Indonesia's Home Ministry shrugs off massive exodus

JAKARTA - The Home Ministry has denied a report that locals from three villages in the relatively newly formed province of North Kalimantan had left their homes to live temporarily in Malaysia.

The ministry's director general for general administration, Agus Mulyana, said that there was no such thing as an exodus occuring and what was deemed as movement was simply the result of a border problem.

"The truth is the three villages, Simantipal, Sinapad and Lumbis Ogong, are claimed by the Malaysian government," Agus said in a statement.

He said that the Indonesian and Malaysian governments were still negotiating territorial borders in the three villages.

The local military commander in Samarinda, East Kalimantan, reported that there had been an exodus of locals from the three villages across the border into Malaysian territory.

"They moved across the border for economic reasons. They are working on plots of customary land that they control," head of Samarinda military command Brig. Gen. Nono Suharsono said, as quoted by Antara news agency.

Nono said that such outflows had taken place in the past and would likely continue in the future, especially when the area experienced a prolonged dry spell.