images cheerfully pinched without authorization from Demotix News
Wisma Putra will summon the Indonesian embassy’s charge d’affaires to express the Government’s serious concern over the violent acts by protesters at Malaysia Hall and provocative remarks by an Indonesian politician in Jakarta.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said the meeting follows two protest notes sent to the Indonesian Foreign Ministry last Friday.
“The Malaysian Government views with serious concern the attack against Malaysia’s interest in Indonesia and the provocative comments by an Indonesian MP in a MetroTV programme, Neo Democrazy on June 21,” Anifah said.
A group of about 50 Indonesians hurled stones and pieces of wood at the Malaysia Hall building in Jakarta on Friday, damaging parts of it and injuring a security guard.
They had earlier held a protest outside the Malaysian embassy, about 5km away, where they burned the Malaysian flag and threw eggs into the compound.
The group was protesting Malaysia’s decision to recognize two traditional north Sumatran musical items – the Tor-tor dance and the Gordang Sambilan musical ensemble – as part of the national heritage.
Anifah said Malaysia believed that with the strong and special bilateral ties, the Indonesian government would take appropriate measures in addressing the violent acts and provocative statements.
In one of its protest notes to the Indonesian Foreign Minstry, Malaysia urged the republic to take immediate measures to avoid any more provocative acts.
It expressed “deep regret” that the Malaysian embassy continued to be a target of anarchic action.
Along with the protest note, the Malaysian embassy provided CCTV footage and photographs of the incident as well as a copy of a police report lodged over the attack.
Malaysians on Twitter responded with surprise and, in some cases, amusement, to tweets by irate Indonesians over the issue.
Twitter user @RueShenLee posted: “It is awkward when Indonesians said Malaysians stole their Tor-Tor dance and Malaysians are like – ‘what on earth is a Tor-Tor dance?’ ”
Users also spoke out on the insults hurled by Indonesians through the trending topic of #MalaysiaMiskinBudaya.
“#MalaysiaMiskinBudaya? Hello, we Malaysians DON’T even know what Tor-Tor means,” said user @Syakee.
User @NabyllahZin tweeted: “If Tor-Tor dance is yours, it will always be yours. You’re wasting your time insulting Malaysia.”
“What on earth is TorTor?” tweeted @TheRealAzrul while @pretty_chanteq wrote: “Who ever wants that tortor dance, please take it.”
“Keep your dances and your culture. While you're at it, keep your haze to yourself too. Thanks,” said @mediha_m.
Irate Indonesians also took to the Twittershpere to vent their anger over the issue, calling Malaysia a country that is “deprived of culture”.
Twitter hashtags like “#tortorpunyaindonesia (Tor-tor belongs to Indonesia)” and “#MalaysiaMiskinBudaya (Malaysia is poor in culture)” were trending among Indonesian users of the micro-blogging site ever since the controversial issue came to light over the past week.
“Semiskin itukah Malaysia sampai mengklaim kebudayaan kita?? #TorTorPunyaIndonesia (Is Malaysia that poor that they have to claim our culture?)” read a tweet by @Anak_Twitter.
User @ranyaani said: “Tor tor has been indonesia's for centuries, so dont you just claim that its yours.. #taritortormilikindonesia”.
A tweet by @Shafwan_MZIFC read: “Banyaknya Budaya & Makanan yg diKlaim Negara malaysia menunjukan betapa Kayanya Indonesia (Malaysia has claimed so many of our culture and food, it shows how rich Indonesia is)”.
Some extreme comments include a tweet by @ANTI_MALAYSIA4 which read “ayo kita bersatu ganyang malaysia (Let's unite and crush Malaysia)”.
Angry users established a hashtag called “#HapusMalaysiadariASEAN”which literally means “kick Malaysia out of Asean”.
Malaysians across the political divide were united in condemning the attack on the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta in protest against the claim that the traditional Tor-tor is a heritage of this country.
Members of both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan parties criticized the action of the Indonesians who demonstrated in front of the embassy.
According to the group, the dance and the beating of the drums popular among the north Sumatran Mandailing community in Indonesia and in parts of Malaysia were a tradition belonging exclusively to Indonesia.
Barisan and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said that attacks against Malaysian interests in Jakarta appeared to be seasonal and happened each time some Indonesians had an issue with this country.
MCA vice-president Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung called for decisive action by the Indonesian authorities, noting that similar incidents had occurred in the past.
While the attack would not affect Malaysia - Indonesia ties, he said, Jakarta should deal with this latest incident effectively to prevent a recurrence.
PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said he “cannot accept the incident” although he was a descendant of the Mandailing.
“The attack on the embassy cannot be supported, and I condemn it,” he added.
PAS vice-president Salahuddin Ayub said Malaysia and Indonesia should find a way to manage each other's cultural claims.
Indonesia should not allow such an incident to occur every time there is a disagreement over a claim, he said.
