Another Indonesia-Malaysia Dispute: Tortor Dance

I disappear a lot do I?

Oh well.

It’s month 4 at the neighbor country. Less than a month left before going back to my homeland, and I can’t wait! Been dreaming a lot about going to the airport, but always wake up before I board the plane. It’s not important. Other than the fact that my subconscious can’t wait to go back.

But never mind.

Anyway, seems like Indonesia and Malaysia got another culture to fight about. This time, it’s Tortor dance. It’s clearly an Indonesian culture from North Sumatra. Tapanuli, to be exact. I heard something about Malaysia wanted to claim it as its own. However, some news stated that it’s just a misunderstanding. Malaysia acknowledged the culture, but not exactly want to claim it.

Which one is the right one?

I don’t know, you can’t really trust the media these days. They tend to twist the stories and make it sounds like one side is right, and the other is wrong, even if the truth said the otherwise.

Aside from the fact that the truth is unclear, both Indonesian and Malaysian people started their fight (again) through social media. I just found out few hours ago that one Malaysian Twitter account got hacked by an Indonesian hacker because the owner said some really awful things about Indonesian people.


It’s another thing to say that one culture is yours, but it’s really uncalled for to mock them. Seriously, both sides act like kids. But as an Indonesian, I know how it feels when you know that it’s an Indonesian culture, yet Malaysian people says it’s theirs.

One thing I remember most is when I was on my Orientation Week at USM, and the Student Buddies were presenting about Malaysian cultures and local clothes. One of the Buddies wore Kebaya, and said that it’s an original Malaysian clothes.

And I’m like, “Say what?”

I’m a pure Javanese, and I KNOW that it’s been an Indonesian culture for centuries. If anything, it should be a Melayu culture, not Malaysian. Since, you know, Malaysia was originally part of Indonesia.

Shocked? Well here’s the simple explanation.

Before the European colonization began, there was a kingdom called Majapahit. In its prime time, the kingdom was so big, it encompassed most of the modern-day Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines, and Southern Thailand. You can read more here.

Now you get why Indonesian and Malaysian people fight a lot, right? We’re practically siblings! As young countries who love their nation a lot, it’s only normal that we love it more than we love ourselves.

All I’m saying is that both need to stop this. Indonesia have to stop acting like they care about your vast cultures, when most of the people don’t really know their own cultural clothes, songs, etc.

And Malaysian need to stop with this “culture-claim” thing they’ve been doing. It’s getting old. Make your own. Oh, and the word “indon”? It’s not nice. Stop it.

One more thing. I still think that Indonesia is the TRUEST ASIA. You better change your tourism slogan, Malaysia.

Sue me.


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7 thoughts on “Another Indonesia-Malaysia Dispute: Tortor Dance

  1. bungbino says:

    I dont even know wat is tortor dance aniway. And everyone here in Malaysia too. Indonesian people may keep it since they want it so bad. And btw dance or cultural things dont belong to any country. It belongs to the people who practice it. And jawa, batak, minang, bugis and other ethnics is all over the south east asia. They existed before Malaysia or Indonesia. So just grow up already.

    • oki654 says:

      Like I said on my blog, “If anything, it should be a Melayu culture, not Malaysian.” See what I meant?

      Besides, any issues (not just cultural issues) between Indonesia and Malaysia are sensitive to both. Both thought its theirs. Something as abstract as culture can’t just be claimed, it belongs to the people and the region it originally came from. And sorry to say dude, I still stand on my argument that Javanese, Batak, or Minang culture are part of Indonesian culture.

      I respect your argument. I am tired of this dispute between the two countries too. But see things from both sides, and you’ll understand what I meant.

      • Isaac Rizard says:

        @oki654: There you say it, ‘I still stand on my argument that Javanese, Batak or Minang culture are part of Indonesian culture’. So do Javanese, Batak or Minang culture, practised by these people in Malaysia, formed part and parcel of Malaysian heritage. The decision by the Malaysian Government to acknowledged the dance and drums of the Mandailing community should be taken as a form of honour instead of being subjected to a thorn in the flesh between Malaysia and Indonesia. Similarly, ‘kebaya’ has always been considered as a Malaysian heritage, regardless of what style it has. ‘Kebaya Nyonya’ has also been a subset of the larger ‘kebaya’ heritage by the Peranakan community in Malaysia and Singapore and it is acknowledged as a heritage in Malaysia.

