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.