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NEWS

ISSUE 72

LEBARAN IN LOMBOK!

IDUL FITRI… A Time for Celebrations!

WHAT'S HOT!

YOUR SAY (NEW COLUMN)

LOCAL SCENE

MR FIXER

ELECTRICITY PROBLEMS NOT OVER

LOCAL FAST BOAT SINKS

NEW ART GALLERY AT ASMARA

PERTH TO BALI YACHT RACE TO RESUME

FAREWELL PAK HUSIN

TENSIONS BETWEEN MALAYSIA AND INDONESIA

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LEBARAN IN LOMBOK!

Welcome to The Lombok Guide – Lombok’s complete tourism paper and your guide to the best that the island has to offer. The Lombok Guide is published on Lombok every two weeks and contains valuable information for all visitors to our magical island.

As we go to print this issue, the whole island is preparing for the celebrations that mark the end of Ramadan on 10 and 11 September. Idul Fitri, or Lebaran, is one of the most important times of the year in Indonesia… a time of celebration and reunions with families and friends. This is a very happy time in Lombok, with many celebrations around the island. Read our special feature on page 16 for details.

The Indonesian government estimates that around 16 million people will be travelling across the archipelago over the next two weeks, returning home for the holidays. This will create a lot of congestion at airports and ports, but mostly on the roads, with an estimated 10 million people travelling by land! We hope that those who are making the journey for Lebaran reach home safely.

To all our readers, The Lombok Guide wishes you a happy and safe Lebaran… Minal aidin wal faidzin!

To find out more, pick up a copy of The Lombok Guide from the locations listed on http://www.thelombokguide.com/deadline_publishing.html or visit www.thelombokguide.com and discover the magic of Lombok for yourself… like thousands of others, you’ll be enchanted!

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IDUL FITRI… A Time for Celebrations!

The month of Ramadan comes to an end on 10 and 11 September this year and for those who are in Lombok at this time, it’s a great opportunity to join in the celebrations that take place at the end of a month of fasting and restraint. The three main events are Idul Fitri, the Takbiran Parade and Lebaran Topat.

Pawai Takbiran, or the Takbiran Parade, is celebrated throughout the towns and villages of Lombok in recognition of the successful completion of the holy fasting month and heralds the start of Idul Fitri. Traditionally, bedug drums are beaten at maghrib to signal that it is time to break the fast. Starting in the evening on the last day of Ramadan and continuing throughout the night and into the following day, the bedug are also beaten in Takbiran celebrations in the villages or in parades through the streets. Loud and boisterous parades and celebrations are held throughout Lombok, which includes drumming accompanied by amplified prayer, chanting and lively Islamic music.

The main parade through the city finishes at the Lapangan Mataram, the park opposite the Governor’s office in the city. Local communities gather together in the days beforehand to construct models of their mosques, holy characters and other Islamic symbols. Some of the models are quite elaborate, featuring detailed miniature mosques, complete with minarets and carefully painted domes.

Takbiran itself is traditionally a “lantern festival”, or a festival of light, and lights feature highly in the parades. Mosques are lit from within, giant reconstructions of the Kabbah in Mecca glow with fairy lights, and smiling people dressed in traditional Islamic clothing carry huge glowing letters spelling out words from the Qur’an. The parade culminates in the park with thousands of the Takbiran floats lighting up the night as fireworks explode overhead. It’s an awesome sight and the festival atmosphere makes Takbiran a fun festival to witness.

The next two days are especially happy occasions as the whole nation celebrates Idul Fitri, also known as Lebaran (or Eid al-Fitr). Similar in spirit to Christmas for westerners, Lebaran is the time for friends and family to get together, with tens of thousands of people travelling across the Indonesian islands at this time to reunite with their families. People working in the far off islands, as well as many of those working abroad, will try to come home to their families at this important time – for many it is the only time in a year that the whole family will be together.
The first day of Idul Fitri starts with early prayers at the mosque, and then the day is spent visiting parents, families and friends; celebrating, renewing bonds and feasting together.

