Jakarta – The Indonesian newspaper, Kompas, is standing by its report which has angered the Malaysian government and threatens to further sour relations between the two neighbours. The vernacular newspaper had reported on April 15 that Malaysian Defence Minister Najib Abdul Razak had made a verbal apology to the Indonesian Defence Attache in Malaysia, Colonel Hartind Haring, over a naval encounter in a disputed area in the Sulawesi Sea.
Mr Najib said he had neither met Col Hartind nor discussed the incident with him. In an interview with Malaysia’s New Straits Times, Col Hartind also confirmed that he did not tell Kompas that Mr Najib had apologised over the April 8 “brushing incident” involving navy vessels from both countries.
Despite the denial from the horse’s mouth, Kompas managing editor, Mr Suryopratomo, said there was no question of fabrication since the source of the article, First Admiral Abdul Malik Yusuf, head of the Indonesian Navy’s Information Department, did not deny making the remarks about Mr Najib meeting and apologising to Col Hartind.
In a statement on April 20, the editor said the Kompas report did not create any stir in Indonesia and attributed the outcry in Malaysia to its domestic politics.
"From the journalistic point of view, we have done our part since we did carry a report of the Malaysian Defence Minister denying that he had made an apology.”
Mr Suryopratomo said it was regretful that Malaysians had used the Kompas report as a “propaganda tool to criticise press freedom”.
* Kompas stands by its report (Utusan Malaysia, April 21)
* Apology: Official denies telling daily (New Straits Times, April 19)