Malaysia sought Friday to allay anger in Indonesia over the use of a Balinese dance in a promotional spot for a TV documentary series on Malaysia, with officials laying the blame on cable network Discovery Channel.
The clip sparked outrage in Indonesia, with hundreds staging rallies and accusing Malaysia of stealing the “Pendet” dance from the Indonesian resort island of Bali, in the latest cultural dispute between the neighbours.
Cultural minister Rais Yatim said the mistake was committed by Discovery Channel, which produced the 30-second clip to promote its series “Enigmatic Malaysia.”
“The promotional clip has been removed from all feeds,” it said in a statement, adding that it had no intention of causing any misunderstanding or distress.
Rais said the clip had nothing to do with any film producers in Malaysia and “there is no need to fight in public or be emotional.”
Deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin urged Indonesians to end their protests and accept the apology by Discovery Channel.
The two countries share Islam as their main religion and have similar national languages, but have had a history of testy relations.
In late 2007, Indonesia threatened to sue Malaysia for using traditional Indonesian songs and dances in its national tourism campaign. The two countries established a high-level panel to resolve the dispute.
On Tuesday, about 30 Indonesians pelted the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta with rotten eggs and attempted to hoist an Indonesian flag at the gate to protest the video, The Star newspaper said. Hundreds of art students also staged theatrical protests on campuses nationwide, and rallies have been held in Bali.
Indonesian Culture and Tourism minister Jero Wacik said Friday he wrote a protest note last week to Malaysia saying it had violated a 2007 agreement to honor each other’s cultural heritage.
Malaysia has “promised to reprimand the production house” which created the clip, he said.