Indonesian MPs urge action against Malaysia

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JAKARTA, Oct 9 (Reuters) Indonesian legislators today urged further diplomatic action against Malaysia following two incidents involving Malaysia's volunteer security force amid a row between the neighbours over ownership of a folk song.

Indonesia yesterday filed a formal protest after members of the Malaysian security force briefly detained a diplomat's wife, mistaking her for an illegal immigrant, and forcibly broke into a student's home.

But Malaysia today denied that the diplomat's wife was briefly detained by Rela, a volunteer security force.

''The report is incorrect,'' Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak was quoted as saying by the national news agency, Bernama.

''She was not detained. Rela officers took some time to verify her diplomatic pass,'' he added.

The incidents came amid anger in Indonesia over the use of a folk song believed to have originated in Indonesia in Malaysia's ''Truly Asia'' tourism campaign.

''Things like these happen again and again. If we stay silent they will think we Indonesians are stupid,'' said Yusron Ihza Mahendra, deputy chairman of a parliament commission on foreign affairs, referring to the treatment of Indonesians.

''We must take strong action that sends a clear message that we are angry,'' Mahendra told Elshinta radio, suggesting that the government warn Indonesians against travelling to Malaysia.

Rela, a security force that numbers around 490,000 uniformed volunteers and originally set up in the 1960s to help fight a communist insurgency, has been accused of using violent force and extortion in its campaign to hunt down illegal immigrants.

The chairman of parliament's foreign affairs and defence commission, Theo Sambuaga, said ties between the two countries were hurt because of Malaysian ''arrogance'' and urged the two countries' leaders to meet to sort out the problems.

''We ask Malaysia, its apparatus and the media, to stop denigrating Indonesians,'' he told Reuters, adding that the Malaysian media also helped paint a negative stereotype of Indonesians in that country.

There have been calls for a boycott of Malaysian products in Indonesia amid the dispute over the folk song, Rasa Sayang (Feeling of Love).

Indonesians argue that Malaysia has no right to use their country's heritage for its tourism promotion.

Malaysia rejected the claim, saying the song was from the Malay Archipelago which groups Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Indonesia and Malaysia share religious and cultural links but in recent years relations have been marred by disputes over territorial claims and reports of abuses of Indonesian workers.

Labour-short Malaysia relies on an army of migrant labours to fill jobs that Malaysians shun, most of them from Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Philippines. But many of them are illegal and they have taken some of the blame for Malaysia's soaring crime rate.

REUTERS SG KN1859

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