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Friday, August 21, 2009

Malaysian Government's Culture Confusion

This is a topic I've long avoided, but it just keeps coming up.
To my friends in Malaysia, please do understand that this is not me being angry at you, not me insulting or giving negative sentiments about you or other Malaysians.
This is directed to the stupid people in your government and tourism board.

Since 2004, before Malaysia launched "Malaysia, Truly Asia", the country intended to boost its tourism revenue. It couldn't compete with Singapore as a mega-polis, even with the world's tallest building in their backyard, so they invested in their diversity, taking advantage of its commonwealth status. Displaying all traditions from around Asia in their country, the country went with the slogan "Malaysia, Truly Asia" that a certain advertising agency came up with.

The campaign was a hit. People liked the idea and made their way to Malaysia for holiday. This success however brought a startling revelation: "What's Malaysia's own traditional culture?"
Yes, this was the question on every tourist's mind. In fact, on a business trip back in 2004, I asked my taxi driver to take me to an authentic Malaysian restaurant, and he took me to this restaurant which main course and specialty was white Tom Yam. If you know me and my epicurious sense, you'd know that I would always ask the servant or anyone working at the restaurant about the food, and they said it was Malay Tom Yam. "Its different!" they said. But it was the same to me.

Does Malaysia have a culture? Sure they do.
One of the negative side of any British occupation is that the British brought in their own culture to the table. Everybody would be speaking English and behave in a British like manner. Unlike India, Australia, & New Zealand, Malaysia was full of spice and controlled by Monarchs. Just like the Mangkunegaran kingdom in Solo, this made it easier for the colonist to infuse the country with the British ways and made sure there is minimum resistance. Many-many tradition which is not suitable to the colonist were made out to rot and disappear.

What makes it different from other British colonials? Well, name me a handful of Malay tribes, heroes or kings that defy the colonialist and is noted as a hero? I went to a lot of museum in KL and found none.

Cultures survived the British Imperialism because of resistance. Cultures exist as a way to unite the people. India have many small tribes and cults that resisted the Imperialism, The Samoans of New Zealand are amazing people who traveled to the Micronesians and Hawaiian islands by small boats, these made them strong to their cultural roots. The Aborigines lived in the most uncomfortable places in Australia which colonialist wouldn't touch, this made their culture survived. Canada and Australia even had to invest millions in research of their culture to get it back.

Malaysia's culture?
Believe me, they had plenty. But now most of it has gone. Only some survived, most came from Borneo which the colonials didn't touch because of the dense jungles and the fierce warriors (BBC Education's : Elizabeth's Kingdom). Yes, this was startling revelation indeed. If the Malaysians continued their Truly Asia campaign without showing that their culture was a majority of the cultures present in their country, they are afraid that people will leave and think less.

A Resolution!
Years back, Malaysia claimed and announced to the world that Satay was part of their culture. They even tried to make it legal by having it patented and claimed as sole owner and creator. Now, how could a food that belonged to many cultures and countries be made into a sole ownership claim??
The Japanese have Robatayaki, the Chinese and all the way up to Bali have a dish like it. All meat in a stick. That move made all of those meat on a stick Malaysian. Being a commonwealth, they had great access. The one who made it first official was the Encyclopedia Brittanica in the 90s.
The Malaysian government soon started with food, claiming one by one food that are present in Malaysia as their own.

Now then, if they could do it with food, why not culture?? Who better to take it from? Why their friendly neighborhood cousin across the strait of course. Indonesia has millions of traditions, lets go get some.

At first, I didn't give much thought. Malaysians and the Melayu do share many traits and culture. Still, claiming it as the sole owner of that tradition does bug me a lot. But then they gotgreedy, and absurd.

The Malaysian Government claimed that Angklung is a Malaysian culture. What?!?? That doesn't even make sense. Bamboo instruments that are in the Melayu/Sumatra area resembles nothing like the angklung. After that, batik. Not the motives of Melayu, but the motives of Java. Those motives have historical relevance and how it became that way, but the Malay government still put a claim on it. After that Reog, Kuda lumping, Jali-jali and the song "rasa sayange" which from a Pangea point of view made it impossible to be connected what-so-ever to the Asian continent, because Maluku was connected to the Papua and Australian plate.

Reog and Kuda Lumping?? Yeah sure, the Malaysian ancestors belived in self whipping, sacrifice, homosexuality and black magic (ingridients in a Reog dance). And then Jali-jali, a song that is closely tied with the Dutch occupation. It gets even absurd...

Pendet. A welcoming dance from Bali. There is no dance like this in Java or Sumatra, no way that it would influence upwards (if you study history, cultures spread through Pangaea downwards and evolved individually after the ice age ended and the sea level risen). If any of these tradition are claimed by Malay, it should be present in an almost similar form in either Sumatra or Borneo.
To completely insult us, the Pendet was claimed on Indonesia's Independence day through yet another one of Malaysia's tourism program "Enigmatic Malaysia" on the Discovery channel.

