Although the governments of both countries have settled the case amicably i.e. by releasing the arrested persons, however some politicians and social activists in Indonesia were not satisfied and therefore reacted by demonstrating harshly and childishly every day in front of the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta.
This situation reminded me of an article (below) that I once read on the blog of Rima Fauzi, an Indonesian Singer/songwriter living in Brussels, Belgium.
As a people, Indonesians have become more and more hot-headed by the minute. It is actually something to be ashamed of as hot-headedness is one of the typical signs of being uneducated (thus not being able to keep one’s cool).
Not only are we getting more hot-headed, it seems that we are also falling deeper into ignorance. Which is a shame, because there should be no more excuses for one to be stupid and ignorant seeing as there is almost no restriction on the information flow into the country, nor is there a shortage of ways for a person to educate one’s self auto-didactically (by ways of internet, television, books etc).
We have also become a nation that is stubbornly disrespectful to other nations; people who are different to us; and also our own culture. And by our culture I mean our indigenous culture, not the one you see nowadays in Indonesia or Indonesian television which is full of telenovelas, gossip shows and rich people/celebrities sporting their hedonistic lives on national television for everybody to drool over.
The upside of being this way is none, while the downsides are many. By being hot-headed and ignorant, we often miss simple truths and even more often this trait will make it easy for us to be provoked by the smallest of things. The most recent issue that has taken Indonesia like a storm is how our Malay brothers and sisters from Malaysia are “thieves” of our so-called culture.
While it may come as a surprise to some Indonesians, we should all acknowledge that many Malaysians have Indonesian ancestors, whether from Sumatra, Kalimantan or Java. Even the great Malaysian actor/comedian P Ramlee’s ancestry can be traced back to Aceh, where his father is from.
And let’s not forget the Malaysian students who went to Indonesia five or six decades ago to study, many of which ended up marrying Indonesians who they brought back to Malaysia and produced Malaysian-Indonesian off-springs with.
So basically what I’m saying is as it is apparent that Indonesia is made up of people with Chinese/Indian/ Dutch/Portuguese/Arab/Polynasian/Aborigine ancestry, the same goes for Malaysia. The difference is that in addition to the Malay, Chinese and Indian ancestries that the Malaysians have, Indonesian ancestry is also in the mix, hence the many similarities in our foods, clothing materials, music, etc.
Yet we accuse them of stealing this and that, from our culture to our cuisine. While in fact we are both originally Malay people (the race of which people from the northernmost part of Thailand and people from the Philippines also belong to) sharing many of the same culture and cuisine traits that it’s a little absurd (not to mention difficult) to claim which is whose first to be stolen by the other second.
Personally, instead of calling Malaysia thieves, I think we should ‘steal’ something from them. You all know how in the 60s and 70s we were much more progressed and advanced than them that they sent many of their students to study in Indonesia and hired many teachers and lecturers to teach their younger generation in Malaysia. What I don’t get is why it’s the other way around now, six decades later.
We all know Malaysians aren’t perfect and neither are we, but I do salute their determination and ability to turn up trumps, as today it’s us who send our kids to study in Malaysia; it’s us who are less progressed and are less advanced (technology and economy wise), and it’s us who are lagging behind. I think we should learn from them and ‘steal’ their tips and tricks in pulling a 180 from being blah to hurrah!
After the lengthy explanation above on the origins of both nations and all my positive observation about Malaysia, you may:
a. hate me, or
b. think, “Ok, so we share many traits with Malaysia, but it still doesn’t explain them using the Balinese pendet dance, because Unlike Kalimantan, Sumatra and Java, Bali is very specific and unique, that their culture is not found anywhere but Bali.”
For those of you who chose ‘a’ I will advise you to take a number and wait in line. For those who opted ‘b’ Ok, point well taken. But the thing is, the recent debacle over the Pendet dance that we claimed to have been used by the Malaysian government in an advertisement they have made to promote their country, an issue that turned countless Indonesians angry, with our Minister of Tourism hastily sending a letter to his Malaysian counterpart, demanding the ad campaign be removed, is a more complicated than it seemed.
Turns out, the whole thing was a misunderstanding and a BIG mistake on our part. And let me emphasize on the BIG MISTAKE. Apparently out of the 250 million or so people living in the beautiful archipelago we call Indonesia, none of us did our homework thoroughly before blasting bullets to the so-called ‘enemy of the state’ a.k.a, Malaysia because,
- The advertisement wasn’t made by the Malaysian government or anybody in Malaysia,
- The ‘advertisement’ isn’t even an advertisement to promote their country as we have made to believe,
- The ‘advertisement’ was an ad created by the Asian Discovery channel to promote one of their TV shows. The TV station have acknowledged their mistake and apologized for it, after where some embarrassed Indonesians re-directed their anger at, what with Discovery channel being owned by the usual suspects and all (and by usual suspects I mean Americans and Jews – who most Indonesians believe are the evil culprits who monopolize all information flow in the world *yawns* thus are TRUE ‘enemy of the state’ as opposed to Malaysians because at the end of the day, we are all a big beige/brown nation sharing the same culture, language and religion)
Some people went as far as protesting in front of the Malaysian Embassy over their ‘unauthorized use of the Pendet dance’ in their ‘mysterious advertisement’ and a small radical group even performed ‘raids’ on Malaysians on the streets of Jakarta, against stern warnings from the Indonesian Police Force. Why the Indonesian media blew the accusations out of proportion which created havoc but didn’t really publish the truth after they found out (with the exception of The Jakarta Globe), is beyond me.
But as I wrote in one of my older posts, the Indonesian media is as responsible to many of the things happening in our country as the Indonesian people themselves (who are easily provoked by these so-called ‘news’ and then usually go run amok like a drunken bull before getting all their facts and figures straight).
Now as if that’s not embarrassing enough, our resurfaced accusations of Malaysians using one of our folk songs called Terang Bulan and turning it into their National Anthem has really put us in a shit-hole.
Leading Indonesian musician and artist, Remy Sylado, as quoted by The Jakarta Globe, said the so-called Indonesian song “Terang Bulan” (“Moonlight”) was actually an adaptation of “La Rosalie,” which was composed in the 19th century by Pierre-Jean de Beranger of Francey.
Citing a Dutch historical text on national anthems, Sylado said the song became popular in the former French colony of the Seychelles and arrived in the Malay archipelago at the turn of the 20th century, where it was eventually used as the basis for Malaysia’s anthem, “Negaraku” (“My Country”).
With this new finding, Malaysians can easily accuse us as thieves ourselves. The question remains, Who’s the thief now? Who stole what from who? And, Who is the thief first?
Why are we that easy to provoke, especially when it comes to matters of religion and the relationship of Indonesia and Malaysia? Weren’t we at one point ONE people? Why do we keep on blasting Malaysians for ‘stealing’ our cultural heritage but don’t do much to promote it ourselves? Why do we get angry when a country ‘steals’ our cultural heritage but feel at ease about stealing other people’s culture? (This is in relation to the fact that the Indonesian ‘indigenous’ culture is actually heavily influenced by the Chinese, Arabs, Indians, Aborigines, European, Portuguese, other South East Asian countries, etc.)
Now as a person and a member of our nation we must all ask ourselves. Why are we easily provoked?
We should stop this silliness and learn to contain our emotions. Most importantly, true to the saying that those who live in a glass house should not throw stones, we should be aware of our own weaknesses, of the things that we ‘stole’ before accusing other people of ‘stealing’ anything.
Think about it, maybe the truest ‘culture’ we have now is corruption, collusion and nepotism. And that’s not even something to be proud about.