Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo deliver a joint press statement at the Bogor Palace in West Java on Friday (29/06). (Antara Photo/Puspa Perwitasari)

Indonesia and Malaysia Agree to Cooperate on Governance, Connectivity, Border Issues


JUNE 30, 2018

Jakarta. Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed to step up cooperation on governance, corruption eradication, connectivity and border issues during a meeting between the two countries' leaders this week.

In his first visit to an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member state since his election victory last month, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad met with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo at the Bogor Palace in West Java on Friday (29/06).

"In essence, we share the same commitment to ensure good governance, which is about the eradication of corruption, the importance of connectivity, and border-related settlements. We will discuss it one by one in ministerial-level forums," Jokowi said in an official statement.

The president personally welcomed Mahathir when he arrived at Halim Perdanakusuma International Airport in East Jakarta on Thursday evening.

During their meeting, Jokowi touched on several other issues, including the protection of Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia, and education for Indonesian youth in that country.

In response, Mahathir promised that his government would pay more attention to these matters, especially the development of school facilities in the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on Borneo Island.

He added that Indonesia and Malaysia are facing similar issues on a domestic and international level and should therefore work together more closely to address these more effectively.

"We face very similar issues, such as our palm oil exports. We have been threatened by Europe, and together we must fight back," Mahathir said.

The two countries are the world's top palm oil producers, accounting for around 85 percent of global output. They have united against negative campaigns on palm oil production over the past year, following a resolution adopted by the European Parliament to phase out the use of the vegetable oil.

The two leaders also discussed the South China Sea dispute and expressed their commitment to resolving the issue through dialogue and in accordance with existing international law.

Asean members and China have yet to conclude negotiations on a code of conduct in the disputed waters.

China claims nearly the entire South China Sea, while Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines have overlapping claims over the strategically important waterway.

Indonesia and Malaysia are also exploring the possibility of building a railway line between the two countries, which Mahathir said would be open to Asean citizens.