On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Asean must pressure Jakarta into taking action

Abubakar has been accused of being responsible for a
spate of church bombings in Jakarta
two years ago. He has denied involvement in the recent Bali

We do not know how long Abubakar will remain in hospital
but last week, about 30 supporters in paramilitary uniform – many armed with
knives and some wearing masks – arrived at the hospital in Solo, Central

They were members of the extremist Laskar Mujahideen,
which has fought Christians in the Malukus, and were at the hospital supposedly
to protect Abubakar. Even his bodyguards, some wearing T-shirts that bear
Osama's picture, had free access to his room.

What is astonishing is that police guarding the hospital
did not prevent the militiamen from entering the hospital.

Fanatical JI supporters have openly declared that they
are ready to become suicide bombers if anyone dares lay a finger on their

While we must accept the principle that a person is
innocent until proven guilty, what is taking place in Indonesia
is deeply disturbing to many of us in the region.

There have been conflicting signals from Indonesian
leaders over security arrangements since the Bali
bombing on Oct 12 in which more than 190 people were killed.

The impasse between Abubakar and the authorities has left
many to question how Indonesia
intends to implement its tough anti-terror regulations if it is not firm in
dealing with Abubakar.

Legally, the fiery leader has remained a free man. The
police have not questioned him and neither has he signed and acknowledged a
detention order, a requirement under Indonesian law when an arrest is made.

One businessman was quoted by the Singapore Straits Times
as saying last week: "It is probably the only country where a sick excuse can
hold off arrest, and where police have to beg people to allow themselves to be
arrested. If that doesn't explain why this place is not secure, then nothing

Regarded as the weakest link in the region's security
arrangements against terrorism, whatever action Indonesia
takes has serious implications on Malaysia.

has found itself being placed by Germany
on "highest caution" alert in its latest advisory to its citizens travelling in
the region.

The advisory said there was an increased terrorist threat
in Malaysia and
urged travellers to increase caution and exercise restraint when going to large
public gatherings. However, it noted that the Malaysian Government "continued
to intensify safety precautions and recently arrested several militant

also issued a similar advice on Oct 18 for its citizens in Malaysia
"to maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times."

has suffered the same negative perception with a warning by Denmark
that it was a potential target of terror attacks, as it had received
information on possible attacks in Phuket.

It is clear that Asean must act as one in fighting
terrorism and draw up a concerted effort to promote the region as a safe place
for tourists.

With winter approaching, holidaymakers in Europe
and United States
would look for tourist destinations to escape the cold – and Asean cannot
afford to lose out on these tourist dollars.

Although Asean has put on a brave face, saying the Bali
bombing will not affect tourism, we know the incident will have a bearing on us
because there are plenty of choices for tourists.

Asean must apply pressure on Indonesia
to take stronger action against radical groups because its inaction is causing
serious economic damage to the region.

It is a mockery that while the JI has been designated a
"foreign terrorist organisation," its leader is embraced by selfish Indonesian

Indonesians are still in a state of denial. They accuse
the US of
having an agenda but forget that JI leaders are being sought by Malaysian and
Singaporean authorities.

on its part, must seriously consider revoking the permanent resident status of
these suspected terrorists. It is unfortunate when foreign news agencies assume
that these wanted men are wrongly regarded as Malaysians when they are arrested
or are being sought.

When these wanted men are granted PR status, it would
only imply that insufficient security checks have been done. There should be no
delay for Malaysia
to take necessary action, even if legislation needs to be amended quickly, to
avoid such embarrassment.