People in Lombok often visit cemeteries together to freshen up the graves of family and friends who have passed away, pray and remember their spirits at this special time of the year. Lebaran is a time of happy reunions and people greet each other, saying “minta maaf, lahir dan batin”, meaning to ask forgiveness for any wrongdoings throughout the previous year. It is a way to let bygones be bygones and to start the new Moslem year afresh.

Of course, there are new clothes to wear on the day (baju Lebaran), which is why the shops in town have been packed for the past week. There are also special feasts to prepare and tables loaded with festive goodies to share with visiting family and friends. If you are invited to local homes during this time, don’t miss the opportunity to share in the happiness and feasting on delicious traditional foods!

One week after Lebaran, Lombok celebrates again with its own unique festival called Lebaran Topat. This celebration is unique to Lombok and the origins are sketchy, but Lebaran Topat has now become an important event on the annual calendar.

This holiday starts early in the morning with a parade from Narmada to the Makam Batu Layar (the gravesite on the hill south of Senggigi, one bay before Batu Bolong). Batu Layar is an important traditional landmark in West Lombok; a site of ancestral graves and the final resting place of one of Lombok’s holiest men. On many weekends there are bus loads of people from East Lombok and other villages around the island visiting the graves and praying in the shade of the old musholla overlooking the ocean to Bali.

At Lebaran Topat, thousands will flock to Batu Layar to pray at the graves and to wash themselves and their children in the well there, which is believed to contain holy water. Groups of families and friends will then spend the day picnicking on the nearby beaches. The traditional food for this occasion is, of course, topat – rice that has been wrapped in bundles of plaited coconut leaves and steamed. Topat are served with a variety of different dishes, especially the delicious chicken and coconut milk curry called Opor Ayam.

The thousands of people from all over the island participating in Lebaran Topat will cause major traffic jams on the road from Ampenan to Senggigi – It’s an event you can either join in, mingling with the crowds on the beaches, or avoid altogether by not planning to travel on that day. Later in the day there is usually a live band and music at a public party held in the park near Warung Menega in Montong. Of course, all are welcome to join in at any of these festivities… let the celebrations begin!

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• There’s a new ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) now located at the entrance to Senggigi Plaza, on Senggigi Main Street (Jalan Raya Senggigi) just near Happy Café. Operated by BNI, the ATM is handy for BNI customers and for anyone wanting to make transactions with a wide range of international credit and cash cards.

• Business owners in town are buzzing about the new alcohol licensing laws recently introduced. People operating bars, restaurants or other outlets selling alcoholic beverages need to check the new laws and make sure their licenses are up to date. Penalties include the risk of alcohol being confiscated in raids by the licensing board, together with heavy fines. The license is called a “Surat Ijin Usaha Perdagangan Minuman Beralkohol (SUIP-MB)” and classifies alcoholic drinks according to alcohol content, eg: Class A is beer, Class B is wine, and Class C is for spirits and liqueurs.

• We popped into Mario Supermarket the other day and were pleasantly surprised at the good range available. The supermarket is located in a large car park just opposite the entrance to Selaparang Airport and carries a wide selection of food and groceries, as well as hair and beauty products, stationery, home wares and other necessities. It’s a very handy location, especially if you don’t have time to go into Mataram.

• Looking for a great value Happy Hour close to town? One of our favourites is the Happy Hour at Qunci Pool Villas in Mangsit. Two drinks for the price of one (choose from beer, delicious cocktails or the large selection of spirits) is available from 4 – 7 pm every afternoon. Kick back on the sun deck right on the beach or relax by the infinity pool at one of Lombok’s most stylish resorts and enjoy delicious cocktails and fabulous sunset views. A fantastic way to end the day! www.quncivillas.com.

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Got something to say? We’re interested to hear your news and views! You must supply your name and address, but publication can be withheld on request. Email us now at kitadesign@hotmail.com

Ada yang ingin anda katakan? Kami tertarik untuk mendengar cerita dan pandangan anda!
Anda harus menyertakan nama dan alamat, tetapi kami tidak akan mencetak nama anda
tanpa ijin anda. Kirimkan email ke kitadesign@hotmail.com

Dear Ed,

Living in Lombok is wonderful - the people, the landscape, no problem BUT how can we and why do we accept the state of our electricity supply? It is a travesty that we all pay so much in electric bills every month for a service that is constantly interrupted by black outs. Running a business becomes a nightmare, guests trying to enjoy Lombok sitting in dark local restaurants, negotiating uneven footpaths in the dark. Local and western businesses are financially affected every night in Senggigi. We have, at great expense, a big sturdy generator, but what of the small business with small incomes? They are trying to improve their lives only to be plagued by "mati lampu" in the middle of service. How many investors are sitting in their new villas with no electricity because the queue for a meter is so long? Enough is enough PLN! Pick up your game or the game will be over for Lombok tourism and future foreign investment.

