changes in the system. But I understand the role of the military has been confirmed, consolidated, that they'll be automatically elected in the Indonesian parliament.
Has the Government of Canada said anything on that? Will it say something? Does it believe we should keep silent when it comes to the role of military in government?
Those are my two questions.
Mr. Raymond Chan: Thank you very much, Mr. Turp, for your questions.
First, the Government of Canada has not made any releases yet on condemnation about the killings you talk about, because right now there are contradictory reports coming out from East Timor, whether they were military clashes that resulted in the deaths or whether there was indeed extrajudicial execution, as claimed by the human rights activists.
Right now the Red Cross has sent in a delegation to look into the matter. If indeed it was extrajudicial executions, then we'll definitely react to it.
On the second question, when I was there there was also a lot of debate among academics and the people involved in this reform process on the role of the military. We as a government have decided not to give our opinion on that particular matter, because we thought we should leave the reform process to take its course, to allow a good debate within the group of people.
There is some concern that the military has been running the country, not only in the government sense but also in the administration in the local regions and in the food delivery and the liaison between a lot of the community and the government.
Sometimes the military are used for the development-assistance effort in some regions. Some are good, some are bad. Some of them abuse their authority.
As well, when they negotiate for the military to withdraw from involvement in politics, some academics, some people, feel there might be a smoother transition to allow the military to phase out in about five years.
So there was a lot of debate going on at that time. We decided not to impose a position upon them.
Mr. Daniel Turp: You met President Habibie yourself, did you?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Yes, I did.
Mr. Daniel Turp: Could you tell us what his position is on that issue, and on the issue of East Timor?
Mr. Raymond Chan: We did not discuss the participation of the military, in our conversation.
Mr. Daniel Turp: Why not? Why didn't you discuss it with it him?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Because in the time we had, half an hour, we actually engaged in a big debate on the ethnic Chinese issue. We spent a lot of our time debating that particular issue. We pushed for and urged them to keep their hands off the investigation by the joint fact-finding team.
So a lot of other issues were debated and discussed in this meeting.
Mr. Daniel Turp: Did you talk about East Timor with the president?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Yes, we did talk about that.
Mr. Daniel Turp: What was his position on East Timor?
Mr. Raymond Chan: He supported the negotiation that was ongoing but without specifics of position. They are willing to give self-autonomy, or a large degree of freedom for self-autonomy, but at the time, the position of the government has always been that this would be the final negotiation, that they'd give them self-autonomy but that's it. East Timor is part of Indonesia.
That was their position.
Mr. Daniel Turp: So the issue is, this autonomy is not to close the final status; it's not the final status. It won't go further. The government doesn't want—
Mr. Raymond Chan: The government's position, to us, their open position, is, “That's it; if we give the self-autonomy, don't talk about separation any more”. That was their position.
Mr. Daniel Turp: What does the leader of the East Timorese think about that?
Mr. Raymond Chan: The leader thinks self-autonomy is fine but it has to be open-ended. Even if it takes 100 years or 50 years, it cannot be closed-end.
Mr. Daniel Turp: What's your position on this?
Mr. Raymond Chan: To me, we support self-determination, so if there's a will of the people, then we have to respect that.
Mr. Daniel Turp: Do you think our parliament, like the U.S. House of Representatives, should state that the East Timorese have a right of self-determination?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Right now, we support the negotiation. We support a political solution versus a military solution on East Timor, because we think there's a role for us to play between the two to allow us to, at the same time, build the capacity of the East Timorese by providing assistance through education, economic development, training and so on.
For example, they have appealed to us to help them, to teach them how to negotiate on the issues, which we're willing to provide. At the same time, we think if we are not so precise in our position, then we can play a bigger role in the process.
Mr. Daniel Turp: Thank you.
The Chairman: Mr. Robinson.
Mr. Svend J. Robinson (Burnaby—Douglas, NDP): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I too would like to welcome the minister back before our committee.
I have questions in a couple of areas, but I want to just follow up on the question Mr. Turp raised.
I must say, I was pleased to hear the minister say, in his words, “We support self-determination for the people East Timor”. That's an important statement.
I take it you are speaking on behalf of the government in that, are you, Mr. Minister?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Yes.
Mr. Svend Robinson: As well, in determining the wishes and the views of the people of East Timor, I assume the minister would, in fact, support the proposal that has been made by José Ramos-Horta, Xanana Gusmao, and other Timorese leaders that, at an appropriate time—and they're not suggesting immediately, but at an appropriate time—there be an opportunity for a referendum, freely held, under international supervision, to determine the wishes of the people of East Timor.
Would the minister accept that as well?
Mr. Raymond Chan: I think that could be a negotiated result with the government, and we would endorse that kind of result.
Mr. Svend Robinson: Right.
On the issue of the murders that took place in a massacre in the village of Alas in East Timor last week, the minister indicates that the Government of Canada isn't yet taking a position because the circumstances are unclear. Yet Bishop Belo has certainly strongly condemned what took place, and indicates that in his view, there was a very serious problem—in fact, the worst since the Dili massacre in 1991.
I would appeal to the minister to look into this issue urgently, and request of him that, should it be confirmed that civilians were executed by the military, the Government of Canada will indeed issue a strong statement of condemnation.
I take it the minister would agree to that, would he?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Yes.
Mr. Svend Robinson: On the issue of the situation of the ethnic Chinese in Indonesia, I had the opportunity to meet yesterday in Toronto with Canadians Concerned about Ethnic Violence in Indonesia, as well as the Vancouver Forum Against Human Rights Violation. I know the minister has met with them as well.
