The Great Nusantara Love-Hate Relationship


Issues of race, religion, territory and national pride are understandably sensitive because many people define themselves by their country, culture, race etc.

Hence the current “I hate Malaysia” refrain heard over the Internet, especially in the social networks, are something I could understand.

Why do the Indonesian man-in-the-street hate Malaysia? After all, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore used to constitute Nusantara, didn’t it? Colonisation and of course the  pace of the respective countries’ economic growth set us apart.

Trust people to have a myopic vision, suspicious nature and herd mentality.

Let’s set the record straight now, shall we? Indonesians call us Malingsia – thieving Malaysians. Because we apparently stole their heritage, ill treated their maids working here, and stole their islands.

We stole their heritage? Let’s remember something, this country’s Malay population largely identifies itself by state or race/tribe affiliations. There, take that (arguably) richest Jawa in Malaysia Khir Toyo. Most other fellas I know, invoke their ancestry liberally. Minang, Acheh, (no one wants to claim he’s a Batak though…hmm) Baweyan, Bugis, Bali, Mendahiling, Jawa, Dayak, Sunda…etc.

Well, that is not surprising considering our history. Malaysia is a veritable melting pot anyway; lots of folks turn up on our shores in search of fortunes, for centuries.

Naturally, those who settled here brought their own traditions and influences and as their roots in Malaysia grew deeper, they developed their own artistic styles, mostly derivatives of the old influences.

Hence, to say that Batik is exclusively Indonesian is somewhat incorrect don’t you think? Neither is Batik totally Malaysian, is it? I mean what about the Batik Siam that the southern Thais produce? Solution? Call it Batik Jawa, Batik Kelantan, Batik Sumatera, whatever…to tell them apart. Easy isn’t it? I mean, they are kind of distinct from each other, aren’t they?

As to the maids, I agree that the ill-treatment of maids (Indonesians or any nationality for that matter) is an abhorrent thing. It is a crime and should be prosecuted as such. Of course our justice system being what it is, prosecution is sporadic and the resulting perception is that Malaysian employers as a whole are sadists. Like all generalisations, it’s crap, if you’ll excuse my French.

Manohara? That has been written about to glory, and even I have blogged it. If the dude really hurt her, well, he should pay.

Tari Pendet? For more than three decades I’ve been living in Malaysia, and this is the first I’ve heard of it. I don’t think Malaysians actually passed it off as a Malaysian heritage. Some clueless guy who did a documentary for Discovery Channel, made that boo boo. You know, that’s not so difficult for Westerner to do. After all, some can’t tell the difference between Iran and Iraq, yet others who think all Chinamen look alike. So, to Bali folks, Tari Pendet is yours and you can keep it.Why blame us Malaysians for something we didn’t do?

Ambalat? That’s a disputed territory and let the international mediators and the respective governments sort it out. I read at a defence forum that the supposed boundary lines are blurred and the respective navy blokes were unclear they were getting into Indonesian waters. I don’t know what to believe, I don’t have the full facts.

But maybe after Sipadan and Ligitan, the anger is understandable. People go to war over land, after all. Just look at Palestine-Israel conflict.

Noordin Md Top. Well, if you guys catch him, shoot him will ya? We don’t condone terrorism. He cost people a lot of lives already.

I also think that Malaysian leaders and diplomats could do with some PR gestures. We are neighbours. Doesn’t cost much to be nice and clear the air. We are neighbours, aren’t we?

To the Indonesians, stop being so thin-skinned. That hate campaign on Facebook is a bit much. Do we really want to re-visit Ganyang Malaysia, especially now that the Indonesian economy is surging? Keep a cool head.

Kita kan serumpun…heheh!

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12 thoughts on “The Great Nusantara Love-Hate Relationship

  1. Anu,

    If you are laughing or sniggering at the regional friction among people of the same roots… I would like to point you to India adn Sri LAnka and India and Kashmir and India and Sri Lanka

    apparently they think nothing of killing each other there

    awak tak serumpun ke???

    if you want to take the high road you should not make snide racist remarks

    if not then better get off the high horse, nanti jatuh terantuk kepala

    • Shamsul….you are gravely mistaken. I have read the piece and at no point can I see even a semblance of racism in the post. Anu has put together a carefully argued and constructed post that explains why there should be no conflict in the first place.

