Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Konfrontasi Again

While Singapore is sorting out its problems in the region, its two immediate neighbours -- Indonesia and Malaysia -- are having bigger headaches.

They have yet to fully resolve the competing claims over an oil-rich area off Borneo and were almost on the brink of a war.

According to The Straits Times this week, the Indonesian Parliament has called for a tough line on reported Malaysian military incursions, with two MPs saying Malaysians on the wrong side of a disputed border should be shot. This is definitely an escalation of earlier rhetoric.

'Once in a while we need to shoot them,' said Mr Soeripto, a member of the parliamentary commission on defence and foreign affairs at a hearing with Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono and armed forces chiefs at the House of Representatives yesterday.

'Don't be afraid if something escalates from the shooting. We have four million volunteers who are prepared to die,' he was quoted as saying by news portal Detikcom.

The meeting was called to discuss the latest flare up in the border spat with Malaysia over the disputed oil-rich region which the Indonesians call Ambalat, in the sea off Borneo.

He said that he deployed warships to drive the intruders out, but added that the Malaysian navy also entered Indonesian waters around Ambalat 35 times last year.

The dispute over Ambalat took a turn for the worse two years ago, when Malaysia's state oil company Petronas awarded an oil concession to a subsidiary of oil giant Shell in an area where Indonesia had been granting oil concessions.

There was a standoff in the disputed area a month later, almost pushing both sides to the brink of war but tensions eased after they agreed to settle the dispute diplomatically.

We can definitely see Konfrontasi all over again should Indonesia lose its claim over Ambalat. Indonesia is still seething over the loss of two tiny islands near Ambalat in the Celebes Sea -- Sipadan and Ligitan -- to Malaysia in a legal battle in 2002.

No wonder Indonesia is so protective of its territory and its sand although it has over 17,000 islands.

PS: The Malaysia-Indonesia border dispute had translated into cyber warfare, according to this interesting article. The Indonesian phrase "Ganyang Malaysia" or "Crush Malaysia" -- used during Indonesia's resistance towards the creation of Malaysia in the 1960s -- had been used to deface some Malaysian websites. So far, there's no known instance of "Ganyang Singapura" in Singapore cyberspace.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


pretty nice article...i was researching on the 60's Konfrontasi and end up here...

well, what the Indonesian officials said about 4 million Indonesian to be 'sacrificed' was crazy...i sure hope malaysia and indon wont be at war with each other