Carolyn Hong – Straits Times
Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia has summoned Indonesia’s acting ambassador Mulya Wirana to the Foreign Ministry today to express its concern over attacks on the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta following a dispute on the origins of a traditional dance.
Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said in a statement that Malaysia could not accept the aggression against Malaysian interests in Indonesia and the provocative comments made by several Indonesian parties.
He said the embassy in Jakarta has sent two diplomatic notes protesting against a violent demonstration at the Malaysian Embassy and a student hall last Friday. The protesters were said to be from Pemuda Pancasila, a nationalistic youth group.
Datuk Seri Anifah also noted that a member of the Indonesian Parliament had made “provocative comments” in a program
called Neo Democrazy on MetroTV last Thursday.
“It is deeply regretted that the wild actions and provocative comments arose from misunderstandings over our plans to preserve the culture of the Mandailing in Malaysia who originated from Sumatra,” he said.
Anifah said Malaysia did not suggest that the culture originated from the country.
Last Friday, Malaysia summoned Singapore’s high commissioner after three Kuala Lumpur-based Singaporean diplomats allegedly took part in a big rally on electoral reform in April.
Some Indonesians have accused Malaysians of taking credit for the Tor-tor dance and the gordang sambilan (nine drums), traditional arts of the Mandailing.
Earlier this month, Malaysia’s Information, Culture and Communications minister Rais Yatim met the local Mandailing association. They asked that their culture be recognized, and Datuk Seri Rais said the dance and drum may be registered as part of Malaysia’s national heritage.
Last Thursday, about 50 Indonesians gathered outside the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta and reportedly torched the Malaysian flag and threw eggs into the compound.
They also attacked a security guard at another building in Jakarta, a student hall called Wisma Malaysia, and hurled stones and sticks.
Anifah said a security official of the Malaysian Embassy — an Indonesian — was injured.
Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said attacks against Malaysian interests in Jakarta appeared to be seasonal, The Star newspaper reported.
Meanwhile, the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said he “cannot accept the incident,” although he was of Mandailing descent.
In the past, Malaysia and Indonesia have tussled over who owns the folk song Rasa Sayang, the traditional textile batik and the wayang kulit (shadow play) performance.
Indonesia’s Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring appeared to agree with Anifah that this was another misunderstanding.
“There’re always problems between neighbors,” he was quoted as saying on Saturday by Antara news agency. “We could not possibly have a problem with Nigeria, as it is very far away. But as we’re neighboring with Malaysia, problems can appear any time.”
Reprinted courtesy of Straits Times