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Malaysians across political divide condemn act on embassy in Jakarta

Publication Date : 24-06-2012


Malaysians across the political divide have been united in condemning the attack on the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta in protest against Malaysia's claim that the traditional Tor-tor is a heritage of the country.

Members of Barisan Nasional and Pakatan parties criticised the action of about 50 Indonesians who demonstrated in front of the embassy, torching the Malaysian flag and throwing eggs into the compound.

The group, which attacked a security guard at Malaysia Hall and hurled stones and pieces of wood at the building, was angry that Malaysia was claiming that the Tor-tor (which literally means dance) and the striking of the Gordang Sambilan (nine drums) as part of the national heritage.

According to the group, the dance and the beating of the drums popular among the north Sumatran Mandailing community in Indonesia and in parts of Malaysia were a tradition belonging exclusively to Indonesia.

Barisan and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said that attacks against Malaysian interests in Jakarta appeared to be seasonal and happened each time some Indonesians had an issue with this country.

“Our foreign ministry should send a protest note to Indonesia and seek an assurance on the safety of our embassy staff and property,” he said.

Chor Chee Heung, vice-president of Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), called for decisive action by the Indonesian authorities, noting that similar incidents had occurred in the past.

While the attack would not affect Malaysia-Indonesia ties, he said, Jakarta should deal with this latest incident effectively to prevent a recurrence.

Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali said he could not understand the action of the protesters because Malaysia and Indonesia had a lot in common in their cultural heritage.

People's Justice Party (PKR) secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said he “cannot accept the incident” although he was a descendant of the Mandailing.

“The attack on the embassy cannot be supported, and I condemn it,” he added.

Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) vice-president Salahuddin Ayub said Malaysia and Indonesia should find a way to manage each other's cultural claims.

Indonesia should not allow such an incident to occur every time there is a disagreement over a claim, he said.

Former Information Minister Zainuddin Maidin, who was involved in establishing the Malaysia-Indonesia friendship association of journalists, said he was shocked by the attack.

“This is the act of a narrow-minded group of people who might have been hired to try and create a big issue out of a small matter,” he added.

2007 - Rasa Sayang, batik and wayang kulit
Malaysia-Indonesia tension rose when Indonesian House of Representatives member Hakam Naja called for action to be taken against Malaysia for using the popular folk song Rasa Sayang in its Malaysia, Truly Asia tourism campaign, claiming that it is an Indonesian traditional song. The same politician also accused Malaysia of claiming ownership of batik art and wayang kulit.

2009 - Pendet dispute

Tensions flared again after a television promotion for a documentary on Discovery Channel entitled “Enigmatic Malaysia” featured a clip of the Balinese pendet dance. Some Indonesians alleged that this was an attempt by Malaysia to claim the dance, prompting several protests in Jakarta, including an aggressive demonstration at the Malaysian embassy.

2011 - Border protest

A claim by an Indonesian politician that Malaysia had seized Indonesian land along the Malaysia-Indonesia border in West Kalimantan led to a protest at the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta, where demonstrators hurled rocks and other objects at the embassy building.


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