Blog, Politics

Brothers Syndrome

The dust has settled, seemingly. No more demonstrations at Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta and in other cities throughout the archipelago to stage protest towards the Malaysian government, triggered by the harsh treatment to an Indonesian karate referee by notorious Malaysian police officers.

Emotions may no longer high towards Malaysians, at least on the surface. Life has been back to normal, but the dust may remain thick and can create another problems in the future. Is there anything that can wipe out the dust altogether? Maybe there is.... Here's a thought based on what I call the Brothers Syndrome.

Many people believe that relationship between Indonesian and Malaysian is or should be like relationship between brothers or sisters. They are wrong. Indonesian and Malaysian were never been brothers nor sisters. They were born from different mothers. They have different fathers as well.

Talk to them for a few minutes and you will notice the differences. Believing that they are brothers or sisters is part of the problems that facing Indonesian and Malaysian now, as there were unmet expectations from both sides of what they should get from and should give to each other.

Many Indonesians believe that they are the elder brothers. That’s probably because Indonesia, as a nation, was born earlier than Malaysia, and Malaysia was once behind Indonesia in many aspects of life. Elder brothers demand respect and special treatments, regardless their education and economic status. These wrong perceptions and demands need to be rectified.

Indonesia under Soekarno once intended to crush Malaysia for good and bad reasons. Malaysians responded, among others, by attacking the Indonesian Embassy, torn Soekarno photos to pieces and brought Garuda Pancasila, the Indonesia national symbol, to its prime minister and forced him to step on it. It’s understandable why Soekarno exploded in fury and crushing Malaysia was one of his top agendas. It’s all over, but the memories may remain in people’s mind for more than a hundred years.

My suggestion for fellow Indonesians is to accept the past as it was, and to stop thinking that Malaysians are our younger brothers. They are not. They are just citizens of a foreign and sovereign nation that happened to be our neighbor, period. Stop expecting to receive special treatment and respect without doing anything good to earn them.

For those who are going to visit the neighbor or to stay there for a while, then you need to learn things that may bring you into troubles, and just avoid it. They have every rights on the way they manage their country. It’s the job of the foreign ministry officers, and the Embassy people, to disseminate the necessary information to our people, with the support of the society, the more educated ones.

With no more brothers syndrome relationship in the horizon, a healthier relationship may be built as no more false expectations and hopefully no more false prejudices exist in the mind of the citizens of the two sovereign countries. God willing.

, seorang pejalan musiman dan penyuka sejarah. Penduduk Jakarta yang sedang tinggal di Cikarang Utara. Diperbarui: September 30, 2007.

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