A Malay artist who is a friend of mine, on his blog posted about Kuda Kepang (Malay's version of Kuda Lumping), about how the tradition was brought by Javanese workers who migrated from Java...

Well lets see here, I don't think the Dutch ever traded slaves with the British. An Indonesian would move out of Indonesia was during the PKI era in the 60s. I don't really see it becoming a tradition unless its out and recognized as a culture. So is Tom Yam a Malay food? I mean, the Thai immigrants brought it in longer before kuda lumping came to Malaysia?

What ever the outcome, over the years this has been a big cause of the degradation of Indonesia-Malaysia relations. Most people here have negative sentiments about Malaysia, and its growing. Malaysians living in Canada with their Anti-Indonesia websites are helping fuel the fire. I just hope the Malaysian people are aware of their governments actions and take a stand to stop it. I really hope the relations between our countries will get better soon.

Once again I apologize to Malaysians everywhere. I didn't mean to offend you, but your government actions on my favorite day of the year, Independence day, offended me. If you have never heard of these tradition, dance, etc, please make it known. Write it in your blog, protest your government. Malaysia has many lost traditions, instead of taking, why not digg those cultures up from the past.


minoel said...

Nicely written! Obviously you have done your research. One question remains: what will the Indonesian government do about this? Since their arrogancy doesn't stop with food and cultures. They snatched islands as well!

Anonymous said...

nice explanation...if you say malay gov disgrace you, can you tell me the other culture of indonesia??can you tell me the respond of indonesia gov in protecting their culture before this moment??

I know Pendet is one of the famous dance in Indonesia,but are you sure you know it very well??how about it's philosophize??and when its can be done,in what condition??and bla..bla...

I just curios this is just your ego in losing something but unfortunately you don't understand anything it....don't ask me,ask yours,you who angry with this moment.

Anonymous said...

I hate Malaysia and its ways to stolen Indonesian cultures. There's no satay except the part of Indonesian cultures. Batik is Originally come from hand of Javanese's women. Malaysia is riddiculous to claimed others country's cultures.

Chandra Marsono™ said...

1st Anonymous, please I have no Idea what you are talking about. So what you are saying is that its okay to be thieves? Yes I understand the philosophy of the Pendet, when in my writing did I ever say I didn't understand about it?? Unfortunately, you have problem reading and have problems with your own ego.

2nd Anonymous, its not the stealing, its the claiming. Satay is an Asian dish that belongs to many cultures and countries, claiming sole ownership is just arrogant. Malays have batik too, but claiming to the world that batik originated from Malaysia is just ethically wrong. The origins of wax painting comes from India.

For both of you anonymous, next time you want to comment, do be man/women enough to share who you really are.

Chandra Marsono™ said...

@ Minoel.
The Indonesian people still believe that we and Malays are "serumpun" and will always try to find a solution. However, the Indonesian government is also known to be crappy at "follow up".

ssy said...

well said chandra!

i agree that we cant blame all malaysians...it's the government, the tourism board or the ad agency or whoever behind the campaign.

its also time for us indonesians to appreciate/protect our culture, before its too late..and i really hope our government will try to "follow up" this time...

Koen said...

The only clear discussion I found about the issue. Thank you :).

gubay said...

i see a great irony..
while our neighbours get more arrogant and greedy just to cover up their lousy tourism campaign, what our government do then..?
poor them..

CHICHI said...

Wow!!! Bravo mas Chandra...
To anonymous, you should try to read a bit slower-because I think that this is well-written, straight and yet very objective and wise.

nana said...

Yea, i commit that Indonesian government really late to respond. And i got what Chandra Marsono means here: As now people are more mobile, every kind of culture (food, language, accent, ceremony, beverages, clothes, etc) almost can be found in every country. We can adopt and share every culture, but one should not "claim" other culture as theirs.

You may use/do every culture you'd like to do/use, just respect the origin by not claiming it as your original culture.

In example, may people do yoga, which originally comes from India. Should one claims it as his/her original culture? say... Yoga is an Indonesian culture. ??? Nah~

Well, i do hope the relation between Indonesia and Malaysia could be healed. If brother fight brothers, what this world will be? Don't we care about our children and our future? ^______^

justme said...

Hi Chandra,nice written..:)

I just wanna added. A few months ago, one of my colleague has submitted some of Malaysian CD to our library office collection. And I found that Malaysian Tourism Board has claimed, that Keroncong instrument as their own (included Gambang Semarang).And....Anak Kambing Saya (malaysian version is Chan Mali Can), Burung Kakak Tua, Injit-injit Semut and Soleram (Malaysian version is Suriram)as their folk songs...

Really sad to say about this. What should we do next then??

Anonymous said...

Must say a very well writing there :)completed with facts instead or 'rubbish', nice one man. The Malaysian government must read this, though I'm not sure about their response since they seem don't have any :p

manusiasuper said...


