PETALING JAYA: Indonesia will always be given priority by Malaysia in bilateral relations, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said today.
“Indonesia accepted me as a true friend, so I will never forget that,” he told reporters when asked why he chose Indonesia for his first official visit abroad after becoming prime minister in November.
“Indonesia is a neighbour, we share the same roots and have a good friendship. It (Indonesia) was also a true friend at a time when I was cast out and sidelined,” he said, Bernama reported.
In 1998, Anwar became a political outcast when he was sacked as deputy prime minister and expelled from Umno, prompting the rise of the reformist movement which was inspired by a political uprising that brought down Indonesian dictator Suharto.
Indonesian leaders such as former presidents Abdurrahman Wahid (or Gus Dur) and Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie kept faith with Anwar through his later travails including imprisonment on sodomy charges which were later overturned.
Anwar and his wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail arrived in Indonesia today for a two-day official visit. He witnessed the handover of letters of intent and the exchange of memorandums of understanding involving Malaysian and Indonesian companies here.
He is scheduled to hold a meeting with President Joko Widodo in Bogor tomorrow. Anwar said there were 12 items to be discussed, but did not elaborate.