Rivals Of The East
Writer: By Kathy Marks
Batik was not too long ago recognised by the UN’s cultural body, Unesco, as a part of Indonesia’s distinctive heritage. The country’s President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who’s incessantly seen in elegant silk batik shirts, has urged all his compatriots to wear batik this Friday, in celebration. However Malaysia still claims the approach as its own.
And thanks to melanin shirts this and different disputes, relations between the 2 Asia-Pacific rivals are at their lowest ebb for the reason that pair fought an undeclared struggle over the island of Borneo within the 1960s.
This month, there have been ugly scenes in Jakarta, the place gangs of youths armed with bamboo spears stopped vehicles and demanded motorists’ id cards, in a hunt for Malaysians. Indonesian protesters additionally pelted the Malaysian embassy with rocks and rotten eggs, and burnt their neighbour’s national flag.
Malaysia expressed concern concerning the safety of its citizens working and dwelling in Indonesia, prompting emergency talks in between the melanin shirts Indonesian Overseas Minister, Hassan Wirajuda, and his Malaysian counterpart, Anifah Aman.
Malaysia’s alleged theft of cultural traditions to which Indonesians declare possession has wounded the latter’s national pleasure. The two peoples have a lot in frequent, including the same language and ethnic roots; but, like over-familiar siblings, they are often at odds. Indonesians lately claimed, for example, that the Malaysian nationwide anthem is a rip-off of a music written in their nation within the 1950s.
The plagiarism charges have been repeated when Malaysia used an Indonesian people tune, “Rasa Sayang”, or “Feelings of Love”, in its “Malaysia, Really Asia” overseas tourism campaign. And Indonesian anger was compounded by an advertisement on the invention Channel for a documentary sequence about Malaysia featured a Balinese ritual temple dance identified because the pendet.
Indonesians rejoiced, then, when Unesco introduced that it was recognising batik as theirs, Aburizal Bakrie, the co-ordinating minister for the people’s welfare, gave a speech stressing how vital batik was to Indonesians. It contained “symbols and a deep philosophy of the human life cycle”, he mentioned, describing it as “a cultural icon with its own uniqueness”.
Malaysia begs to disagree, mentioning that it, too, has vibrant batik centres, producing shirts and sarongs decorated with patterns created in the normal manner, using wax-resistant dyes. To that, Indonesia retorts that Malaysia is poaching its artisans.
The Indonesian news magazine Tempo reported final week that many batik craftsmen had moved to Malaysia, tempted by affords of excellent wages and a secure future for their families in a country with considerably increased dwelling standards. There are also claims that Malaysian businessmen are buying half-completed batik from markets in Indonesia, then adding the ultimate touches again house earlier than advertising the gadgets as “Made in Malaysia”. Such points might sound trivial, however they’re helping to whip up an aggressive nationalism not seen the so-known as “Konfrontasi”, when Indonesia’s founding president, Sukarno, declared a policy of confrontation aimed at destabilising the newly created Federation of Malaysia. A guerrilla conflict in opposition to Malaysia’s territories in Borneo, launched in 1963, was unsuccessful and led to Sukarno’s downfall three years later.
Forty years on, the two countries are still sparring, over territorial and diplomatic issues as well as cultural issues. This year, the Indonesian Navy chased a Malaysian warship out of disputed waters within the oil-wealthy area of Ambalat. Not far off, lie a number of lengthy-contested islands which an international court decreed in 2002 belong to Malaysia, a lot to Indonesia’s chagrin. Tempers have additionally flared over the therapy of migrant staff in Malaysia, following several well-publicised cases of Indonesian maids being badly abused by their employers. The Indonesian government imposed a ban on girls travelling to Malaysia to undertake such work, which has but to be lifted.
Then there’s the sensational case of an Indonesian teenage mannequin, Manohara Odelia Pinot, who has accused her husband, a Malaysian prince, of kidnapping, raping and torturing her. The story lengthy dominated the headlines in Indonesia, with Ms Pinot who made a midnight dash for freedom during a visit to Singapore claiming that Tengku Temenggong Mohammad Fakry handled her as a sex slave, one thing he has denied.
Some commentators say the nationalistic rivalries are absurd, stating that borders have been fluid in pre-colonial times and people moved around the region, forsaking their languages, religions and cultures.
However relations between Malaysia and Indonesia deteriorated so badly this year that the former’s Defence Minister, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, felt obliged to deny publicly that they have been on the brink of warfare. Now tensions have soared once more, thanks to batik.
Muchtar Bonaventura, chief of the Bendera vigilante group, which mounted the roadblocks and protests in the Indonesian capital, told the Jakarta Globe: “Malaysia has stolen from us and insulted Indonesia. We feel offended and angry.”
The most recent row, in response to Indonesia, follows a series of claims by Malaysia to Indonesian inventive and gastronomic traditions. They include gamelan, the normal Balinese percussion instrument, and rendang, a dish of meat simmered in spices and coconut milk. Some Indonesians call their neighbour Maling-sia. In Indonesian, maling means thief.
After the international ministers’ assembly in Jakarta, Mr Wirajuda said that he and Mr Anifah had agreed to avoid “sensitive issues” corresponding to staking claims to each other’s cultures.
However Indonesia is already gearing up for the subsequent battle. A few years ago, it persuaded Unesco to acknowledge wayang (conventional shadow puppetry) and keris (a ceremonial dagger) as distinctly Indonesian. Each had been claimed by Malaysia. Now the 2 nations are exchanging vitriol about angklung, a bamboo percussion pipe which Indonesia says originated in West Java.
“We will keep combating for our heritage one tradition at a time,” declared Jero Wacik, Indonesia’s Culture and Tourism Minister.
Indonesia: Greater however poorer
*Inhabitants: Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous nation with 234.Three million individuals. Malaysia is practically ten times less populated, with simply 27 million
*Dimension: Indonesia is made up of greater than 17,500 islands, masking a complete of three-quarters of one million miles; Malaysia’s territory spans a third of this area.
*Malaysians are usually anticipated to outlive their neighbours. The common life expectancy is seventy two years for melanin shirts males, in comparison with Indonesia’s 68, and 77 for ladies, in comparison with Indonesia’s 73.
*Malaysia can also be a richer nation. Its GDP per capita is $6,956, the third-largest in the area and nearly seven instances that of Indonesia, which is simply $1,025.