*Friday, 03 September 2010*




    -- Yudhoyono’s ‘feeble’ speech gets harsh criticism

    -- SBY silences war-drum sentiment vs Malaysia

    -- SBY criticized for fueling public expectations on border talks

    -- Neighborly attitudes


    Yudhoyono’s ‘feeble’ speech gets harsh criticism

Erwida Maulia, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Fri, 09/03/2010

Condemnation greeted the President’s “feeble” speech on mounting 
tensions between Indonesia and Malaysia, while a major party in the 
ruling coalition dropped plans for interpellation on the issue.

Shortly after the speech — which was broadcast live from the Indonesian 
Military’s (TNI) headquarters in Cilangkap, East Jakarta, late Wednesday 
— President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was called a “coward” and 
“insensitive” to Indonesia’s increasing sense of nationalism.

The furor was triggered after the arrest of three Indonesian officials 
by Malaysian authorities on Aug. 13 in the waters near Riau Islands 

Postings on social networking sites such as Twitter said Yudhoyono’s 
speech was “feeble” and “degraded the nation’s self-esteem”.

Far from declaring war on Malaysia, as some had hoped or expected, the 
President stressed that diplomacy would “thoroughly” settle all border 
issues. Negotiations over the nation’s sea border near Riau Islands is 
one of many ongoing border issues between Indonesian and both Malaysia 
and Singapore.

Yudhoyono mentioned the countries’ close bilateral ties, adding the need 
to  “speed up” negotiations.
In an abrupt about-face, a major political partner in the President’s 
coalition, the Golkar Party, said Thursday that it had dropped plans to 
join an interpellation against the government.

“We scrutinized the President’s words and his facial expressions [which] 
were very serious and measured,” Golkar central board member Priyo Budi 
Santoso said,  as quoted by online news agencies.

Golkar was “relieved” by the President’s speech because Yudhoyono 
stressed that there would be “no compromise” on issues regarding 
national sovereignty despite close bilateral ties, Priyo added.

Priyo said Golkar had decided to wait for manifestations of the 
government’s plans, specifically the President’s emphasis on settling 
all disputes thoroughly and swiftly.

Members of opposition parties such as the Indonesian Democratic Party of 
Struggle (PDI-P) said the speech fell flat.

The choice of time and venue for the speech — the TNI’s headquarters 
after a dinner breaking the Ramadan fast — might have led people to 
expect that the President would order the military to “seriously 
safeguard” national sovereignty, PDI-P legislator Tubagus Hasanuddin 
said  Thursday. “Instead he went on about how Indonesia depends on 
Malaysia, which further crushed Indonesians’ egos,” said Tubagus, who is 
also on House of Representatives’ Commission I on foreign affairs.

Commission deputy head Hasanuddin said it was “pointless” for Yudhoyono 
to order faster negotiations when border talks had already been tightly 
scheduled. The next negotiations are scheduled for Sept. 6 in Kinabalu 
near the Indonesian-Malaysian border on Borneo.

Apart from failing to highlight the arrest of the Indonesian officials, 
Hasanuddin said the President failed to respond firmly to Malaysian 
Prime Minister Najib Razak’s criticism of anti-Malaysian rallies in 
Indonesia, one of which involved protesters throwing feces at the 
Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta.

However veteran Indonesian diplomat Wiryono Sastrohandoyo said the 
President had to be cautious in his statements, such as those regarding 
two million Indonesians working in Malaysia.

  “People demand that we withdraw our migrant workers from Malaysia — 
but can we create jobs to accommodate them?” Wiryono said.

“When they demand that we go to war, have they thought about the costs? 
... Are we ready to face another financial crisis if we decide to 
redeclare Bung Karno’s ‘Wipe out Malaysia’ campaign?” he asked, 
referring to former president Sukarno.

Indonesia has signed the ASEAN Charter and will take over ASEAN’s 
rotating chair next year, making it unwise to settle conflicts with a 
neighboring country through violence, he said.

Lawmaker Mahfudz Shiddiq from the Prosperous Justice Party said 
Indonesia needed to show “a stronger stance” on Malaysia if the country fail

    SBY silences war-drum sentiment vs Malaysia

Mustaqim Adamrah, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Thu, 09/02/2010

Risking further public outcry, the President urged the public Wednesday 
not to overreact toward Malaysia, while asking the neighboring country 
to accelerate negotiations over disputed territories.