Truthly is, I dont even pay much more attention to this 'culture burglar'. We, Indonesian, how many times do we care about pendet and the dancer? who cares about the boys at the reog community? who gives damn attention to batik seller there at the downtown?

No one before...

And there's a neighbor country claiming its their properties of culture, and there we are, shocked, mad, and some stupid motto to ask war... HA HA...

But you write it nicely sir... You've got the point...

cipu said...

I found some Malaysian Immigrant wearing baju kurung, I think we should copyright it before Malaysia does.
Using Javanese immigrant as an excuse to claim those cultures will never make any sense to me. It is a full non sense.

Chandra Marsono™ said...

Thank You all for your comments.
Cara terbaik yang perlu ditempuh adalah membuat rakyat Malaysia tahu atas perbuatan pemerintah mereka.
Pemberitaan di negara tetangga kita itu masih penuh sensor yang halus oleh pemerintah, berita tersaring.
Ini semua pure government. Bagi rakyat Malaysia, iklan Truly Asia itu adalah budaya Indonesia yang ada di sana, bagian dari kampanye truly asia. Mereka tidak tahu menahu soal klaim yang dibuat oleh negaranya.
Namun, strategi dari Malaysian tourism board adalah membuat kultur, jadi mereka membuka sekolah dan sanggar di pedalaman hingga mereka menguasai tarian tersebut. Mereka dalam proses membuat proof. Semakin lama pemerintah kita mengabaikan, semakin kuat klaim mereka.
Apapun langkah yang kita ambil, let's do it in a smart & gentleman manner.

K said...

If it is 'Truly Malaysia' why it has to be copyrighted? Because they have lost their identity.

In fact when Malaysia uses the slogan 'Truly Asia' it means all about Asia.Hence, it is clear they don't have specific Malaysian things to promote.
Why have to confuse yourself Malaysia ?

Ian said...

I think this is the best, most neutral article about this "sensitive" issue.

First of all, I think that culture is something that is closely related to a nation's history and roots, so I never imagined that a culture can be claimed and copyrighted as what the Malaysian GOVERNMENT does. It's just like imagining the Egyptians having to claim that Pyramid and Sphinx originated from there.

So, should we just copyright all of our cultures?
I think the minds and ways of the Malaysian GOVERNMENT to promote their countries tourism are way too twisted.

*I emphasize that it is the GOVERNMENT and not the normal citizens that I think are twisted though.

dauz said...

Tulisan elo bagus, Chand. Elo bahkan ngeliat pengaruh kolonial Inggris dari sisi orientalisme :)

Sekedar nambahin aja, ada dua pengertian dari slogan "Malaysia Truly Asia" sebenarnya.

Pertama, Malaysia adalah Asia yg asli, indegenius. Bahwa dari Malaysialah bersumber seluruh kebudayaan yang kemudian menyebar di Asia. Ini jelas sebuah omongkosong yg nggak lucu.

Kedua, Malaysia adalah sejatinya Asia, karena beragam budaya Asia numplek blek di sana (ini bahkan sebuah satire, ironi, buat Malaysia sendiri)

Disinilah Pemerintah Malaysia "bermain-main" dengan dua pemahaman berbeda tapi sama-sama disetir secara sableng dan ngawur dengan slogan tadi untuk menutupi kenyataan bahwa mereka tidak memiliki (ke)budaya(an).

Penyingkiran kebudayaan yg nggak sesuai dgn keinginan penjajah [Inggris] nggak bisa sepenuhnya diterima. Kenapa budaya Melayu-Sumatera yang sejenis dgn Melayu-Malaysia tidak hilang juga selama Indonesia dikuasai Inggris sebelum dibarter kepada Belanda? Kenapa tidak ada ijtihad penguasa lokal di sana untuk melestarikan budayanya sendiri (jika mereka MEMANG PUNYA budaya sendiri)?

Disinilah kemudian baru kepikiran ama gue sendiri: ketiadaan ijtihad karena ketiadaan itikad. Pemerintah Malaysia nggak punya niat mengurusi budaya mereka. Bahkan jangan-jangan mereka sendiri nggak tahu kalo mereka punya budaya sendiri (hehe, shame on you kalo itu beneran, cik!)

Mereka lebih milih cara instan dengan mencomoti segala sesuatu yg ada dan kelihatan 'tradisional' untuk dikecapi jadi milik mereka -- kalau ini memang kenyataannya, makin kuatlah stereotipe bahwa "orang Melayu bumiputera itu pemalas, ingin enak tapi tak mau berpayah-payah -- dan lalu dijual di pasar turisme.

Di sinilah kata kuncinya: DIJUAL. Mereka tidak peduli apakah budaya itu. Yang mereka pikirkan adalah apa yang bisa dikomersialisasi untuk 'sekedar' menambah-nambah pemasukan anggaran. Sukur-sukur bisa diketip.

