Malaysia – RI Relations

Jun 20th, 2008, in Opinion, by

Sidik Syamsidik says Indonesia gets upset with Malaysia a lot, but the Malaysians don’t pay attention.

Malaysia’s Helipad: Another Rift is More Indonesian Fatigue

Rifts between Indonesian and Malaysian people have persistent records. A fresh rift began this week when a senior West Kalimantan forestry officer briefed the media that a helicopter landing pad has been built just 7 meters from the Indonesia-Malaysia border.

If this is true, it may violate the Malaysia-Indonesia (Malindo) 1967 border agreement. This issue easily sparked anger in Jakarta with some House of Representative (DPR) members raising complaints. Just a few hours after the briefing the issue was bombarding all news channels, from online news to television. Predictably, most of the comments were expressions of anger. However, this news issue has not appeared on any online news source in Malaysia until now. Similarly to what happened during previous tensions, the Indonesian side looks more frustrated than its neighbor.

Probably, for this year, this is the first public tension involving Malaysia. Prior to this, the number of disputes are nearly countless. Nevertheless, the tensions were dominated at the level of people to people relationships. At the formal level, there is little record showing that the two countries submitted complaints against each through diplomatic channels.

After Soeharto stepped down as president, there were only three serious rifts recorded. The first was when Indonesia had to bear the fact that the Sipadan-Ligitan Islands do not belong to it, and the second was the Ambalat crisis. The third was related to a case of whipping of illegal immigrants. It is ominous that similar tensions, although relative in magnitude, may arise in the future.

In fact, Malaysians are rather distant from most of the rifts. We still remember how the Rasa Sayange case appeared in public. Most ordinary Malaysians did not pay any attention to this case. It seems they felt a little bit corny to comment on what they considered a trivial matter. Indonesians however felt much differently. And, here we go again with this Helipad construction. It is not worth covering such a claim for Malaysians as can be seen from the lack of news coverage in that country. The repeated number of rifts show how exasperated Indonesia’s media and people feel to our neighbor.

We seem to have a more delicate nationalism and too easy to jump on the anger wagon without a second thought. Malaysia, especially its media, are perhaps showing a kura-kura dalam perahu policy if not over censorship of news coverage.

This problem wouldn’t emerge if all parties were able to manage the issues wisely without isolating them within a limited circle of knowledge, and if there were a settled method that can ensure both nations do not trigger any potential diplomatic rows.

Taking an approach that dealt with poverty and development issues along the border area on Indonesia’s side would help to mitigate the detrimental issues between the countries. Most know that Indonesian citizens who live along the border have to face so many living problems unlike people on the other side of the border. This makes the border become the most susceptible thing that can be exaggerated into rifts. Although this approach has been raised for a long time, the Indonesian government has still not been fast enough in deploying its border development policy to produce tangible results. The progress of strengthening Indonesia-Malaysia border relations by the RI government has been bogged down.

Looking at it differently, RI seems to show a lack of cohesive understanding within its high level of bureaucrats. Foreign Minister, Mr. Hasan Wirayuda, confirmed that the helipad construction had been known about by the RI government but Defense Minister, Mr. Juwono Sudarsono, said he needed to check this info first. The question is at what level of unity this government would react on such issue.

The House of Representatives showed how hysterical its members can become when they heard about this Helipad construction. Several of them urged their executive counterparts to file diplomatic protest to Malaysia. Meanwhile, the Helipad construction issue has yet to be verified and there has been no detailed explanation to the public about what’s going on. Few Indonesians understand why this Helipad construction matters and what the exact predicament is. Rather than elaborating on this issue by taking the advice of international law experts, they choose to push the government to enter into a potentially damaging diplomatic row. Appallingly, one of the House of Representatives members even suggested shooting at any suspicious object if it is considered provocative, a scenario that we will surely regret one day if it happened.

The complexity of legislature and executive entanglements may impede the border area empowerment process, the real issue of this conundrum. There have been a lot of negative issues in this nation recently, starting with the fuel price hike, corruption, high frequency of crimes, daily transportation disaster, malnutrition, and now this one: the nation’s border security. In the end, the profusion of problems will make the people apathetic. Thus, all high level institutions should try to learn to minimize parading this complicated issue in an unwise way. Sure, it does not mean that the problem should be kept away from public, the people have the right to know how this nation is being protected, but likewise their nationalism should not be exploited by imprudent measures.

16 Comments on “Malaysia – RI Relations”

  1. sputjam says:

    malaysian have enough problems with indonesian within their borders to worry about. They are relieved that the majority of indonesians are still in indonesia.

  2. mirax says:

    That’s true, Sputjam. I have a lots of friends in KL and pop up there quite frequently; there is always talk of indonesian illegals – responsible for all crime, you know- and a distinct distrust of the indonesian domestic helpers compared to filipino ones. Filipinas are left unsupervised at home but not indonesian maids – apparently, the employers are afraid of her absconding with their precious darlings.

  3. tomaculum says:

    Indonesia steps further and further towards a marginal position politically as well as economical.
    It seems only one thing is important in Indonesia: religion.
    Not even in football (soccer) Indonesia can even really play a role in Asia, not to mention in the world 🙂 .
    Indonesian with their dreams of better earning money surge to Malaysia, Saudi Arabia etc, etc. Many of them were and are abused and humiliated, and the Indonesian gov.
    doesn’t really have any interest to help or protect them. Many of the Indonesian representatives in other countries just bother of themselves.

    So, why pay attention to such a country???? 🙁

  4. Mogolele says:

    at least you go to Bali there, it’s such a beautiful place !