Ibu Dee, The Beach Club, Lombok

Kepada Editor,

Tinggal di Lombok adalah sangat menyenangkan – orang-orangnya, pemandangannya, tidak ada masalah, TETAPI bagaimana dan KENAPA kita bisa menerima masalah yang sedang terjadi dalam hal penyediaan listrik?
Adalah suatu hal yang sangat konyol bahwa kita semua membayar listrik begitu banyak setiap bulannya untuk servis yang secara terus menerus di selingi oleh mati lampu. Menjalankan sebuah bisnis telah menjadi mimpi buruk bagi para pengusaha, para tamu mencoba untuk menikmati Lombok dengan duduk di dalam restaurant-restaurant lokal yang sangat gelap, dan berjalan di jalan-jalan yang tidak rata di dalam gelap.
Baik pengusaha lokal maupun pengusaha asing di Senggigi
telah mengalami kerugian finansial setiap malamnya.
Kami memiliki sebuah generator yang besar dan kuat yang juga sangat mahal, tetapi bagaimana dengan nasib para pengusaha kecil yang memiliki pemasukan yang kecil pula? Mereka terus berusaha meningkatkan taraf hidup dan kualitas mereka, tetapi selalu dipatahkan di tengah jalan oleh masalah “mati lampu”.
Ada berapa banyak investor asing yang duduk di dalam villa baru mereka tanpa memiliki aliran listrik yang disebabkan oleh antrian pemohon pemasangan listrik yang begitu panjang?
Cukup adalah cukup PLN! Hentikan permainan kalian atau Lombok akan kehilangan kesempatan berkompetisi di kancah pariwisata dan masa depan investor asing di Lombok akan musnah.

Ibu Dee, The Beach Club Lombok

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LOCAL SCENE

GLENN’S BIRTHDAY @ THE BEACH CLUB & HAPPY CAFE!

Friends celebrated Glenn’s birthday with cocktails at The Beach Club before taking to the stage at Happy Cafe!

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(Tongue-in-cheek answers to your personal building problems)

QUESTION: My wife and I came to the enchanting island of Lombok on holiday last year and loved it so much, we decided to buy a small villa with sea view and pool and enjoy a well earned semi retirement. After 3 months of reading books by the pool and seeing a few temples, not to mention a few evenings at Happy Café which cleared my sinuses quite nicely, I felt that I needed something to do that was challenging and interesting, so my wife and I decided to open a small bar and restaurant in Senggigi. 

One of the services we wished to offer our customers was free WiFi internet access, so we had a “Speedy” land line installed. A hidden benefit of this idea was that we got a phone line as well, which would come in handy when phoning our family abroad. 

The restaurant was a great success. All our staff were enthusiastic and helpful. One of our waitresses was so enthusiastic, she used to come in on her day off. She had a boyfriend called Sydney and she would often talk about him. As we did not pay her on her day off, we allowed her to use the phone to speak to her boyfriend. It was so nice to see her happy smiling face after she had been talking to him. Sometimes, they would talk for hours.  Such is young love. The Speedy land line connection is marvelous. It allows us to download films which we show to our customers. All of a sudden, however, our telephone bills started to skyrocket to 10 times the normal amount. Do you have any explanation for this?

MR FIXER: I suspect that your waitress is not phoning Sydney, her boyfriend, but Sydney, Australia. Also, check to see if anyone is phoning any of those expensive sex chat lines. I phoned one of those once. What a waste of 5 hours that was!

