Disrupting diplomacy at its finest: “megaphone diplomacy” between Australia and Indonesia C. 2000

Noor Fatia Lastika Sari, Susanto Zuhdi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This research discusses the Tampa Affair as one of the interfering incidents in the practice of diplomacy between Australia and Indonesia. It was an intriguing occurrence when Australia overruled the UN’s Refugees Convention by turning down 434 Afghan refugees’ plea to be resettled in Australia, all due to the fact that their entire sea voyage was deemed illegal. The presumption of the status of the refugees then led Australia to impute the case to the foul practice of smuggling in some parts of Indonesia’s southern border. Both countries refused to be held responsible, especially Australia who left the 434 passengers of former Palapa 1 motorboat stranded on the Norwegian cargo vessel, M.V. Tampa, miles away from Christmas Island. To put further pressure on Indonesia, Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, decided to exercise an unconventional mode of diplomacy termed Megaphone Diplomacy. The diplomacy is closely related to the role of mass media in shaping public knowledge and opinions, in which the publication worked as the medium of imposing Australia’s strategic interest toward Indonesia. Mass media brings certain pressure on the process of diplomacy as it helps the spreading of the press coverage to be openly accessed by the public, as well as generates endless public assumptions toward the publication. This research, therefore, positions Howard as the human structuring agency, who has gained the ability to transform the institutionalized structure to reproduce a brand-new structure to shape Australia’s immigration policy hereafter in context to Christopher Lloyd’s methodological structuralism. Such theory is utilized to analyze structure as a result of causal factors triggered by an actor through his/her agential power and the structure’s conditioning power. As the agency, the actor owns an agential power to reproduce, transform, or institutionalize the structure to explain the intended and unintended outcome of an occurrence, or historical events. Thus, the incident and its diplomatic process are studied by associating it into the contemporary context and analyzing the determining factors through historical method of heuristic, critic, interpretation, and historiography, structuration theory, as well as printed news as the primary sources to ascertain its effectiveness in the disruptive era.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDissecting History and Problematizing the Past in Indonesia
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781536193992
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Boat people
  • John howard
  • Megaphone diplomacy
  • Migration
  • Tampa incident


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