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Monday, September 27, 2010

Anwar : Umno to blame for Indonesia tensions

Malaysia's democracy icon Anwar Ibrahim
JAKARTA (Jakarta Post) - Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim blames the Malaysian media and ruling party UMNO for playing part in heating up the ever-tense situation between Indonesia and Malaysia.

Anwar said, as he addressed a forum in Jakarta on Sunday, Malaysians’ tendency to have negative perspective on Indonesians was attributable, among others, to negative coverage of the Malaysian media on events occurring in Indonesia or involving Indonesians.

“When we look at Malaysian media, we see negative reports (on Indonesia); the riots, the poor Indonesian migrant workers being dumped… No positive coverage at all,” he said

“When they report on (Indonesia’s) Constitutional Court and the Corruption Eradication Commission, it’s as if all Indonesians were corrupt, although I know Malaysia is very corrupt, too” added Anwar.

He said the negative coverage was part of the reason why “understanding and affection” between the two “one-race” neighbors were degrading compared with when he was young.

Although at that time Indonesia’s first president Soekarno just declared the “Destroy Malaysia” campaign, Anwar said he observed that the negative sentiment toward Malaysians had not been shared as widely as it was now among the Indonesian public.

“And this is really not healthy for long term.”

Anwar was addressing a general lecture organized by Soegeng Sarjadi School of Government themed “Political Reform and Democratization in Malaysia: Toward Equal Friendship Between Malaysia and Indonesia”.

In the following press conference, he saidUMNO also played part in making more tense the situation with its heightening of threats faced by Malaysians because of the rage of Indonesians.

“Is our domestic politics or UMNO playing up the situation? Yes, it is. They (UMNO) act as if Malaysia is under threat of being attack with the boiling rage in Indonesia.

“That’s not true. The sentiment is not that terrible in Indonesia, although yes there is anger that has spread widely among the people,” Anwar said.

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