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Monday, October 17, 2011

Medal honour to Malaysian King riles Indonesian activists


October 17, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 — Indonesian activists are now protesting their president’s award of a service medal to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong yesterday, which came amid growing tension over a border dispute with its neighbour, the Jakarta Globe said today.

After the award was presented, the English-language daily said local activists in the Jakarta-based Migrant Care group immediately rose to remind President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of the hundreds of Indonesian workers in Malaysia who have allegedly been mistreated.

Tuanku Mizan received Indonesia’s highest award yesterday. — Reuters pic
The advocacy group claimed that there are 151 Indonesians currently on death row in Malaysia and thousands of others who have become murder and rape victims during their stint here.

“So we condemn the decision to give this award,” Migrant Care co-ordinator Wahyu Susilo was quoted as saying in the daily today.

It added that Susilo may have been “flirting with political suicide” when he personally presented Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin the Adipurna medal, Indonesia’s highest award, at yesterday’s ceremony at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta.

According to Susilo, said the daily, the honour was to reward Tuanku Mizan for his “enormous contribution in preserving and developing the friendship, good relations and co-operation between Indonesia and Malaysia.”

But the daily pointed out that ties between Malaysia and Indonesia have only been worsening, fuelled further after Tubagus Hasanuddin, an opposition lawmaker, alleged that Indonesia could lose 1,490 hectares of land in West Kalimantan to Malaysia.

The uproar had fuelled anti-Malaysia sentiment in Indonesia and the latter government’s denial of the land grab had failed to calm tempers.

According to the daily, Susilo’s adviser on international relations Teuku Faizasyah later said the Indonesian government had long planned to present the award to Tuanku Mizan.

“We realise there will be controversy and even resistance from all sides. But must such resistance stop us from honouring a person who has made so many positive contributions?” he was quoted as saying.

He added the award was initially to be presented in August, long before the border row erupted, but the King was unable to attend the ceremony at the time.

“[He] has done a lot for our migrant workers’ children, who previously had no access to formal education, by establishing a learning centre for them,” Teuku was quoted as saying.

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