Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Diplomatic Dance: Indonesia Demands Written Explanation From Malaysia on Tor-Tor

The Indonesia government has asked for written explanation from Malaysia regarding the claim that the Tor-Tor dance and Gordang Sambilan music stem from Malaysian cultural heritage.

The request comes after the Indonesian embassy in Malaysia stated on Monday that Malaysia sought to clarify that it did not intend to claim the dance and music among its cultural heritage, calling the situation a "misunderstanding"

“We have communicated with the Malaysian ambassador for Indonesia,” said Education and Culture Deputy Minister Windu Nuryanti on Tuesday. “They said they did not mean to claim it; they have promised to give a written explanation [Wednesday].”

Upon the request of Mandailing people, who originate from Northern Sumatra and have lived in Malaysia for hundreds of years, the Malaysian government included the Tor-Tor dance and Gordang Sambilan music in its Law on Cultural Heritage, sparking a swift and angered reaction from Indonesia.

The backlash likely stems from long strained diplomatic tussles over a variety of legal and cultural issues, including contention over the lion dance from Ponorogo, East Java and the song “Rasa Sayange” from Ambon.

But Malaysia said that including the Tor-Tor and Gordang Sambilan into law would actually benefit the Mandailing people, as it would entail the Malaysia government providing funding for its preservation.

Windu said that he would let the Foreign Affairs Ministry handle the case.

“Indonesia’s stance is clear: We demand written [explanation]. After that, we will follow up,” Windu said. “Indonesian culture can be developed anywhere, but the origin should be clear.”

Regarding cultural heritage, the Education and Cultural Ministry plans to launch support programs for 1,500 art centers over the next two months. Art centers — located mainly in less developed regions — would get Rp 150 million (almost $16,000) in funding from the government.

The ministry is speeding up its work on recording National Cultural Heritage by compiling data of Indonesian cultures and traditional foods in an effort to preserve them. (Jakarta Globe/Antara)


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