KOTA KINABALU, Jan 28 — Describing Malaysia as a very important nation to Indonesia, Indonesian Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi said there was no reason for both countries not to continue strengthening their longstanding bilateral relations.
She said during her meeting with Malaysian Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, two days ago, they were of the opinion the Malaysia-Indonesia relations were very important and meaningful and must be strengthened.
According to Retno, in terms of economy, Malaysia is among Indonesia’s biggest trading partners with trade worth US$24 billion to US$25 billion (RM86.8 billion to RM90.4 billion). Malaysia is also among the biggest investors in Indonesia.
She said two-way tourism between Malaysia and Indonesia was also very big and expanding prodigiously, other than student exchange which could firm up relations from people-to-people contacts.
“Problems faced by a nation with another country is a normal thing. Even with a distant nation, we can have problems, what more with a nation which is geographically very close to one another like Malaysia and Indonesia.
“The question is, how do we handle them? I tell the Malaysian foreign minister that open communication between the two nations, sincere and honest with one another and mutual respect are key for both countries to solve whatever problems existing,” she added.
Retno said this when interviewed by Bernama and Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) at the end of the Asean Foreign Ministers’ retreat here today.
To face whatever issues and problems arising between the two nations, she believed they could be overcome via personal dialogues and communication from the close ties developed among Asean leaders.
For example, she said during the Indonesia AirAsia disaster, the firm ties among the leaders had facilitated her communications with many nations, especially related to the citizenships of the passengers involved in the mishap.
She said the presence of many nations to help Indonesia in the search and rescue operation, including Malaysia, proved the spirit of solidarity to help nations facing a catastrophe was still strong and this must be defended.
On the retreat of Asean foreign ministers in Kota Kinabalu, Retno said Indonesia fully backed Malaysia’s position as Asean chairman and had voiced its view that Asean adopt a down-to-earth approach.
She said Asean must provide benefits to the people and the people in Asean nations must be able to feel the benefits by doing away with any form of obstruction which could prevent the people from enjoying such benefits.
On her position as Indonesia’s first woman foreign minister, Retno said it was a recognition for women.
She said it proved that women too, were capable of shouldering a heavy burden to simultaneously rid the perception of gender discrimination, especially like Indonesia which had the biggest Muslim population in the world. — Bernama