Hindu-Malay culture?

Update: Now it turns out that the controversial snippet wasn’t a television ad after all, but a promotional clip from Discovery Channel used in the promotion of the series Enigmatic Malaysia. In saying this the Jakarta Globe contradicts the Antara article it carried earlier (bottom of this posting):

Indonesia Internet Furor Fizzles as Discovery Channel Admits Pendet Mistake

A firestorm of Internet outrage over the alleged Malaysian theft of a Balinese dance turned out to be mostly smoke on Monday, after the Discovery Channel admitted responsibility for the TV ad featuring the dance.

“Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific regrets that the image of a Balinese dancer, sourced from an independent third party, was used in the promotion of the series Enigmatic Malaysia,” the network said in a statement. “The promotional clip has been removed from all feeds.”

News stories had reported that the image of a traditional Balinese pendet dancer was used in an official Malaysia tourism ad. The stories revived longstanding antagonism between the two countries over the heritage of traditional songs and dances, and provoked a furor on Twitter and Facebook.

“The Balinese dancer was not featured in any way in the programme,” the statement continues. “Discovery has the deepest respect for the traditions, cultures, and practices of all races and nations, and it is not our intention to cause any misunderstanding or distress to any party.” (more).

Unspun’s curious how these series work. Does the Malaysian Touism Ministry pay them to do these series, a bit like the indirectly pid for supplements you see in the newspapers? Or does Discovery do this on their own steam? If it is the former, does someone at the Ministry need to sign off on it? If the latter what does this say of Discovery, that’s supposed to be an expert on things cultural all over?

The post earlier:

“How in the world,” asked a colleague of Unspun over lunch, “can the Malaysians be so ignorant or brazen as to pass off the Balinese pendet dance as something Malaysian?”

She was referring to the latest broughaha surrounding Malaysia’s appropriation of things traditionally and culturally Indonesian to be its own. And advertisement shot for the “Visit Malaysia Year” advertisement which not only contained a shot of the pendet dance but also two well known Indonesian artistes dancing it.

“I can understand if they take something Sumatran or Javanese and pass them off as Malaysian. Culturally, at least they are closer. But the pendet dance from a Hindu culture? How can that happen?” she asked.

Unspun, who’s chronicled Malaysia’s used of Rasa Sayang and Reog Pornorogo could only explain that Malaysians have a very warped world of what’s Malay and what’s not. Unlike in Indonesia where ethnic groups are taken for what they are and people are educated about the differences, Malaysians have been brainwashed into thinking that they have three main cultures: Chinese, Indian and, if you’re not one of them and is not an aboriginal, Malay.  Their world view is so warped that until this day most Malaysians think that most Indonesians, apart from the minority Chinese,  are Malays.

This is, of course, ridiculous to the extreme to Indonesians but there you have it. It’s a Matrix like reality, or unreality in Malaysia. How ridiculous is this notion? Perhaps a video of the Pendet Dance, posted by Niddu will make it clear:

via The Jakarta Globe.

Balinese Artists Protest Malaysian Tourism Ad

Denpasar. Dozens of Balinese artists staged a demonstration on Saturday to protest against a Malaysian tourism advertisement suggesting the Balinese pendet dance was part of indigenous Malaysian culture.

The artists gathered in front of Denpasar’s Cultural Park, with Wayan Dibia of the Indonesian Institute of Arts leading the rally.

During the demonstration, he presented a written statement expressing the artists’ frustrations to Ida Ayu Agung Mas, a member of the Regional Representatives Council (DPD).

The dance is part of a welcome ritual performed by women in Balinese traditional costumes, but appeared in a “Visit Malaysia Year” advertisement. Dibia said the dance was a part of the cultural heritage of the Balinese.

“Based upon our observations, the dancers shown in the Malaysian ad were in fact two graduates from the Indonesian Institute of Arts in Denpasar, named Lusia and Wiwik. The footage was taken two or three years ago,” he said.

Dibia called on the government to make an inventory of artistic products and patent them so that they would not be easily claimed by other countries.

“The pendet dance is part of our cultural heritage that shows artistic values and cultural symbols exclusively part of Hindu-Bali cultural traditions,” he said.

Ida Ayu Agung Mas, meanwhile, expressed deep concern over the Malaysian advertisement. “As a people’s representative I support the protest and will immediately notify the Malaysian government about the case,” he said.


26 thoughts on “Hindu-Malay culture?

Add yours

  1. I always wonder why the immigrants from Indonesia who become citizens of malaysia are called “Malays” instead of “Indonesians”, like the Chinese or Indians. Both the latters are named after their countries of origin. Confuse.


  2. I’m curious about the origin of such series, too. The National Geographic Channel is running a multi-part series about Korea that just happens to have the name of Korea’s latest tourism campaign, and Discovery has its “Hip Korea” series.

