The Politics of Apology in the Pacific
ustralia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong caused a stir in London recently when she gave a speech calling on Britain to reckon with its colonial history in the Indo-Pacific. Citing her family’s experience of living under British imperialism in Malaysia, where Wong was born, she noted the personal oppression generations of her relatives endured. Male relatives toiled in “tin mines and plantations for tobacco and timber” while her female ancestors often “worked as domestic servants for British colonists,” Wong said.카지노사이트
With her comments, Wong made a foray into deeply contentious re-evaluations of Britain’s colonial history, which so far have focused on Atlantic slavery and Britain’s Caribbean sugar colonies. These discussions exploded into global view with the “disastrous” Caribbean tour of Prince William and Kate Middleton in March 2022, when the pair faced daily protests. Prince William fell short of issuing an apology that might carry the onerous burden of financial reparations; instead he expressed “profound sorrow” for what had transpired.
His speech did little to improve matters. Instead, the couple was seemingly publicly ambushed by Jamaica’s prime minister, who informed them of his nation’s intention to become a republic, a movement galvanized by the subsequent death of Queen Elizabeth II in September. Jamaica, the former centerpiece of Britain’s Atlantic slave empire, is now aiming to be a republic by 2025. Barbados, the other great component of Britain’s Caribbean slave empire, parted ways with the British Crown in 2021.바카라사이트
Given the acute sensitivities of this topic, why did Australia’s top diplomat wade into these treacherous waters in January 2023, in London no less? Wong acknowledged that “such stories can sometimes feel uncomfortable – for those whose stories they are, and for those who hear them.” But she maintained, “understanding the past enables us to better share the present and the future” and it “gives us the opportunity to find more common ground than if we stayed sheltered in narrower versions of our countries’ histories.”
Wong’s evocation of Britain’s historical shame and her call to reckon with it was made in a speech celebrating Britain’s return to a prominent place in the Indo-Pacific region, having substantially drawn down its regional footprint after Suez Crisis in the 1950s. In September 2021 Britain signaled loudly that it was returning to the region by upscaling its diplomatic and military presence, and also entering into the AUKUS agreement with Australia and the United States in September 2021. Britain also became, as Wong noted in her speech, a foundational member of the 2022 Partners in the Blue Pacific Initiative. The ultimate point Wong was making in her London speech was that reckoning with colonial pasts, in current times, makes for good diplomacy.온라인카지노