QUESTION: As there are many nationalities visiting the holiday hotspot of Senggigi in Lombok, the possibilities for language misunderstandings is increasing. The problem is made more difficult when trying to have a conversation in live music venues such as the new Crystal Bar or the ever popular Marina nightclub. Just the other night, I met a nice man in the Happy Café. Due to the loud music (which has cleared my sinuses quite nicely, thanks!), I asked a nice man if he was peckish. He looked stunned and replied “No, I’m Turkish!” Then the waiter arrived to clear the table and asked if I was finished.  I said “No, I’m Swedish!” Is this normal?

MR FIXER: Yes! This is quite normal! Some of the waiters here are psychic! An athletic friend of mine was recently asked by a waitress if he was a pole vaulter. He said, “No I’m from Bulgaria, but how did you know my name was Valter?” Amazing!

QUESTION: My wife and I came to the wonderful holiday island of Lombok and fell in love with the easy lifestyle and blue skies. It is so nice to wake up every morning and enjoy a leisurely breakfast of toast and honey with fruit and cereal in the open air atmosphere of a temperate climate and watch the world go by. What a dramatic contrast to the hustle and bustle of life in Europe, where every waking moment is against the clock! As qualified teachers, my wife and I have been seriously considering changing our lifestyle and would be most interested in living and working in Lombok. I am a qualified metal work teacher and my wife teaches domestic science, (cooking and household management). Do you think we could find employment in Lombok?

MR FIXER: Teaching skills are in short supply in Lombok. Many people with teaching abilities such as yours take a short break from working in Europe and offer their services for free for a short time. It can be quite rewarding all round. I will keep my ear to the ground and, if I hear of anyone who needs any cakes welding, I will let you know.

Got a question for Mr Fixer? He’s always got a quirky answer your personal building problems! Just email your problem to “Mr Fixer” at kitadesign@hotmail.com
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ELECTRICITY PROBLEMS NOT OVER

As reported in the last issue of The Lombok Guide, electricity blackouts in the tourist areas continue, despite the Presidential visit and guarantee last month. The President was in Lombok on 27 July to celebrate the end to the rolling blackouts the island had been experiencing for months and, during the visit, announced that the electricity problems were over for Lombok.

However, residents will have seen that our electricity problems are far from over, with increased power cuts over the past week.

At a press meeting at the Governor’s office on 24 August, PLN spokesman, Amrullah, said that the renewed black outs were because two of the 5 MW generators rented by the PLN (State Electricity Company) in June already needed repairs.

He also said that another 4 MW generator had been rented and had arrived in Lombok but would need time for installation. That generator was not part of the system as yet.

PLN Regional Technical Manager, Akbar Ali, also confirmed the problem, saying that two of the rented generators had broken down already, due to being forced to operate 24 hours every day to meet demand in the region.
Akbar estimated that a minimum of ten days would be needed to get the two generators working again. If spare parts from outside of the country are required, the repairs could take much longer.

Meanwhile, Amrullah said that around 5000 subscribers were currently being affected by the blackouts, with power cuts being experienced during both the day and at night.

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LOCAL FAST BOAT SINKS

Passengers escaped tragedy on Saturday, 21 August 2010, when one of the fast boats operating between Bali and Gili Trawangan sunk shortly after departing Bali.

Balidiscovery.com reports that a large wave struck the Eka Jaya I boat carrying 34 passengers at Gili Tepekong near Candidasa, just 10 minutes after the vessel departed the port of Padang Bai.

Captained by Sulito, the boat was reportedly struck by a large wave causing a hole in the hull which led it its eventual sinking. The 34 passengers on board were rescued from the water by two other fast boats coincidentally operating in the same area as the incident.

The rescuing boats – the Wahana Candidasa and Gili-Gili – brought the passengers back to Padang Bai at approximately 2:00 pm. Traumatised, wet and shivering the passengers were reportedly otherwise uninjured.

The near tragic accident points to a number of possible shortcomings in safety procedures in place at Bali’s busy port of Padang Bai. Port authorities were apparently unaware of the mishap until the passengers were brought back ashore by their rescuers. Meanwhile, the Volunteer Search and Rescue Squad in Karangasem told the press that they are unfortunately “operating in a vacuum” due to a lack of facilities and equipment.

