Manohara in Ambalat oil region demonstration


A rowdy group of a few hundred demonstrators accompanied Manohara Odelia Pinot, the rising star in Indonesia to demostrate with the Laskar Merah Putih group against the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta. They were there to voice their anger at Malaysia’s alleged claims on the Ambalat region, which is an oil rich region that Indonesia says belongs to them!

Manohara said she participated in the demonstration – right after a press conference on Wednesday regarding her medical examination – as a young Indonesian citizen and gave her support to Indonesia on its claims in Ambalat.

She is one of the many high profile, popular and important personalities in Indonesia who has so far voiced their views on Ambalat. Ambalat has become the prime ‘National’ concern of the Indonesian government after recent clashes of Malaysian and Indonesian war ships in the disputed region.

Manohara said she wished the issue was resoved amicably since she felt close to the Malaysian people and had great respect for the Kelantanese people altogether. She made a police report in which she named 8 people, including the entire Royal family of Kelantan as the responsible party for her mis-adventure in Malaysia as the wife of a Kelantan Prince.

She also accused the prince of having tortuered her, used drugs on her to force her to have sex and having barred her from seeing her family and friends.  A damning medical report confirmed that she was burnt with cigarette and was slashed on her body with a sharp object.

Her story has caused an outcry in Indonesia, becoming the tip in the huge iceberg of misteps in the relationship between Malaysia and Indonesia.

On the other hand,  the Indonesian press yesterday said Malaysia was ready to apologize on the issue but in Malaysia there were no news of such an apology.

Indonesian Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono on Wednesday said that the nation was pushing Malaysia for a joint procedure for maritime border patrols in disputed Ambalat waters, where tension has been high in recent weeks.

Indonesia and Malaysia have conflicting territorial claims in the oil-rich Ambalat area off northeastern Borneo Island, and negotiations to settle the issue are ongoing. Tensions between the two countries have risen in past months following alleged incursions there by the Malaysian Navy.

The proposed procedure would lay out rules for the two sides to patrol in or near the disputed area.

Juwono, speaking after a meeting with the visiting chief of the Malaysian Defense Force, Gen. Abdul Aziz, said that the establishment of a joint procedure was proposed by Indonesia.

“I told [Aziz] that [Indonesia and Malaysia] have to establish a joint maritime border patrol procedure,” Juwono said.

“With this, each warship would patrol in its own territory or near the maritime border of both countries.”

Juwono added that Indonesia had established a similar agreement with Australia.

He also firmly maintained that the disputed waters were part of Indonesia and that Malaysia was expected to respect this country’s sovereignty over the area.

Juwono said he had thoroughly briefed his visitors about Indonesia’s political position regarding the matter and demanded that the Malaysian government respect oil contracts that Indonesia had awarded foreign contractors to operate in the area.

“As we have sovereignty over the area, it is our right to give concessions for oil exploration, which have been ongoing in the area since 1979 through BPMigas,” Juwono said, referring to the upstream oil and gas regulatory body.

In return, Indonesia would also respect any contract made by Malaysia with oil companies. Indonesia awarded an  oil block in Ambalat to Italian company Eni in 1999, while Malaysia issued a contract to Royal Dutch Shell for a block in the same area in 2005.
Tensions climbed last month when reports surfaced that violence almost erupted after an Indonesian Navy ship attempted to maneuver a Malaysian Navy vessel out of Ambalat waters that Indonesia considered part of its maritime territory.

That incident only added to tensions between the two neighbors over a number of issues including the perceived mistreatment of Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia.

Several rallies protesting Malaysia have been staged in front of that country’s embassy in Jakarta over the past days.

Aside from discussing the dispute over Ambalat, Juwono and Abdul also talked about plans for cooperation in strengthening the nations’ defenses.

Juwono said that the defense plan had already been discussed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak during the latter’s visit to Indonesia a few months ago.

Aziz’s trip coincided with the visit of a team of five Indonesian lawmakers to Malaysia in an effort to ease tensions between the two countries.


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