Jokowi, Najib to appoint envoys on boundary rows

Jokowi, Najib to appoint envoys on boundary rows
Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (L) and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (R).

Visiting President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and host Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak agreed on Friday to appoint special envoys in a bid to speed up efforts to resolve the prolonged boundary issues between the two neighbouring countries, Antara news agency reported from Kuala Lumpur.

Progress on the border problem with Malaysia and other neighbours is very important for the President. It was one of his top platforms for his five-year term.

"The maritime border issue has been lingering for too long and with the presence of the team we hope it will be resolved faster," said Jokowi, who arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday and will leave for Brunei on Saturday.

Jokowi told Najib his government would honour the commitment between the two countries and stay away from Malaysian fishermen who enter waters that are claimed by both countries. But he made it very clear that the Indonesian government would take harsh actions against Malaysian fishermen who enter Indonesian waters that have no overlapping claims with Malaysia. Malaysian fishing ships may even be sunk, he said.

In the meantime, Najib was quoted by the AFP as saying that renewed efforts to settle the border issue were necessary because years of negotiations had seen "no significant advancement".

The special envoys, Najib added, would "lead exploratory talks and find a formula that is acceptable to the governments and peoples of both nations".

Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman recently said Malaysia and Indonesia had agreed to continue negotiations to find a solution to maritime border issues, particularly those involving the Malacca Strait, South China Sea and Sulawesi Sea or Ambalat sea block.

Najib also said on Friday that the technical committee on maritime boundaries, which reports to respective foreign ministers, would continue talks on Feb. 26, according to Malaysian news agency Bernama.

"With these two strategies, we hope to achieve progress. The Indonesian president showed a willingness to seek solutions, and so has Malaysia," Najib said.

The two leaders also agreed to provide better protection for Indonesian workers in Malaysia by setting up centres to manage and assist migrant workers, whether legal or not.

Jokowi received approval from his host over his plan to provide the children of Indonesian workers in Malaysia with basic educational facilities. Indonesia plans to build schools for the children.

"Malaysia has approved the establishment of community learning centres in Sabah and Sarawak," said the President.

During a joint press conference with Jokowi, Najib said, as quoted by the official Malaysian news agency, "Malaysia's investment in Indonesia was US$3.97 billion between 2008 and Sept. 2014, while Indonesia's investment in Malaysia was $1.89 billion."

Jokowi invited Malaysian investors to finance infrastructure projects such as ports, railways, airports and power plants. "We will give you as open an opportunity as possible for investment," the President said.

Malaysia's former prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, was very happy that Jokowi was present for the signing of a memorandum of understanding between an Indonesian company and Malaysia's struggling carmaker, Proton. The Malaysian national car was one of Mahathir's strongest legacies. During Soeharto's era, the imported car was monopolized by one of Soeharto's children.

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