Former Information Minister Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin, who was involved in establishing the Malaysia-Indonesia friendship association of journalists, said he was shocked by the attack.
“This is the act of a narrow-minded group of people who might have been hired to try and create a big issue out of a small matter,” he added.
Here’s a recap of recent incidents:
2007 - Rasa Sayang, Batik and Wayang Kulit
Malaysia-Indonesia tension rose when Indonesian House of Representatives member Hakam Naja called for action to be taken against Malaysia for using the popular folk song Rasa Sayang in its Malaysia, Truly Asia tourism campaign, claiming that it is an Indonesian traditional song. The same politician also accused Malaysia of claiming ownership of batik art and wayang kulit.
2009 - Pendet dispute
Tensions flared again after a television promotion for a documentary on Discovery Channel entitled “Enigmatic Malaysia” featured a clip of the Balinese pendet dance. Some Indonesians alleged that this was an attempt by Malaysia to claim the dance, prompting several protests in Jakarta, including an aggressive demonstration at the Malaysian embassy.
A nationalist group calling itself Bendera claimed to have signed up 486 volunteers who were ready to wage war against Malaysia. Its spokesman Mustar Bonaventura claimed the group had stockpiled medicine, food and samurai swords and ninja-throwing stars for the fight.
The dispute started after word spread that Malaysia had promoted the traditional pendet dance of Indonesia's Hindu-majority Bali in its tourism drive. It turned out that the advertisement was part of a Discovery Channel programme on Malaysia, and the Malaysian authorities had nothing to do with it at all.
2011 - Border protest
A claim by an Indonesian politician that Malaysia had seized Indonesian land along the Malaysia-Indonesia border in West Kalimantan led to a protest at the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta, where demonstrators hurled rocks and other objects at the embassy building.
Meanwhile The Jakarta Post reported interim North Sumatra Governor Gatot Pujo Nugroho as saying that people of the province were “really hurt” by the “attempt” by Malaysia to claim the dance and musical ensemble.
“They are truly the native culture of North Sumatra and we protest that both things (dance and music) have been claimed as part of Malaysian culture. This has really hurt us,” Gatot was reported as saying.
The Jakarta Globe reported that senior Indonesian lawmaker Nurhayati Ali from the Democratic Party had demanded that a special legislative caucus be established to resolve the “conflict”.
Another lawmaker from the same party, Ruhut Sitompul, was quoted as saying that Indonesia must use “hard diplomacy” to defend its cultural heritage.
On Thursday, the Tempo newspaper quoted Indonesian Deputy Minister of Education and Culture Wiendu Nuryanti as saying the Malaysian Government “cannot claim that Mandailing culture belongs to Malaysia because its origin and history can be traced back to the North Sumatrans in Indonesia”.
The Malaysian Mandailing community, however, is not pleased with the aggression in Indonesia.
Malaysian Mandailing Association president Ramli Abdul Karim Hasibuan expressed disappointment over the actions of the protesters, saying they were only interested in causing a rift between the two countries.
“I have gone live on national television for the past week in Indonesia to explain the issue that Malaysia is not trying to claim the dance as theirs. But they (the protesters) are not interested in listening,” said Ramli.
“The Malaysian Government intends to recognize the two as a Mandailing heritage here. The dance belongs to Mandailing, not Malaysia or Indonesia. Nobody is trying to claim ownership here,” said Ramli.
Various groups in Indonesia have staged protests against Malaysia on practically every issue, including the arrests of certain Malaysian politicians. The only thing they have never protested about is the perennial haze problem in Malaysia, which is the result of forest fires in Sumatra.
Last week's protest, however, seems to have taken a different twist. First, they hurled eggs and stones into the embassy's compound. Then they torched the Jalur Gemilang, which were all part of the script. But this time, they became more aggressive and violent by attacking security personnel who, fortunately, only sustained slight injuries.
But seriously, we know the reasons for such purported pent-up frustration from the Indonesian side. Indonesia has done well on many fronts but the poverty level has not been fully addressed. They may complain about a lot of things but Malaysia remains the land of opportunity for many of its citizens.
We cannot deny that there have been stories of mistreatment of Indonesian migrant workers by their Malaysian bosses. But really, if we are that inhumane and cruel, we wouldn't be seeing the influx of Indonesians into Malaysia.
In fact, many Malaysians are terrified of the many Indonesians who come not only to make a living but also to indulge in crime. And when they are arrested, our police would diplomatically refer to these criminals as coming from “a neighboring country”. Not only are we diplomatic, we also do not want to embarrass our neighbor.
We have been too nice for too long, preferring to be the submissive little brother to the big brother across the Straits of Malacca in this saudara charade.
The brouhaha over such issues is pretty ludicrous. Such flag-waving exercises are sometimes good in bringing the nation together, for both sides, but let's not get entangled in narrow-minded nationalism that is nothing but a facade to justify violence or juvenile delinquency.