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Diplomatic dance: Indonesia demands explanation

June 20, 2012

Indonesians are angry at claims that the Tor-Tor and Gordang Sambilan stem from Malaysia.

JAKARTA: The Indonesia government has asked for written explanation from Malaysia regarding the claim that the Tor-Tor dance and Gordang Sambilan music stem from Malaysian cultural heritage.

The request comes after the Indonesian embassy in Malaysia stated on Monday that Malaysia sought to clarify that it did not intend to claim the dance and music among its cultural heritage, calling the situation a “misunderstanding”

“We have communicated with the Malaysian ambassador for Indonesia,” said Education and Culture Deputy Minister Windu Nuryanti on Tuesday.

“They said they did not mean to claim it; they have promised to give a written explanation [Wednesday],” Antara news agency quoted him as saying

Upon the request of Mandailing people, who originate from Northern Sumatra and have lived in Malaysia for hundreds of years, the Malaysian government included the Tor-Tor dance and Gordang Sambilan music in its Law on Cultural Heritage, sparking a swift and angered reaction from Indonesia.

The backlash likely stems from long strained diplomatic tussles over a variety of legal and cultural issues, including contention over the lion dance from Ponorogo, East Java and the song “Rasa Sayange” from Ambon.

But Malaysia said that including the Tor-Tor and Gordang Sambilan into law would actually benefit the Mandailing people, as it would entail the Malaysia government providing funding for its preservation.

Windu said that he would let the Foreign Affairs Ministry handle the case.

“Indonesia’s stance is clear: We demand written [explanation]. After that, we will follow up,” Windu said. “Indonesian culture can be developed anywhere, but the origin should be clear.”


Also read:

M’sia’s claim on Tor-Tor dance angers Indonesia


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