Maafkan kalo komen gue terdengar sarkas dan provok. Gue cuma kepingin kita semua, both Malaysians & Indonesians, untuk berpikir :)

Archie-The-RedCat said...

ijin copypaste ke jurnal http://archie-the-redcat.deviantart.com/ ya..

:D riset bagus kayak gini sih harus banyak2 orang yang nyebar biar banyak yang tauk..

kutubusuk said...

kudos for the details... also loves your intelligent approach regarding this annoying matter hehe..

Joomblo said...

Mohon izin ngdigg ...

Chandra Marsono™ said...

Archie & Joomblo: Silahkan...

dee said...

Great writing, great research, and great argumentation. I believe that this kind of writing that we need now. So thanks for your enriching mind post.

Anyway, one lesson that I learned from this time, that we should spend our time a little bit more to appreciate, learn, and understand our culture. So that, we won't fall to the same place as our neighborhood country.

So, again, thanks a lot.

Anonymous said...

I like your point of view..Can I use it in my own blog as a reference?

Chandra Marsono™ said...

@Cinkiez : Yes you may.

zonkee said...

i like your write.. i think everyone have to read it.. i'm gonna Copy paste it and share this link to my FB note and tag it to all my friends.. if you don't mind..???

md said...

Well said Chandra ! Me myself do not understand about kuda lumping, which they said brought by java immigrant,were claimed to become one of their culture. Hell...in Indonesia we had so many Arabian,Japanese,Chinese etc and yet we never claimed that nasi kebuli, Ikebana,Barongsay belong to Indonesia. Even though our government so slow about this,the mistake actually not in ours but on them (Malaysia government) I really think they do not have a moral ethic at all. Singapore also do not have cultural entity but yet it famous without claiming or stealing other country's culture.

Anonymous said...

pak. saya boleh promosiin postingan ini gak? it's very well written and I'm truly impressed.I think people should read this before immaturely insulting Malaysia.Thank you.

Chandra Marsono™ said...

@Rinta : Boleh, silahkan. Tujuan penulisan ini adalah memang agar kita tidak menghujat warga Malaysia, semua ini pure business dan akal-akalan dari pemerintah Malaysia yang gak kalah ancurnya dengan pemerintah Indonesia.

Nisrina Rahmah said...

well said! i like it very much. analyzing problems from different perspectives

mohon izin publish linknya ya, Pak!

Chandra Marsono™ said...

To all, kalau mau di link, silahkan, gak perlu minta izin.

WewW said...

Nice Post, cuy.. Bener-bener Objektip!

Anonymous said...

very..very..nice post...
hope malaysian would read this...

Zulfi said...

nice posting! I like this. you wrote it objectively. good job!

after I read all the comments here, I think the purpose is not hoping malaysian or even malaysian government to read this but it must be the Indonesian government to know this.

I trust government does something about it. but, government hasn't showed it or published it yet. recently, I saw on television Menbudpar said that UNESCO has officially admitted batik, keris, and wayang as Indonesian original heritage. now, angklung is in progress. from this, guys, we can support government and don't always give negative opinion and DO NOTHING. just say bla bla bla but we don't try to love our culture.

Maybe if Indonesian government has read it, they can make a new strategy to save this situation.

the point is not to blame malaysian but PROTECT OUR SELF AND OUR CULTURE. so there is not nation that would claim our culture.

ara astrawidjaja said...

I think it will be better if you send this article to national daily (such as Kompas), and also some others like the Jakarta Post or Indonesian Globe. And i would highly suggest you to send it too, to National Geographic, either Indonesia or International edition. And if you send it to the newspaper, probably it will be best ended with a suggest to put this article to every international airport. So that foreigners could read it at the first time they arrived in Indonesia. Hopefully, this will lead to a bigger domino effect to destroy the stupid greedy ugly Malaysian Government and slow react Indonesian Government.

I'm so deadly curious why our Mr. President didn't do more about this. I think he's "lanjutkan" campaign, probably include "lanjutkan perampokan aset dan budaya negara Indonesia oleh Malaysia".


Yofie Setiawan said...

How about copyrighting 17 August as Malaysian Independence Day? That would be a great idea haha... Just kidding guys... I won't talk too much, just see how far they could go...

mojoh said...

This is awesome,. Well said man.

bekas.penagih.cinta. said...

I respect ur opinion. However, may i ask how long and deep research u've done on malaysian cultures before u blog ths article?. Am not being sarcastic, i'm just asking.

