Out of step

The Jakarta Post today carried an opinion piece on the Rasa Sayang brouhha by Unspun‘s alter ego. Some of the thoughts, insights and facts in the article were gathered from the comments of the many Indonesian and Malaysian readers who posted comments here, so a big vote of thanks for your input.

Malaysia, Indonesia out of tune

Ong Hock Chuan, Jakarta

Neighboring and serumpun (from the same root) countries Malaysia and Indonesia have been out of step with each other lately over the traditional song Rasa Sayang.

The song and dance over Rasa Sayang began when the Malaysian government used it as a jingle to promote the country’s tourism.

Indonesians were aghast that a homespun Ambonese song had been appropriated by its neighbor. Some legislators called for the Malaysian government to be sued in the international court for stealing an Indonesian song.

Continue reading “Out of step”

Let’s dance!

First Unspun brought you the Rasa Sayang(e) controversy, now the Indang Sungai Garinggiang Fiasco?

Read on. The Antara article below was contributed by reader firdausj with the saying:

“Keledai-pun nggak mau jatuh jatuh dua kali di lobang yang sama” .. Hahahahaha…..

Read on:

Malaysia Kembali “Bajak” Lagu Daerah Indonesia di Osaka

Tokyo (ANTARA News) – Konsulat Jenderal RI di Osaka melayangkan surat protes kepada Direktur Malaysian Tourism Office di Osaka, menyusul penggunaan kembali lagu daerah Indonesia dalam acara Asia Festival 2007 yang berlangsung di Osaka pada pertengahan Oktober lalu.

Konsul Jenderal RI Pitono Purnomo mengemukakan hal itu kepada Antara di Tokyo, Kamis, ketika dikonfirmasi mengenai aksi “pembajakan” tersebut.

“Kami sudah mengirimkan surat protes kepada pihak Malaysia namun belum ada respon sama sekali dari mereka,” katanya.

Pihak Konsulat juga sudah melakukan koordinasi dengan pejabat Departemen Luar Negeri RI di Jakarta serta petinggi Departemen Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata, termasuk Kuasa Usaha Ad Interim KBRI Kuala Lumpur.

“Surat protes ini penting sebagai peringatan keras terhadap Malaysia agar tidak lagi sembarangan menggunakan lagu-lagu Indonesia. Kejadian ini nanti bisa diartikan negatif, misalnya seperti menantang Indonesia,” ujarnya.

Oleh sebab itu, katanya, pihak konsulat buru-buru mengirimkan surat peringatan agar Malaysia bisa menahan diri agar hubungan kedua bangsa menjadi semakin memburuk. Terlebih kedua negara merupakan tetangga yang dekat.

Continue reading “Let’s dance!”

Malaysian Tourism Minister on Rasa Sayang

Wading into the Rasa Sayang controversy is the Malaysian Minister that every blogger loves – to hate mostly, because of Tengku Adnan‘s infamous comment that all bloggers are liars and unemployed and that 80% of them are women.Unspun thinks that the root of the problem may lie in the different understandings of the word Malay. To the Malaysians, especially the Malaysian Malays, seem to think it refers to a Malay race, as proposed by the German scientist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (see Wikipedia reference here). It is a theory that has been dismissed by anthropologists, continues the Wikipedia entry, but “is still often used in this context, and it is the basis for Malay identity within the Malaysian nation.”

If you go by the first definition then sure, Malaysia has the right to use anything in the Malay Archipelago because it belongs to the Malay race.

If you go by the second definition then, boy, Malaysia can’t even claim to be the king of the mountain of the Malay world. The Melayus of Sumatra especially can claim the right to the throne since it is in their island that Iskandar Zul Karnian (Alexander the Great, how did a Greek get into the picture? It’s all Greek to Unspun) appeared and all floweth from him.

To Indonesians and others, Malay means “the ethnic group located primarily in the Malay peninsula, and parts of Sumatra and Borneo.” In other words the Melayu is a small ethnic group holed up in mainly Sumatra where Indonesians are concerned. And they are a small minority compared to the javanese, the Sundanese, the Bataks and the Ambonese, who seem to be the undisputed source for Rasa Sayang(e).

