Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Maintaining Cultural Products



I believe that every country in the world has specific cultural products such as Traditional Dances, Songs, Dress etc. that should always be maintained.

In recent years, Indonesia has been protesting against the frequent use of it's Traditional Songs, Dances, Batik, Keris, etc. by Malaysia in their tourist promotion campaigns in international TV stations.
The latest one being the protest made by President Susilo Bambang Yudoyono against the use of Balinese Pendet Dance by Malaysia in their Tourist promotion in Discovery Channel.

In order to understand what is actually happening, I will provide a bird's eye view about Indonesia & Malaysia as follows :

Indonesia, 240 million people consisting of more than 300 ethnics living in more than 13,000 islands, has a lot of cultural products. But, considering the collective characteristics of its people, many of traditional songs, dances, puppets, etc. were regarded as collective proprietary of the society and many of their creators were unknown.
Malaysia, 28 million people consisting of Malays(53%), Chinese(26%), Indians(7%) and others, has also mixed cultures. Many of the Malay originated from various islands in Indonesia, i.e. Sumatera, Sulawesi, Java, Bali etc. who bring their culture with them when they migrate to Malaysia. As a result, their language is similar to Indonesian language, their cultures are quite the same e.g. Batik, Songs etc. and their food is quite the same i.e. Rendang, Curry, Laksa etc.

Last night, the Minister of Culture & Tourism told MetroTV that Malaysia has violated Indonesia’s right on those specific cultural products. He said that Malaysia must respect Indonesia’s ownership of those cultural products because they belong to specific regions in Indonesia, like Pendet Dance is a holy dance in Bali, Wayang puppet show in Java.
At the same TV show, Rheinald Kasali said that Malaysia was able to do that because Indonesia has not maintained and protect those cultural products. As an example he said that Malaysia has conducted 6 seminars about Batik showing that many countries have their own Batik. He also said that our government should protect those cultural products i.e. by providing them Legal Protection.
The Minister said that his office is currently making an inventory on cultural products that should be protected, and will obtain Legal Protection for them with the Department of Law & Justice.

They both agreed that Indonesia’s current budget for Tourist Promotion i.e US$ 15 million is very low compared to Malaysia’s US$ 50 million and Singapore’s US$ 60 million has caused Indonesia only able to get around 6 million foreign tourists compared to Malaysia’s 20 million. The Minister said that the budget shall be increased every year.

In reaction to the above protests, Malaysia's Interim Charge d'Affair in Jakarta said that Malaysia never intend to claim the Pendet Dance as their own.
Further, the Discovery Channel has stopped showing Malaysia's said promotional film.

For details on the above, please click here, here, here, here , here, here, here and here.

Considering the above, I felt that the use of Indonesia's cultural products by Malaysia can happen because we have not maintained them properly, this can be seen from the fact that we do not know the writers/creators of many traditional Songs, Dances, Plays, etc. Due to which fact, the government must take a leading role in maintaining ownership i.e. by finding out who are their writers/creators, and promoting them continuously in Indonesia and abroad.

Photo: Courtesy of Detik.

14 comments:

Rob Baiton said...

Hasn't this been settled? Didn't Discovery Channel admit that they made a mistake in choosing the dance that they did?

So, if that is the case then the error is not with Malaysia. And, in this instance Malaysia was not trying to steal anything.

Harry Nizam H. said...

Hi Rob ...
The protest is still going on,
every day TV stations are showing discussions specially about this.
Unfortunately, many speakers only blamed Malaysia without considering the fact that we can also be blamed for not taking good care of those cultural products.

Dila said...

I just couldn't understand why Malaysia put Tari Pendet in their tourist promotion campaign. The dance is not related to Malay culture at all. I hope that the Government could take more serious steps in both protecting and promoting Indonesian culture from now on.

Harry Nizam H. said...

Dila ...
Thank you for your comment.
I can't understand either. Let's hope that the government will boost promotion of our specific Cultural Products so that the world would know that they are ours, and provide them with legal protection.

Fitrahnsyah said...

Hi all,..Malaysia,i can't understand too,..isn't it weird that they government didn't know the progres?The Hotnews,the protest?Seems like under estimate to Indonesia,..from Ambalat island,batik,reog,etc..and now pendet dance.I found the group community on facebook,called "WE HATE MALAYSIA !",..Its not Malaysia,its Malingsia,..not a rasism,but Nasionalism,thats the community statement.

Harry Nizam H. said...

Fitrahnsyah ...
I understand your anger, we are all sad with the incidents. Let us cool down and think clearly so we can find a good solution.

Tricia said...

I don't think the traditional music should be exploited for commercial use.

Harry Nizam H. said...

Tricia ...
I agree with you

zein said...

i'm support with our culture...

Harry Nizam H. said...

Zein ...
Yes our culture really need our support

prophet666 said...

traditional and ethnic identities should be respected by everyone voilence is bad for everyone

Harry Nizam H. said...

Prophet666 ...
You are right my friend, especially between neighbouring countries

Fitrahnsyah said...

Hi Harry,..
i'm waiting for your next post,just another case from our neighbourhood country,the Hot news between Lokananta and Malaysian antheme,..just another case,...Here we go again,..:)

Harry Nizam H. said...

Fitrahnsyah ...
Thank you for your attention,
it really means a lot to me.
Still collecting information for my next post.