Headlines

Protests over presence
of Pendet dance in Malaysia’s
tourism ad continue

The presence of Balinese dancing and a leather shadow puppet in a Malaysian tourism ad has once again upset Indonesians, who are saying it is an attempt to claim the art forms as their own.

A member of the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) and Balinese dance experts staged a
protest Saturday against the Malaysian government at the Denpasar Arts Center.

“We have all heard of some aspect of the Indonesian culture that has been claimed by Malaysia as theirs, such as the wayang [Javanese puppet], batik and reog Ponorogo [masked dance from East Java],” said counselor Ida Ayu Agung Mas, referring to similar controversial reports.

“This time, they are trying to claim the Pendet, which is a sacred and original dance from Bali, as
their own.

“As a representative for the DPD, the Group of Indonesian Youth Concerned with Culture and Arts, and experts on Balinese dances, I will send a letter of protest to the Malaysian government through their embassy in Indonesia,” Ida Ayu said at the protest, attended by some 10 people.

The Malaysian Embassy in Indonesia earlier denied the country had made claims on batik and other forms of Indonesian culture in its tourism campaigns. Malaysia’s Ambassador Dato Zainal Abidin Zain was quoted as saying in late 2007 that the Javanese brought the  reog dance to Malaka.

The Pendet dance featuring in the latest controversial commercial has become a welcome dance. Each dancer carries a customary bowl filled with flowers, to be strewn to the audience.

Gde Pitana I, the Cultural and Tourism Ministry’s director general of foreign promotion, said it was fine to show the Pendet dance in the ads, as long as they did not mention the dance was from Malaysia.

“We often display the Barongsai in our tourism ads, but we never claim it as ours,” Pitana wrote
on the ministry’s website on Saturday.

The Barongsai is the dragon dance whose popularity was revived after the government ended the decades-old ban on display of Chinese-influenced culture and language.

Pitana said the Cultural and Tourism Ministry had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Justice and Human Rights Ministry for the intellectual rights protection of cultural and art products.

“I expect all regions and provinces to register their local as well as individual cultural and art pieces to the ministry of justice,” he said.

A facebooker’s status as of Saturday read in English: “Indonesia’s tourism ministry is grossly incompetent. They can’t even come up with a decent tourism promotion campaign. No wonder Malaysia and tiny Singapore attract more tourists.”

From tweetfeed: “Malaysia claimed Bali’s pendet dance as their culture, and Malaysia has given [us]Noordin M. [Top],” in reference to the region’s most wanted terrorist suspect, a Malaysian national.

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