Bali Dance Row Rumbles on as Malaysia Summons Indonesia Envoy

KUALA LUMPUR ~ Malaysia said it had summoned Indonesia’s ambassador to express “grave concern” over angry protests triggered by accusations of cultural theft.

The dispute started in Indonesia in August after erroneous reports emerged that Malaysia had screened tourism advertisements featuring Bali’s traditional pendet dance.

The ad was actually a botched promotion for a Discovery Channel programme on Malaysia but protesters vowing to “crush Malaysia” have nevertheless burned Malaysian flags and thrown rotten eggs at the country’s embassy in Jakarta.

“Malaysia expresses grave concern on the actions of certain quarters in the Republic of Indonesia which are intended to spark conflicts between the peoples of Malaysia and Indonesia,” the foreign ministry said late Wednesday.

It urged the Indonesian government to take steps to ensure the wellbeing of Malaysians there, “as well as to ensure that such aggressive actions of certain extremists in Indonesia are curtailed immediately.”

It said in a statement that Foreign Minister Anifah Aman summoned Indonesia’s ambassador to Malaysia Dai Bachtiar on Wednesday to express Malaysia’s views on the “deterioration of the bilateral relations.”

Ties between the two countries are regularly punctuated by rows, over cultural issues as well as the welfare of Indonesian labourers and maids working in Malaysia.

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