  5. Budi says:

    Tension between Malaysia and Indonesia always rise during special occassion such as the rise of petrol price, rise of tax, and presidential election. The fake tensions are created by both Indonesian and Malaysian government to prevent their government power get kicked off by its people. One of the good example is the case of Ambalat strait and the whipping of Indonesian immigrants. The real problem lies on the rise of petrol in both countries. Since the situation is critical enough as President SBY and Malaysian PM can get their butt kicked by the demonstrants, they simply make up fake situation and drive the attention of the people long enough to forget about the main issue, which is rising of petrol and food price.

    The war is fake, there will be never war as long as they are still a lot of money and resources to be corrupted by government official. However, it is the people that become victim of this fake war. Innocent people get whipped, stabbed, or probably even murder by other hot head youngster who easily get their blood boiled when it comes to patriotism. Patriotism itself is a tool to cheat the young people into sacrificing theirselves in favor of politicians. Well, so try to be smart, protecting ourselves is the smartest move ever.

  6. Astrajingga says:

    If there’s no (poor people of) Indonesia, where can Malaysia got their cheap builders, cheap plantation labors, cheap pembantu/maids, cheap workers?

    Whose forest will be illegally cut and then exported to China labeled as “From Malaysian Sustainable Forest”? Where would Malaysian forestry be without Indonesia? And they complain us for the smoke of forest fire?

    Which CD with Indonesian/Malay lyric will they pirate? VCD of Indonesian movie? I wonder if there’s artist in Malaysia, I’ve never heard anything about ‘Malaysian Art.’ (Yes, once we pirated that silly Rock Band; Search’s songs. Only one song Isabela, and it’s rubbish. We consider it as an ‘illegal’ imported polution to our grand culture/kebudayaan adi luhung).

    Now their politician and policemen also need Indonesians as a scapegoat of the increasing crime rate. They need Indonesia to cover their incompetence.

    We lost our Sipadan & Ligitan islands. We are ikhlas. And now they try to get more, Ambalat, because of oil business. Who will be Malaysian Navy sparring partner in this borderline hit and run game?

    For better or worse, Malaysia needs–badly–Indonesia.

    Once, we let Rashid family took the prestigious badminton championship from Indonesia. It’s okay to lose to British, Dane, Korean, or China, but it really hurt to lose it to Malaysia. But let’s forget about it. It’s only a sport.

    We even let Malaysia to have Batik–theirs is low quality, keris–theirs is low quality, and reog–played by Indonesian–without acknowledging them as ‘made in Indonesia.’ It’s okay for us. We still have our own great high quality batik, keris, and reog. Those who really want to find ‘fine quality’ instead of ‘cheap imitation’ will know where to go.

    Apart from minuscule crime cases done by Indonesian, Indonesia is the best, the most generous neighbor Malaysia ever has. We’re just too damn nice.

    But when it comes to Manohara Odelia Pinot….

  7. Odinius says:

    Astrajingga said:

    Whose forest will be illegally cut and then exported to China labeled as “From Malaysian Sustainable Forest”?

    This is true. The main exploiters of Indonesia’s primary rainforests are now Malaysian and Chinese conglomerates, with willing partners in the Indonesian government (as well as local cronies).

  8. Astrajingga says:

    with willing partners in the Indonesian government (as well as local cronies).

    Sure. That’s where ‘the best neighbor’ takes part. We also have the best Pak RT to smooth all the deal. Aren’t we nice?

  9. Odinius says:

    That’s the way of the world. Things like “indigenous rights” often really mean, in practical terms, “making sure specific individuals get a cut.”

    Not saying that all indigenous rights campaigning is bull****, just pointing out that it’s often used by certain members of the local elite until they get their ca$h payout. Then it’s “go-go-government!”

  10. Oigal says:

    The main exploiters of Indonesia’s primary rainforests are now Malaysian and Chinese conglomerates, with willing partners in the Indonesian government (as well as local cronies).

    Statements like this always make me laugh..Along with “That naughty mean little Singapore is stealing our sand..”

    Ho Ho Ho.. Who lets them do it!!? You don’t have to look to neighbouring countries to see where the real problem lies but guess it makes people feel better for a little while, to blame someone elese fro our woes.

    The “local cronies” should be in bold and 36 size font.

  11. Odinius says:

    Er…Oigal…you did read the second half of that sentence, didn’t you?

    …with willing partners in the Indonesian government (as well as local cronies).

  12. Oigal says:

    Sorry Od, I agree with what you said (Maaf.. If the reply didn;t sound that way) just think the local cronies thing should be in bold…

  13. Odinius says:

    Yeah, hard to absolve the willing partners. I was just pointing out that it’s not “exploitation by western capital” as much as “exploitation by eastern capital” nowadays.

    That doesn’t change the basic fact that the only party that could put a stop to it would be the Indonesian government.

  14. Astrajingga says:

    That doesn’t change the basic fact that the only party that could put a stop to it would be the Indonesian government.

    Hoping Indonesian government to act as fierceful and persistent like Manohara’s mother?

  15. cyclone says:


    what a way to shift all the blames to malaysians…look properly into your own house..big but lots of bullshits inside it. don’t try to compare what u think as a better arts, kris or reog to other people’s products. Why do you indonesian people still come to malaysia?? who needs who now?? you are now about 2 million people here. and i guess you shouldn’t blame your gov for that too. who elect them. don’t you and your wicked-and-blame-somebody ever vote?? look into your own shits and just imagine again what you have eatened.

  16. Astrajingga says:

    Ck ck ck Cyclone, you just don’t know your shit!

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