MALACCA: Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar today advised Malaysians to stop travelling to Indonesia for now because of the anti-Malaysia feelings being whipped up by certain Indonesian politicians and the republic's media. The anti-Malaysia sentiments were aroused following imprisonment and whipping of Indonesian illegal immigrants in Malaysia after the amnesty expired on July 31.
"I know that Indonesia is one of the most popular destinations for Malaysians," he said, "but unless it is necessary, do refrain from visiting the country until the situation cools down."
Syed Hamid earlier opened a two-day conference organised by the Malaysian Institute of Historical and Patriotism Studies, held in conjunction with the National Day celebration and 35th anniversary of Asean.
Putting the blame of these two parties, Syed Hamid said their 'fiery' interpretation of the situation had caused matters to get out of hand.
He said certain politicians in Indonesia had also used the issue to boost their popularity among their electorate.
"I hope that they will put a stop to this. As we are neighbours, a more positive approach must be adopted for us to solve any problem," he added.
Last Friday, 19 Malaysian tourists were detained for almost six hours by Indonesian police for allegedly not having their passports with them at the lobby of a hotel in Lake Toba.
Syed Hamid said the Malaysian consul-general in Medan, Mohd Yusof Abu Bakar also met Medan's governor this morning to discuss the anti-Malaysia issue.
Syed Hamid said the exercise to deport illegal immigrants had been blown out of proportion by some Indonesians, giving rise to the impression that Malaysia was chasing the Indonesians from the country.
"We are not chasing anyone out. What we are doing is deporting those who had entered the country illegally. And this is not just for Indonesians but other nationalities as well.
"Why are they looking at this angle, and not the fact that many Indonesians (who had entered the country legally) had earned a good income in Malaysia and were able to send home a huge amount of money, he said.
After the amnesty ended, the amended Immigration Act came into force and many illegal immigrants, including Indonesians, were charged in court and sentenced to jail and caning.
Last week, Indonesian People's Consultative Assembly speaker Amien Rais had described the new immigration laws as inhumane and insulting.