No olive branch as Najib, Anwar visit Jakarta

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim were both in Jakarta over the weekend, prompting speculation that they would meet and even reconcile, six weeks after the heated election.

They did not, although Mr Anwar flew out of Halim Perdanakusuma airbase on former Indonesian vice-president Jusuf Kalla's private jet minutes before Mr Najib took off, in scheduling that an aide of Mr Kalla's said was coincidental.

But while Mr Najib spoke about boosting trade, economic and investment links between the two countries in his meetings with Indonesian leaders and media, Mr Anwar pressed his claims about election fraud, and spoke of the role Indonesia played in upholding democracy, freedom and justice.

It was the first visit here for both men since the May 5 election, and comes as Indonesia's diplomatic role in the region grows. Some two million Indonesians work in Malaysia and more Malaysian tourists and investors are flocking to Indonesia.

Mr Najib, who was on a private visit with his family, met Malaysians studying here yesterday, and urged them "not to fall for opposition lies to the extent of not supporting the government", Bernama reported.

"Until today, there is no proof of the opposition's claim that we brought in 40,000 Bangladeshis (to vote)," he said, stressing that the election was fair.

Mr Najib also asked the students to think rationally about the claim, saying it would require 100 jumbo jets to fly in so many voters, and 1,000 buses to ferry them on polling day. It would also be difficult for Barisan Nasional to hide these Bangladeshis as they looked different from most Malaysians, he added.

Mr Najib said he hoped that economic integration between Malaysia and Indonesia would deepen and that bilateral trade, now worth some US$18 billion (S$23billion), would hit US$30billion by 2015.

Mr Anwar, however, said electoral fraud and foreign voters were key reasons why he had not accepted the election result or agreed to reconciliation.

"Some say: Anwar, move on, but your land has been seized, your house has been robbed," he said at a press conference. "I say: Yes, return our lands, our house, then we'll talk peace."

Mr Anwar met President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Bali on Friday, and said Dr Yudhoyono had told Mr Najib he wanted to meet Mr Anwar to renew ties.

Both Mr Najib and Mr Anwar also met Mr Kalla - who brokered a deal for both sides to accept the election outcome - separately on Saturday.

Mr Anwar said the points of that pact were not honoured, citing voting irregularities and how the government dubbed the result a Chinese tsunami instead of urging reconciliation. "We're at an impasse," he said.

zakirh@sph.com.sg


Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.

Become a fan on Facebook