By Mohd Faizal Hassan.
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 8 (Bernama) — The visit of Indonesian President Joko Widodo to Malaysia, his first overseas trip since being elected to a second term on April 17, is seen as a good opportunity for resolving various long-standing issues involving the two countries.
Various interest groups in Malaysia and Indonesia said the visit should also serve to enhance bilateral ties between Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta.
Cholis Weibi, a representative of religious schools and secretary-general of Himpunan Alumni Karangdurin (Himaka) Malaysia, said ties between the two neighbours would be given a strong boost if various issues affecting Indonesian workers in Malaysia could be thrashed out during the visit of the Indonesian President, who is better known as Jokowi.
“Frictions in such issues are normal but the situation has improved in the past two years. I believe further progress can be made because the two countries use a very good approach in resolving problems,” he said.
“We can see that communication is getting better in bilateral ties. I believe it can only get stronger because we are of the same stock, and our culture, clothing and food are also similar,” he told Bernama today.
Wisma Putra, in a statement today, said Jokowi will be making a two-day official visit to Malaysia beginning today, which is expected to further strengthen the existing good ties between Malaysia and Indonesia.
National Patriot Foundation of Malaysia chief executive officer Mohd Al Iman Zakaria said more discussions should be held between public and private higher learning institutions of the two countries as part of efforts to resolve the issue of foreign workers.
The input from such consultations could be used by the leadership and administration of both countries to seek solutions to the issues, apart from preventing a recurrence of problems in the future, he said.
“We believe this is one way to resolve various issues involving Kuala Lumpur-Jakarta which might not have been handled properly,” he said.
Indonesian economist Dr Mahbubi Ali said Jakarta should tap Malaysia’s expertise in Islamic banking for their mutual benefit.
The head of economy, finance, awqaf and zakat, who is also Associate Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia, said this aspect was seldom emphasised by the two administrations but is important for promoting the expertise as reference for other Islamic countries as comparable to that of the Middle East.
“Maybe in the economic aspect, we need to move forward as a region and jointly set up a regional centre for ASEAN to be a respected region like the European Union. This will strengthen the position of ASEAN and Asia in the context of Islamic finance. Malaysia and Indonesia can start cooperating to kick-start this move,” he said.
Jokowi, accompanied by his wife Iriana Joko Widodo, will be given an official welcome at Dataran Perdana, Putrajaya tomorrow. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Jokowi will meet to discuss bilateral cooperation and issues of common interests.
Indonesia is Malaysia’s ninth largest trading partner globally and its third biggest in ASEAN after Singapore and Thailand.
In 2018, bilateral trade hit RM72.02 billion, a 7.4 per cent increase over the RM71.51 billion recorded in 2017.
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