A recent furor over Malaysia proclaiming the Tortor dance as one of its national heritages marks the latest dispute between the two neighboring countries.
In October 2007, Indonesia accused Malaysia of using Malay folk song “Rasa Sayange” (Feeling of Love) as its theme song in a tourism promotion campaign.
Indonesia threatened to take Malaysia to court for copyrights violations, but the latter rejected the allegation, saying that the song had its origins in both countries and did not belong solely to Indonesia.
Indonesian lawmakers have also accused Malaysia of falsely claiming other traditional Indonesian arts as its own, such as batik and shadow puppet theater.
In December 2007, Malaysia dropped two dances that originated in Indonesia from its overseas tourism campaigns following protests from Indonesia.
The dances were barongan, a traditional dance from Blora, Central Java, and masked dance Reog, which originates from Ponorogo, East Java.
Two years later, in September, a promotional spot for a TV documentary series on Malaysia on the cable network Discovery Channel was shown featuring a Balinese dance.
The clip triggered strong reactions in Indonesia, with hundreds staging rallies and accusing Malaysia of stealing the Pendet dance from the Indonesian resort island of Bali.
Malaysian Cultural Minister Rais Yatim said that the mistake was committed by Discovery Channel, which subsequently said it regretted using the image of the Balinese dancer, saying that it was sourced from “an independent third party”.
In the latest brouhaha, Yatim was quoted by Malaysia’s Bernama news agency on Thursday as saying that the traditional dance and musical instrument would soon be “acknowledged as national heritages”.
The minister said on the sidelines of a gathering by Malaysia’s Mandailing community on Thursday that the acknowledgement would be registered under Section 67 of the 2005 National Heritage Act.
The news triggered strong reactions from Indonesian lawmakers, as well as some of the country’s Twitter users, using the hashtag TorTorPunyaIndonesia (Tortor belongs to Indonesia) to express their outrage. (asa)