Monday, October 26, 2009
Nothing's wrong with Malaysia-Indonesia ties
Nothing's wrong with Malaysia-Indonesia relations, says Deputy Foreign Minister Senator Kohilan Pillay at the Dewan Rakyat (read h e r e...).
Well, hope everything is fine. The bruhaha about a planned attack by a group of Indon vigilante last month was just a threat although it took the Malaysian security forces to be on high alert.Like it or not, we have been like India and Pakistan, China-Japan and England Argentina - loved and hatred relations that somehow has engaged the respective parties into more serious cooperation dialogues.
The trouble with storms in tea-cups is that they tend to spill over, at least a little.Indonesia and Malaysia have the same kind of relationship that the UK and France have had for centuries: a little rhetoric here and there but nothing ever happens.
For example, there's a continuing spat over maids: there are a lot of Indonesian maids in Malaysia. Every so often, something kicks off and gets far more attention than it deserves. For example, in 2003, some Indonesian maids employed by Chinese families decided that they were being treated disrespectfully because the families had dogs which the maids had to walk and ate pork which the maids had to cook.
No one thought to say that, if the maids considered either to be a real problem, they should not have taken the jobs. The fuss passed, but not until questions had been asked in Parliament and suggestions were made that work permits should be made available to Indonesian maids only to work in Muslim households. That didn't suit the maids: they feared loss of opportunity and lower pay (but produced no evidence to support either). The end result was that Indonesia stopped complaining and a diplomatic and commercial issue simply went away. Again, Malaysia took the initiative by inviting senior Indonesian journalists for a dialogue in Kuala Lumpur this month, thus clearing the air. But, for how long?