This posting on Lim Kit Siang‘s blog is worth reading for both Indonesians and Malaysians and may explain why the hotheads seem to be making news on both sides of the Malacca Strait.
Injecting Reason Back Into Indonesia-Malaysia Relations
By Farish A. Noor
It would appear as if Reason and Rationality have gone on holiday in Southeast Asia recently: In Malaysia a group of angry residents who wished to protest against the construction of a Hindu temple in their neighborhood decided to demonstrate their anger by marching to the government offices in Selangor with a severed cow’s head, a gesture that was guaranteed to offend the sensibility of pious Hindus who regard the cow as a sacred animal. In Indonesia a misunderstanding over a tourism ad commissioned from a non-Malaysian company has angered scores of Indonesians, simply because it mistakenly featured a scene from a Balinese pendet dance which the Indonesians regard as being exclusively theirs: The net result being a new round of anti-Malaysian protests leading to local vigilante groups harrassing tourists in Jakarta and going out into the streets to ’sweep’ the country of Malaysians.
In both Malaysia and Indonesia, tempers seem to be rising out of control and for all the wrong reasons. Making matters worse is the fact that in both countries these mob actions are neither accidental nor unavoidable. Mobs do not form themselves and move into the streets for no reason; vigilante groups do not miraculously form themselves out of this air without funding and political support.
And so we need to ask the question: How and why is it that in the year 2009, more than half a century after the independence of both countries, is the state of politics and society in both Malaysia and Indonesia still rooted in primordial essentialisms and sentiments that are based on intuition and emotionalism, rather than reason?