A report apparently by one of the passengers onboard, published on the internet, alleges that there were not enough life jackets on board the boat, nor any life rafts, and that the crew panicked when faced with the emergency. The report also stated that passengers were thrown life jackets by the crews of Wahana and Gili-Gili before swimming to safety on the other boats.

While fast boats between Bali and Lombok are generally considered a safe and convenient option for travel between the two islands, this story highlights the importance of choosing a fast boat service that has adequate safety equipment on board and carries current insurance policies for its passengers. Check also that the boat is actually licensed to operate as a passenger-carrying boat in Indonesia. Surprisingly, this isn’t always the case!
A number of fast boat operators in Bali and Gili Trawangan have sprung up in recent years and while some have excellent reputations, they are not all the same. Bear in mind that if a fast boat operator is drastically undercutting the price of other operators, they may also be skimping on maintenance and safety measures.

Gili Cat, Island Getaway and Blue Water Express have all been operating between Bali and Lombok safely for a number of years and have good reputations.

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NEW ART GALLERY AT ASMARA

Expat artists Khan and Leigh held a soft opening for their new art gallery on Friday, 27 August 2010.
Khan is the art teacher at Nusa Alam International School in Lombok and has gained recognition for his vibrant and colourful paintings, some of which have been on display at Asmara Restaurant this year. He also produces detailed ink drawings with striking themes.

Leigh is an Australian artist who lives in Lombok and creates mixed media works, clothing and jewellery.

The new gallery is located at Asmara Restaurant, on the upper floor of Asmara Collection, and is open every day. If you are in Senggigi, be sure to drop in and view the creations of these of these talented artists soon!

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PERTH TO BALI YACHT RACE TO RESUME

Yachting WA has confirmed that registrations are building for the 2011 resurrection of the world class yacht race from Fremantle, Western Australia, to Bali. The Fremantle to Bali International Yacht Race was last held in 1997.
Prior to its 13-year hiatus, the race from Australia to Bali ranked alongside other international long-distance races, such as the Sydney to Hobart and the Auckland to Noumea races.

Organised by the Fremantle Sailing Club in cooperation with the Royal Bali Yacht Club, the re-launch of the race will include a non-racing category for cruising boats and is scheduled to take place in April/May 2011.

To date, there have been more than 70 expressions of interest to participate at the starting line in Fremantle, including three of the high-end Sydney to Hobart entries registered.

The event is open to two categories. The “Rally Fleet” departs Fremantle on 23 April consists of two divisions; one for cruising yachts and one for catamarans. The “Racing Fleet” consists of IRC and performance-based handicaps, with the number of divisions determined by the expressions of interest.

Organisers decided that the 2011 event will feature a staggered start, allowing non-racing cruising vessels a week’s head-start to allow for scenic stops along the course and the chance to be on hand in Bali to welcome the racing entrants at the finish line at Benoa Harbour.

The open ocean event covers 1440 nautical miles.

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FAREWELL PAK HUSIN

Well known Senggigi personality, Husin Abdullah (aged 69), passed away at Mataram Public Hospital (RSU) in Lombok on 18 August 2010, after losing his battle with malaria.

Husin was best known as the man who dedicated his life to cleaning up rubbish in West Lombok. Husin was often seen around Batu Layar and Senggigi, picking up rubbish from roadsides and beaches and loading it in his bright yellow utility truck. For the past 25 years, he has been waging a war against rubbish and trying to educate the local community in waste management.

Born in New Zealand, Gavin Edward Birch grew up in Australia and moved to Lombok in 1984. He married local woman, Siti Hawa, and converted to Islam, changing his name to Husin Abdullah. Concerned over the lack of waste management in Lombok, he started the “Lombok Bersih dan Hijau” (“Clean and Green Lombok”) project in 1985.

His work included teaching local communities, school groups and businesses about waste management and recycling, as well as personally organising rubbish bins, bags and collection spots in the Batu Layar and Senggigi areas. His work was occasionally supported by government and business, but he often funded projects himself.
It was not unusual to see Husin on the beach, leading a group of local children and picking up rubbish, all the while talking to them in fluent Indonesian about how to take care of their environment. Husin also arranged for rubbish bags and rubbish collection from street-side stalls, organised community “busy bees” and clean ups, manufactured his own rubbish bins from recycled car tyres, and taught local people how to make compost from organic waste.