Not offended by your claimed but rasa terpanggil utk add more information on sejarah Malaysia. I believed u went to Muzium Negara, hence u did not seen much talked hero. Unfortunately and sadly, our muzium is very commercial n historial-exhibiton-forward. Thus for u to study our national heroes indepth is at our National Muzium [muzium kebangsaan] which located next to Dataran Merdeka. Our if u hv extra budget, try backpacked to each states of Malaysia and visit all our historical sites n museum. You may hv deeper understanding by knowing Malaysia tht way. I thk u can done it in 3 mths or less, since Malaysia has only 14 states. [compare to expert, they've done more than 10 years]

U see, Malaysia history started from Melaka. Which then expended through the 3000 years until it form Tanah Melayu, subsiquently to Malaysia. If you study the roots of d immigrants to Malaysia, mostly are from Indonesia [incl. Borneo], India, China, Thailand etc. This is the starting point of Malaysian cultures,...they diversified and combined into one. If u wanted to call Malaysia does not owe any culture, then u might be right. Hence, we ARE truly asia. Because all the cultures has combined and mixed and become one. You can see the different cultures embedded to their daily lives, in every states. Negri Sembilan as example are still proud practicing Minangkabau cultures. Kelatan are famous for Mak Yong which has a close resembles of Thai Dance. Why? Because we all are origins of immigirants tht move to Malaysia.

I don't take this a big issues. Its just a conflicting and misintepretation of Indonesian Media. Yes, honestly I never heard Pendet dance until it was arise by media recently. I only knew Kacak was frm Bali :}
I believed it was a honest mistake done by Goverment, or the dance attire has a close resembles of Pendet Dancer.

One thing i degress on Malaysian attitude is they hv a certain ego. Probably, darah Hang Jebat is flowing in every vein of Malaysian. But non the less, being a pround half indonesian-thai-malay descent myself, I never question the origin of the food. Knowing my encestor has bring some of their late mothers recipe and we accepted as our own.

Indonesia is very close to my heart as is where my roots came from. We can always argue, and calling Malaysia a maling and we could response back with sorts of name but the end, is a lost-lost situation.

purwati said...

great article. well done.
hopefully our government become more and more aware of our culture and event.and the most important is taking an action.

Anonymous said...

That is true Pak Chandra Marsono :) it is quite ridiculous to fight over our heritage and culture without knowing the history, it pin pointed at the right spot.
One more addition from me about the heritage, it is obvious Indonesia have a great civilization back then, we have wonders! Borobudur is one of the example.
With fair thinking, can you imagine a civilization who can build world wonder do not have a culture behind it? who have it first, we are the Mecca of south east asia at that time ;)

Anonymous said...

That is true Pak Chandra Marsono :) it is quite ridiculous to fight over our heritage and culture without knowing the history, it pin pointed at the right spot.
One more addition from me about the heritage, it is obvious Indonesia have a great civilization back then, we have wonders! Borobudur is one of the example.
With fair thinking, can you imagine a civilization who can build world wonder do not have a culture behind it? who have it first, we are the Mecca of south east asia at that time ;)

zuli said...

Well done....obviously you've done your research. Well either that or you just savvy like that...hehehe. I did make think about things a bit diffrnt. Like how its not the malaysian people faults and such...just for a split second tho'...still hates them and their no culture having arse. (Which is not true, they do have culture just lost it in midst of claiming other's) and OMG anonymous 1 are you malaysian? Hmmm figures.

-BeLLaVeRiNa- said...

Nice written...
seperti ini seharusnya kita menyikapi permasalahan ini..
Geram namun disajikan dengan baik, sopan, intelek namun tepat sasaran...
Mohon ijin untuk share link nya...
terima kasih

Chandra Marsono™ said...

dear bekas.penagih.cinta
(don't know ur name)

For me culture is public domain, and I do understand how Malaysia has become a melting pot of immigrants, however, when one culture is claimed as their own, it becomes offensive.

I wouldn't mind seeing an Indonesian culture in a Malay tourism ad, for it is campaigning the "trully Asia" theme, however your government did more than that. They claimed sole property of cultures that doesn't belong to them in the first place, and thats what got people frustrated.

Take example Laksa. Laksa is an Asian dish. There is Laksa Singapore, Laksa Betawi, and your own Malaysian Laksa. Only small similarities in each. But then your government decided to Claim it as Malay food, other people are just copy cats. That would offend people in Jakarta (Betawi) who have
been passing this recipe for centuries. We never claim Bakso as Indonesian food, its Chinese, but it is an Indonesian favorite.

Maybe for you cultural heritage or where food originated doesn't matter, but for us, especially us as patron of arts, it matters.

I'm a traveller, culture and museum addict, granted I havent been to all the states of Malaysia other than KL and Selangor, I have visited most of the museums in those states. Those that I havent, I can preview online. If your government is as you say very commercialized about their museums, then you should know that this is wrong. Your government is burying your own culture and heritage.

Did you know about your culture's puppet (wayang)? Yes, your country has a wayang culture, but it has been replaced by Wayang kulit from Java. All traces of the original Malay Wayang has been erased, even in your museums.

The article I wrote isn't just for Indonesians to stop hating Malaysian people, but also to wake Malaysians up. Because not only are Indonesians losing their culture, you are loosing yours too.

angellaginyaru said...

this posting is truly well written. got me to shift my thoughts too instead of just keeping my rants at the Malaysians. permission to copas and link your article in my blog, sir.

t i t i said...

dear mas chandra,
saya suka sama tulisannya,...
tulisan paling objektif yang pernah saya baca ttg indo-malay,..
ijin copas ke blog saya juga ya,..
pengen ikutan myebarkan pandangan2 objektif kyk gini,..
so we know how to act about this problem,..