The minister is well aware of the long history of systemic racism in Indonesia, the discrimination and repression of the ethnic Chinese community. The sexual assaults, the rapes, that took place in May of this year were horrifying, but the ethnic Chinese community has been for far too long brutally repressed in Indonesia.
I want to ask the minister to clarify the position of the Government of Canada with respect to the recommendations of the joint fact-finding team. There were some important recommendations. The minister indicated that in his meeting with President Habibie, he did raise concerns around that issue.
The task force has reported, and so far the government has ignored the recommendations of that report. What action is the minister prepared to take to put bilateral pressure from Canada to implement the very important recommendations of the joint task force?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Right now the government has asked the cabinet, the minister in charge of that portfolio, to study the report. They're trying to resolve the discrepancies between what they see has happened and the report.
There is no doubt in our mind that there is a reluctance of the military to accept the blame in there. I think there's a big debate within the military themselves as to what is the best way to build their role in the future, whether it is for them to cover up or for them to open up and meet the problem.
Mr. Svend Robinson: What is Canada doing, though, to urge them?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Both Minister Lloyd Axworthy and I issued a press release last week, not only to condemn the violence that took place during the session of the MPR but also to urge the government to follow through with the report of the joint fact-finding team. So that's the position of the government.
Mr. Svend Robinson: I wonder if we could perhaps get copies of that press release.
I haven't seen that myself, Mr. Chairman. I don't know if other members have.
Mr. Daniel Turp: I haven't.
Mr. Svend Robinson: I would welcome a copy of that.
Mr. Raymond Chan: Okay.
Mr. Svend Robinson: I have a couple of other areas of concern, Mr. Chairman, that the groups have raised with me. One is the issue of the victims themselves of this horrible violence, and those who are still at risk, and the suggestion that there be some form of recognition by immigration authorities of the need for special treatment of these people, both in Canada and Indonesia.
How is the minister and his government responding to this proposal?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Right now we are working with the Department of Immigration to provide assistance to the victims of the riots, not only to the rape victims but also to those who have had their property attacked, damaged, and destroyed in the process.
Mr. Svend Robinson: Is there any special program being put in place to assist the victims who are in Canada in terms of asylum?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Right now, the departmental people are talking about a special unit that would help verify the victims and then provide refuge for them.
Mr. Svend Robinson: The minister mentioned his discussions with Lloyd Axworthy, the foreign affairs minister. These groups have been attempting to meet with the foreign affairs minister for some time. I wonder whether you might be in a position to indicate to the committee whether a meeting will be happening in the near future with Minister Axworthy.
Mr. Raymond Chan: Actually, the minister is very concerned about the issue, and he has already met the Vancouver group.
Mr. Svend Robinson: I'm sorry; I'm talking about the Toronto group.
Mr. Raymond Chan: Well, we can urge him to meet again, but the thing is, I, as the Secretary of State for Asia-Pacific, am totally in charge of the file. I have met with the Toronto group myself.
Mr. Svend Robinson: Right.
Now, Suharto has a pretty appalling record. I think that's been acknowledged by certainly all of the major international human rights groups. He's responsible for hundreds of thousands of people killed when he took over in the 1960s—the genocide in East Timor of some 200,000 people; thousands of Chinese killed in West Kalimantan in 1967; and certainly the riots during his presidency in May of this year, which were very serious. He was involved in that.
Canada has been pushing hard for an international criminal court. Is Canada prepared to take the initiative, once this criminal court is up and running, to in fact try to bring former President Suharto to justice?
Indeed, a couple of Portuguese MPs have already made a similar proposal, that once there is a forum internationally he should be brought to justice for these terrible crimes against humanity.
Is Canada prepared to take a leading role in that?
Mr. Raymond Chan: The problem of the international criminal court is that it's not retroactive. You cannot charge previous crimes. So there would be a technical difficulty in doing that.
Mr. Svend Robinson: My final question, Mr. Chairman, is with respect to a memorandum drafted by the former Canadian ambassador to Indonesia, dated July 31, 1997. Gary Smith wrote this memorandum. In it he reported on a meeting that took place between Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas and Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy.
That memorandum indicated that Lloyd Axworthy and he had spoken about the East Timor Alert Network, and that Lloyd Axworthy had apologized for the anti-Suharto campaign in Canada.
I want to ask the minister—I assume he's familiar with that memo; he's the minister very much involved in this area—this question: Did that memo accurately reflect the substance of the meeting that took place between our foreign minister and Minister Alatas, or did the ambassador, Gary Smith, get it wrong?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy never—I repeat, never—apologized to anybody.
Mr. Svend Robinson: Did the ambassador get it wrong, then? Is that what the minister is saying?
Mr. Raymond Chan: I've forgotten the term that was used in the memo.
Mr. Svend Robinson: Well, let's put aside the word “apology” for one minute. I'll ask the minister again: Did the memo—and the minister has seen the memo, obviously—accurately reflect the substance of that meeting?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Without the memo in front of me, it's very difficult for me to make that judgment, but as far as I know, Lloyd, our minister, has never apologized.
Mr. Svend Robinson: Well, Mr. Chairman, what I would ask, then, finally, is if the minister would in fact review the memo, since he doesn't have it in front of him now—and I understand that—and, if necessary, pursue a conversation with Minister Axworthy and then report back to the committee as to whether indeed the memo contained any inaccuracies.
