June 28 - A traditional folk dance claimed by Malaysia and Indonesia reignites a row over culture. Masako Iijima reports.
PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Who's the rightful owner of the Tor Tor folk dance -- Malaysia or Indonesia? Moves by Malaysia to promote the dance and a traditional percussion ensemble has reignited a cultural row between the two countries. The Tor Tor is a gentle, slow dance. But the reaction from the Indonesians has been neither. In the resulting protests the Malaysian flag's been burned and stoned hurled at the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta. Indonesians on Sumatra island, just 40 km away from Malaysia, say they have a right to be angry because the Malaysians have laid claim to everything from their textiles to curry. SOUNDBITE: AMIR SIMORANGKIR, NORTH SUMATRA RESIDENT SAYING (Bahasa Indonesia) "Malaysia has claimed Indonesia's art and tradition as theirs many times before and I am not surprised if people get angry with regards to Gordang Sambilan and the Tor Tor dance," But Malaysians argue they are just trying to preserve a culture which is in danger of dying out. SOUNDBITE: RAMLI ABDUL KARIM HASIBUAN, PRESIDENT OF THE MANDAILING ASSOCIATION IN MALAYSIA SAYING (Bahasa Melayu) "Recognizing these two cultures under the act doesn't mean that it is being 'claimed' and owned by Malaysia. What we hope is, through the registration of the cultures, they can be preserved and widely promoted," Government officials on both sides have tried to calm the situation. They say it's a misunderstanding over plans to promote the culture of the Mandailing people who live in both Sumatra and across the narrow Malacca Strait in mainland Malaysia. Masako Iijima, Reuters