KUALA LUMPUR: Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman believes that there is a small group of people with “ulterior motives” playing up supposedly contentious issues between Malaysia and Indonesia.
In his meeting with his Indonesian counterpart in Jakarta on Thursday, he said they will discuss why a small group of people in Indonesia kept on playing up the Pendet dance issue despite the explanation given by the Discovery Channel to the relevant authorities. Anifah said he was confident that the small group of people who were repeatedly playing up the issue had ulterior motives.
The Discovery Channel, in its promotion of a show about Malaysia, had mistakenly used a clip of the Indonesian dance, which angered many Indonesians who accused Malaysia of “stealing” its culture.
Despite an explanation by the station that the Malaysian Government had nothing to do with the videoclip and an apology, certain Indonesian media kept playing up the issue.
Certain Indonesians, also angered by reports of abuse against Indonesian domestic maids, have held demonstrations in front of the Malaysian embassy, pelted it with rotten eggs, burnt the Malaysian flag, and have threatened they would “sweep” a street clean of Malaysians.
“I’m sure the people who played it up over and over again the after explanation was given have ulterior motives. The relevant authorities have accepted the explanation but the small group of people refused to accept it.
“They are blinded by whatever ulterior motives they have,” Anifah told a press conference here on Tuesday.
“This is something we need to talk about. It is not fair that some of our students feel unsafe in Indonesia,” he said after the launch of a book entitled When China Rules the World: The Rise of the Little Middle Kingdom and the End of the Western World written by Martin Jaques.
Anifah said he would be leaving for Jakarta on Wednesday to meet with his Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda on Thursday morning, and later with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
He said if there were any special message from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, he would deliver it to the president.
He said the meeting had no fixed agenda but in view of the anti-Malaysian sentiment which remained strong in Indonesia, it would be proper to discuss how to alleviate the tension and to address issues highlighted by the Indonesian media.
Asked whether the Indonesian media would also be discussed, he said he respected the freedom of the press but there had to be a limit to it, especially when it involved infringments on other people’s freedom and spreading unnecessary hype that could lead to bilateral tensions between the two countries.
“The media here should play their role too. You should get to know your Indonesian counterparts. You should ask them why they played it (the issue) up to a level where everybody feel uncomfortable,” he added.
On the whether he would touch on the “sweeping” threat to hunt down Malaysian citizens in which protesters used sharpened bamboo poles at Jalan Diponegoro in Jakarta last Tuesday, Anifah said the Indonesian Government was responsive as shown in the arrest of six people allegedly involved in the incident.
He said President Susilo himself had guaranteed the safety of Malaysians in Indonesia.
Anifah said the Malaysian Government had no plans to issue a travel advisory for Malaysians planning to visit Indonesia, but merely advised potential visitors to avoid places where there could be street demonstrations.
– Izatun Shari