KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 21 — Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has officially complained regarding former Umno minister Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin’s offensive remarks about Indonesia’s former President B.J. Habibie.
Yudhoyono raised the issue with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak during his visit to Kuala Lumpur earlier this week.
“I hope, and I expressed this to Najib, that we can prevent matters like this from continuing to happen,” Yudhoyono (picture) told reporters at an airport in East Jakarta.
According to the Jakarta Globe, Najib told Yudhoyono that Zainuddin’s remarks reflect his personal opinion.
Najib also reportedly told Yudhoyono that many issues had turned sensitive as the Malaysian general election was drawing near.
Last Monday, Zainuddin had criticised Habibie’s recent public lecture at Universiti Selangor in an Utusan Malaysia editorial, 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”.
Yudhoyono had last Monday said Zainuddin’s remarks could affect the ties between Indonesia and Malaysia.
“Although [Zainuddin’s remarks] do not reflect the attitude and views of the Malaysian government, but that of an individual in Malaysia, it still affects our good relations.
“I will raise this matter with the Malaysian PM, and I hope in future we are mindful of one another’s feelings, respect one another, and in so doing not disrupt what we are doing to build co-operation and friendship between our two countries,” he was quoted as saying by the Straits Times.
Last 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.
Last Thursday, Indonesia’s House of Representatives said it will write a letter to Najib to formally condemn Zainuddin’s remarks, saying that the former information minister should have known better how to communicate well and exercise better decorum.
“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,” House Deputy Speaker Pramono Anung was quoted as saying by the Jakarta Globe.