Saykoji said...

nice writing! thank you for the enlighting.

i believe that there are good malaysians as well.. :)
even my career was inspired by malaysian hiphop.

estehmanisaromastrawberry said...

mas chandra, thanks for this nice posting.
i agree with your point of view where each culture always has the philosophy behind it. i've learnt my javanese culture well, and i'm proud to say that it has a very beautiful philosophy behind them (cultures). each batik pattern has it own phylosophy, even the number of 'surjan'(jogjanese cloth for male)-buttons have the philosophy behind them! And even Solo and Jogjakarta has the similar cultures root (Mataram), they had different batik!
That's why i was wondering how can malaysia claim the very similar culture with ours? How can be. But after reading your post i could understand the reason (but I still don't understand about their motive). Thank you!


restiii said...

Insightful, discreet, and neatly equitable. Well-written. :)
So content knowing that there's still another sane person lives in this country and knows exactly how to defend it in a very professional, mature, apt way. Not to mention i SO like this article and everything within it : the angle, the essence, and the acquaintances.
Think i will, no, i OUGHT to co-paste this on my blog. Splendid! :)

Yeptirani said...

Ijin mempromosikan, ya..
tulisannya bener-bener bagus dan jelas..

Michelle Anugrah said...

Kudos to Chandra for a clear writing. You should put this to Jakarta Post or Jakarta Globe, to counter some articles written in Jakarta Post that are, in my opinion, cowardice and ostrich head ducking in the sand kind of thing.

I have to substantiate the fact on Batik, that each area has their own unique pattern, outside of the fact that Javanese batik itself has abundant patterns and versions, depending where they come from. Papua has got own version of batik, for example, that uses their own native animals and cultural items and activities. Sulawesi also has their own version of batik. All of those were brought by Javanese people migrating to these area. What I observed is that Malaysia and Singapore have their own pattern of batik, so I think it was rightful for them to claim that those patterns are uniquely theirs. However, claiming Batik as a whole to a sole proprietorship of Malaysia is indeed insulting and an oxymoron. I've been to Malaysia several times and I'm amazed with their diversity of culture, although nothing could beat Indonesia in terms of cultural diversity. Probably, the sad thing is, since Malaysia is too diverse, and their government is too eager to put everything into some sort of uniformity down pat to a certain pattern, they abolished and killed their own culture. Admittedly, we share several things, such as food, clothing, mannerism, and such. But what is so galling is that the Malaysia government is so arrogant, that they do not want to admit the similarities to its neighbors and claim everything they have as their own, without putting a disclaimer that these cultures they claim came from other culture.

UNESCO has put Batik, Wayang, and several other cultural products claimed by Malaysia as originally coming from Indonesia. How could the Malaysian government be so blind (or arrogant) to claim these as theirs?

I'm also wondering about our own Culture and Tourism Department. If Malaysian Government can come up with the money to pay National Geographic or Discovery Channel to air the "diverse and unique" Malaysian culture, why can't the Indonesian Government do so? If they don't have the money, I bet every Indonesian worth their salt wouldn't mind contributing Rp. 100,- per person, and we would have more or less Rp. fund, which would be enough to buy some airtime and make a production of "Indonesia Cultural Diversity". I bet Riri Riza, or Nia Di Nata or Nia Zulkarnaen and her husband would be willing to make the documentary of Indonesia with less pay, just of the sake of patriotism.

I'm also sad with the fact that many Indonesian lower themselves to the level of being uneducated in responding the issue. Forming "Anti-Malaysia Volunteer" in eks PDI-P headquarter in Jl. Diponegoro is one of those example of how Indonesian reacts stupidly and ignorantly towards this issue. The reaction at topix.com blog on the changing of Indonesia Raya lyric also exemplifies this moronic stance some Indonesians take towards this action.

I wish more Indonesian can react like you, with dignity, pride, brain and reasons, instead of crying war against Malaysia.

Once again, thank you for a very insightful blog. I will post this link to my blog as my appreciation towards your writing.

Anonymous said...

Nice writting,
Aku copy paste ya.

bekas.penagih.cinta. said...

Hi Chandra,

Gladly to hear your point of view.

Again, as I have said previously, Malaysian (that interpreted as the Government? maybe..) has their own ego reflecting Malay Malaysian identity. We acknowledge the we are 'serumpun' but we still biting each other heads over claiming who's who heritage. That will be an endless argument. Never the less, claiming to be the origin of the heritage is absurd. As far I am concern, I never read a written article/book about Batik was originated from Malaysia, but I knew that Malaysian and Indonesian Batik was quite well known internationally. However, to compared with Indonesian, Malaysia or Thailand batik, each of them are different and unique (my point of view).

