Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman leaves for Jakarta tomorrow for a meeting with his Indonesian counterpart Dr Hassan Wirajuda on Thursday in the wake of anti-Malaysian incidents and media reports there. Anifah also hoped he would get to call on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during his brief visit to the Indonesian capital.
“I think it is only proper that we meet and discuss and see how to ease the tension and possibly find out what transpired in Indonesia concerning a couple of issues highlighted in the media in Indonesia and see how best to overcome, tackle or minimise the negative perception by a small section of people there,” he said of his meeting with Hassan.
Anifah was speaking to reporters after launching a book entitled “When China Rules the World” by British columnist Martin Jacques at the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations, here Tuesday.
As neighbours, the two countries should strive to further enhance cooperation in various fields for the mutual benefit of their peoples, he said.
Besides a spate of demonstrations, rotten eggs had been pelted at the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta over cultural issues, the latest after Malaysia was accused of “stealing” the Balinese pendet dance in a promotion of Malaysia aired by the Discovery Channel.
Last week, a group of Indonesians calling themselves “Benteng Demokrasi Rakyat” (BENDERA) threatened to use bamboo spikes on Malaysians along a Jakarta street and had demanded passers-by to show proof of their nationality.
Anifah said although the Discovery Channel had apologised for the error, the ‘pendet’ issue was played up repeatedly.
“The relevant (Indonesian) authorities had accepted (the explanation)… but this small group refused to accept. They are blinded by whatever motive. So this is something we have to talk about,” he said.
He said bilateral relations had always been warm and as a neighbour, Malaysia had offered employment opportunities to Indonesian workers and recognised their contribution to Malaysia’s development.
On the adverse Indonesian media reports, he said while he respected the freedom of the press, there was also a limit that such freedom did not infringe on the freedom of other people.
Anifah said Malaysia would not issue any travel advisory against visiting Indonesia but he advised Malaysians to avoid going to places where there were demonstrations.
He noted that the Indonesian government had been very responsive to Malaysia’s concern, with President Susilo assuring the safety of Malaysians and that several people had been arrested.
Last week, Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia Tan Sri Da’i Bachtiar said Susilo’s spokesman Andi Mallaranggeng had issued a warning against the Bendera Youth group, which had called for war against Malaysia, not to act at their own whim and fancy and not to harm Malaysians.