After all the summoning of the Indonesian Ambassador in Malaysia, after the mysterious appeal to former Vie President Try Sutrisno of the Eminent Persons Group and a rap on the knuckles by President SBY, some hotheads in Jakarta are still conducting sweeping operations against Malaysians in Jakarta (see story below).
Like before, the real cause of the sweeping operations is frustration at the Indonesian government for perceived failure to act against Malaysian infringement in human rights, culture and tradition.
This is all very weird. You have to wonder what goes on in the minds of SBY and the Indonesian police. Not cracking down on sharpened bamboo-wielding demonstrators can send, at best, only the message that the government does not have the political will to enforce the law to ensure the safety of its guests. At worst it allows people to speculate that the government may be using these demonstrations cynically to pressure Malaysia toward some sinister end.
How can Malaysia and Indonesia end this constant brouhaha?
The suggestion that comes to mind is to increase understanding among Malaysians and Indonesians about each other, what are each’s hot buttons, why and what can be done about it.
Official diplomatic channels are too stiff and formal. Political action is also a long shot, given the character and caliber of Malaysia’s and Indonesia’s political leaders.
One solution that comes to Unspun‘s mind is for both countries to start a dialogue with its bloggers. And why not? Bloggers do not really represent anyone else but themselves so they have no compunction to fly the flag, they also come from all over the political spectrum, and they are used to the give-and-take that the openess of the Net requires from all of its participants.
Why not start off by inviting a group of varied Malaysian bloggers to Indonesia. Pesta Blogger on October 24 (disclosure: Unspun is part of Maverick that’s the main organizer behind Pesta Blogger. Have them meet a group of similarly varied Indonesian bloggers. Let them talk and then share their discussion with the others at Pesta Blogger that would likely be broadcast on TV and picked up by the other media.
Wouldn’t that be a great start to cooling down overheated Indonesia-Malaysia relations? Unspun just had a chat with a prominent malaysian blogger who is eager to come to Pesta Blogger, if nothing else, to see for himself what lies beneath the anti-Malaysia sentiment here. With any luck an airline that we are working with for Pesta Blogger will bring him here.
He too, agrees that it would be a good idea to get a bunch of bloggers form Malaysia here so that they can meet and talk with Indonesian bloggers and others first hand.
The next step is to arrange a reciprocal visit of Indonesian bloggers to Malaysia. Unspun would seize on this opportunity if he were a large Malaysian business operating in Indonesia, a large Indonesian business operating in Malaysia of if he heads the Foreign or Tourism Ministries of either countries. Alas, Unspun has no such lofty positions and, since Pesta Blogger is not-for-profit event we have to rely on sponsors to make such events happen. So any takers out there?
There is one more thing about the story below: The last three paragraphs quote Khairy Jamaluddin, shortened to KJ by fiends and foes who are legion. KJ is UMNO Youth head but he’s known to be no better than the hotheads manning the barricades with sharpened bamboo poles.
One of KJ’s traits is to overstate things and issue empty threats, so if there’s any Indonesians reading those three paragraph then give KJ the treatment he deserves: studied neglect. It’s a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing but a politician trying to get in from the cold in Malaysian politics.
This from The Jakarta Globe today:
Indonesia’s Anti-Malaysia Sentiment Still Boiling
Despite calls from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for police action against anti-Malaysia demonstrators, another rally involving bamboo stick-wielding protesters took place on Sunday.
Detik.com reported that about 50 people from the Indonesian Contract Labor Association gathered at the headquarters of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) in Jakarta before marching, to the chant of “destroy Malaysia,” along Jalan Diponegoro to the scene of last week’s controversial protest, where the People’s Democracy Defense set up a roadblock to search for Malaysians.
“Malaysia has mistreated Indonesia and the government just doesn’t seem to care,” Neni, one of the protesters, was quoted as saying.
Though there was some disturbance to traffic, the demonstrators, wearing red and white headbands, did not actively “sweep” for Malaysians.
Effendi Choiri, an international relations expert, said active sweeps for Malaysians could have adverse consequences.
“If you really want to do something, please go march down the street, but don’t go overboard because it will cause reciprocal results for Indonesia,” he said.
Effendi said chasing Malaysians from the country and banning its students from studying at universities here would only hurt Indonesia.
“There are millions of Indonesians living in Malaysia currently,” he said. “What would happen to them if Malaysia decided to kick them out? They would lose their jobs and the students would not be able to finish their studies.”
Effendi, however, said he understood people’s reaction to the recent string of squabbles between the two countries, given their history of disputes.
He said the underlying tensions between the countries had exploded to the surface because of the recent disputes.
“In a short time, we had to deal with the Ambalat issue, Manohara and the pendet dance. Suddenly, people were reminded of all the previous issues,” he said.
Effendi said the key to easing the tensions was more intensive people-to-people contacts.
Akhyar Rido, a 27-year-old lecturer who just finished his master’s degree at University Kebangsaan Malaysia, said his friends in the neighboring country were aware of the tensions between the two sides.
“But they managed to remain calm and they still treated me very nicely, regardless of the dispute,” he said, adding he never experienced any bad treatment while living in Malaysia.
Rido did say, however, that some Malaysians looked down on Indonesians.
He also noted the “cyberwar” between Indonesian and Malaysian bloggers.
“The Malaysian prime minister has been repeatedly asking Malaysians not to be provoked. I wish our government would do the same thing,” he added.
Khairy Jamaluddin, the head of the youth wing of the United Malays National Organization, Malaysia’s largest political party, was quoted by Malaysia-based Web site thestar.com as saying Indonesians should stop “testing the patience” of Malaysians.
“Indonesians should understand that Malaysians are also sensitive and get angry at hearing our country labeled negatively and seeing our national flag burned,” he said in a statement released on Friday.
“We realize we need to understand and learn about the sensitivities of Indonesians. I hope Indonesians will not continue testing the patience of Malaysians because it will incite similar aggressive nationalism from us.”