In a flaming red batik shirt, speaking from the military headquarters in 
Jakarta on Wednesday, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono defied expectations and 
demands to deliver a tough speech on Malaysia, and instead appealed for 
emphasis on diplomacy in the current crisis, while avoiding condemning 
Malaysia for the recent arrest of Indonesian officials in waters near 
Riau province.

He stressed a “swift, firm and accurate” response to settle all issues 
with the neighboring country, but added that, despite all the common 
interests in the bilateral relations, issues relating to “national 
dignity” such as border issues could not be compromised.

A thorough response, he said, was needed in order to prevent future 
flash points, and to facilitate “deeper, wider” relations with Malaysia.

Yudhoyono said the public should not get carried away and took the 
recent spat into a broader context, saying not all conflicts between the 
two countries related to sovereignty.

“I care about the emotions you feel [over the recent row between the two 
countries]. But we have to avoid violence because it often begets more 
violence,” he said .

“Indonesia will keep pushing Malaysia to negotiate borders as border 
disputes are a major source of tension.”

He also said Indonesia should maintain peaceful diplomacy in settling 
issues with Malaysia because the country had taken the lead in resolving 
conflicts in a peaceful manner on the world stage.

Yudhoyono said the bilateral relations were too good to be broken, 
citing Malaysia’s investment in Indonesia that amounted to US$1.2 
billion between 2005 and 2009 and Indonesia’s investment in Malaysia 
$534 million. Two-way trade stood at $11.4 billion last year alone.

He also said there were 2 million Indonesians working in Malaysia, 
13,000 Indonesian students studying in Malaysia and 6,000 Malaysian 
students in Indonesia.

Indonesian tourists, Yudhoyono continued, accounted for 1.18 million of 
Malaysia’s 6.3 million foreign tourists each year.

The speech was the President’s first open statement since Aug. 13, when 
the arrest of three Indonesian officials drew nation-wide outcry.

Yudhoyono’s speech will likely draw harsh criticism of the government, 
as expectations of a harsh response were high, considering venue chosen 
to deliver the address.

University of Indonesia (UI) international law expert Hikmahanto Juwana 
said the President should not have delivered a rhetorical speech and 
should have instead taken a firm stance against Malaysia.

Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) legislator Mahfud Siddiq said Yudhoyono 
should have used his speech “to send a message to Malaysia that 
Indonesia is taking the matter seriously and will take any means to 
bring Malaysia to the negotiating table in a respectful manner”.

Another expert, Makmur Keliat, said Yudhoyono should know “when to use 
hard power or soft power,” implying that hard power should have been 
employed. Scholar Hariyadi Wirawan said the President was only trying to 
calm the military by choosing to deliver his speech at the base.

    SBY criticized for fueling public expectations on border talks

Lilian Budianto and Desy Nurhayati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta/Nusa Dua | 
Fri, 09/03/2010 |

While President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono tried to win public support by 
ordering an acceleration to negotiations to solve the ongoing border row 
with Malaysia, the Foreign Ministry conceded it would take years to see 
concrete results from any talks.

The Sept. 6-7 meeting in Kinabalu, Malaysia, will only serve as the 
opening of a long and tiring series of talks, officials said.

As public expectations to find an outcome in the dispute at the two-day 
meet is running high, many in Indonesia could end up disappointed over 
the results of the talks as Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa warned 
that any border negotiations would take some time to complete.

“We must remember that such border negotiations will not be quick. Our 
negotiations with Vietnam, for instance, took 32 years to complete,” he 
said after a meeting with Thai Foreign Minister Kasit
Piromya in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Thursday.

As discussions between Indonesia and Malaysia over disputed territory 
may take decades to resolve, the Kinabalu meeting stands to serve as a 
preliminary discussion to enter into further border talks and the 
possible arrangement of shared border areas until the dispute is 
resolved, said Hikmahanto Juwana, international affairs lecturer at the 
University of Indonesia.

“It is wrong for people to think that the Kinabalu meeting will 
automatically solve the dispute we have now,” he said.

Hikmahanto also voiced criticism towards Yudhoyono, whose speech on 
Wednesday gave the perception that the upcoming meeting would solve the 
border dispute.

He said the much-less-than-expected results of the meeting would only 
fuel more disappointment and anger among the Indonesian public.