The Chairman: If the minister wants to do that.
Mr. Svend Robinson: Well, I'm requesting that the minister do that, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Raymond Chan: I think what we need to do is look into the sensitivity of the memo—
Mr. Svend Robinson: Oh, I'm sure it's quite sensitive.
Mr. Raymond Chan: —and then report back to the committee.
Mr. Svend Robinson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Perhaps, Minister, you could look at the memo, discuss it with the minister, and then write the committee. That would be very helpful.
Mr. Raymond Chan: Okay.
The Chairman: Thank you, sir.
What law school did you go to, Mr. Robinson?
Some hon. members: Oh, oh.
The Chairman: Monsieur Patry.
Mr. Bernard Patry (Pierrefonds—Dollard, Lib.): Merci, monsieur le président.
Mr. Minister, I just want to follow up a little bit on Mr. Turp's, but mainly Mr. Robinson's, questions.
In your statement, you really emphasized the JFFT report of October 23, but you know that in the team that made this report there were four generals, plus NGOs and civil servants and many people, and the generals didn't sign. They didn't sign the report at all.
You seemed to emphasize the fact that the government now is studying the report and will take action. Do you really think the government will respond, first of all, and take action? And what type of action do you think they will take?
My second question is that it seems Canada could do a lot of things—and you mentioned that the next steps would include so many things—but what type of assistance do we give our embassy there? Because it seems to me they have a lot of work to do there.
Mr. Raymond Chan: It is true that the military and the government ministers did not come to the announcement of the report, but to my knowledge, they have participated in the draft of the report. So in the period preceding the announcement, the making public of the report, they were part of the team that drafted the report, as reported.
As well, the fact that the rest of the members of the team were bold enough to stand up without the support of the government, to still come out to make the report public under such a chaotic environment, shows the dedication of the members of the team. I think the pressure from the public, inside and outside Indonesia, moved the government.
So the government is moving away from denial of the report into studying the report. I think continued pressure is needed from outside and inside. I think the demonstration from the students and the response from the newspapers inside Indonesia are having very positive effects on the government. And the government is responding, maybe too slowly according to our standards, but they're moving.
It's very difficult for us to prejudge what the government will do. What we're expecting, though, is that in a few months, by May or June, a new government will be formed, that the election process will be completed, and hopefully that a more responsible government, a more accountable government, will be formed and then the culprits will be put to justice.
Mr. Bernard Patry: And what type of assistance do we give to our ambassador there, to the embassy itself?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Right now we're working very closely with them, on a daily basis, to help them. CIDA is working very hard with the NGOs to provide assistance to them. We're giving a lot of priority in our funding support to the NGOs right now.
Mr. Bernard Patry: Thank you.
The Chairman: Thank you, Mr. Patry.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian (Brampton Centre, Lib.): Thank you, Mr. Minister.
This issue has to do basically, as you know, with trade and human rights, and with the international criminal court in Europe now, there are going to be all over the world similar cases—in England, the Middle East, all over the world.
What kind of coordination efforts do we have between Canada and other G-7 countries or other European countries concerning human rights, coordinating one uniform response to this? Because Canada alone can't change world policy, but we can work together with other like-minded states to change it.
Are we doing anything to bring these nations together so we can have one uniform response to the situation in East Timor, or Indonesia, or Turkey, or wherever the case may be?
Mr. Raymond Chan: There is a lot of talk, discussion, and exchange of notes between our embassy and the other diplomatic corps in that region. As well, when we're in the regional fora—for example, the ASEAN Regional Forum—we do compare notes and work together with like-minded countries, like Australia and New Zealand and the U.S. on these kinds of issues. So there is coordination and quite a uniform position on the topic of human rights.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: But there is no formal organization to approach this issue in a uniform way. It's just consultation, and consultation might not take you anywhere.
Mr. Raymond Chan: Sometimes a formal organization is not necessarily productive, because you would project an image that you're ganging up on a certain country rather than a genuine concern expressed by the Canadian government. Because of our objectivity in our history of response to these kinds of issues, very often our advice, our concerns, will be more respected by the countries. Some other countries have some colonial background, some military involvement in regions and so on, so their credibility is less than ours. So sometimes a formal organization is not necessarily the best way to go.
However, the most formal way is the United Nations Human Rights Commission, where Canada and others have always talked and discussed behind the scenes, to make sure we have a coordinated approach.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: You see, if you had a mechanism to respond to this, these Chinese, so-called guest Indonesians, I read here, of six or seven generations— It didn't happen last month or last week or last year, or with Suharto. It was there before Suharto, and I know Suharto was there for many decades.
We haven't acted on this issue, and many similar issues, because we don't have a coherent mechanism to respond to situations like this. We wait until the killing takes place, and violence takes place, and then we react to it.
Mr. Raymond Chan: Actually, the Chinese were safer, for the last 15 years under Suharto, as compared with the other minority groups, because Suharto was kind of providing protection while, at the same time, keeping the Chinese away from politics and the military. The Chinese were very docile in accepting that kind of arrangement.
Mr. Svend Robinson: They don't have much choice.
Mr. Raymond Chan: Yes. But it's true too that the human rights abuses in Indonesia for the last 15 or 20 years have been more in East Timor, and the civilians or peasants in the more remote regions and so on.
The Chinese situation is so peculiar. At the same time there is more hope opening up in terms of the other minorities, the Chinese have been used as culprits. So it's a very, very peculiar situation right now, and this is why we're paying special attention to them.
