14 January 2016
Despite cordial relations between Indonesia and Malaysia, unresolved border issues and the plight of Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia continue to complicate ties between the two close neighbours. Can personal relations between President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) and Prime Minister Najib Razak bring the two countries even closer?
Contradictory attitudes that were at times cooperative and at times cavalier dominate Indonesia- Malaysia relations in recent years. After Joko Widodo (Jokowi) assumed office, however, Jakarta displayed an urgency in building closer relations with Kuala Lumpur. Jokowi had already visited Malaysia four times this year: an inaugural state visit in February, two ASEAN Summits in April and November, as well as the wedding of Najib’s daughter in May. In October, Najib also made a two-day working visit to Indonesia. Other than increasing cooperation so as to prevent a relapse of the haze epidemic last year, the two leaders sought to bring bilateral economic cooperation to new heights.
One of the most prolific projects between the two close neighbours currently is the establishment of the Council of Palm Oil Producers. Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur both understand that their total global contribution as palm-oil producing countries had reached a significant 85 percent. Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur signed an agreement on 21 November 2015 to establish the Council of Palm Oil Producers. Membership within this council has since expanded to other palm-oil producing countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, the Philippines and Thailand. Although the scheme is still work-in-progress, Indonesia and Malaysia have already declared the principles that encapsulate the Framework of Principles for Sustainable Palm Oil, called e+POP. It is set to formulate a common eco-friendly standard in order to comply with global benchmarks for the palm oil industry. Nonetheless, doubts have arisen as to whether the economy-driven cooperation is sustainable amidst occasional tensions between the two countries.
… Emirza Adi Syailendra is a Research Analyst with the Indonesia Programme of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore. Oh Ei Sun is a Senior Fellow with the Malaysia Programme. Santi H. Paramitha is a Research Associate with the Indonesia Programme.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 15/01/2016