KL and Jakarta agree to step up co-operation


  • Nation
  • Friday, 29 Aug 2003

BY MERGAWATI ZULFAKAR AND JACK WONG

KUCHING: Malaysia and Indonesia have agreed to boost co-operation in several areas, including sharing of intelligence in the fight against terrorism and finding ways to further reduce the entry of Indonesian illegal immigrants. 

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Indonesian President Megawati Soekarnoputri agreed that annual talks between leaders of the two countries must continue to enable bilateral issues to be resolved via consultations. 

“Malaysia is satisfied with the outcome of the talks today. There is no major problem between us. It is easy for Malaysia and Indonesia to co-operate in all fields. 

Welcome: President Megawati being accorded a grand welcome by Prime Minister Mahathir at te Kuching International Airport.

“Our close relations and co-operation have enabled us to solve problems through consultations,” Dr Mahathir told a press conference at the Kuching Hilton here after the two-hour talks. 

Megawati said that instead of just having such a meeting annually, both countries should meet whenever problems arose. 

On terrorism, Megawati, while admitting that it could not be tackled by a country on its own, said that Jakarta was proposing for an Asean security community for a more concrete co-operation among Asean members on terrorism-related issues. 

“Terrorism problems will continue. It can happen anytime, anywhere and committed by anybody. 

“That is why we are proposing for the community at the Asean summit (in Bali in October) so that many aspects of co-operation can be carried out,” she added. 

Asked on allegations that Indonesia was not doing enough to stop terror attacks, Megawati replied: “It is not in Indonesia alone. We see suicide bombings in other countries. The problem now is how far we can handle this problem.” 

Dr Mahathir said security matters were discussed and both leaders agreed for the need to work towards a better exchange of information. 

The Prime Minister said Kuala Lumpur noted that Jakarta had taken a lot of action to check the illegal entry of Indonesians into Malaysia but stressed that it needed to find ways to ensure that the control was much more effective. 

“We want to determine where the illegal immigrants land, where they take off, which one is the legal or illegal point of exit and entry. 

“We are quite satisfied with the ideas that have been put up,” he added. 

Malaysia has been conducting operations to be rid of illegal immigrants this year. 

Indonesia has the highest number of illegals in the country, with some estimates putting the number at hundreds of thousands. 

Asked on Malaysia giving political asylum to Acehnese, Dr Mahathir said it would not happen. 

“Acehnese who come to Malaysia will be treated as illegal immigrants and they will be sent to detention camps,” the Prime Minister said. 

On the recruitment of Indonesian workers, Megawati said Indonesia hoped to send its workers through agents recognised by the Government. 

Malaysia had also proposed that Indonesia set up a reference centre to enable foreign investors to know the rules when investing in the republic. 

Malaysian investors have been having problems in proceeding with their investments, especially in oil palm plantations, as the approval received from the federal government was not recognised by the provincial governments. 

Malaysia’s investments in Indonesia now total RM10.2bil in 562 projects. 

Megawati also expressed her gratitude for Malaysia’s assistance in putting out forest and peat fires in Kalimantan that had caused the haze in Malaysia, especially in Sarawak. 

She said Indonesia was now using satellite to detect the fires. 

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