Jakarta. The leader of a fringe group that has managed to put a serious dent in relations between Malaysia and Indonesia after hurling human feces at the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta and smearing excrement on the nation’s flag during a protest over a maritime border dispute are pledging to repeat their actions today.
Mustar Bonaventura, head of the People’s Democratic Defense (Bendera), said they would hold an anti-Malaysia protest in front of their headquarters on Jalan Diponegoro in Central Jakarta on Friday afternoon.
“We will burn the Malaysian flag and defecate on it,” Mustar told the Jakarta Globe.
“If [Malaysia] scolds us for throwing feces, what they have done to Indonesia is more than that: they abuse our migrant workers and step all over our integrity,” he said.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, who said the cabinet was unanimous in wishing to see the incident resolved peacefully, said he hoped that Indonesia authorities would act against those behind the “heinous act,” alleging that the Bendera had admitted their actions on the group’s blog.
“If it is an offence under the Indonesian law, I hope that action would be taken against them. But I’m not about to tell the Indonesians what to do with their laws. We respect them,” he was quoted by Bernama as saying.
The Malaysian state news agency also quoted Anifah as saying on Thursday that Prime Minister Najib Razak had expressed disappointment at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday after he was informed about the incident.
“Of course he was very disappointed,” Anifah said. “He finds it is wrong for them to do that. But he has faith in the Indonesian authority, he has faith in the President that this matter will be settled.”
Anifah said he did not expected an apology from Indonesia as the act was committed by a small group of people that did not represent the people or government.
He also said the government had no intelligence that concluded that Bendera was formed by one of Indonesia’s main political parties, despite reports in the Malaysian media that the group had been formed by a party once headed by a former president.
Mustar rejected the accusations that apparently linked the group to the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), which is still chaired by former President Megawati Sukarnoputri. Both the PDI-P and Bendera are headquartered in the same street.
“The Malaysian government is attempting to write new fiction about Bendera by saying we are linked to Ibu Megawati’s political party,” Mustrar said. “It’s their way of distracting attention from the real issues.”
He claimed Bendera was an independent group. “The members work. I sell leather jackets from Bandung, others work as laborers, bus drivers, professionals, etc. We pay for our own activities,” he said.
Malaysian Defence Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, meanwhile, was quoted by Bernama as saying that the protests could have been masterminded by groups who wished to harm relations between the two countries.
“I fear that there are third parties who have interests whether in Malaysia or Indonesia who are trying to take advantage of the situation for political or business gains,” he said.
He said that alleged threats made against Malaysian interests CIMB-Niaga and Petronas that they should leave Indonesia were merely provocative efforts.