Friday, December 4

No Indonesian protest note yet over alleged Ambalat intrusion


JAKARTA: Indonesia has not yet sent a protest note to Malaysia over an allegation that Malaysian armed forces had intruded into that part of the Celebes Sea known as Ambalat, said its Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.

Retno said what she had meant in her statement to the local media recently was that Indonesia had previously sent two protest notes to Malaysia, in January and April this year, but she was not sure if these were related to the Ambalat issue or a different case.

“Between January and April, we sent two protest notes but I am not sure if those were about Ambalat; I have to check,” she told Bernama when met at the opening of a workshop on ‘Managing the South China Sea Conflict from the Asean Perspective’ here yesterday.

She said checks were still being conducted to determine the authenticity of the alleged intrusion by the Malaysian armed forces.

Two days ago, CNN Indonesia, in a special interview, had asked Malaysia’s Ambassador to Indonesia Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohamed Hashim to comment on a claim that Retno had sent seven protest notes on the alleged intrusion.

Zahrain denied receiving any protest note and expressed his regret over what he said was a false allegation.

“Whether in diplomatic or military relations, so far we have not received any protest note and the Malaysian government has also denied the allegation that there has been an intrusion as claimed by the Indonesian media,” he said.

He said that if there were protest notes, the embassy would have resolved the issue in a diplomatic manner.

“Malaysia and Indonesia have already formed a special joint committee to discuss problems which may arise over the Ambalat area and, if it is true that there was an intrusion, the matter would have been resolved through discussions within the committee,” said Zahrain.

An Indonesian English-language newspaper had quoted Indonesian military chief Gen Moeldoko as saying he would send a reminder to the Malaysian chief of defence forces if there really had been an intrusion.

Moeldoko said the armed forces of the two countries had previously agreed to maintain the peace and not create any conflict.

The issue of overlapping claims between Malaysia and Indonesia in the waters of the Celebes Sea or Ambalat, which is located between Indonesia’s East Kalimantan and to the southeast of Malaysia’s Sabah, arose after the publication of a map by Malaysia in 1979.

The map shows the area of the maritime boundary located in Malaysian waters. Indonesia had objected to the information in that map. — Bernama