Malaysia steals Indonesia's Tor Tor dance from North Sumatera

Posted by David Khoirul

When I saw on TV that Malaysia claimed Indonesia's Tor Tor dance, it didn't give me much surprise. Many times before this claim, the neighboring country had mentioned a lot of our cultures and traditions -- from foods to songs -- as their own.

The Jakarta Globe writes:

The Mandailing people who migrated from North Sumatra have been living in Malaysia for hundreds of years and they want to perform those dances in Malaysia.

“Mandailing culture is rarely performed in Malaysia, while manyMalaysian citizens are Mandailing descendants,” spokesman of the Indonesian embassy in Malaysia Suryana Sastradiredja said.

At a recent gathering of Mandailing people at the Batu Caves, they requested the danceand music be included in the law.

“If it is recorded in the Cultural Heritage Law, the art and culture will be preserved and practiced and [they] get a budget allocation from the Malaysian government,” Suryana said.

Indonesian people were outraged after hearing about the plan to include the dance and music as part of Malaysia’s cultural heritage.

Head of the Democratic Party faction Nurhayati Ali Assegaf on Monday demanded a special caucus be established to solve the conflict. Another lawmaker from the same party, Ruhut Sitompul, whose family hails from North Sumatra, said Indonesia must use hard diplomacy to defend the country’s cultural heritage.

Meanwhile, according to Indonesian English newspaper The Jakarta Post, the Jiran country, in the past five years, has named and claimed seven products as their former’s national heritage:

Malaysia claimed the masked dance Reog, which originates from Ponorogo, East Java, as part of its national heritage.

The Malaysian government went on to claim the “Rasa Sayange” folksong from Ambon, Maluku, as a traditional Malaysian song in December 2008 and then claimed batik in January 2009 as another part of the Malaysian national heritage.

Windu Suryati, the Education and Culture Deputy Minister, said that in August 2009, a promotional spot for a TV documentary series on Malaysia,which was aired on the cable network Discovery Channel, was shown featuring Pendet Balinese dance. The Malaysian government countered by saying it was included by the company it hired to make the advertisement.

She added that Malaysia had also claimed a Sundanese traditional musical instrument made of bamboo, the angklung , in March 2010.

The top cultural official noted that the neighboring government had also claimed Indonesia’s traditional Adan Krayan rice from Nunukan, East Kalimantan, as Malaysian traditional rice by selling it under the name Bario rice.

The latest incident is the news that Malaysia has planned to include the Tortor dance and the Gordang Sambilan percussion instrument from Mandailing, North Sumatra, in its national heritage.

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