At the same time, at the UN Commission on Human Rights and so on, we continue to work with like-minded countries to have some uniform pressure applied to them, but sometimes on the political scene the Australians and the Americans do not necessarily have the same political position we do.
For example, the Australians and the U.S. are much more in the process of picking a winner. For example, they would feel that maybe Habibie is the only choice to keep the country stable right now, but that's not the Canadian position. So there are some differences in positioning of our policy, yet on the human rights front, we exert our concerns together. I mean, they express similar concerns to ours.
So I think it's important for us not to tie our policy too closely with the others—you know, to give the impression that we have the same policy as the other like-minded countries. Even though we are like-minded, we have different approaches.
Mr. Sarkis Assadourian: Thank you.
The Chairman: I have Mr. Strahl, Mr. Turp, Mr. Robinson, Mrs. Finestone and Mr. Cannis on the list. If we can keep it down to around four or five minutes each, I think we can get everybody in.
Mr. Chuck Strahl: Thank you.
It was kind of an eye-opener, Mr. Minister, to hear that things have been better under Mr. Suharto for the last few years. But I realize you're being very specific.
Mr. Raymond Chan: I said “on the Chinese community”, and that because there was some kind of agreement—
Mr. Chuck Strahl: Okay. I'll have to review the blues on that one. I'm not sure where that one was going. But I take your explanation there.
I have just a couple of questions. First, how much dollar aid does Canada give to Indonesia?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Bilaterally, about $26 million a year.
Perhaps Sarah, my support person here, can introduce herself.
Ms. Sarah Taylor (Deputy Director, Southeast Asia Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade): I'm Sarah Taylor, deputy director of the Southeast Asia division in the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
Mr. Chuck Strahl: Thank you.
Indonesia, probably because of the APEC incident, has been pretty front and centre in Canadians' minds here for awhile, and there have been some real big movements, with Mr. Suharto stepping aside and all the riots and the abuse. It's been a big international story.
On the economic side, I think, as you say, the Chinese have been used as scapegoats for a bunch of things that have been going on there. That's typical of repressive regimes, to pick somebody, pick on them, and try to make them take the fall.
When Canada's been negotiating with other international players on, for example, the IMF bailout, or on the World Bank aid in Indonesia, have they been putting conditions, or has Canada been stressing that there should be conditions, placed on these funds so that when they're given to Indonesia, they're saying, you know, we're going to help you, but you have to play your part; you have to listen to the fact-finding team and we have to see some pretty tangible progress on these human rights areas? Has there been anything like that, the tied aid idea?
Mr. Raymond Chan: At the time of the negotiations with the Suharto government, the May riots had not occurred, and at the time the most difficult part was the fallout of the economy. The May riots, and the social conditions as they are now, were very much caused by the economic problems, the economic fallout, that came apart.
So the IMF negotiations we supported were primarily focused on the reform of the economic system, which to me is also part of a political reform. Once you release the economic controls on the people—for example, the monopolies, the government crown corporations, or government cronies in the country, which control the livelihood of people—then you would allow individuals to benefit much better.
So the negotiation of the IMF is more focused on that kind of dismantling of the establishment on the monopoly side, less on the political side.
Mr. Chuck Strahl: I think for many Canadians, when they look on Canadian aid policies, there is huge support when they see aid going to either NGOs or directly to help victims of the riots or victims of natural disasters and so on. When there is bilateral aid that is not tied somehow to the human rights issue, Canadians get their dander up, because they just say, you know, we're giving it to a regime that uses military force, by the police or military, to supress its own citizenry.
So when we give aid, I would encourage the minister to— I think it's just a national psyche for Canadians to say, “When it goes to help the people, and we know that, and we can see that, that's good, and we support it”. I think Canadians are very generous. Where they're not so generous is when it's bilateral aid that goes to a government. Because government-to-government aid is just, in a regime like Indonesia—
Even if it's in transition, we need to see that they are listening, they are accepting the joint fact-finding mission, they are going to act, and they do have a timetable.
When they see that, there's big support. When they don't, there's not. So given the high profile that Indonesia has had, I just would encourage you to continue to make that link on the aid packages, because I think Canadians want to see that agenda move forward.
Mr. Raymond Chan: The aid package that we provide bilaterally to the developing countries are pretty well concentrated in reform projects—reform of the institutions by training people, to make them more civilized, to make them more educated—in a responsible government scenario, in environment, and through NGOs. Those are also classified as bilateral aid.
So if you look at the breakdown of the $26 million we provided for Indonesia, you can see it is not going, as cash, to the government. It's bilateral assistance through Canadian NGOs, Canadian groups that are providing human resource training and institutional reform to the Indonesian government.
This is why I think that even though sometimes there are human rights abuses in those countries, we still provide the kinds of processes that provide change, that shape the country to change.
Mr. Chuck Strahl: Thank you.
The Chairman: Ms. Finestone.
Mrs. Sheila Finestone (Mount Royal, Lib.): Thank you.
I'd just like to pick up on Mr. Strahl's question.
Welcome, Mr. Chan.
I can suggest to you, Mr. Strahl, that in the two visits I've made to the area of Indonesia, Jakarta and outside, I was extremely proud of the programs CIDA finances in that allocation of funds. There were wonderful projects for women so that they could become self-sufficient and support their families. There were projects that did child education, that worked with children who were disabled, and that did training and education in the development of democratic institutions.
I think all of those were excellent projects. I am very pleased with what we do in all those countries in Southeast Asia.
