Ethnocentric article reminds us that Westerners still see Indonesia as nothing more than Bali

Left, a screenshot of the ethnocentric article. Right, a stock photo taken in Bali.
Left, a screenshot of the ethnocentric article. Right, a stock photo taken in Bali.

A recent article published by an Australian media outlet has epitomized the way the ignorant among those in the West see Indonesia; to them, the world’s fourth most populous country is no more than the holiday island of Bali. 

In an article published on Monday, The Australian, one of Australia’s biggest and most reputable national newspapers, decided that the headline “Indonesia’s Covid hell as Australians may have to wait years to go back to Bali” would fly in this day and age.

Don’t get us wrong. We totally understand the compulsion to appeal to your audience. But framing the current COVID-19 crisis Indonesia is facing ⁠— the worst outbreak the country has seen yet ⁠— as an inconvenience for Australian holidaymakers might just be one of the most inconsiderate things a newsroom can do. 

The article, in its entirety, actually attempts to give an overview of the COVID situation in Indonesia at the moment, where scenes from inundated hospitals and makeshift cemeteries, as well as reports of oxygen tanks running out and people dying before getting a chance at treatment, have been making national and international headlines. 

But it seems that practicing full-blown empathy is a little hard to do, when the article had to orient the issue specifically for our neighbors down under. “It could be years before Aussies can holiday in Indonesia as the island of Java is on the verge of a pandemic-induced collapse,” a passage in the article reads.

So what exactly does that imply? Do Australians simply not care about Indonesia beyond their holiday plans in Bali, despite us being their close neighbor? We can’t say we’re surprised, given that a lot of coverage of Indonesia in Australia is so focused on Bali that people often forget that the island is part of a country and not a country on its own.

“What a pig. I hope Indonesia will ban Australians from Bali.”

It’s even more depressing to see this headline printed by such an established outlet — we’d grudgingly accept it if it was published by a right-wing tabloid catering to the ignorant population. Not only is it ethnocentric, but, come on mate, people are actually dying here. Who cares about your delayed holiday plans? 

Read the latest news from Bali and eastern Indonesia here

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