Jakarta. Former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono praised Indonesia's dispatch of humanitarian aid to Rohingya refugees initiated by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, saying that the move is "correct" but needs to be followed up with a stronger push to encourage neighboring countries to pay more serious attention to the ongoing crisis in Myanmar's western Rakhine State.
On Sept. 13, Indonesia dispatched its first batch of aid in the form of rice, instant meals, sanitation supplies, tents and water tanks to Rohingya Muslim refugees displaced from their homes in Myanmar and who are now in neighboring Bangladesh.
"What President Jokowi has done was correct […] I have observed this [news] when I was in Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia] and Singapore. It was the right thing to do, it needs to be followed up with further actions, like encouraging Asean and other countries to help Myanmar in tackling the humanitarian crisis," Yudhoyono said last week, referring to the Association of Southeast Nations.
Susilo, commonly known as SBY, gave a special interview with Claudius Boekan, BeritaSatu News editor-in-chief, at the former president's home in Bogor, West Java, last week.
Jokowi's aid mission, dubbed "Civic Mission Indonesia," made national headlines two weeks ago following pressure put on the administration to provide assistance to Rohingya Muslims being driven from Rakhine State by the Myanmar military.
In recent weeks, many Indonesian Muslims have made daily demonstrations in front of the Myanmar Embassy in Central Jakarta to call for an end to the large-scale military operation taking place in Rakhine.
Embassy staff have put up barbed wire fence around the building in recent days, after a petrol bomb thrown at the edifice caused a small fire earlier this month.
Islamist groups in the country also planned to stage a massive protest at Central Java's Borobudur Temple — the largest Buddhist temple in the world — to protest against Myanmar's treatment of the Rohingya, though that plan was quickly quashed by police.
Jokowi and foreign minister Retno Marsudi earlier went on a diplomatic mission to Myanmar, where Retno met with Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Myanmar has seen mounting pressure to end violence that has sent more than 300,000 Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh, with the United States calling for the protection of civilians and Bangladesh seeking international help to handle the crisis.