I have two questions. One was going to be to the chair.
I don't know if I do that in this part or if I do it after. Will you please direct me?
I have a question about the visit of the Canadians Concerned about Ethnic Violence in Indonesia, who've requested a meeting with us. They've been advised that they'll meet with the subcommittee on human rights.
It's my sense that when you're meeting about issues such as Indonesia in this committee—it's a very knowledgeable committee, but it would broaden the base of our knowledge—meetings of that nature should be held with the full committee.
The Chairman: Right.
Mrs. Sheila Finestone: I know that may not be the normal practice, but if we're doing an in-depth study of that area of the country, I would like to see that the full committee pays attention to their presentation.
The Chairman: Well, I wouldn't disagree with you, but maybe I'd make the suggestion that, as you know, normally decisions of that nature are made in a steering committee, because we're trying to organize the works of the various committees. And we have such a heavily charged program, given the extra time that was taken up because the nuclear report, which ran over an extra two weeks—
Normally the human rights committee is the one that deals with these issues and then reports back to the full committee. I spoke to Mrs. Beaumier just now, and I think if we were to keep this meeting in the human rights committee, but those of us who are interested—
I was going to say to the people who are here, certainly in my own Toronto constituency I have a considerable number of members—I'm sure all of us do—and I intend to go to that meeting myself. We can always attend that subcommittee meeting. I think probably Mr. Robinson will be there.
So we'll try to make sure it's a fully attended meeting, if that's all right with you.
Mrs. Sheila Finestone: Thank you.
Mr. Chan, yesterday I had the opportunity to meet with Mary Robinson to discuss the international criminal court. As you know, the meeting was chaired by the Hon. Lloyd Axworthy in Rome, and Canada is very interested in pursuing this.
I must say it came as a surprise to me to know that there would be no retroactivity within the parameters of that bill. I intend to raise that with the minister, because I'm not very pleased with that. The Pinochet example is a perfect one.
Mr. Daniel Turp: It was a big fight in Rome.
Mrs. Sheila Finestone: Well, perhaps, Daniel, you could fill us in on that, because I'm quite disappointed, frankly.
Secondly, when I listen to you and I hear the stories of ethnic violence and racial violence, two things come to mind, of course. Scapegoating starts, where you're trying to distract the population. Coming from an ethnic minority myself, and as you do, I know quite well what that means, and the potential for terrible results.
On the other hand, we have this really ridiculous notion that we're not allowed to interfere with the individual states, and the primacy of rights of individual states, to handle their problems, their concerns.
My question to you is that, as the year 2001 is going to be the United Nations Year of Race Relations, I would sincerely hope, in terms of the right of individual countries or world bodies to express concern and to move where there is ethnic fighting within a country, that this argument no longer holds sway, and that we are entitled to move before it's too late.
I think Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Herzigovina—all those areas—are perfect examples of why we should see a change. So as Canada will be a participant on the development of the agenda, I would hope that this issue will be raised, and secondly, that the international criminal court is allowed to have retroactivity.
I wonder if you could comment on both those questions.
Mr. Raymond Chan: On the question of the international criminal court, to gain the support of the member states to sign on to the agreement to establish such a court, the negotiating is difficult. I think we pushed really hard, but I guess in the end, in order to get the collective agreements, we have to accept the agreement as it is for the final results.
The Canadian government does not accept the notion that ethnic violence is an internal matter that cannot be raised by other countries. We take it as another form of human rights abuse that violates the UN Declaration on Human Rights. And that's why we continue to raise concern even over the objection of the countries that have that happening in their sovereignty.
There's one thing I want to clarify, if I may, Mr. Chairman. When I said that the ethnic Chinese have been better off for the last 10 to 15 under Suharto, what I meant is that they were not singled out particularly for ethnic attack. It wasn't until the May riot.
At the same time, on their I.D. they have been identified as “Ethnic Chinese”. They were not allowed to participate in politics, in military, or in public service.
Mrs. Sheila Finestone: Or post-secondary.
Mr. Raymond Chan: This is how they were discriminated against. In this meeting the Habibie government agreed that they would take that identification away—
Mrs. Sheila Finestone: Good. They take the yellow star off. I'm pleased to hear that.
Mr. Raymond Chan: —and allow them to participate in politics. This is why right now there are two Chinese political parties formed in Indonesia, and the Chinese are getting involved in the opposition parties and in the government parties.
So that is a good sign.
Mrs. Sheila Finestone: Thank you.
I have one last question, because the issue was raised, and it was one I had wanted to advance.
The terms and conditions of the International Monetary Fund, and in the World Bank, for that matter, contributed, as you well just acknowledged, to the May riot. At this given point in the history of Indonesia, tens of millions of children are not able to go to school. The devastation economically has tremendous social consequences.
I am very concerned—and it was expressed at the ASEAN meetings we were at—that the terms IMF imposes have disastrous effects on those countries; that they are not well suited; that they can't have one-glove-fits-all; and that the individual companies, corporations, private business, have a responsibility, and they have to be part of the structure so that the civil society is able to work and participate in the economic stability of the country.
When the IMF comes in and imposes harsh conditions, and the international world does not wipe out some of the owed debt, you have no formula for a forward move and a rehabilitation or readaptation of the economic environment.
I would hope that further discussion with the IMF is undertaken by the United Nations in some way, or with the human rights tribunal. There is no way these countries can recover. And frankly, the impact on the children in particular is devastating.
Do you have any observations in that regard?