Same as Laksa. Each states have different Laksa and way of cooking it. Malaysian said Laksa is Malaysian food because the varieties of Laksa we have in Malaysia. It does not said as it belongs to Malaysia. If you look closer, Singapore Laksa and Malaysian Nyonya Laksa are very similar to each other, but we never argued as we accept that most Singaporean has the same roots with Malaysia.

Wayang Kulit for instant, is famous in Kelantan. Kelantan is located in north - eastern of Malaysia, which nearby/boundry to Thailand. Looking into deeper historic, Kelantan was previously own by Siam (Thailand). Hence, most of their cultures came from Thailand and so Wayang Kulit. So, would you accused Thailand a cultures thief because of the similarities to Java wayang kulit?

I myself are historic enthusiastic. I couldn't agree more that there are 'somehow, somewhat' the historical information has been erased, not just in the cultures, even our ancestors 'foot prints' before and after the independent of Malaysia (which I would prefer not to argue here).

Am glad to see your being poised handling the issue and still open for discussion. Am still having 'heated arguments' among my cousins and aunties in Indonesia. Starting from Rasa Sayang, Manohara and today, the National Geographic ads of Malaysia Tourism. I will definitely ask them to read your blog. And oh, by the way my name is Rida :)

Chandra Marsono™ said...

Rida(Better than Penagih Cinta, hehehe),

As you said, it is absurd to claim cultures. But it is what your government is doing. Malaysian Wayang is very similar to the Thai Puppet, but for some reason your government dropped it and taken the Javanese wayang, promoting it as a Malaysian artifact on TV, even tried to legalize it via UNESCO. Its not the Wayang we are arguing here, but the form of the wayang. The Javanese Wayang has great Hindu influence while Thai and Malay are majorly influenced by Budhism. Maybe for some people wayang is just wayang, but for us its a cultural treasure. They are both Wayang kulit, but their forms are totally different.
Another is Reog. The Malaysian tourism board claims it was a tradition started in Malaysia in the early 1900s (1902 I believe), but the reog is closely related to human sacrifice, black magic and homosexuality. Such tradition will not be able to exist under a Sultan rule.
I'll have to continue this later, I have to put my baby boy to bed.

Btw, nice to meet you Rida.

meinar said...

What an inspirational writings you have here Mr. Chandra. I mean.., we should do something about this..., we can't just sit and still right? i mean, i want my children to know that all of our traditions that being claimed by Malaysia is ours, Indonesians.., can't we create some kind of petition or something? I think it is not only government's responsibility to deal with.., it's becoming ours, right? what to do then in this delicate moment?

Anonymous said...

iya juga ya,mas.setelah saya lihat lagi iklan enigmatic malaysia,saya jadi heran kenapa ada tokoh wayang Bima (Pandawa ke-2 setelah Yudistira) disitu? CMIIW bukankah bentuk & karakter wayang kulit Indonesia yg kita kenal selama ini,yg bahkan telah mendapat pengakuan dari UNESCO adalah hasil kreasi Raden Said yg orang Jawa asli.

Anonymous said...

like this!
I think its a matter of existence. Malaysia (maybe, hope not so) feel unexist, feel has no identity, so they try to get the other's country culture, to make them feel they have identity...oh la la, how pity they are :)

Anonymous said...

Pak Chandra,

You have written a thorough analyzes of the current issues. From my point of view, we have the right to be angry to what our neighboring country has done towards our culture. On the other hand, we, as Indonesians, have to push government to perform any necessary action from preventing such action to re-occur. The claim by Malaysia have taken place so many times and it appears that our government is late to counter. If our government has done something, it is best to publicize. Every time I watch Discovery channel, is always about Malaysia this and Malaysia that. How come, our government never do something extravagant as making tourism profile in Discovery channel? What budget constrain again? We have much more cultural diversity than Malaysia, but why the government does nothing?

Anonymous said...

I am not Indonesian but I find the "Truly Asia" tag funny. Malaysia has nothing like what is a truly Asian culture is all about.

First, the tallest mountain in SEA is in Burma near the Himalayas, followed by three mountains in Indonesia. Kinabalu os 5th tallest, not the tallest (well maybe in Malaysia, but Sabah is technically part of the Philippines as it is being rented from the Sultan of Sulu by the Malaysian government).

The Philippines has the anklung as well, and satay? well- Indonesians I think have a better claim since they were actually a country first before Malaysia.

I went to Malaysia expecting that there were a lot of cultures, but I was surprised there was no Malaysian identity. Only things borrowed from its Indonesian and Filipino neighbors.


Chandra Marsono™ said...