    Also, I’ve seen at least two different mini-series on the history of Singapore between the two channels. Coincidence … or cheddar?


  3. Malaysia always claim that indonesia’s culture they claim were brought by Indonesians many years ago. It is ridiculous. There are more balinese in Jakarta than in the rest of the world..ask any given jakartan, is pendet was then originated from Jakarta?

    Malaysia once said that Angklung and Reog was invented in Johor. WTF


  4. Unspun, I agree your view on Malays World …

    Our position on your cultural heritage is firm and clear…

    We are “Saudara Serumpun”, so we have right to promote other cultural from Nusantara in our tourism activities … please note that Malaysia is a part of Nusantara and also Malay world …

    Yours are ours …… So, Don’t be angry if we still continue to promote yours as ours in our tourism promotions and activities (not only in Malaysia, but also in the international event) …


    1. Would Malaysia join and be the part of 34th province of Indonesia???
      So, Malaysia can claim and make any advertisement about all Indonesia culture for free…

      Shame on you….
      Be creative….make your dance, not just use other nation dance to promote your country


    2. You are absolutely right, we are “saudara serumpun” no doubt about it, you are our “adik”, you may use whatever your “abang” has, and to be fair ” Malaysia truly Asia” is totally wrong, do you really believe only Indians, Chinese and Malays living in Asia? The right caption should be “Malaysia truly Indonesia” since we are “saudara serumpun” right? Let’s promote each other.


    3. Dear Kelantanese…
      Malyasia doesn’t need to promote our cultural and tourism, we don’t need it. Ever since Malaysia have no utmost goodfaith.
      learning from the hot issues on the past, that Malaysia claims ( read : stole ) many of Indonesia’s cultures, arts, and so on.
      So no wonder if we doubt your intetion. Please understand it.


    4. Kelantanese, you make me gemes 🙂

      forget the old fashioned slogan: saudara serumpun, we are not gonna buying it anymore. Bali is not Malaysia, just because you have Indonesian blood, it doesn’t mean you can not claim our belonging.

      leave our culture alone, ok?


      1. malaysia indonesia brunei southern thailand were in one big kingdom southeast asia. years after and before, there wre many small kingdom formed then broke and combined. from hindu converted to buddhist and remain hinduism as the main culture and now majority of them are now muslim. i’m not interested in explaining the details. do your homework. colonialism has separated these brothers and sisters. dear malaysian chinese and indian, no showing hatred, just for your understanding. in indonesia you wont be grouped as the pribumi the same label as bumiputera in malaysia. not showing hatred again, in thailand, the malay cultured assimilated so much in their community until they claim its Thai culture when the fact Tai (not Thai) is people from southern china migrate to Siam. they seized many malay states in the south including hatyai phuket and krabi.


  5. Would Malaysia join and be the part of 34th province of Indonesia???
    So, Malaysia can claim and make any advertisement about all Indonesia culture for free…


  6. My observation: it is very easy to troll Indonesians. Just allege that Malaysia steal a particular cultural item, then Indonesians will quickly, furiously, without rechecking and cross checking the news, will be angry and shout “Crush Malaysia.”

    It is kind of sad, actually.


    1. maybe that’s sad but this one below is pathetic:

      “We are “Saudara Serumpun”, so we have right to promote other cultural from Nusantara in our tourism activities … please note that Malaysia is a part of Nusantara and also Malay world …

      Yours are ours …… So, Don’t be angry if we still continue to promote yours as ours in our tourism promotions and activities (not only in Malaysia, but also in the international event) …”


  7. i’m not a malaysian or indonesian, but i work in tv and just wanted to say that programs are either produced by the network or bought, produced by third party producers. you can see which is which by paying attention to the credit roll at the end of the program.

    what i’m shocked about in this whole issue is how could somebody mistake a program promotional clip for a tourism advert? i mean isn’t it quite obvious? the promotional clip will have information about what time to catch the program right??

    also, i’m shocked that such action was taken by the government without first clarifying properly if that was indeed a tourism advert or not. they could have written to discovery first?


    1. if u’re so shocked then clearly u don’t understand the whole story about what happened between these so called “serumpun” nations 😉


      1. quicksand,

        why don’t you explain to blah? I’m curious as well. I think statements like this won’t help anyone anyway.

        I think its rather tricky to say who owns what. If batik is owned by the Javanese should we say those that has migrated should not practice it anymore? So in a way both countries would be free to promote it in my opinion after all its owned by Javanese not Malaysia or Indonesia.

        Consultation between the government which I think is lacking now since there are so many simmilarities we should expect to be more cooperative with each other.


        I think its a little to late to explain. For most part of it the prosecution has already happened.