Mr. Raymond Chan: I would not say that the IMF was totally responsible for the May riots.
Mrs. Sheila Finestone: I didn't mean that they were totally responsible; I meant that the conditions they imposed led to that.
Mr. Raymond Chan: Right. But what I've seen is that the IMF decision has moved the government to face the difficulties. I think even if the IMF didn't get involved there, the economy would have collapsed, inducing the political conflict, positioning, and in-fighting that resulted in the kind of riot that happened in May.
Indeed, the IMF was less sensitive compared with their position now towards Indonesia. They are much more sensitive to the social needs of the people.
I guess at the time of the negotiation they were imposing change to the Indonesian government, and if at the time the Indonesian government was open to the total recommendation instead of the half-hearted reform, they might have been able to pull it off, as they did in Thailand. Also, at the time the western countries were well positioned to provide more food aid, to help them through the difficult period. But I guess the political difficulties in the country caused the collapse of the political system and the economic system.
It's a very unfortunate happening in Indonesia.
Mrs. Sheila Finestone: Thank you very much.
The Chairman: Well, we're being encouraged to look at the international financial institutions in this committee, so this may just get the juices running.
Mr. Turp, then Mr. Cannis and Mr. Robinson.
Mr. Daniel Turp: I'd like to make a comment first, Mr. Chairman. The question of the International Criminal Court is arousing so much interest that it should come back to this committee for consideration.
We adopted this treaty and now it need only be signed and ratified. Although we are very busy, I suggest that we ask the witnesses who appeared before us in the spring to return, so that they can explain the process for becoming a party to this treaty.
I have three short questions, Mr. Chan.
Did you ask for the release of political prisoners from East Timor, specifically of the political prisoner you met, Mr. Gusmao?
Secondly, did you—or could you—meet the Minister of Justice of Indonesia, who is seen as one of the most progressive figures in the cabinet? I understand you did not meet him. Why was that the case?
My third question is, will you or the minister or other members of the government visit Indonesia in the near future? If that's the case, what is on the agenda of those visits?
I'd like to talk about corruption, but I guess we don't have time for that.
Mr. Raymond Chan: We indeed asked for the release of political prisoners in general, but without any specific names. I met with General Gusmao, as I said.
Behind the scenes, I think there is some reluctance. I was told by some sources that the government is willing to release General Gusmao, but under certain conditions that the general would not accept. That's just a piece of information.
Mr. Daniel Turp: Do you know those conditions?
Mr. Raymond Chan: No, I don't.
Sarah, do you?
Ms. Sarah Taylor: I think the principle condition is that he be willing to back away from his stance on independence of East Timor. If he is willing to withdraw from his public stance in support of independence as the final status of East Timor, he will be released. He said he has refused on that basis.
Mr. Daniel Turp: —
Mr. Raymond Chan: You're very right in your assessment of the minister—
The Chairman: Mr. Minister, we are going to sit continually and never leave until Mr. Turp relinquishes his claim to sovereignty.
Voices: Oh, oh.
The Chairman: That is how we'll deal with this.
Mr. Daniel Turp: And I might not be here.
Mr. Raymond Chan: The Minister of Justice, whom I met in April, is indeed a very progressive reformer. In that meeting, before I even offered to encourage judicial reform, he asked for Canada's support and resources to help them implement judicial reform in Indonesia.
On this visit in October, I did not meet with him because of the time allocation, because besides the meetings with government, 80% of my time was spent in meetings with the different NGOs and community groups.
Sarah reminds me that originally I was to meet with him, but he had an emergency issue he had to deal with. He actually had to leave Jakarta.
Ms. Sarah Taylor: He had some sort of family problem.
Mr. Raymond Chan: Yes; that's why we didn't meet.
But he is indeed a very important figure in this reform process.
Mr. Daniel Turp: Are there any forthcoming visits?
Mr. Raymond Chan: It's not in the plans right now. We're working very closely with the NGOs right now, though, to provide assistance and refuge to people.
Mr. Chairman, before I close, can I make a clarification?
The Chairman: Just to slide it a little bit over, can you stay a few minutes more with us? Because we do have both Mr. Cannis and Mr. Robinson. If you're willing to stay an extra five or six minutes, Mr. Minister, maybe we can get everybody in. That would be great. Then we'll ask you to make a bit of a closing statement. That would be good.
Mr. John Cannis (Scarborough Centre, Lib.): I'll make this very brief, because my colleague, Madam Finestone, covered most of the areas I wanted to touch upon.
Minister, welcome. I was greatly encouraged to hear that the ethnic groups are going to be given the opportunity to participate in political involvement. That's a positive sign.
As you heard earlier, we had Mary Robinson before us yesterday. One of the questions I brought up was on compliance, about which I'm greatly concerned, given what you said earlier with respect to Australia and the U.S. and their approach, their methodology in terms of addressing these unfortunate circumstances, wishing to pick a winner.
We have the UN, who I believe is doing its utmost, but as many resolutions that could come forward, as many comments or initiatives, unless compliance is there...I mean, we could support.
Are there, in your view, any ways, any venues we could enforce or support the UN initiatives to indeed see in the future, hopefully, compliance of resolutions, not just for this specific region but generally throughout the world where these unfortunate incidents are taking place? In your view, what is it? Is it financial support, or supporting our NGOs in a different way?
Do you have any comments in that area?
