'Pendet' dance. Malaysia insisted it never claimed 'Pendet' dance as alleges by certain NGOs in Indonesia.

'Pendet' dance. Malaysia insisted it never claimed 'Pendet' dance as alleges by certain NGOs in Indonesia.

Malaysia media leaders on Monday urged their journalist colleagues in Indonesia to together abate tensions following the controversy over the ‘pendet’ dance that had led to some Indonesians threatening the safety of Malaysians there.

While respecting the freedom of the media in that republic, a group of senior Malaysian editors asked for wisdom of their friends in Indonesia in coverage and to view the ties between the two countries in a broader perspective.

“Let us not lose focus and attention with petty issues that as such approach does not benefit the people of both countries,” said Datuk Ahmad Talib, pro-tem chairman of The Malaysia-Indonesia Journalists Alliance (ISWMI)’s Malaysian branch at a news conference at Seri Pentas, TV3 here.

Present were Bernama TV editorial advisor, Datuk Seri Azman Ujang; Bernama editor-in-chief, Datuk Yong Soo Heong; Malaysia Press Institute (MPI) chief executive officer, Datuk Chamil Wariya; Star Publications group chief editor, Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai; Kumpulan Karangkraf chief editor, Abdul Jalil Ali; the deputy director of the public relations section in the Prime Minister’s Department, Abdull Hadi Mohd Yusoff; and media practioner Sabaruddin Ahmad Sabri.

Ahmad, who is also the executive director of news and editorial operations of Media Prima, said the Malaysian media were closely watching the Indonesian media coverage regarding the ‘pendet’ dance controversy, especially that Malaysia stole that country’s culture to the point that some Indonesians acted to look for Malaysians in that country.

He said ISWMI felt the development cannot be allowed to go on as it would adversely affect the good relations between Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta including in business ties and ties between the peoples of the two countries.

ISWMI is an initiative by Malaysian jounalists to better Malaysia-Indonesia ties following various issues that have cropped from time to time that affected ties like the overlapping claims on Pulau Sipadan and Ligitan, Malaysia’s claim over Ambalat, the issue of Indonesian workers in Malaysia, allegations over abuse of Indonesian immigrants and the latest over the ‘pendet’ dance issue.

Ahmad said an Indonesian ISWMI branch would be set up soon before a journalist exchange programme is implemented to bring about close ties through visits and dialogue.

Chamil said MPI last year invited a group of young Indonesian journalists to take part in training under the “International Fellowship Journalism” programme to cement close ties.

According to him, the programme provided long term benefits towards correcting whatever negative perceptions there were about the country among journalists.

Meanwhile, the Malaysia-Indonesia Strategic Centre (MISC) that was established here today urged the Malaysian and Indonesian governments to set up special team to probe deeply the actual cause of the ‘sweeping Malaysia’ matter.

“There may be quarters that are jealous of the friendship between both the countries…so a special team needs to be set up as we cannot be faced with the same issue every month. Urgent steps need to be taken so this issue is not repeated and the friendly ties of the two countries can be strengthened back,” Mohamad Ezam Mohd Nor told reporters at the launch.

Mohamad Ezam, who is the chairman of the Yayasan Generasi Baru Nusantara and also a member of MISC Amanah that was jointly set up by the Malaysia Indonesia Friendship Board (Prima), Indonesia Strategic Centre (ISC) and Centre of Indonesia Reform (CIR).

Deputy secretary-general of Prima, Chairul Anhar, said Indonesians also did not support and disliked the ‘Sweeping Malaysia’ slogan and regarded it as the work of a small number of people from the millions of Indonesians and it would not be able to shake the friendship of the two nations.

“There are no laws in Indonesia that can allow Indonesians to chase out foreigners in Indonesia as they wish and we want to tell Malaysians we are relations and thinks can be worked out as a family,” he said.

Mohamad Ezam said the main focus of MISC which will officially operate after Hari Raya at its headquarters in Jakarta was to shift the younger generation’s paradigm from nationalistic thinking only to an attitude of regionalism for the future of the two countries.

Meanwhile, Pas vice-president Salahuddin Ayub said the “sweeping Malaysia” incident was caused by some old issues between Malaysia and Indonesia like Indonesian labour force and maids.

Salahuddin today met the Indonesian deputy ambassador to Malaysia, Tatang Razak, at the Indonesian embassy and was assured that the Indonesian government would act against those who acted outside the law in that country.

— BERNAMA