      Laughing? Sniggering? Where was this? All I read was a SERIOUS attempt to sieve through this muddle that the two countries seem to be in and which is never ending. All Anu did was point out the similarities and to say that any differences should be accepted and celebrated not fought over.

      As to India and Kashmir (don’t forget Pakistan) and India and Sri Lanka that is a different issue entirely as Anu has pointed out. Obviously it’s a major issue and something to be examined separately. At no point was it said that what’s happening between Malaysia and Indonesia is the sole conflict going on. But that’s the sad thing isn’t it, it’s just one of many (past, present and future). If we can talk rationally about the problems we face perhaps the issues that occur in the future will be reduced considerably.

      Go in peace my fellow Malaysian.

    • Who’s the racist here? Galadriel does not live in India, Sri Lanka or Kashmir (inhabitants of which happen to be serumpun and should not be fighting either).

      She lives in Malaysia. So should she be commenting about Malaysia or India?

      Perhaps you’d like to think that through before accusing people of being racist because more than anything, your comment is showing *you* up as one.

  2. Er…on the contrary Shamsul, I am a citizen of this country. A hate Malaysia campaign on the Indonesian side is not good at all. It is a threat. Further, we are neighbours and share too many commonalities to fight like this.

    Btw, “kita kan serumpun” is a true thing. Memang serumpun kan? can u deny that? I have heard it so many times, said in a unifying spirit. So did I in that post above. You infer i’m being snide just from the “heh heh”. Come on man, in your anger, don’t forget your better self.

    If you hear the things being said about our country, yes yours and my country Malaysia, on facebook and many blogs around, you too would be mad. Yet I chose to be mild with my retort to them.

    And u take offence with one sentence that you misunderstood. Sheesh. Btw tang mana “racist” tu?

    And by the way, what is the relevance in bringing India n Sri Lanka here?
    The Kashmir issue is an issue of seccession, and the Sri Lankan one too, was at one time pointed that way. Those are issues of territory n sovereignty btw.

    To say the whole of India is satu rumpun is laughably wrong.

    And in Sri Lanka, the Tamils and Sinhalese are of different race, language (and script) and even religion.

    Their story is not remotely the same as ours here now, so the parallels you are drawing, are er…lari sikit.

  3. Shamsul – not sure how you picked up the snide and racist vibes from… Anu’s is a fair analysis, IMHO – there is a lot of shared culture in the Nusantara (translated: people of the islands) region – language, culture, art forms, etc. – regionally, and for those angry Indonesians to claim exclusivity is kinda silly. In any case, there has always been a love-hate thing going on here, dating back at least half a century, during the Soekarno days, if not earlier.

    C’mon lah… chill dude 🙂

    The most I would accuse Anu of is being too nice/kind to the “I Hate Malaysia” rhetoric spouters…

  4. Apa kena mamat nih? I have known AR for ages and there is not a single racist bone in her body! Yang hang nak serumpunkan dia India sama Sri Langka tu apahal? Dia kan orang Malaysia?!

    I’ve been working in Indonesia off an on since ’92 and the now the last five years running, I can say that the Javanese are more “racist” than the other islanders…

    All this hate campaign is being initiated in Java… Go figure.

    Tak ada pun “Malingsia” haters from Sumatera!

  5. Sis,

    If there were Sis, I’m not aware of it. By and large, really this “hate Mal” thingy, or “hate” of any kind is largely a Javanese phenomenon.

    All you have to do is look back to the ’98 sordid affair in Indonesia where the Chinese were persecuted. In Medan? Potianak? Acheh? Padang? Ada ke? Nooo…

    It can only happen in that once bastion of Hindu culture. But does that make Hindus racist?

    Futhermore, I’m gravely appalled at recent “Shah Alam” incident. I think if we were to probe a little further, the perps must have the J blood running thru’ their veins. Think Khir Toyo and his ilk and you get the picture.

