Coming soon on Oct 8: An Indonesian invasion of Malaysia

Probably not since the Taiping rebellion has so much idealism, foolishness, naivety and stupidity has been combined with so much misguided idealism, nationalism and foolishness.

The Benteng Demokrasi Rakyat intends to invade Malaysia with bows and arrows, black magic and other paraphernalia on October 8. One doubts if they would be able to even mount anything on Malaysian soil on that day but if they do so one can only hope that they make a bee line for KJ so he can show how brave he is in the face of hotheads like himself.

What’s remarkable about this whole thing is that there is this bunch of hotheads arming themselves, giving themselves paramilitary training and making public statements about how they intend to invade a neighboring country – and the police in Indonesia do not do anything about it.

And what’s the invovement of the PDIP in all of this? The HQ of the Benteng guys is in a former operations center of the PDIP. What’s the connection?

This from The Jakarta Globe today:

A young recruit from anti-Malaysia group Bendera taking part in combat training. (Antara Photo)

A young recruit from anti-Malaysia group Bendera taking part in combat training. (Antara Photo)

Indonesian Vigilantes Prepare For Battle in Malaysia

At this moment in Jakarta, a group of Indonesians are putting the final touches to their plan to invade Malaysia and wage war. Benteng Demokrasi Rakyat has announced Oct. 8 as the date of this D-day, when it says it will avenge all the wrongs committed against Indonesia by its neighbor .

Established during this year’s presidential election, the group, also known as the People’s Democratic Defense, has attracted public attention with its protests calling on Indonesians to “kill Malaysians.” Earlier this month, the group set up roadblocks in Menteng, Central Jakarta, in an attempt to detain Malaysian citizens.

However, the roadblocks failed to net any Malaysians, according to Mustar Bona Ventura, the group’s coordinator. “If we had caught them, we would have sent them home,” the 32-year-old economics student said.

He said the group’s anti-Malaysian stance was not motivated solely by claims that the neighboring country has been busy stealing Indonesia’s culture.

“It’s the whole thing, including the claims on our islands and the abusive treatment of Indonesian migrant workers,” he said. “The breaking point was when they insulted us through our national anthem, ‘Indonesia Raya.’ ”

For more of the story read here.

Whose Chicken Rice is it anyway?

There is a hilarious opening scene in the comedy film Thank You For Smoking where the film’s protagonist, Big Tobacco Spokesman Nick Taylor is hemmed in by anti-tobacco guests in a talk show.

He panics for a moment but then decides that the best way he could defend himself is to attack the other parties.

For some reason this tactic comes to Unspun‘s mind when he read this delicious story in The Jakarta Globe’s website today.

Even as Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman was talking to her counterpart in Jakarta to solve the spats between both countries, most of them over accusations of how Malaysia had “stolen” its culture, the Malaysian Tourism Minister is announcing an initiative to crack down on other countries that “steal” its food.

Before
Before
AfterAfter

Of course this may potentially open up huge debates on whether ketupat, satay (or sate) etc rightfully resides in Indonesia or Malaysia but for sure the Lion City, that bills among its cultural exports Singapore Chili Crabs, won’t be amused.

And what about the residents of Hainan Island? If Malaysia “owns” Hainanese Chicken Rice then that do the Hainanese themselves own? Can the Hainanese claim royalties because Malaysia is using their ethnic grouping on Malaysian food?

So much to chew on over things that matter so little. One can’t help feeling that Malaysia has bitten off more than it can chew in this instance.

Malaysia Fights Back: Tourism Minister Vows To Stop Other Countries ‘Hijacking’ Its Cuisine

Malaysia will lay claim to its signature dishes like laksa and nasi lemak, which is popular in Indonesia, to stop them being “hijacked” by other countries, the tourism minister said according to a report on Thursday.

Those on the list include the fragrant coconut milk rice ‘nasi lemak’, spicy soup noodle ‘laksa’ and pork ribs herbal soup ‘bak kut teh’, Tourism Minister Ng Yen Yen said according to the Star newspaper.

