President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told the Indonesian public on Thursday not to sweep Malaysian citizens in the country, saying such an action was “excessive”.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

The president said the sweeping was against the law and would only put ties between Indonesia and Malaysia at risk.

“The [Indonesian] government has done our part. We have sent protests, taken diplomatic actions. We are working, and the Eminent Persons Group [a group established to improve Indonesia-Malaysia ties] is working. Why does there have to be such an excessive action?” said Yudhoyono while opening a plenary Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Office.

The President reminded the nation that about 1.8 million Indonesian citizens were currently working, living or studying in Malaysia; and that the sweeping could harm their presence in the neighboring country.

“Let’s think about how to manage a problem more wisely. On principal issues like territorial boundary we have to be firm. On the Ambalat dispute, on things related to national sovereignty, we’re being firm.

“On other issues I believe there is still a better way out; good solutions that don’t need to involve violent actions that are against the law, moreover during Ramadan,” the President said.

He expressed relief that law enforcers managed to stop the illegal ID check and prevent it from taking tolls.

Yudhoyono said Indonesian Ambassador to Malaysia Da’i Bachtiar had explained the situation to the Malaysian public that nothing bad had happened to Malaysian citizens living in Indonesia despite the outrage against the neighbor.

The Jakarta police dispersed a group of people who conducted an ID check targeting Malaysian nationals on Tuesday. The group said the action followed the government’s failure to respond to Malaysia’s repeated claims of Indonesian cultural heritage.