Another indication that the Indoneia-Malaysia spat is getting a bit out of hand is this incident yesterday (see clip from Jakarta Globe below), where ultra-nationalists armed with “sharpened bamboo sticks” stopped cars and motorcycles in Jakarta to look for Malaysians. In local parlance this is called “sweeping”.
Unspun has a few questions arising out of this story:
1. What is the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta doing about this?
2. What is the police arsing around about. How can you not arrest people who have decided to take the law in their own hands, set up a roadblock and arm themselves with sharpened bamboo sticks? What’s the excuse for inaction?
3. What is the Malaysian Government going to do about this? Its insistent on a hegemonistic Malay culture that encompases everything in its self-perception of things Malay is problematic. Malay is an ethnic grouping in Riau and in Kalimantan where Indonesia and anthropology is concerned. What’s unique to them are a few dances and the malay culture, not those of the Malay achipelago. Claim them if they want to but leave the other stuff alone. Malaysia seriously needs to educate its people about culture and until it does we will continiously have such problems.
4. What is the Malaysian media doing about this? From what Unspun knows, present Indonesian sentiment toward Malaysia and Malaysians aren’t even on the news agenda. They largely ignore incidents such as the recent broughaha over the pendet dance, Manohara etc etc.
Armed Indonesian Nationalists Block Road In Hunt for Malaysians
Dozens of people belonging to an anti-Malaysia group briefly attempted an intimidating road-block and ID check to identify Malaysians along a busy Central Jakarta street on Tuesday, but came up empty-handed.
The operation, initially planned for an hour, only lasted for thirty minutes, but witnesses said the action managed to raise tension as activists stopped drivers and asked for their IDs.
A road block was erected directly in front of the central post of the anti-Malaysia group, the Benteng Demokrasi Rakyat (People’s Defense of Democracy) in the vacant former headquarters of a political party.
The sight of men carrying sharpened bamboo sticks was more than enough to raise concerns among those who were stopped.
The group also distributed small Indonesian flags and tied red and white scarves, the colors if the country’s flag, around their heads and at the ends of their makeshift weapons.
Police immediately closed off the segment of the road where the roadblock was erected and redirected traffic through Cikini, while dozens of police watched on guard from afar but took no apparent action.
Muchtar Bonaventura, who claimed to be the coordinator of the group, said the sweep was held to warn the Malaysian government not to act recklessly against Indonesian citizens and to stop claiming Indonesian culture as their own.
Although they did not find any Malaysian citizens, Muchtar vowed to continue similar actions and even expand the operation to seek offices and houses belonging to Malaysians. His group has been virulently anti-Malaysian, and had even opened registration for volunteers to wage war against the neighboring country.