Thursday, October 20, 2011

Comment: Malaysian bogeyman in Jakarta

Again, Malaysia has been made the fallguy in Indonesia's political in-fighting. Kuala Lumpur still needs to come clean on allegations made over border issues with Indonesia.

Shortly after a joint press conference with his Malaysian counterpart on Tuesday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa continued to be hounded by the Indonesian and Malaysian media.

They followed him after he left the room and when the ever-obliging Marty saw an empty sofa, he sat down and spent another 15 minutes with the reporters.

For the Malaysian media, the issue was the never-ending problem of domestic maids from Indonesia.For the Indonesian reporters, the latest hot issue was the allegations by an Indonesian lawmaker that Malaysia had moved border markers between Sabah and Sarawak and West Kalimantan, Indonesia.

When the issue was first raised last weekend, a Jakarta-based Malaysian official predicted it was a timebomb.

His warning turned out to be true. Barely 24 hours after Marty said in Kuala Lumpur that it was not Malaysia's fault, a big group of rowdy Indonesian demonstrators converged at the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta, throwing sticks and stones.

More protests are expected.

A “brave” Malaysian journalist decided to “mingle” with the demonstrators outside the Malaysian Embassy on Wednesday.

His verdict? “These are angry people who really do not know what they are fighting for. It was planned after the Indonesian lawmaker made the allegations.

“Despite their own government clarifying that Malaysia should not be blamed, they went ahead. It was ugly and as a Malaysian I am angry at having to witness insults against my country,” he added.

Truly, this latest episode has nothing to do with Malaysia at all.

It is local politics at play.

It all started when T.B. Hasanuddin, of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, told local media that Malaysia had claimed Indonesia's border in Camar Bulan and Tanjung Datu in West Kalimantan.

Hasanuddin alleged that the border marker stone had declined 3.3km beyond the original border. As a result, he further alleged that Indonesia could potentially lose more than 1,400ha of land.

His wild accusations were quicky dispelled by four ministers, including Coordinating Minister for Political, Justice and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto, who confirmed that Malaysia had not taken over Indonesian borders.

“No border markings have been moved,” he told the Indonesian media.

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