Indonesia’s legislators to complain to Najib over Zainuddin’s insult
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 13 — Indonesia’s House of Representatives will soon pen a letter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to formally condemn former Umno minister Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin for labelling their former President B.J. Habibie a “dog of imperialism”.
Legislators from the lower House had taken offence to Zainuddin’s remarks, which have added further strain to Malaysia’s already fractured relationship with its regional neighbour.
House Deputy Speaker Pramono Anung was quoted as saying in the Jakarta Globe today that as a former information minister, Zainudin should have known better how to communicate well and exercise better decorum.
He added a warning that such remarks from Malaysian politicians could hurt bilateral relations between Malaysia and Indonesia.
“We’ll send a letter to the Malaysian prime minister. We condemn such things.
“We think it is improper to make such a statement, not to mention it came from a former information minister,” he said, according to the English-language daily.
Zainuddin had criticised Habibie’s recent public lecture at Universiti Selangor in an Utusan Malaysia editorial on Monday, calling the latter arrogant and likening him to Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim before ending the article by calling both men “dogs of imperialism”.
“I can’t imagine how tortured the audience at [Universiti Selangor] must have felt to have to listen to a man with such a high ego, especially after he finally got an opportunity to speak in front of people whom he deems as dumb, after a long period when Indonesian people no longer wish to listen to him nor respect him,” Maidin said in the editorial, according to the Jakarta Globe.
The daily also reported that the chairman of Indonesia’s ruling Democratic Party, Anas Urbaningrum, had issued a similar statement to protest Zainuddin’s insult.
“The former Malaysian minister’s party, namely Umno, needs to teach him a lesson on decorum.
“They shouldn’t have brought former President Habibie into their political competitions by insulting him. This is truly regrettable,” he was quoted as saying.
Anas also urged the Indonesian government to demand Zainuddin apologise directly to Habibie for his insult, the paper said.
But in a statement on Tuesday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa had said that the government would not respond to the article, brushing it off as trivial.
The minister reportedly called Zainuddin’s views “silly” but said he had no interest to read the article, pointing out that the government has more important tasks to fulfil than paying attention to a former Malaysian minister.
Yesterday, PKR deputy president Azmin Ali demanded Zainuddin apologise for his insults against Habibie and Anwar, agreeing that his remarks could add further strain to Malaysia’s relationship with Indonesia.