Megawati urges calm over SM Lee’s remarks

President Megawati Sukarnoputri says Indonesians should not be too emotional over Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s recentremarks that terrorist leaders were at large in the country.

In her first comments on the issue, she urged Indonesians to respond ‘calmly and with a clear mind so that relations with Singapore will not be affected’, presidential advisory council (DPA) chairman Achmad Tirtosudiro quoted her as saying.

She assured council members at a meeting on Thursday that the matter was being handled via diplomatic channels. But this did not appear to be enough for the council, as Mr Achmad felt she was letting Singapore off the hook too easily and remarked that ‘her position on this matter is just very soft’.

His comments resonate with the more hardline Muslim groups here, which want an apology from Mr Lee and a break in diplomatic ties.

But the President’s aides maintained that such views were in the minority.

Said a palace source: ‘Ibu Mega does not want the bilateral relationship to be damaged by this one incident. We have a lot at stake especially since Singapore is a key political and economic player in the region and a country that can help us out in our problems.

‘The President and her advisers are of the opinion that Indonesians should look at the big picture, and put aside their narrow political goals of exploiting problems with Singapore for their own interest.’

That view was shared by mainstream Islamic groups and the military. A three-star army general said the President’s response, could help ‘ease tensions’.

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