Dozens of NGO activists dubbing themselves Relawan Ganyang Malaysia (Anti-Malaysia Activists) Tuesday conducted a raid on a street in Central Jakarta in a hunt for Malaysian nationals until the police halted their activities.
Starting from 10 a.m., about 40 activists, sporting red-and-white attire and paraphernalia, stopped pedestrians, motorcyclists and cars in front of their office on Jl. Diponegoro in the plush area of Menteng.
They asked them to show their ID cards or passports to prove they were not Malaysian citizens.
No Malaysian citizens were caught in the raid.
However, two Malaysian sedans passing the road were almost seized by the activists.
“We released them because they promised to join our cause,” one of the activists who is also a member of the People’s Democracy Fortress [Bendera], Nando Sidabutar, told The Jakarta Post.
Another volunteer, Aji Kusuma, said the raids were aimed to show they were infuriated at the government’s slow response to confront Malaysia.
“Our dignity and pride have been weakened, but the government seems to ignore it,” the secretary general of Volunteers of Democracy in Struggle [Repdem] told the Post.
“We need a decisive government and we haven’t see that during President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s tenure,” he added.
The raid brought the traffic around Cikini and Menteng to a halt for several hours despite the police redirecting vehicles to alternative roads.
Aji said they might continue the rally for couple of days.
“We will evaluate our action today before we plan the next rally. It could be at the Malaysian Embassy.
“Indeed, we didn’t get any Malaysians today. But I think our action has sent a clear signal to the government. If they keep ignoring our demands; just wait for our next action,” he said.
At 1 p.m., the police stopped the rally.
“They did not report it. They were not given permission to conduct the rally,” chief of operations at the Central Jakarta Police Adj. Sr. Comr. Aries Syahbudin told the Post.
Aries did not explain why police took so long to disperse the rally despite the fact the group had not received prior permission.
The harsh reaction against Malaysia was triggered by last month’s Discovery Channel’s TV advertorial program Enigmatic Malaysia that featured Balinese Pendet dance as a Malaysian art form.
Both the Discovery Channel and the Malaysian Tourism Ministry have apologized over the polemics.
Earlier this month, Jakarta’s chapter of the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) showed that Malaysians topped the list of tourists visiting the capital in July, the month when the twin bombings rocked the JW Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels in South Jakarta.