“We cannot continue to let other countries hijack our food. Chili crab is Malaysian. Hainanese chicken rice is Malaysian. We have to lay claim to our food,” she was quoted as saying.

“In the next three months, we will identify certain key dishes (to declare as Malaysian). We have identified laksa… all types of laksa, nasi lemak and bak kut teh,” she added.

Ng said her ministry will announce a strategy on how to brand the dishes as Malaysian.

“That is Part Two. We cannot reveal it yet, but we will let you know soon,” she reportedly said.

via Malaysia Fights Back: Tourism Minister Vows To Stop Other Countries ‘Hijacking’ Its Cuisine – The Jakarta Globe.

Another Anti-Malaysia sweep on Sunday

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).

The Sweep I - now the sequel
The Sweep I - now the sequel

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. Continue reading “Another Anti-Malaysia sweep on Sunday”

How should Malaysia read the Jakarta “sweep” for its nationals?

Wrote this piece on request for a Malaysian newspaper but they had to hold it for a day and then decided not to run it because relations between Malaysia and Indonesia have “cooled down”. Could never figure out what the roles of the media should be in such times but it’s their right. So, since I had gone to all that trouble of writing it I might as well post it here:

Screen Grab of Metro TV broadcast from Indonesiandream.wordpress.com

What is Malaysia to make of the roadblock in Jakarta yesterday in which some Indonesian ultra nationalists,

Screen Grab of Metro TV broadcast from Indonesiandream.wordpress.com

armed with sharpened bamboo poles,  set up a roadblock in Jakarta to look for Malaysians?

On one level, nothing much. Demonstrations like these pop up and disappear in Jakarta all the time without anyone being the wiser who actually organized them, why, what they got out of it or why they stopped as mysteriously as they started. Often such demonstrations have to do with a group wanting to extort money, vent their frustrations or prove a point.

On another level, Malaysia needs to come clean about its concept of what’s Malay because it clashes with the Indonesian concept. Failure to address this would result in future spats and embarrassments as Indonesia accuses Malaysia of “stealing” its songs, culture and traditions.

To Indonesians, Malay is an ethnic group that exists in Riau and a small part of Kalimantan.  They  are an ethnic group, not a race and things “belonging” to the Melayu are dances such as the Tarian Lilin…… The Melayu, in Indonesia, is no different than other ethnic  groups like Sundanese, Batak, Balinese, Dayak, Javanese and Chinese. Each have their own ethnic identity but they are all Indonesians and are equal before the Constitution and the law.

In Malaysia, however, the word Malay is understood differently. Under its Constitution, Malay is defined as a race, or to be more precise an ethno-religious group since you have to be Muslim to be Malay. Under this definition virtually anyone that’s not Chinese, Indian or of any other distinctive ethnic grouping in Malaysia is considered Malay, if they are Muslim.

Hence you have people who are distinctively Indian Muslims (example, Mahathir), Arab Muslims (Hussein Onn) and Sulawesi Muslims (Najib) being considered Malay. From there it is only a small leap of logic to claim that any culture belonging to them also belongs to the Malay race, and hence to Malaysia.

This is not necessarily wrong but it infuriates in the Indonesians, most of whom have been educated from school to recognize and appreciate the diverse cultures that make up the nation of Indonesia. Indonesians are understandably proud of this culture and the nation’s diversity and therefore irritated if they perceive someone as claiming any of that as their own.

Irritation, however, doesn’t explain the anger and even malice that has marked some Indonesian anti-Malaysia actions of late, such as the cyber attack of Malaysian websites on the Malaysian Independence Day on August 31, and the “sweeping” roadblock looking for Malaysians in Jakarta yesterday.

What may help explain these actions, however, is the saying that the basis of all enmity is a feeling of being slighted. Where many Indonesians are concerned they have been constantly slighted as they feel that Malaysia constantly looks down on them as a nation of domestic helpers, construction workers and criminal elements. They feel even more slighted when they read reports of domestic helpers being abused by their Malaysian employers.

