A recent border clash between Malaysia and Indonesia has once again sparked tension between the two nation states.
The area in question is Bintan Island. Indonesian authorities had arrested seven Malaysian fishermen who were caught poaching. However Malaysian police had also taken into custody three Indonesian fisheries officers near the Bintan Island area. Both countries have since released the fishermen and officers. Both nations claim that the area belongs to them.
Additionally, Indonesia has investigated reports that Malaysia abused the three officers, and this sparked tension between the two nations. It was further exacerbated when Indonesian protesters flung faeces at the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta as well as setting the Malaysian flag on fire.
Essentially, Malaysians in the online community remain divided on the issue. Some believe it to be offensive, some see it as an action by disillusioned Indonesians who do not represent the whole country, and some think it's been sensationalised by the media. Others come up with conspiracy theories.
A Malaysian blogger, Ibrahim Yahaya had blogged about how a friend of his feels betrayed by Indonesia, for Malaysia contributes to the Indonesian economy in so many ways like education and tourism. Yet, they get insulted in return. The full post, in Bahasa Malaysia, can be found here.
And while the protesters have threatened to hurt Malaysians in Indonesia, a Malaysian student in Indonesia feels saddened by it:
What scared me the most is that they threatened to detain Malaysians on the streets and shave their heads before sending them back.
But I know they do not representing the whole peace-loving of Indonesian people. I’ve been studying here for 4 years. They are many nice and good Indonesians that treated us Malaysian here nicely, putting aside all those tiffs between these two countries. (sic)
But he also went on to add:
But I honestly don’t blame them. Media in here loves playing with the issue and sensationalizing it. Like how they did to the celebrities. Most of the info they aired were merely baseless allegations and they played it again and again as it were something need to be planted deep in the brain. Hatred been planted. (sic)
We wont go to war with Indonesia. There wont be any. Malaysia and Indonesia are like brothers. We share many special and common assets. Issues pertaining to our border dispute can be ironed out anytime and without prejudice.
Well, from my point of view, the issue has been exaggerated and thrown out of proportion. Some parties tried to lucre from it, i.e by arranging massive ‘home return’ for Indonesians.
Whatever it is, diplomatic settlement is still the best way. As far as relations between our two countries are concerned, it remain (sic) as ‘we-need-each-other'. Dont our friends in Indonesia think so?
Ahirudin Attan, a popular socio-political blogger in Malaysia, had written a brief post in his blog about the issue which generated a lot of comments, among them by fellow bloggers Pasquale:
It is much ado about nothing this so called spat between us and Indonesia!
The Indonesia media, print and electronic that have been highlighting this kerfuffle are known to be pro Reform Movement in Malaysia! Need I say more!
I was there last week for four days and ask any average Indonesian on the street about the so called spat they say “ada dalang di sebalik tabir pak” or in English, roughly translated “There is definitely a puppetmaster behind the curtain sir doing all of these”.
The recent Malaysian-Indonesian minor spat is, I think, a cooked-up scenario by certain parties who ABHOR the very idea of regional malays uniting under one ideological umbrella. That's just a theory, but one worth looking into.