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Mounting Tensions Between Malaysia and Indonesia

Protests in Bali as Anger Mounts at Arrest of Three Indonesian Officials by Malaysian Police.

(8/28/2010) The current wave of anti-Malaysian sentiment sweeping across Indonesia was sparked by the detention of three maritime enforcement offers by Malaysian authorities near Riau island. Indonesian officials are insisting the arrest took place in Indonesian territorial waters on August 16, 2010, with some sources citing the act as retaliation for the earlier arrest of seven Malaysian fishermen caught in Indonesian waters.

Fomenting long-standing underlying currents of dissention between the two countries and further fueled by Malaysia's refusal to apologize for the apprehension of three Indonesian officials, angry protests were staged outside the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta in which at least one demonstrator expressed his protest by using human feces to deface a Malaysian flag.

Anger Spreads to Bali

The escalating outrage spread to Bali on Thursday, August 28, 2010, when tens of university students marching under the banner of the Young Indonesian Marhaen Movement arrived at Malaysian Honorary Consul Office on Jalan Pantai Kuta demanding the controversy between the two neighboring members of ASEAN be quickly resolved.

According to Kompas.com, the students brought Indonesian flags while shouting "crush Malaysia." The student also staged theatrical protest re-enacting the "abduction" of the 3 Indonesian officials by Malaysian police.

The students in Bali read an 8-point demand to the Honorary Consul emphasizing the need for clear borders between Malaysia and Indonesia to avoid future conflicts.

The coordinator of the Bali protests, Alit Wilantara, said: "We do not wish to support anarchy, only to conduct a sympathetic protest. We view that the conflict between Indonesian and Malaysia must be quickly settled."

The Honorary Consul for Malaysia in Bali, Feisol Hashim, agreed to receive the protesters and promised that he would deliver their statement to the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta.

Malaysia's Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman has not ruled out issuing a travel advisory if Malaysians are threatened or the Indonesian authorities fail to adequately protect Malaysian nationals visiting or living in Indonesia.

The Malaysian Foreign Minister has confirmed that he will meet with his Indonesian counterpart, Dr. Marty Natalegawa, in Malaysia on September 6, 2010, in an effort to defuse the situation.