In addition to his environmental work, Husin and his wife owned Pondok Siti Hawa; a small home-stay in Batu Layar.

By his own admission, people called Husin the “bule gila” (crazy westerner), but he laughed off the comments. One of the reasons Husin originally decided to live in Lombok was because he was concerned about the poor condition of Lombok villagers, who often live in a dirty environment and understand little about rubbish management. His mission was to create a clean environment and to leave a legacy for the people of Lombok.
Husin leaves behind his wife, Siti Hawa, and two sons, Husin Abdul Aziz (22) and Abdul Reza Zulmi Husin (21). Aziz intends to carry on his father’s work. Although the cleaning programme will be put on hold for a couple of months to restructure, Aziz will continue with the composting programme that was so close to Husin’s heart.

RIP, Pak Husin, bule gila… Lombok needs more people like you!

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TENSIONS BETWEEN MALAYSIA AND INDONESIA

A wave of anti-Malaysian sentiment is currently sweeping across Indonesia. Despite sharing ethnic, cultural and religious identities, the two countries - both predominantly Muslim -- have had had years of uneasy relations in the past caused by disputes over the treatment of migrant workers, territorial boundaries and, more recently, cultural icons.

The latest controversy has been sparked by the arrest and detention of three maritime enforcement officers by Malaysian authorities near the Riau Islands, located east of Sumatra and south of Singapore.

Indonesian officials insist that the arrest on 16 August 2010 took place in Indonesian territorial waters, with some sources citing the arrests as a retaliation for the earlier arrest of seven Malaysian fishermen caught in Indonesian waters. The Indonesian officials, held in custody for several days by the Malaysian authorities, complained of being handcuffed and given only one meal a day.

Provoking long-standing undercurrents of dissention between the two countries, and further fuelled by Malaysia’s refusal to apologise for the apprehension of the three Indonesian officials, angry protests were staged outside the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta in which demonstrators threw human faeces at the Embassy building.

The escalating outrage spread to Bali on 28 August, when dozens of university students marching under the banner of the “Young Indonesian Marhaen Movement” arrived at the Malaysian Honorary Consul Office on Jalan Pantai Kuta, demanding the controversy between the two neighbouring members of ASEAN be quickly resolved.
According to Kompas.com, the students carried Indonesian flags while shouting “crush Malaysia.” The students also staged a theatrical protest re-enacting the “abduction” of the three Indonesian officials by Malaysian police.
The students in Bali read an 8-point demand to the Honorary Consul, emphasising the need for clear borders between Malaysia and Indonesia to avoid future conflicts.

The Honorary Consul for Malaysia in Bali, Feisol Hashim, agreed to receive the protesters and promised that he would deliver their statement to the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta.

Responding to the demonstrations and escalating tensions, Malaysia’s Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, said he would issue a travel advisory if Malaysians are threatened or the Indonesian authorities fail to adequately protect Malaysian nationals visiting or living in Indonesia.

The Malaysian Foreign Minister has confirmed that he will meet with his Indonesian counterpart, Dr Marty Natalegawa, at a joint commission forum in Malaysia on 6 September 2010, in an effort to defuse the situation. The meeting is not a border negotiation meeting, but serves as an opportunity to take stock of bilateral relations between the two countries.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono held a plenary Cabinet meeting on 23 August to discuss Indonesia-Malaysia ties. Yudhoyono said talks on border issues between Indonesia and Malaysia were pressing, to solve territorial disputes facing the two neighbours.

The President called for proportional diplomatic measures in dealing with any dispute, but underlined that Indonesia would defend its territorial integrity at all cost.

“This is an era of cooperation, not war. Nevertheless if it concerns our territory and sovereignty we will do whatever we can [to defend national integrity],” Yudhoyono said as quoted by Antara news agency.

Meanwhile, legislators in Java are threatening interpellation of the government over its handling of the border incident with Malaysia, which they call inadequate.

Under the Indonesian Constitution, an interpellation, or the right by the legislature to submit formal questions to the government, could lead to a move to impeach the President, albeit through long and complicated political procedures.

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