To make things worse, their feelings of being slighted are being compounded with a sense of helplessness, largely because their own government seems incapable of looking after their rights and interests.

Thus when Indonesia lost Sipadan to Malaysia, the anger was directed at Malaysia but the nagging feeling was that Indonesia could have done better to fortify its claims and to provide a better argument at The Hague.

Each time a maid was physically abused  by a Malaysian employer, the anger was ostensibly directed at Malaysia but lurking at the back of their minds was the nonchalance and impotence of their own government to protect their rights of its workers abroad.

When Malaysia used songs such as Rasa Sayange and dances such as the Reog Ponorogo and the Pendet dance to promote Malaysian tourism, Indonesians railed against Malaysia but deep down they decry their own government’s inability to promote, market and “own” their own culture more.

What then should Malaysia do to diffuse such situations in the future? There is nothing it can do with how the Indonesian Government does or doesn’t do to take care of the rights of its citizens and to market and protect its cultural heritage, but it can do something about how Malaysians relate to Indonesians.

The first is an honest examination of what constitutes Malaysian and Malay culture. But this would require delving into the very heart of Malayness and it would take a minor miracle of political will to make this happen.

The second is to educate Malaysians, starting from the Tourism Ministry up, the traditions and cultures of its neighbors. If Malaysian producers were more educated in this respect they would not have made the mistake of thinking that the distinctively Balinese Pendet dance was Malaysian.

The third is to realize that the Indonesians think, with some justification, that Malaysians are arrogant and look down on Indonesians. The government from ministers down to those in the front line of interfacing with Indonesians such as immigration officers, need cultural sensitivity training.

They need to be educated that their exposure of Indonesians has largely been conditioned by exposure to the lower strata of society, that Indonesians like people everywhere, have their middle and upper classes that are no different from themselves.

It is only when Malaysia is able to do all these that the friction points with its neighbor will be reduced. Anything less and we’ll be bickering until the cows come home.

SBY raps knuckles of “sweepers” of Malaysian nationals

President SBY’s regret against the “sweeps” that had been carried out against Malaysian nationals in Jakarta is welcome, but as usual developments like these spur other questions in Unspun’s mind.

1. This statement comes three days after the sweep began. Any reputational damage to Indonesia and reinforcement of the perception that SBY acts very S_L_O_W_L-Y has been set in stone by now. Didn’t his handlers brief him as things happened and conveyed some sense of urgency to respond to the sweep as it happened, so that it would have been nipped in the bud?

2. So what happens to people who take the law into their own hands and go around menacing foreign nationals with sharpened bamboo stakes? This has nothing to do with Malaysian nationals but with law enforcement. If the police don’t arrest people like this, what messages does it send to other vigilante wannabes?

3. Najib was right to convey his worries for Malaysian nationals’ safety to Indonesian Ambassador Da’i Bachtiar but what’s with publicising his conveying of same anxieties to Try Sutrisno? He’s an ex politician, a member of the Eminent Persons Group but not quite in the mainstream of government. Why the emphasis?

SBY Denounces Indonesian Threats Against Malaysians

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has expressed regret over the sweeps reportedly being carried out against Malaysian nationals in Indonesia.

“I hope there will be no excessive actions that are against the law [taken] by any of us, such as the sweeping operations against Malaysian nationals. Sweeps are not a good thing to do,” the president said during the opening of a plenary session of the cabinet on Thursday.

The president said that sweeping operations would only create new problems while the government was seeking diplomatic solutions to several bilateral issues.

On Tuesday, a group calling itself Bendera, for “Benteng Demokrasi Rakyat” (People’s Democratic Front), reportedly stopped people on a Jakarta street while carrying bamboo spears in a search for Malaysian nationals.

Separately, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said he had been assured that the Indonesian government would ensure the safety of Malaysians in the country. He said this was conveyed to him by Indonesia’s ambassador to Malaysia, Da’i Bachtiar, during a meeting on Wednesday.