Mr. Raymond Chan: I think you touched on the issue when you mentioned the NGOs. I think for any long-term solution, or a non-superficial solution, to these kinds of suppressions and violations of human rights, the foreign pressure we add sometimes produces temporary results. It's not until there is an instrument inside those countries that there is an ability to provide pressure from within to push for change, not only on the government of the day but also the attitude of the people themselves. This is why sometimes we have to negotiate and make sure we induce change from within.
I'll take the example of Indonesia. The fact that there has been a human rights commission in Indonesia since 1993 is a result of a negotiation between the UN members and Indonesia for us to lower our tone in the resolution. Indonesia accepted to have a human rights commission formed, appointed by the government. This human rights commission has established its credibility. Every year they receive up to 10,000 or 12,000 cases. They have become the ombudsman of the country.
There are so many NGOs there. I talked about the legal aid foundation, which has about 100 lawyers with a $1 million U.S. budget, funded by the western world. It has been in existence for about 20 years, since the seventies, under the Suharto government. They've been fighting the military. Sometimes they have been arrested, and the lawyers have been kicked in the butt, yet they have stood up for the people.
So those are the organizations that are inducing change.
Mr. John Cannis: So on the give-and-take approach, you're saying to me, and to us here, that we've made positive progress, given, of course, Australia's and the U.S.'s alternate approach. We've made good, concrete progress, in your view.
Mr. Raymond Chan: And even those postures were supported by U.S. and Australia.
Mr. John Cannis: Thank you.
Mr. Svend Robinson: Mr. Chairman, I will be very brief.
I thank the minister for extending his stay before the committee.
I have two questions. The first follows up on Mr. Cannis' important question about the role of the United Nations.
Following up on the May 1998 atrocities, in particular—the sexual assaults, the rapes and other serious human rights concerns—should the Indonesian government not respond in a substantive and positive way to the recommendations of the joint fact-finding team? I wonder whether the minister would agree that this is an issue that we will pursue at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights and that we will call for a special rapporteur to be appointed to look into this very serious matter. That is the first question.
The second question is that in light of the profound significance of the upcoming elections in Indonesia, the political changes that have taken place there, I wonder whether the minister would agree that it would be a positive thing to send an all-party delegation of parliamentarians to Indonesia, both to observe those important elections and to broaden the scope and look at the situation in East Timor and the human rights situation generally as well as follow up on the concerns around ethnic Chinese.
Those are my two questions, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Raymond Chan: To respond, I would support your proposal that in case the Indonesian government turns a deaf ear to the recommendations of the JFFT, the UN should take a very severe look at what the UN can do to push that issue.
I would also support a parliamentary delegation going to Indonesia. At the same time, we have offered support for the election process to make sure that the process is fair and transparent.
Mr. Daniel Turp: Will you support a special rapporteur?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Yes, I will.
Mr. Daniel Turp: That specific?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Yes.
Mr. Svend Robinson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: Thank you very much.
Thank you, Minister. Maybe I can ask one very quick question.
Are we still financing, in the aid program, the human rights commission in Indonesian, the one located in Jakarta?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Yes.
The Chairman: How much a year do we give them?
Mr. Raymond Chan: Right now we have two people from our human rights commission who are there to help them. Actually, when I was there one of them was in the meeting with us.
The Chairman: Okay. So we've detached two people to work in their office for them. That's sort of a contribution in kind. Do we make a cash contribution as well?
Mr. Raymond Chan: I'm not sure.
Mrs. Sheila Finestone: We sent a very well-known NGO group there to do work for two weeks, Mr. Chairman.
The Chairman: The reason I raise it is that some years ago we had the director of the human rights commission here in Ottawa. He told me that at least the Canadian government's policy of engagement enabled them to have that presence. You're very helpful about guaranteeing that we're there, and I just wondered if we were still supporting them—
Mr. Raymond Chan: Remember, there are fundings for special programs. For example, there's some initiation for them to train and give information to the security forces and so on, which we provide funding for.
The Chairman: And Mr. Allmand's organization, the international centre in Montreal, is also involved, I suppose.
Okay. Thank you very much.
Minister, you wanted to have a quick concluding statement.
Mr. Raymond Chan: Yes, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to take this opportunity to clarify some of the myths about the Chinese community controlling the majority of the economy in Indonesia, which is fabricated not only by the media but by a lot of other people who don't understand the situation too well.
The problem we have is that in Indonesia, no proper statistics have been kept by the government. I think they do it on purpose; they don't want the truth to be known by the citizens. But from sources I know of, about 50% of the Indonesian economy are crown corporations controlled by the government. About 25% to 30% of the remaining 50% are controlled by the cronies of the authorities—and I could name names—or the people in charge.
What remains in the public sector is about 20% of the total economy. Yes, in large part it is controlled by big business, and by Chinese-Indonesian people, with the cooperation and support of the government. But it is false to say that 3% of the Chinese control most of the economy. In that 3% of Chinese, you're talking about 6 million or 7 million people. But out of that 6 million or 7 million people, 90% of them are ordinary people, are ordinary folks—vendors on the street, or farmers. They are just as poor as any Indonesian people.
That little portion of people—maybe less than 1,000—who control that 20% economy, with the support of the government or shared with the government, are Chinese, but you cannot reflect the whole Chinese population.
The victims of this riot were people who had nothing to do with the control of the economy. The ones who control the economy are pretty well out of the country, or have armies to protect them.
So it is incorrect for the media to say that the Chinese control the economy of Indonesia. It is false. It's a small number of Chinese working with the government who control, say, 20% of the economy, yet the whole Chinese community is tainted.
