Stop political row with Malaysia: Megawati
August 28, 2002
President Megawati Soekarnoputri on Tuesday stepped in to defuse the ongoing row with neighboring Malaysia, and urged an immediate resolution of the illegal migrants issue.
The President underlined on Tuesday that long-standing diplomatic ties with Malaysia should not be damaged by emotional reactions from either side regarding the problem.
"We should not display emotional reactions that could affect bilateral ties," Pramono Anung, the deputy secretary-general of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), which is chaired by Megawati, quoted the President as saying.
The core issue is about the deportation of Indonesian illegal workers from Malaysia and has nothing to do with political issues, Pramono told reporters after the party's weekly meeting led by Megawati on Tuesday.
It was the President's hope that the labor issue would not damage friendly bilateral ties between Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, Pramono added.
Megawati made the appeal amid further strong comments from Malaysian foreign minister Syed Hamid Albar, who warned on Tuesday that public anger in Indonesia over Kuala Lumpur's treatment of the illegal workers could harm bilateral relations.

August 27, 2002

Indonesian protesters topple gate at Malaysian embassy

JAKARTA (Agency): An Indonesian group protesting Kuala Lumpur's decision to whip illegal immigrants toppled the main gate of the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta on Monday, AFP reported.
About 40 demonstrators chanted slogans and set fire to a Malaysian flag in addition to pushing down the gate. Police stopped them from entering the grounds and a small delegation later handed over a protest letter to an embassy official.
The letter called for an end to Malaysia's "inhuman" caning and fining of illegal workers. It demanded the Indonesian government sever diplomatic relations if Malaysia continues to punish Indonesian workers who are trying to return home.
It threatened to open a "Crush Malaysia" (Ganyang Malaysia) front similar to the one which founding president Sukarno employed during his military confrontation with Malaysia in the mid-1960s.
The protesters came from a group calling itself Laskar Merah Putih (the Red and White Militia), after the colours of Indonesia's national flag.
Indonesia's national assembly chairman Amien Rais has criticised Malaysia for what he called the "inhumane" and "insulting" punishment of caning, sparking a rebuke from Kuala Lumpur.
The implementation of the tough new laws followed a July 31 expiry of an amnesty period, which saw the exodus of more than 300,000 illegal migrants. Courts have since sentenced dozens of other workers to jail and caning.