        This piece of news where Discovery has owned up to the mistake have only briefly made it to other propular websites like Detik or liputan 6.

        Even MetroTv already reported that Malaysia has claimed tari pendet as theirs

        Of course once it goes TV its a little to late to retract and of course damage control is almost impossible:-


        “The government should use a political means. It can exert diplomatic pressures such as withdrawing its ambassador from Malaysia or asking the Malaysian ambassador to leave the country,”


        I honestly feel it was error in judgement to include tarian pendet by discovery network and there is no ill intent. Like Hning said Tari Pendet is a form of prayer. Anything cultural has a really hard time surviving in Malaysia. First the MTV generation has gotten people less interested (especially the youngsters) secondly if even Malaysia were to claim Tari Pendet it would likely extint as the Muslims which makes the majority would not want to practise it due it being a form of Hindu prayer. Heck even Yoga has had a hard time here trying to explain itself to religous authority which I must say is quite ridiculous at times (google it or click Hning’s link)

        On another note I must say the Indonesian culture is large in number and variety in comparative to Malaysia as a whole (maybe even bigger than any other of it south east asia neighbours). Of course there are simmilarities as majority of Malaysians would likely have family ties to Indonesia, I think if you’re a 30 year old Malay adult in Malaysia you’re likely the 3rd, 4th generation Malaysian whose had great-granparents migrated from Indonesia.

        There were some mention of a joint tourism promo between the 2 country which I think is a good idea,in fact the governments in south east asia should pool its resources and promote the region.

        I seriously believe though its in Indonesia’s favour to promote its culture more widely it would have make better tourism prospect in comparative to Malaysia even Thailand and Singapore. If it feels strongly it shold also start to register officialy its cultural heritage now rather than later.


  8. @Kelantanese: too bad Indonesia doesn’t need Malaysia to promote its cultures. Really shame on you.

    I myself always trying to be patience since Ambalat, Reog, Angklung etc… but now I can’t take it anymore. Go to hell malaysia!


  9. @ical: exactly, Indonesia is in a really good position to promote itself, I rate it as having the best propect in the region. of course it does not need anyone else. My question to you now though do you think Menbudpar is doing enough?

    @agha: I think for the best interest of the discussion suggesting anyone being a 34th state is not exactly healthy or sane. For goodness sake with a modern peaceful society why are you even suggesting so?


  10. @plainwords: I think Menbudpar was doing (at least trying) his best. The number of tourists are increasing even in current recession. But off course “enough” is never really enough. We need more and more efforts.

    My poin is whether or not Menbudpar conducts enough promotion, it’s nothing to do with this problem.


  11. Am severely disappointed by Discovery Channel. If Bali is one of world’s top holiday destination, how come the very-much-culture-conscious discovery channel mistakenly put pendet dance for Enigmatic Malaysia? Shall we question what other information that they have been airing in their other programs? With such a big name, Discovery Channel should have checked and rechecked things before they make sure a promotional clip of a program is on air. What has been done is very amateurish indeed.

    Good that both the malaysian production house and discovery channel have asked for an apology. And also good that President of Indonesia has made a statement about this issue in particular and other cultural issues with Malaysia in general. Aparently the mass rage in twitter and facebook can move something too.

    Indonesian bloggers/ twitter users should put more emphasis in promoting Indonesia too. And, it should be in English, so that the world can read. Of course it is always good to write critics for Indonesia’s own good, but should be balanced out with good things too, simply because there are good things about the country that is worth to share.

    Last but not least, I personally do not believe in “saudara serumpun” that can be a justification of the claiming. I am tempted to think and say that it is just an excuse, but if I am being more positive, I think it is just a mere lack of cultural awareness from Malaysia side. Indonesia’s education system is pretty heavy on cultural awareness. We have to know what dance from which area in Indonesia and what does the dance mean and why. If I speak to my Malaysian friends, they did not have it this much at school. Many of them even think that jamu is a hocus pocus potion instead of a natural herbal medicine! 🙂


  12. @ical: if an establish organisation such as Discovery channel (not the Malaysian government) could mistaken tari pendet for a Malaysian dance then I don’t think enough is done to raise awareness at all. Plus is this the first time you hear that there will be an exercise to patent such dances? If there is such activity now shouldn’t something as important as this be patented at all?


  13. Malaysian people never claim that traditional Bali dance belong to Malaysia. its just a simple mistake and stirred up by the media that caused the chaos. our media here in indonesia owned by the chinese that has always been the dalang to these all carba marba. reminder: CULTURES DO NOT BELONG TO ANY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD, IT BELONGS TO THE PEOPLE OF THE COMMUNITY. what if pulau jawa is claimed in east and west. one invade by dutch and one by spanish/english. who’s gonna claim whose? open up your mind, read more books.


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