Better times ahead in Malaysia-Indonesia ties after Jokowi’s KL visit, say pundits

12-Aug-2019 Intellasia | Malay Mail | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Geopolitical observers see warmer ties between Malaysia and Indonesia leading to regional stability, after a decade of frosty relations over the treatment of migrant workers and the annual haze problem, among others.

Citing several Indonesian experts, South China Morning Post reported a huge thaw in Putrajaya-Jakarta ties in the wake of Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s two-day visit here last Thursday, his first official one since winning re-election in April.

The little signals of a warm welcome, prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad personally driving the Indonesian president to the mosque for Friday prayers, Widodo’s proposal for bilateral cooperation in palm oil trade, open talks on shared land and sea border lines, were among the clues.

“Without doubt whether defined by shared interests on various transborder challenges or the close people-to-people links between them relations between the two countries are special,” Indonesian’s former foreign minister Marty Natalegawa was quoted saying.

Muhammad Sinatra from the Institute of Strategic and International Studies told the Hong Kong daily that another sign of warmer ties was Indonesian politicians’ refrain from using cross-border issues with Malaysia in the republic’s presidential and legislative elections earlier this year.

“We have seen a drop in destabilising, contentious issues that we so often saw in the previous decade,” the foreign policy and security analyst was quoted saying.

Sinatra cited Indonesia’s return of the super yacht formerly known as Equanimitybought by Jho Low allegedly using 1Malaysia Development Berhad moneyseized in Bali to the Malaysian government and the release of Indonesian Siti Aisyah, one of two women charged with murdering North Korean Kim Jong-nam here as examples of recent tensions in Indonesia that were resolved through improved ties.

However several other matters still stand out, such as the recurring haze across South-east Asia brought on by forest fires and palm oil burning in Indonesia and Indonesians’ strong sentiments over the abuses suffered by its women hired as domestic workers in Malaysia.

Sinatra highlighted one such example as the death of 21-year old domestic helper Adelina Lisao from organ failure following alleged abuse by her employer Ambika MA Shan last year, after being forced to sleep on the porch with her dog.

Ambika was charged with murder but released in April when prosecutors withdrew the charge, drawing public outcry.

Sinatra and Tenaganita director Glorene Das shared the same view, that Malaysia will have to show justice being done to migrant workers.

“On Indonesia’s part, there is a need to prevent these cases from inflaming anti-Malaysia sentiment among the public.

“Now is an ‘opportune moment’ for Indonesia and Malaysia to resolve their numerous differences. We hope this translates into a period of stability and cooperation in the foreseeable future,” Sinatra said.


Category: Indonesia

Print This Post