Saturday, September 12, 2009

Yudhoyono To Visit KL Amidst "Cultural Dispute" by Fardah

       Jakarta, Sept. 12, 2009 (ANTARA) - As immediate neighbors, Indonesia and Malaysia  often have a love-hate relationship as demonstrated by their ongoing territorial and 'cultural' disputes.        Indonesia and Malaysia have so far been negotiating on their overlapping claims to the oil-rich  Ambalat Block in East Kalimantan waters.  
   Recently, tens of Balinese artists in Denpasar staged a demonstration protesting a Malaysian tourism advertisement featuring the Balinese 'pendet' dance.  

    Malaysia had explained that the dance had been featured by accident in a tourism promotion video clip produced by a private company and broadcast over Discovery Channel.

         Some Indonesians had earlier protested against alleged Malaysia's claims over East Java's Reog Ponorogo dance and Maluku's 'Rasa Sayange' song.
        Despite the territorial and cultural disputes, however, the numbers of Indonesians and Malaysians visiting each other's country  have increased.
        According to  2008 data on  Malaysian tourism , some 1.80 million Indonesians visited Malaysia in 2007, the second largest number after Singaporean tourists.  Malaysia hopes to receive at least two million Indonesian tourists this year.
        In 2008, a total of 818,000 Malaysians visited Indonesia. This year, the number of Malaysian tourists visiting Indonesia is expected to reach 930,000. Malaysians visiting  Bali reached 73,853 in the first semester of 2009, which is a 28.45 percent increase compared to the 57,477 people in last year's same period.
        The trade volume between the two countries also continued to increase with US$15.3 billion in 2008 and US$ 11.5 billion in the previous year.
        President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will visit Kuala Lumpur for a meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, in early October 2009.
        President Yudhoyono's plan to visit Kuala Lumpur has been conveyed to the Malaysian ambassador to Indonesia Datuk Zainal Abidin Mohamed Zin when the latter bid farewell at the presidential palace last August.  
   "Jakarta will visit early October 2009, and Malaysia offers October 9, 2009," Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia Da'i Bachtiar told Malaysian and Indonesian press in Kuala Lumpur, last Friday (Sept. 11).

         The agenda of the bilateral meeting between the two neighboring countries' leaders would include issues on food security, regional security, and terrorism, Da'i Bachtiar , former national police chief, said.
         The visit will be President Yudhoyono's first visit since  Najib Tun Razak became Malaysian Prime Minister. Prime Minister Najib Razak  held a two-day state visit to Indonesia, April 22-23, 2009,  after being inaugurated as Malaysian prime minister to replace Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on April 3, 2009.
           Yudhoyono's last visit to Malaysia was January 10-12, 2008, during the administration of Abdullah Bawadi, the then Malaysian prime minister.
             The Indonesian and Malaysian leaders have agreed on protecting and improving the bilateral ties. "Now, it's how to strengthen the relations between the two countries' peoples and press," the ambassador said.
         "We have a program on inter media dialog inviting Malaysian editors in-chief  to Jakarta, and vice verse," Da'i Bachtiar said, adding that the two nations would also carry out an exchange of visit program between their arts delegations as well as historians.
         On the current tension on the Malaysian and Indonesian relations following an outrage by some Indonesians accusing Malaysia of 'stealing' Indonesian culture, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed regret over a sweep against Malaysian nationals done by a certain group of people in Jakarta recently.
         "The President has asked the security personnel to take a stern action against those conducting such a sweeping. The president also has guaranteed the security of Malaysian nationals in Indonesia," Ambassador Bachtiar said.
          The president referred to a group of Indonesians who  carried sharpened bamboo sticks and sought out Malaysians along Jalan Diponegoro, Jakarta, last September 8 in a "Sweep Malaysia" activity.
        The group claimed they were  dissatisfied  over the Indonesian government's so-called soft stand against Malaysia over the alleged Malaysian 'theft' of the Balinese Pendet dance.
            President Yudhoyono said a sweeping operation would only create  new problems while the government had carried out its tasks with regard to the Malaysian issue by sending a note of protest and several diplomatic actions.
         A number of Indonesian nationals in Malaysia, the president said, had also asked for a wise solution of the problems between the two countries.
            "They represented about 1.8 million Indonesians who are working, living  or studying  in Malaysia, and those who carried out diplomatic tasks in that country," he said.
          On other problems such as batik clothes, songs and dances, the president said that the people should understand the interaction process between the peoples of Indonesia and Malaysia.
         Malaysia had earlier aired concerns over the safety of 5,600 students taking  medicine in Indonesian universities.
       Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman on September 9,  summoned Indonesia's ambassador to Malaysia  Da'i Bachtiar to Wisma Putra to express Malaysia's position on conflicting issues which had resulted in the deterioration of bilateral relations of both countries.
        Anifah said the Malaysian government expressed grave concern on the actions of certain quarters in the republic which were intended to spark conflicts between the peoples of Malaysia and Indonesia.
         "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia urges the Government of the Republic of Indonesia to take the necessary actions in order to ensure the welfare and well-being of Malaysian citizens in Indonesia are taken care of, as as well as to ensure that such aggressive actions of certain extremists in Indonesia are curtailed immediately," he said.
        Minister Anifah Aman will arrive in Jakarta next week to meet with his Indonesian counterpart, Hassan Wirajuda, specifically to address the recent spats between the neighboring countries.
         Indonesia's foreign ministry  also deplored the sweep. "The foreign ministry condemns the action which did not only disrupt public order but also could damage Indonesia's image in the eye of the international community," the ministry's spokesman, Teuku Faizasyah, said in Jakarta on Septebmer 9, 2009.
          The `cultural' disputes perhaps are unnecessary given the historical fact that Indonesia and Malaysia are two nations that share the same cultural roots, according to Tenas Effendi, a Riau culturalist.
          Indonesia and Malaysia once even shared the same peninsula and the Johor Riau kingdom was centered in Bintan, Riau Islands, in the past, he said last September 10.
          "From those cultural roots, the Malay (Melayu) language was born and later became Indonesia's national language," Tenas said.
         According to historical records, Indonesia and Malaysia were separated in 1824 based on the London Treaty which divided the peninsula into two parts, he said.
         "The upper peninsula was colonized by Britain, and the lower part by the Netherlands. Later, the upper peninsula became Malaysia and the lower one became Indonesia. Since then, administratively our governments are separated, but our cultures remained one," he said.
         He called on all parties to understand culture from the meaning of heredity, not politics. Moreover, Malay culture teaches wisdom, acceptance, brotherhood and goodness, he said.

No comments:

Post a Comment