| Siti Hajar |
AGAINST a backdrop of rising threat of extremism around the world, Muslim countries like Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam have a role to play in voicing their condemnation of acts that have negatively portrayed Islam in the eyes of the world.
In an interview with local media yesterday on the sidelines of President Joko Widodo’s visit to the Indonesian Embassy, Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said, “Combating radicalism and terrorism is not just by using force,” and that cooperation in the context of moderation among moderate Muslims is now more important than before.
“We know that moderates have to speak louder,” she stressed with Brunei and Indonesia, being Islamic nations with moderates, should look towards each other and stand together in combating threats and acts of terrorism.
Last month, the foreign ministers of Asean, which was also attended by Brunei’s Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, HRH Princess Hajah Masna, renewed their commitment to combating violent extremism including through the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) as a new approach in international relations and foreign policy with the main goal of applying perspectives and frameworks of moderation to realise world peace and harmony.
It is not about Brunei helping Indonesia or vice-versa, but about us helping each other, the foreign minister said.
Meanwhile, President Widodo’s visit to Brunei not only explored areas of trade and economy but also on the rights of Indonesian migrants living in the Sultanate whom were heard during a session with the president airing their grievances of being deceived with regards to their contracts including, in some cases, wages.
In response to this age old conundrum that many Indonesian workers face regardless of their destination, the Indonesian government has started focussing their efforts on protecting and preserving the rights of Indonesians living overseas through talks with respective governments and Brunei is one of them.
The foreign minister said apart from looking for ways to enhance economic and bilateral cooperation, among what was discussed between His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and President Widodo included tasking their respective ministers to “follow-up on the protection of Indonesian migrants in Brunei”, with a Memorandum of Understanding, or agreement, currently in the works.
At present, the total number of Indonesians in the country is approximately 75,000 holding various positions in Brunei’s economic and social landscape, which the foreign minister described as “interesting” as it made up about one-sixth of Brunei’s population.
“I am sure that the Indonesian people living in Brunei are assets and we would like to further strengthen this people-to-people relationship,” a focus area that the two leaders are also looking to build upon.
Other notable mentions during the president’s two-day visit included boosting trade relations with the president inviting Bruneian investors to invest in numerous infrastructure projects in Indonesia as part of the president’s five-year plan.
The “very stable relationship” between Indonesia and Brunei has resulted in the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Brunei Darussalam and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which comes as a positive step in enhancing trade relations between the two sides that currently stands at a deficit in favour of Brunei through Indonesia’s import of Brunei’s crude oil.