“There is nothing wrong with diplomacy. It’s just that the signal from 
the government that the talks will solve the problem gives false hope to 
the people,” he said.

Hikmahanto added the recent row between the two neighboring countries 
was not simmering because of one country’s claim over the other’s 
territory, but because of the arrest of three Indonesian officials in 
disputed waters off Riau Island province by Malaysian maritime police.

“We can talk about how to avoid more arrests in the future but it is not 
possible to quickly settle the border dispute unless we give up our 
claim,” he said.

The recent row has also exposed other problems faced by the two 
countries in handling their borders.

During a recent hearing with the three Indonesian officers, some 
legislators cited reports that the men not only faced charges of 
encroaching on Malaysian territory but also charges of extortion against 
the Malaysian fishermen — an accusation the three officers deny.

A legislator who refused to be identified said Jakarta had clarified 
with Malaysian police allegations that they had obtained evidence of 
extortion, including a text message from an Indonesian officer to one of 
the fishermen containing the officer’s bank account information.

The legislator said he was not aware of the sum of money requested but 
said the message was sent to the fisherman before the officers were 
caught by the Malaysian authorities. He continued to say that Yudhoyono 
had been informed of the issue.

Some studies and reports have revealed corruption practiced by 
Indonesian maritime officials, who allegedly charge Malaysian fishermen 
10 percent of their boat’s value to be released if caught fishing in 
disputed waters.

    Neighborly attitudes

The Jakarta Post | Fri, 09/03/2010 | Editorial

In our society, neighbors are some of the most important people to us 
after our own families. They determine the security of our families and 
our neighborhoods. That’s why biblical and other ancient idioms advise 
us to maintain warm relations with our neighbors. Good relations with 
neighbors are paramount to our wellbeing.

That’s also true in terms of relations between nations. Good relations 
with neighboring countries are equally important for the wellbeing of 
our own nation and the region. Countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and 
Australia are some of our most important neighbors. Therefore, it is 
important for us to keep a cool head in response to our current conflict 
with Malaysia.

It is relieving to hear President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono advocating 
for a peaceful resolution to the current conflict through border 
negotiations with Malaysia. During his speech at military headquarters 
in Jakarta on Wednesday evening, Yudhoyono called on fellow Indonesians 
to not overreact to Malaysia.

Whether the people heed Yudhoyono remains to be seen. But at least as 
the head of the nation, he has done the right thing by trying to silence 
the ominous drums of war among chauvinistic Indonesians.

The core of the problem is actually a small incident in which Malaysia 
arrested three Indonesian maritime affairs officials who were impounding 
Malaysian fishing boats at a border area near Singapore, an area both 
countries claim. This incident has actually been resolved amicably, but 
political ramifications have gone too far, especially from the 
Indonesian side.

In the eyes of Malaysians, we are seen as going too far with our people 
demonstrating almost daily in front of the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta. 
For Indonesians, demonstrations are common place in our more democratic 
state. But we agree with our Malaysian fellows that throwing human feces 
at the Malaysian Embassy compound was a step too far.

While some nationalistic elements of our society conduct rallies, our 
power-hungry politicians are issuing war-provoking statements about 
Malaysia. And the media are giving them a platform to display their 
vitriolic agenda. These actions simply do not reflect good neighborly 

We have to agree with the President that there is too much at stake to 
strain our relations with Malaysia.

Our economies are closely linked, with bilateral trade reaching US$11.4 
billion last year alone. We have seen bigger and bigger Malaysian 
investments in Indonesia, including those close to our homes, including 
Petronas gas stations and a number of banks.

We have 2 million fellow Indonesians working in Malaysia, 13,000 
Indonesian students studying in Malaysia and 6,000 Malaysian students 
studying here. Many Indonesians visit Malaysia for, among other things, 
medical purposes, and many Malaysians do business in Indonesia. Personal 
relations between Malaysians and Indonesians are also on the rise, 
thanks to the plethora of cheap flights between the two countries.

Therefore it is important to separate the incident near Singapore from 
the bigger picture of our close relations with Malaysia. But it is 
equally important to prevent similar incidents from recurring in the 
future. Learning from past experience, any small incident in disputed 
border areas with Malaysia could spark confrontational attitudes in the 
public. It is therefore imperative to solve outstanding border issues. 
The President has already offered Malaysia speedy negotiations on border 
disputes, and now the ball is in the Malaysian court.

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]


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