By The Malaysian Insider
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has confirmed that he did not sign the now-infamous reconciliation agreement with Pakatan Rakyat brokered by former Indonesian vice-president Jusuf Kalla, saying that he had to obtain the approval of other Umno leaders and that involved a long process.
In an interview with Indonesian weekly Tempo, he said despite not having inked the deal which, among other things, called for Pakatan and Barisan Nasional to accept the May 5 poll results and ensure a peaceful transition of power had the Opposition won, he was committed to it.
Najib said that reconciliation was still possible but only if Anwar accepted the poll results. News of this agreement became public knowledge after its contents were leaked to a regional newspaper in the days after the hotly-contested elections which saw Barisan retain power but with a smaller majority and without the popular vote.
Anwar and Pakatan came under some pressure following the disclosure of the deal to move on and accept the results of the elections.
But the opposition leadear maintained that the agreement was null and void because there was widespread fraud in the polls and that Najib was not a signatory to it.
Tempo said that the idea of the reconciliation agreement came up around the end of April, before Malaysia held its 13th general election. Anwar visited Kalla at his Jakarta residence and raised the possibility of a plan to end the post-election tension in Malaysia. Anwar asked Kalla to mediate with Najib. Tempo noted that Kalla and Najib are known to be close, due to their Bugis background.
At that time, Anwar was confident his opposition alliance of parties would win the elections. Tempo noted that the issue of reconciliation was in the air two weeks ago following separate meetings between Anwar and Najib with Kalla.
Below, are excerpts of Najib’s interview with the weekly while he was in Jakarta on a private visit.
Is the political climate in Malaysia so hot that you need to play golf in Jakarta?
Well, I haven't had any rest since the elections. By chance, my wife had an event to attend over here, so I came along to relax and play golf, meet up with old friends and observe how things have developed. Relations with Indonesia is important and many issues can be resolved informally.
Is that why you met with Jusuf Kalla? Reportedly, you two played golf at Halim.
When I held the post of deputy prime minister, Jusuf Kalla was vice-president. We were counterparts and we have the same background. He is a Bugis and I am Bugis. Our wives are both Minang (people of West Sumatra). During many visits, mostly unofficial, we communicated. This time we played golf together.
Isn't Jusuf Kalla trying to mediate reconciliation between you and Anwar Ibrahim?
It was Anwar Ibrahim who asked Kalla to be a mediator.
What would be the limitations to this reconciliation?
First, the recent elections must be accepted. Anwar Ibrahim had signed the commitment letter in front of Kalla. But so far, Anwar has not officially accepted the results of the elections.
We heard you refused to sign the letter.
As party (United Malays National Organisation or Umno) chairman, I had to get the approval of the other party leaders before I could sign it. It was a long process, but I remained committed (to the agreement). At the time, Pak Jusuf Kalla said that as a Bugis, he must have integrity. Our word is our bond. That's the principle of the Bugis people.
Does this mean you are still for reconciliation?
They must first accept the election results. That is the main point of the agreement and Anwar Ibrahim himself signed it. We continue to monitor developments.
What do you see as the most important aspect of Malaysia-Indonesia relations in the future?
In general, we have discussed trade. We must develop a grade investment momentum. Trade between Indonesia-Malaysia has now reached US$18 billion (RM57.6 billion). We have determined that it should be US$30 billion by 2015.
Isn't that a little ambitious? It's only two years away.
Yes, it's quite ambitious, but we must try to reach the target.
How do you plan to do that?
The two countries must increase the role of the private sector. I want to see not just Malaysia investing in Indonesia, but also Indonesia investing in Malaysia. In principle, we agreed to work together to achieve mutual prosperity for the sake of prosperity. So there cannot be a Malaysia prospering but not Indonesia. Or the reverse, a prosperous Indonesia but not Malaysia.
Are you aware of increasing anti-Malaysia sentiments in Indonesia and vice versa recently?
There are two kinds. First, the sentiment about the cultural legacy of Malaysia and Indonesia. Secondly, sentiments which tend to be more nationalistic, especially in Indonesia, which is more apparent.
Will this prevent the collaboration between the two countries?
The two countries must look at it in a positive way. Sentiments should not disrupt stability, which can be a disadvantage for all. Malaysia and Indonesia are neighbours who must create productive relations. Otherwise, both countries will lose out. - June 26, 2013.