By Invitation

Myths and realities of Indonesian-Malaysian 'blood brotherhood'

Although both countries are culturally similar in many ways, there are key differences, too, some going back to pre-modern rivalry between the Javanese and Malay kingdoms

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During his recent visit to Indonesia, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad referred to Indonesia as "the closest country" with which Malaysia enjoyed "familial relations", and for whom Malaysians "are not foreigners".

These comments are but the latest iteration of what has become customary diplomatic practice, where leaders from Indonesia and Malaysia exchange familiar platitudes of brotherhood and fraternity whenever they meet.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 11, 2018, with the headline Myths and realities of Indonesian-Malaysian 'blood brotherhood'. Subscribe