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Journalist group aims to ease tensions with Indonesia

PETALING JAYA: Journalists in the country have set up a platform to promote better reporting between Malaysia and Indonesia following a series of controversial issues including cultural matters and abuse cases of Indonesian maids.

The Alliance for the Friendship of Malaysian-Indonesian Journalists (ISWMI) aims to ease tensions arising from misunderstandings over reports from Indonesia accusing Malaysia of stealing the Rasa Sayang song and the “barongan” dance and promoting them as its own culture.

ISWMI chairman Datuk Johan Jaafar, who announced the formation of the alliance, said it would try to improve ties between the two nations.

“We hope to engage in a fruitful dialogue, to exchange reports through a concerted plan and more importantly to try to speak a common language of trust and understanding.

“Bilateral ties between Indonesia and Malaysia shouldn't be affected by our reporting as we have to exercise restraint to ensure a better relationship,” he said at ISWMI's inaugural meeting yesterday.

The alliance planned to meet with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who will be on a working visit to Malaysia from tomorrow.

Johan said the formation of the alliance was the initiative of Malaysian journalists.

However, he had met with representatives from major Indonesian media such as Republika last month in Jakarta to discuss the formation of a similar alliance in Indonesia.

ISWMI deputy chairman, The Star's group chief editor Datuk Wong Chun Wai, said cooperation between both nations would allow more room for better dissemination of news regionally and internationally.

“We plan to expand the area of cooperation in the exchange of news and to know each other at organisational and personal levels,” he said.

The alliance comprises representatives from Utusan Melayu, New Straits Times, Media Prima Berhad news group, The Star, Malaysian Press Institute, Bernama, Nanyang Press Holdings Bhd, Karangkraf, Malaysia Nanban, Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka, the Information Ministry and Radio Televisyen Malaysia.

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