The Malaysian government has claimed seven of Indonesia’s cultural products as the former’s national heritage in the past five years, Education and Culture deputy minister Windu Nuryanti said on Tuesday.
“We have, to some extent, a long history of disputes over this issue. I have already noted similar types of quarrels have happened seven times until now,” she said as quoted by Antara news agency.
In November 2007, Windu said, Malaysia claimed the masked dance Reog, which originates from Ponorogo, East Java, as part of its national heritage.
The Malaysian government, according to Windu, went on to claim the “Rasa Sayange” folksong from Ambon, Maluku, as a traditional Malaysian song in December 2008 and then claimed batik in January 2009 as another part of the Malaysian national heritage.
Windu said that in August 2009, a promotional spot for a TV documentary series on Malaysia, which was aired on the cable network Discovery Channel, was shown featuring Pendet Balinese dance. The Malaysian government countered by saying it was included by the company it hired to make the advertisement.
She added that Malaysia had also claimed a Sundanese traditional musical instrument made of bamboo, the angklung, in March 2010.
The top cultural official noted that the neighbouring government had also claimed Indonesia’s traditional Adan Krayan rice from Nunukan, East Kalimantan, as Malaysian traditional rice by selling it under the name Bario rice.
The latest incident is the news that Malaysia has planned to include the Tortor dance and the Gordang Sambilan percussion instrument from Mandailing, North Sumatra, in its national heritage.
Commenting on this, Windu said that the Indonesian government had received a statement from Malaysian officials denying that they had attempted to claim Tortor and Gordang Sambilan.
“They say that they will not claim Tortor but simply file it in their national heritage. We have asked them to explain in detail what they have planned in an official letter,” she said.
Earlier, Malaysian Information, Communications and Culture minister Datuk Rais Yatim was quoted by Bernama news agency as saying that the traditional dance and musical instrument would soon be “acknowledged as national heritage”.
The minister said on the sidelines of Malaysia’s Mandailing community gathering in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday that the acknowledgement would be registered under Section 67 of the National Heritage Act 2005.
While Malaysia is better known for its three major ethnic groups of Malay, Chinese and Indian, there are various other ethnic groups who hail from regions in Indonesia such as the Acehnese, Mandailing, Javanese and Bugis, to name a few. To make things more complicated, various Dayak tribes live on both sides of the border on the island of Kalimantan.