Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia and Indonesia continue to offer different versions of what is currently happening in the disputed maritime border in the Sulawesi Seafollowing the April 8 “series of brushes” between a Malaysian naval vessel and Indonesian warship. Indonesian newspapers said Malaysia ships “were no longer active" in the waters. But the Malaysian Prime Minister dismissed the reports.
Mr Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said on April 13 that Malaysia has every right to be in the disputed area, referred to as Ambalat by the Indonesians, at all times and “we will not leave the area”.
Indonesian Military Navy Maritime Combat Task Force Commander Colonel Marsetio was quoted by Tempo Interactive as saying that Malaysian ships were no longer in the area after the April 8 incident.
When asked to comment on the Indonesian reports, the Malaysian Premier said: “That is their claim, that our ships are no longer there. We have every right to be there at all times and we will definitely not leave the area."
He also dismissed as untrue claims by the Indonesian media that he had telephoned Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono about the ships’ collision.
"No, I did not make any such call to him. That is the fact. I have called him before but not after the collision."
In a commentary on the April 8 incident, Indonesia’s Kompas newspaper called for the strengthening of the country’s Navy and Air Force.
Kompas said it is no secret that the equipment on Indonesian warships is far inferior, both in quantity and quality, when compared to the warships of neighbouring countries.
“The Defence Department’s move to boost the Air Force and Navy’s budget by 5 trillion rupiah represents a step in reviving the strength of our forces. When our capability has been boosted, other countries will not be tempted to violate our territorial waters. We agree that the Ambalat dispute should be solved through diplomatic means, but the Navy’s military capability must also be strengthened.”
* Patrolling of disputed area will continue (New Straits Times, April 14)
* The Ambalat incident (Kompas, April 12)