When I toured those riot-affected areas, I felt so sad when I saw that the Chinese vendors trying to sell you a pack of cigarettes, or running a little corner store, were attacked.
I just wanted to take this opportunity to make that clear, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
The Chairman: Thank you.
Mr. Chan, maybe we could ask you—and through you, the department—to furnish the committee with the figures on the wealth distribution in Indonesia in terms of what proportion of the population gets what percentage of the wealth, and as to the bottom 10%, what they share.
I just looked at statistics in Latin America, for example, and I think in Latin America, 60% of the wealth is controlled by 10% of the top population, and the bottom 10% get about 3%. It would be interesting to see comparative figures for Indonesia, if there are some available. I'm sure the IMF would have some of those numbers, and the Human Development Report.
If we get into this international financial institutions issue, we will be looking at this, and when we talk about our trade deals. The members of the committee are very interested. We're now talking about civil society, we're talking about wealth distribution, whether the trade deals enhance wealth distribution, etc. So that type of information might be helpful for us.
Minister, again, thank you very much for your frank and helpful answers to our questions. We appreciate your coming, and look forward to seeing you again.
Mr. Raymond Chan: Thank you.
The Chairman: I'm going to have one short announcement before we break and a couple of other issues.
Mr. Turp, you mentioned the international criminal court. I'm just reminded that on December 10, in connection with the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, we will be having many of the participants here who spoke to us about the international criminal court. We might try to deal with that issue at that time and then see if we want to take it further.
Mr. Svend Robinson: What's the time of that meeting?
The Chairman: It's 9 a.m. on December 10.
Mr. Svend Robinson: I just want to flag one possible concern around the timing of that. There may be statements in the House to commemorate International Human Rights Day, and that would normally take place at 10 a.m. in the House, when the House initially comes in. I just flag that we might want to check in terms of timing.
The Chairman: That's helpful. We might take a break or something. We'll see.
Thank you. That's helpful.
Mr. Daniel Turp: Mr. Chair, it's something else. I'd like the Foreign Affairs officials who took part in the negotiations to appear before us, and I'd like the department to explain what the stages are for the purposes of signing and ratifying this status.
An hon. Member: In the spring.
Mr. Daniel Turp: In the spring.
The Chairman: Okay. I suggest that this matter be taken up in the steering committee, because it's obviously a question of organizing the committee's time.
I have one quick motion, and then Mr. Grewal has a motion.
I'm informed that the French editor of the text of the nuclear report estimates that he will require almost twice as much time to get the report in shape. We're pushing him very hard, because we need it done in time.
I'd like to ask somebody if they would propose that we would allocate enough money out of our budget to pay for 100 hours of his time, if necessary, rather than the 50 hours we allocated in the budget, and that we would transfer this money from other categories.
Mr. Daniel Turp: Yes, because I've started reading it and there's a lot of work to be done.
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chairman: I see unanimous consent to that. I am then authorized to engage the services of Mr. Louis Majeau to edit the French text of the committee's draft report on the nuclear disarmament, at an hourly rate of $70, to a maximum of 100 hours.
Thank you very much.
Mr. Daniel Turp: Everyone agrees.
The Chairman: Mr. Grewal, sir, you have a motion on behalf of Mr. Stinson you'd like to put forward.
Mr. Gurmant Grewal (Surrey Central, Ref.): Yes, Mr. Chair. I have a motion for adoption by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade. It was circulated earlier to the committee members.
The Chairman: May I ask a question about the resolution?
In terms of “before December 10”, because we didn't have any steering committee, is it an imperative for you, if we have to put it over into the next session? If we get an undertaking that she is going to appear, is December 10 a key part of this? I mean, we can shoot for December 10.
Mr. Gurmant Grewal: Mr. Chair, it should happen December 2, actually, for the estimates and performance review, because that was the deadline we were given. That would have given us the opportunity in the committee to debate about the estimates a little longer. But since we will not be in a position to debate the estimates now, only the performance of it, I would prefer it is done before the House adjourns for the Christmas break.
The Chairman: Okay.
Mrs. Hilchie, the minister came on the estimates in May, but it's requested that it be done before December 10. I'm explaining to Mr. Grewal this may or may not be possible, given our time schedule.
We won't lose our jurisdiction if it slides into the new year. We can still look at it in the new year as long as the request has been timely. So the request is in time, if the committee adopts it, and then we have the jurisdiction, and we can put it off.
I'm just asking you to give me flexibility. I'll try to get her here before December 10, but if I can't, I'd like to have the flexibility.
If she can't come, she can't come. There's nothing we can do about it.
Mr. Daniel Turp: If the session is prorogued, will we have the same jurisdiction?
The Chairman: No. If the session is prorogued, everything disappears. We start over again, and a new committee has to be struck.
Mr. Daniel Turp: So we would lose our jurisdiction in this matter?
The Chairman: The clerk tells me that this particular motion would still stand as referred to the committee, whoever's on it, however it's composed. The performance report would still stand referred to the committee.
Mr. Svend Robinson: Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to reinforce that point, that the new committee, if the House does prorogue, would still have the performance report before it, and could deal with it. So I suggest that, as Mr. Grewal suggested, we make every effort to get the minister before December 10, and if that's not possible, we do it at the earliest possible time after that.
The Chairman: Right. That's certainly what my intention would be.
Do I have any objection to that motion? No?
(Motion agreed to—See Minutes of Proceedings)
The Chairman: Thank you very much.