So here’s a wicked idea to add to the controversy: What if Sumatran Melayus sue the Malaysian government for trying to pass itself off as the Big Swinging Stick of the Malay world? Iskandar, after all, did not see it fit to trample on their earth but Sumatra’s. And who’s got the Melayu River where Iskandar made his debut?

clipped from www.nst.com.my

KUALA LUMPUR: Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor has dismissed an Indonesian legislator’s claim that the song Rasa Sayang belonged solely to Indonesia.

  blog it

Rasa not so sayang?


(Update: Unspun, uncharacteristically, did not go through the papers this morning. It appears that the problem is even more serious as the matter has been brought before parliament. This is an excerpt of a report from The Jakarta Post:

The House on Monday urged an immediate response from the government to Malaysia’s use of the traditional Indonesian song Rasa Sayange in its “Truly Asia” tourism campaign.

House of Representatives member Hakam Naja of the National Mandate Party (PAN) said if the government could prove the song belonged to Indonesia, Indonesia should sue the Malaysian government.

“The government needs to check on its origins, whether it’s from Indonesia or not,” the deputy chairman of House Commission X overseeing education and tourism was quoted as saying by detik.com newsportal.

Rasa Sayange is believed to have originated in Maluku, where it has been sung for generations by people to express their love for the environment. (rst of story here)


Is a cultural flap between serumpun countries Malaysia and Indonesia in the works?

Unspun‘s business partner today told me of a radio broadcast talking about the Rasa Sayang Malaysia site, which is Malaysia’s answer to e-marketing itself to the world.

According to the radio program, the site’s comments section has been closed down because many Indonesians have been writing in to complain of Malaysia’s appropriation of the Rasa Sayang tune to boost its own image.

Ever the skeptic Unspun went to the site and clicked on the “comments” hyperlinked. Nothing happened! This suggests that the radio announcer may be right.

This all set Unspun‘s head spinning about Malaysian culture and how sometimes Malaysia goes so hard to create a culture of its own that the results become ersatz. Consider, for instance, what sometimes happens when Malaysians get an invitation to attend a formal Malaysian occasion: The dress code is usually specified as “Malaysian Batik.” Not just any batik but “Malaysian Batik.

This may work well in other countries but not in Indonesia, home of the batik. The batik here, from Solo, and Pekalongan are exquisite, beautiful and full of history (for more information on Indonesian batik try my friend’s blogsite here. Compare it to the Malaysian batik, and you’d see the difference. Wavy lines that a five year old could have drawn over satiny fabric that’s good for showing off the spare tyres of middle aged men. Amoeba would have more culture.

And it is always an embarrassment when Malaysia culture shows are staged here. What can we show them that they do not have? Wayang Kulit? Satay? (OK, ganted Unspun likes Malaysian satay a lot over Indonesian ones but its hardly a Malaysian invention is it?) A Malaysian minister scolding bloggers goblok? Unspun’s written about it here and here.

But the point here is not to trash Malaysia; rather it is to suggest that it should perhaps find more creative ways of expressing its multi-racial culture that befits a nation 50 years in the making with lots of creative and smart people.

Back to the possible flap on Rasa Sayang. Is the tune Indonesian? Unspun is no authority on musicology and would like to hear from any authoritative persons out there.

This has the hallmarks of an issue that may escalate. If the radio announcer was right then the Malaysian authorities have a task on their hands to manage this issue before it snowballs into a public flap with nationalistic sentiments inflamed on both sides of the straits. Perhaps the Malaysian Tourist Board’s new PR consultant has good advice on how to handle the issue?

(Readers please note: This may shape up to be a emotive issue so let’s all work toward making this a discussion rather than a catfight. It’s OK to express opinions but try to refrain from name calling and emotive language. If you feel someone should o should not do something, say it and say why. Other than that, debate all you want!)