Thank you for the comments, euh, Anonymous'. I'd wish you didn't use the anonymous preset to comment, but thank you none the less.

wahyu said...

saya pikir masalah juga timbul akibat ambiguitas yang ditimbulkan oleh kata "rumpun melayu" yang sering digunakan dalam hubungan kedua negara.. sebenarnya apa yang dimaksud dengan rumpun melayu.. saya kira kata tersebut hanya menunjukkan persamaan ras antara orang malaysia dengan kebanyakan orang indonesia.. namun persamaan ras hanyalah persamaan dalam hal fisik.. diantara ras melayu tersebut terdapat bermacam2 etnis seperti melayu, jawa, sunda, batak, bugis, padang yang satu sama lain memikili identitas dan kebudayaan yang berbeda-beda.. namun sepertinya kebanyakan orang malaysia berpikir karena kita serumpun maka kebudayaan ras melayu etnis lainnya juga dapat disebut kebudayaan ras melayu etnis melayu.. sepertinya kita harus berpikir ulang tentang penggunaan kata "rumpun melayu" dalam hubungan antar negara dan masyarakat kedua negara..

b4nch4 said...

well put chandra. Instead of marah2 ga jelas ama malaysia secara general (like many others), you did some great research, and put out great argumentation

Indi said...

when was the last time the writer watch live reog or pendet performances?

was the writer really interested in those artforms? or just the story about the neighboring country claiming the artforms?

Chandra Marsono™ said...

Indi, the last time I saw Reog was in 2005, I was one of the performance management team that organized performances for a cultural parade from Monas to Senayan (where Reog Ponorogo was of them), celebrating Jakarta's Birthday.

Pendet, about 5 months ago. I'm married to a former professional traditional Indonesian dancer, I like visiting and learning about cultures both locally and abroad, and most of my non profit works involve Indonesian culture, so yes, I am interested in these art forms and not just writing this because I'm following a hype, I'm writing this because I do care, and I'm trying to focus people's attention away from the hate that has been plaguing on the media and internet, and into finding a solution.

Indonesia is not the only casualty of this. Malaysia is losing their identity as well. Their culture and heritage is slowly degraded and replaced by their governments twisted branding, both sides should wake up and realize the implication of what is happening.

Pebrianto said...

To all Indonesians...
Jika kita bersatu, insya4JJ1 semua masalah ini akan bisa kita selesaikan, entah dengan cara apapun. Yang perlu diingat, Indonesia cinta damai namun lebih cinta kemerdekaan, dalam hal ini kemerdekaan merupakan simbolisasi kedaulatan bangsa. Bukan hanya kebudayaan, namun jatidiri bangsa adalah yang utama. Rawe-rawe rantas, malang-malang tuntas.
Proud to be Indonesian...

Bhakti said...

Dapat linknya liwat Facebook.

Good essay, Chandra.

Bhakti, Nederland

Bhakti said...

Over 15 years ago I was at the Rose Garden near Bangkok in Thailand where there is a daily show of Thai dances for tourists.
There were of course the typical Thai dances, and also dances from the Hindu tales of Ramayana, and it was announced that the Thai have adapted those from the story originating in India. At the end there was suddenly the "Bamboo dance" where dancers jump between 4 long sticks of bamboo and I remember this dance is a Philippine dance.
Without any false claim they announced that this dance is the national dance of the Philippines.

Why this story? It shows a good example how a country (Thailand in this case) gives all credits to dances it has adapted from other countries.
But they can do so because they do have their own well known culture and traditions, known all over the world. So they are not ashamed at all to tell the influences other cultures have in their culture.

In the case of Malaysia it is a total different case. Malaysia I think can best be said is a mixed country which can almost be compared with Australia or the US. Its main 3 cultures Malay, Chinese and Indian have all survived together with the cultures of the indigeneous minorities of Borneo. Unfortunately however the Malay majority wants to represent the country as a Malay country instead of a multi racial country. But the trouble is they don't have a specific culture which is completely different than the Indonesians, Filipinos or Thai. However, the country which has the most similarities with the Malays is of course Indonesia, better said the culture of Java and Sumatra. It's thus so easy to claim things from those Indonesian islands as Malaysian.
Why is that necessary? I know Malaysia has some particular things Indonesia doesn't have such as the big kites ("wau bulan") on the East Coast.
But the most important thing they forget is that if there is really one original culture they do have it is from the Bornean people of Sabah and Sarawak with their longhouses, art, dances and crafts. Only Kalimantan in Indonesia has anything similar, but in my opinion, not as sophisticated yet as their Malaysian counterparts. So this is one thing Malaysia could be proud of, but alas.......it's the culture of minorities and not of the Malays.

Malaysia can promote itself as being the cultural mixed country of Asia, say like the US now says it has cultures from Europe, Latin America, Asia and Arabia. There is nothing wrong with that, in fact it could be attractive to visitors. But in their aim to be mainly a Malay country (which is unjustly since the numbers of other cultures in Malaysia is big, very big indeed), they are trying to be a second Indonesia, and that's where all the claims start which cause Indonesians to be upset.

kutubusuk said...

thanks for the insight, Bhakti.. di dont do one liner, but for your case, i just had to.