Ministry Asks ‘Why Now?’ To Malaysian Anthem Row

By : webadmin | on 11:57 PM August 30, 2009
Category : Archive

Anita Rachman

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday urged people not to waste their time commenting on claims that Malaysia had stolen its anthem from Indonesia, after a record company based in Solo said the song was suspiciously similar to the Indonesian tune “Terang Bulan.”

“We have never bothered about the Malaysian anthem since the 1960s, so why now?” ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah said.

The deputy head of the mission at the embassy, Amran Mohamed Zain, had little to say when contacted by the Jakarta Globe in a telephone call.

“There is nothing for us to comment on,” he said

Ruktiningsih, the head of record company Lokananta, had said that “Terang Bulan” was a keroncong song that had been written by the Bandung Ensemble and first recorded by Lokananta in March 1956 — before the then-British colony of Malaya became independent on Aug. 31, 1957. The state was incorporated with other colonies to form Malaysia in 1963.

Separately, Musni Umar, a spokesman for the Indonesia-Malaysia Eminent Persons Group, said on Sunday that the group was concerned over the claim about the national anthem.

The spokesman said it was particularly worrying that this latest cultural sensitivity cropped up in the wake of this month’s controversy over the use of the pendet , a Balinese dance, in promoting a television show on Malaysia, although it was eventually revealed that no agency of the Malaysian government had any role in this.

The pendet was featured on the Discovery Channel in an advertisement.

“However, let us not keep this tension high,” Musni said. “If we are willing to think clearly, it is not a big deal that as national peers, we might take something from each other.”

The ministry’s Teuku said that for years, no one in Indonesia had said anything about the origin of the Malaysian anthem being suspicious.

He said people should also be aware that “Terang Bulan” itself might have some similarity in tune to another song from a foreign country.

There have been some arguments that the melody of the song was originally composed by a French lyricist, Pierre-Jean de Beranger.

Faizasyah said that he had not heard of any comment on the issue from the Malaysian government.

“It’s the weekend. I haven’t received any updates,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Culture and Tourism spokesman Turman Siagian said that following the controversy over the pendet dance, the ministry had sent an official letter to Malaysia asking it to stop claiming any cultural properties that had not originated in that country.

“It was an official and strong request and that’s including anything from our cultural heritage, including songs,” he said.

“I hope people understand that the government is trying its best to save our heritage.”

Protests have historically followed several claims of Indonesia’s cultural heritage being appropriated by Malaysia and its people.