Suryana Sastradiredja: The embassy’s head of information, social and cultural affairs. (Antara/Aulia Badar)
An official from the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia said Monday that news stating that the neighboring country would include a North Sumatran traditional dance and musical instrument as part of its own national heritage was “a misunderstanding”.
The embassy’s head of information, social and cultural affairs, Suryana Sastradiredja, said in Kuala Lumpur that his office had contacted Malaysia’s Information, Communications and Culture Ministry to clarify the statement.
According to him, the Malaysian officials had denied the accusation that their government had decided to claim North Sumatra’s traditional Tortor dance and musical instrument, the gondang sambilan (nine drums), as being Malaysian.
“Their government is simply mulling a plan to record the origins of the traditional dance and the musical instrument in the national heritage certifications,” Suryana said as quoted by kompas.com.
Earlier, Malaysia’s 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 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 protests.
Commenting on this, Suryana said a group of Mandailing people in Malaysia had requested the Malaysian government acknowledge their culture, including the dance and the instrument, which are seldom performed and played in public.
“Should [Malaysia] register them [Tortor and gondang sambilan], they can be preserved as they will be funded by the government,” said Suryana, adding that, while the Mandailing community was mainly found in North Sumatra, a group of Mandailing people – most of whom trace their origins to Indonesia - also live in Malaysia. (asa)