“I have conveyed to Try Sutrisno Malaysia’s worry about the safety of Malaysian citizens in Indonesia and he has promised to bring it up with the Indonesian government. The Indonesian ambassador in our meeting earlier today told me they were taking action to ensure no harm comes to Malaysians,” the prime minister said, referring to the former Indonesian vice president who plays a leading role in the Indonesia-Malaysia Eminent Persons Group.

via SBY Denounces Indonesian Threats Against Malaysians – The Jakarta Globe.

How to cool down hotheads in Indonesia and Malaysia?

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?

Read more….

Why are statesmen taking the lead in the Indonesia-Malaysia spat?

Why are veteran statesmen taking the lead on this sisue rather than the present politicians and ministers on both sides?

What does this say of the rapport between neighboring nations? Can no those in power talk to each other and come up with a solution to mitigate if not solve the present spat between Indonesia and Malaysia?

Unspun‘s penned an article for The Star in Malaysia that should appear tomorrow. Will post it if they use it but the central thrust of the article is that Indonesians are mounting such protests not so much because of anger over Malaysia for “stealing” their culture and other things but because of frustration with their own government’s impotence in handling such matters.

Try Minta Anti Malaysia Jaga Citra Indonesia

Kam, Sep 10, 2009

Nasional

Kuala Lumpur ( Berita ) : Ketua EPG (Eminent Person Group/kelompok tokoh terkemka) Try Sutrisno minta kepada warga Indonesia yang melakukan demontrasi anti Malaysia untuk tidak berlebihan seperti melakukan “sweeping” (penyisiran), membakar bendera, dan melempari kedutaan karena akan merusak citra Indonesia.

“Demo anti Malaysia yang berlebihan akan merusak citra Indonesia sebagai orang Timur yang santun dan ramah,” kata Try Sutrisno usai diterima oleh PM Malaysia Najib Tun Razak, di kantor PM Malaysia, Putrajaya, Rabu [09/09].

“Demokrasi dan keterbukaan bukan berarti dapat seenaknya saja melakukan demontrasi dan menghujat negara lain dengan membakar benderanya, melempari kedutaan dan melakukan sweeping. Justru hal ini semakin mencoreng citra Indonesia sebagai rakyat yang terkenal santun dan ramah,” katanya.

Mantan Wapres itu mengingatkan, Indonesia dan Malaysia adalah negara tetangga yang serumpun dan mempunyai cita-cita yang sama yakni menciptakan masyarakat Asean. “Kita berharap Asean menjadi kawasan yang aman, nyaman dan memberikan kesejahteraan bagi warganya,” katanya.

Apalagi dalam pembukaan UUD 1945 disebutkan bahwa kemerdekaan Indonesia bertujuan untuk menciptakan perdamaian dunia, tambahnya

Try Sutrisno dan beberapa anggota EPG Indonesia lainnya, seperti Musni Umar, melakukan kunjungan dan pertemuan dengan mitranya EPG Malaysia yang dipimpin Musa Hitam di Kuala Lumpur, Rabu pagi.

Namun secara tiba-tiba, PM Malaysia Najib Tun Razak berkenan menerima rombongan EPG Indonesia yang didampingi Dubes RI untuk Malaysia Da’i Bachtiar, di kantor PM Putrajaya.

Selain itu, Try akan bertemu dengan menteri penerangan, komunikasi dan kebudayaan Malaysia Rais Yatim pada Rabu sorenya.

Sementara itu, Dubes Da’i Bachtiar telah dipanggil oleh Menteri Luar Negeri Malaysia Hanifah Aman terkait dengan beberapa demontrasi di Kedubes Malaysia dan sweeping yang dilakukan sekelompok orang di Jl Diponogoro, Jakarta Pusat. Namun belum diketahui hasilnya. ( ant )

via Try Minta Anti Malaysia Jaga Citra Indonesia | Harian Berita Sore.