        The cultural claims between Malaysia and Indonesia have become more and more ridiculous over the years. It has become to such a point that I have personally advocating everyone I know to avoid visiting Indonesia altogether. I have been advocating my family and friends to stop spending tourism money in Indonesia. Besides, what are the things that Indonesia have that we don’t?

        As far as I can remember, Majapahit Empire was subdued by the Malaccan Empire (whose founding father, Parameswara, hailed from Palembang, from a place now we called Indonesia), from which the legendary Princess of Mount Ophir was derived from (Princess of Mount Ophir was a Javanese princess, who fell in love with one of Malaccan’s legendary warrior, Hang Tuah and she was cursed by the Sultan of Malacca for rejecting his hand in union) and the kingdoms in Sumatra have had paid respect to the Malaccan Sultanate before the Malaccan Sultanate was subdued by the Portuguese. In the historical context, Indonesia of today has always been seen as the land of mystics, where historically, has always been intertwined with our own history and culture.

        Sadly, not all Indonesians think that way. And it affects me at personal level so much that I advocating my family and friends to try not to go to Indonesia at all cost, lest the Indonesians might be causing hurt to Malaysians, I am beginning to see my Indonesian colleague in my office as an opportunist, all she care about is about making money (she’s the floor manager and her husband, an Indonesian man, runs a renovation business in all over Peninsular Malaysia).

        I have a personal friend from Acheh, Indonesia, who is one of the nicest person I’ve known. His wife is also a personal friend of mine and they are no different from us, Malaysian Malays. But the spat that occurs between the two countries can potentially do more harm than good and I can only advocate the isolation of Indonesian matters at personal level, i.e. no more Indonesian friends, no more Indonesian television series on Malaysia’s own national TV, no Indonesian trip, basically reduce any ties with the Indonesians, short of diplomatic and political shutdown. To see our embassy being pelted with stones, smashed and broken down, our flag burnt, these scenes are just too much for a patriotic Malaysian to bear.

      • oki654 says:

        After reading your comment, I somehow feel that reading the media is not a good idea after all. I agree that cultural disputes between Indonesia and Malaysia has been getting worse and worse over the years. Maybe that’s why I don’t really read all the news, since there may be some facts twisted along the way. Who knows, behind all this Indonesian and Malaysian fights on social medias or the internet, the two governments actually just laugh and have some tea because the fights gets ridiculous every time.

        I do agree that both Indonesia and Malaysia shared the same history, as I have explained on my blogpost. I kept thinking if the colonization period didn’t occur, this dispute won’t happen. Sadly, history didn’t go so well and the two countries are colonized by different nations.

        The way you describe your personal relations with some Indonesians clearly shows that not all Indonesians are bad, and I respect you for not saying any “indon” word at all, despite the fact that you have some personal disappointment to some Indonesians. At least I can thank you for that. I am also sorry that you got some bad experiences with some Indonesians, and I can assure you, not all Indonesians are like that.

        Before I decided to go to Malaysia to be an exchange student, I used to have some personal disappointment over Malaysians. It’s not only once or twice that I heard a story from my fellow Indonesians where they got stared and mocked while they’re at Kuala Lumpur, even though at that time, the condition of the two countries were okay, if I may say. However, during my stay here at Penang, I realize that not all Malaysians are like that. Not even once, I get that kind of treatment from Malaysians. Even my own lecturer (he’s a Malaysian, of course) think that Indonesia is a fascinating country, and he visits it quite often, for educational matters or some pleasure. I also have some fellow students in my home university. They’re Malaysians studying in Indonesia, and they don’t get different treatment from their friends.

        Here I thought it’s a matter of perspective, whether you’ve seen things from both sides or not. And luckily, I have the chance to do so. I hope you get the same chance as I do and won’t get any other disappointments in the future 🙂

  2. You have noted very interesting points! ps decent website.

  3. Edenira says:

    i truly admire the work you are doing. i follow your articles and love what you have to say. you’ve already made a difference.

  4. Thad Pelczar says:

    You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

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