    Now I’M being racist (without meaning to)… hehee… 🙂

  6. If Anu is a racist, Khir Toyo is a living saint!
    Dont let little ants irritate you Anu. You are so near to our fishing spot and I never see you! Dang girl, get out for some fresh air, will ya?

  7. A tragic yet hilarious court proceeding took place in the Ipoh high court on September 8 when the judge blatantly contradicts himself in dismissing a suit brought by Perak PR speaker against the state BN speaker.

    Judge Azahar rejected Sivakumar suit to seek damages from Ganesan for assault and false imprisonment during the chaotic and violent state assembly sitting on May 7. He said the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case due to Federal Constitution Article 72 stipulating that – the validity of any proceeding in any state assembly cannot be questioned in any court.

    And yet in the same breath he declared that – the decision of the legislative assembly to remove the plaintiff as speaker and to appoint the defendant was conclusive and had been fairly determined by the state assembly on May 7, 2009.

    Now, the crux of the entire contention between the two speakers is: who is on the right side of law in the violent tussle for the speaker chair on May 7?

    By declaring Ganesan as the rightful speaker, Judge Azahar is in fact making a legal judgment. Is that not a breach of Article 72? How come he has no jurisdiction to hear Sivakumar grievances but has jurisdiction to judge Ganesan as legal speaker? Is that not a contradiction of the highest order?

    Apart from this atrocious double standard applied by the judge, the main flaw of the judgment is the inability to differentiate between assembly proceeding and criminal behaviour. What Sivakumar is seeking is redress for the unlawful physical violence inflicted on him. And Article 72 covers only businesses conducted in the assembly – not unlawful and criminal act.

    Judge Azahar has therefore wrongly used Article 72 to come to his judgment. To make it very clear that this is the case, I will quote in full the relevant clauses in Article 72 (Clauses 1 & 2) and explain the reasons why.

    Clause 1: The validity of any proceedings in the Legislative Assembly of any State shall not be questioned in any court.

    Clause 2: No body shall be liable to any proceedings in any court in respect of anything said or vote given by him when taking part in proceedings of the Legislative Assembly of any State or of any committee thereof.

    Note the operative words “proceedings” in Clause 1 and “anything said or any vote given” in Clause 2.

    It is abundantly clear what Article 72 refers to are the speeches and resolutions made in the assembly, not any criminal or unlawful act.

    But what happened on May 7 was complete pandemonium and chaos in the assembly hall. There was no chance to conduct any business at all, least of all any resolution passed. In fact the only business done on that day was the address by the Perak Regent Raja Nazrin Shah.

    And how was Sivakumar replaced by Ganesan during that pandemonium?

    While Sivakumar was sitting in the speaker chair, hordes of police personnel entered the assembly hall, allegedly on Ganesan order, and physically lifted, carried, dragged and moved speaker Sivakumar into a room where he was forcibly detained until the assembly sitting was over.

    And as soon as Sivakumar was removed from the hall, police personnel escorted Ganesan into the hall and ushered him to the speaker chair, with police personnel making a line to stand guard in front of Ganesan to prevent any assemblymen from reaching the speaker chair.

    The entire tragedy-comedy was stage managed by the police, and it is therefore more appropriate to say that while Sivakumar was elected by the assembly through a reolution, Ganesan was physically planted into the speaker chair by the police. And that about sums up what happened on that tragic-hilarious day.

    And since Judge Azahar appears to be so respectful of the constitutional principle of separation of power as demonstrated by his professed adherence to Article 72, is it not puzzling that he should have chosen to ignore completely the heinous violation of the doctrine of separation of power when hordes of police personnel invaded the assembly to physically replace one speaker with another?

    Is it not another shining example of double standard in the Malaysia Boleh tradition?

    After the series of judicial decisions that appear to wantonly trample the constitution and the law following the shameful power grab in Perak, the latest low represented by Azahar decision makes us wonder how much lower our judiciary can sink into, as many more judicial decisions in the same series are still pending.

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