Markus Junianto Sihaloho & Nurfika Osman
200 “trained volunteers” from the People’s Democratic Defense are ready
to “invade” Malaysia today, as scheduled, to protect Indonesian
interests in the neighboring country.
“Nothing will keep us
from doing it, including threats from the Malaysian National Security
Council or the Indonesian Police,” Mustar Bona Ventura, the coordinator
of the group, also known as Bendera, claimed in a news conference in
Jakarta on Thursday.
He said 125 volunteers would follow on
Oct. 11, and groups consisting of 125 to 400 people would do the same
from Oct. 14 to 22, totaling about 1,500 by the end of the month. “They
will enter Malaysia through channels that are unexpected by Malaysian
authorities,” Mustar said.
Bonar added that 12 volunteers
infiltrated Malaysia three weeks ago and were working with migrant
workers. “Aside from the volunteers, there are already 8,000 Indonesian
migrant workers who have committed to support what we do,” he said.
To fund their “war,” Mustar said that they borrowed money from their girlfriends, parents and neighbors.
to an earlier statement by a Malaysian official that they would deploy
more security officers along the borders of the two countries, Mustar
said that they were not afraid and regarded it as an empty threat.
“It is not scaring anyone and even shows that the Malaysians fear Bendera,” he said.
He also criticized a previous statement from a police spokesman threatening to arrest Bendera activists who attack Malaysia .
said the police should instead support and protect them. “If the police
consider our actions as a threat, then it will weaken our spirit to
struggle and defend our country’s sovereignty,” he said.
think it is better for the police and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to
honestly disclose the true number of Indonesians who have been tortured
and murdered in Malaysia,” he added.
Responding to the
statement, military spokesman Air Vice Marshall Sagom Tamboen said they
would not deploy special forces to ban the Bendera activists from
He said that the current immigration
officers and soldiers on duty along the borders were enough to keep
them from attacking Malaysia. “Surely, our officers at the borders
already know what to do. The officers will do what’s best, which in
this case, is asking them to go home,” Tamboen said.
intention is to illegally enter another country’s territory, then it
can already be defined as an invasion. Rather than become a problem
later on, it is better to abort the plan.”
However, Sagom did not deny his appreciation for the nationalistic spirit of Bendera.
if the action could be counterproductive and worsen relations between
the two countries, we recommend that they reconsider the move,” he
Teguh Hendro Cahyono, the labor affairs attache at the
Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, told the Jakarta Globe that he had
not heard about the arrival of Bendera so far.
here to stand and fight for the migrants are always welcome and they
can coordinate with us to communicate this matter to the Malaysian
government,” Cahyono said, adding that there had been some
nongovernmental groups like the Institute of Ecosoc Rights and Migrant
Care, who had met with officials.
But he said Bendera’s tactics, which include planned chaotic rallies, may not be effective.
Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah and the Malaysian Embassy would not
comment. Teuku said covering such groups only increased the attention
placed on the groups and made them more famous.