Thursday, October 14, 2010
Weapon of mass distraction undermining Malaysia-Indonesia ties
IT can be safely ascertained that the outlandish anti-Malaysia demonstrations in Jakarta last month was the work of a disgruntled few, petty thugs hired by masked elements who harbour a sinister but transcendently hidden motive - fostering discord between the two friendly nations as a red herring but in reality, designing the ruckus as a weapon of mass distraction.
To distract from what, you may ask, would be the interesting conjecture.
Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman nailed the “distraction” as a “third party acting in an irresponsible manner.
“Such people exist everywhere, just like there are some irresponsible people in our country," Anifah pronounced the truism earlier this week before the Dewan Rakyat, underscoring Wisma Putra’s belief that whatever demonstrations launched by the mob known as Benteng Demokrasi Rakyat (Bendera) was not representative of the Indonesian Government.
Anifah could have also added that Bendera was not even representative of the Indonesian people. Unlike the silly rhetoric and puerile action of Bendera (Crush Malaysia, hurling faeces at the Malaysian Embassy), Indonesians who work in Malaysia are not amused.
So worried are they with the Jakarta miscreants that 500 Indonesian labourers staged a short but peaceful demonstration in Kuantan and Temerloh earlier this month, ticking off Bendera and telling them to back off.
Bendera’s agitation stemmed from two discrete incidents - a maritime border incident where Indonesian maritime officers were held by their Malaysia counterpart for alleged encroachment and the physical abuse of an Indonesian maid.
Border disputes are unerringly unending, so a tiff like the Bintan incident is quite normal, just like Malaysia enforcement officers get routinely caught in the wrong side of the Malaysian-Thai border.
However, the rationale for Bendera’s mob psychosis needs understanding too. Armando Siahaan of the Jakarta Globe seems to hold a plausible consideration for the psychosis:
“Many Indonesians see Malaysia as an agitator, one that has violated our sea borders and harassed our maritime officials, stolen our cultural assets and mistreated our migrant workers who are only trying to eke out a living. In the eyes of some Indonesians, Malaysia is like the annoying neighbor who lets his dog do his business in your yard. In a way, Indonesia’s anger with Malaysia stems from our feeling of being wronged and defeated.”
Armando’s articulation seems to be just about right in explaining the Indonesian inferiority complex, if it can, to begin with, be called a complex, notwithstanding the inflammatory but unhelpful commentary the media of both sides (newspapers, blogs and websites) churn out whenever a spat explodes.
Here’s a fact: as much as Indonesians look with a sceptical eye towards Malaysia, they badly need Malaysia’s economic predominance, at least to take care of a few million of their people who have made a very comfortable living, legally and illegally, from Malaysian largesse.
On the other hand, Malaysian Malays cannot avoid the fact that a significant number owe their lineage to a veritable Javanese and Sumatran bloodline, so the two countries are locked in a stock which cannot be sieved, no matter how hard some incorrigible troublemakers try.
Some Indonesian patriots strongly feel Malaysia plagiarised their music and turned it into a popular folk song, hijacked cuisine and annexed territory (Sabah and Sarawak). But it can also be lightheartedly argued that the pre-Independence demand for Indonesia Raya (Greater Indonesia), that British Malaya be part of the unified Indonesian Indo-Malay state, has been achieved through cultural and migratory assimilation.
Instead of being upset all the time, it is about time Indonesia feel pleased that Malaysia adopted many of the customs and cultural mores of the old country, imitation being the best form of flattery.
If leaders of both nations see this “re-branding” as the path towards strengthening relationships, then the likes of Bendera would be superfluous and the creators of the weapon of mass distraction will slink away, fearing an embarrassing exposure under the climate of rapprochement. New Straits Times Kuala Lumpur