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Try as they might, the racist bigots and chauvinists both in Malaysia and Indonesia cannot deny the fundamental similarities and connections that are shared by the peoples of both countries. The right-wing press, aided and abetted by some unscrupulous politicians, demagogues, ideologues and sabre-rattlers, have failed in their pathetic attempt to force a wedge between the two nations. The reason for this is simple: Though 'Malaysia' and 'Indonesia' are relatively new and modern constructs born out of the postcolonial era, the peoples of the two nation-states share a common history and one might argue a common destiny that goes back more than two thousand years.

This fact was brought home when a fellow Indonesian academic-activist based in Jogjakarta informed me that some of the radical right-wing nationalist groups in Indonesia have taken to the streets burning the Malaysian flag and chanting anti-Malaysian slogans. But one of their slogans was "Ganyang Malaysia Selamatkan Siti Norhaliza!" (Crush Malaysia But Save Siti Norhaliza!). Another popular slogan making its rounds is "Siti Yes, Malaysia No!". Blood (or culture), it would seem, is still thicker than water (or crass ethno-nationalism in its diluted form).

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