Rasa Sayange

Oct 24th, 2007, in IM Posts, by

Malaysian theft of the "Rasa Sayange" song.

"Rasa Sayange" is a traditional or folk song believed to have come from the eastern Indonesian islands of Maluku, or the Moluccas, whose modern version was first recorded in the 1950's. Following is a recording of it:

However in the latest instalment of the "Truly Asia" advertising campaign the song has been appropriated by the Malaysian Tourism Office in its efforts to portray the country as a multi-cultural, multi-religious paradise, and thereby woo gullible western tourists who don't know any better. Here is the ad:

The new minister for Law and Human Rights, Andi Matalata, says his department is currently examining what legal measures it can take against Malaysia for stealing the song.

Meanwhile the Department of Tourism is said to be "traumatised" by the theft. The minister, Jero Wacik, says the song was first recorded by Lokananta in 1958, however he is sceptical that any legal measures will succeed against Malaysia and simply hopes for some sort of "moral" victory. [1]

There is also a Chinese version:


59 Comments on “Rasa Sayange”

Pages: [1] 2 »

  1. avatar WP says:
    October 24th, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    We must have built up a quite reputation as an annoying neighbor. :)

  2. avatar iamisaid says:
    October 24th, 2007 at 9:02 pm

    So what if Jero Wacik is correct?

    Aside from the Malaysian tribal aborigines (Jakun, Sakai, Negrito ) the Malaysian Malay ethnicity originate from Indonesia.

    The Bugis, the Acehnese, the Javanese, the Minangs, the Bataks, the Riau Malays and so on migrated to what was then known as Malaya. They eventually became Malaysians by nationality. Till this very day there are large communities of these naturalised Malaysians who still practise their culture that is reminiscent of how it is in Indonesia.

    The names of Malaysian Malay cuisine is in fact Indonesian. Nasi Lemak, Lontong, Gado-gado, Rendang, Nasi Lemang, Mee Soto and many, many more dishes are Indonesian.
    Perhaps the only thing food-wise that may be called Malaysian is Goreng Pisang (Banana fritters) and even that could be argued.

    It is said that the Prince of Palembang, Parameswara who later became a Muslim convert was the founder of the state of Malacca before the colonialist arrived.

    The geo-politics was much simpler in those early times. It was even possible for Sultan Mahmud to flee from the Portuguese invasion of Malacca to find refuge and set up his palace on an island nearby Bintan, Riau.

    For crying out loud, at this present times, several of the Malaysian Sultans are of Indonesian origin.

    So what does Jero our hero suggest? That these people came rowing across the seas without a song and a dance for merriment?

    So what if Rasa Sayange is Indonesian?

    Move on Jero Hero !

  3. avatar Janma says:
    October 24th, 2007 at 9:28 pm

    I’m sorry, I had to laugh, but doesn’t anyone find it slightly incongruous that these politicians can get so worked up about stealing a song, yet they can steal and island or two and nobody does anything about it?

  4. avatar iamisaid says:
    October 24th, 2007 at 10:18 pm

    Janma, you’re again spot on!

    That’s the definitive word : incongruous

    And there they go, these politicians, also stealing from the rakyat for a song!

  5. avatar Peter says:
    October 25th, 2007 at 3:32 am

    No offence, but Indonesia needs to get out of its ‘victim’ mindset and stop being such a crybaby.

    It is not Malaysia’s fault, or Australia’s fault, or China’s fault, or America’s fault, or really even Holland’s fault that Indonesia is not where it would like to be in the world today. It is mostly the fault of its own corrupt and inept leaders, who have siphoned off public funds, squandered foreign investment on their cronies, and wasted their time on trifles such as this while the real problems of Indonesia go unaddressed.

  6. avatar Parvita says:
    October 25th, 2007 at 8:17 am

    This is funny. Yet really annoying. And I suppose all Indonesia are bothered by this. It’s not like, “It’s only a song, there are bigger things to talk about”. As an Indonesian, I disagree. It’s is not only a song. They claimed what is not theirs. As simple as that. It is WRONG!

    However in the latest instalment of the “Truly Asia” advertising campaign the song has been appropriated by the Malaysian Tourism Office in its efforts to portray the country as a multi-cultural, multi-religious paradise, and thereby woo gullible western tourists who don’t know any better.

    Malay have nothing diverse when it comes to cultur than Indonesia. We have thousands of different cultures and sub cultures from Aceh to Papua. Malaysia, only Indian, Chinese, and Malay. Malaysia has been really obnixious. Songs, only Malay rooted songs. And of course, Chinese and Indian songs.

    They claim our island, not mentioning giving a hard time to the borderlines in Borneo and across Ambalat, sent Dr. Azhari over here, now a song. A song, which is far from Malayan root: it’s from Maluku, who has NO HISTORY at all being a part of Malay. Not culturally, not geologically, not geographically. And the Prime Ministers comment on Indonesian female blogger on Nila Tanzil’s criticism on Malaysian Tourism, phuh leeese…Malaysia is purely obnixious. Then during Idul Fitri, the ambassador and PMs saying “Maaf Lahir dan Bathin” on TV?

    Jerro Wacik is not doing much for Indonesian Tourism. This is his chance to prove that he is doing something. It is more than just a song. Gosh, Malaysians are obnoxious, and it’s even more stupid if Indonesia cannot do anything about this.

    I’d be mad if somebody claims my creation, i.e. my song, my paintings, etc. Ask Indonesians randomly, taxi drivers, people on the street, your colleagues in the office, they don’t like Malaysia. Sukarno didn’t either and he’s got a point.

    Malaysia, Truly Obnoxious.

  7. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:
    October 25th, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Friend,

    Parvita, as a Muslim woman and Good Indonesian, I think you should be working towards unity of the Malays. The New Mojopahit will have to be united before it can conquer the rest of Asia. And I don’t think it would be good for your assignment as Minister of Mines and Energy to have this kind of bickering with our Malaysian brothers on your resume…

  8. avatar Anita McKay says:
    October 25th, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    The “Truly Asia” has crossed over the Pacific Ocean and reached Scotland. In my blog I complaint that even my husband’s workplace came up with brilliant idea of serving Malaysian Rendang and Malaysian Oxtail Soup in its canteen. Ok, rendang is arguably both Malaysian and Indonesian, but Oxtail Soup??

  9. avatar Sputjam says:
    October 25th, 2007 at 5:35 pm

    Oxtail soup is “sup bontot” in indonesia or “sup ekor” in malaysia.

    There are numerous kampung jawa/kamoung medan/kampung aceh in malaysia. P ramlee is of aceh origin.

    The sultan of selangor and maybe the sultan of pahang is of bugis (maluku) origin. sultan of negeri sembilan is of palembang and still maintain their cultural identity. sultan of perak and johore were remnants of melaka sultanate, which originate from Parameswara, from java.

    2nd PM of malaysia – Tun razak is of bugis decent. 1st PM of malay/Thai, 3rd turk/malay, fourth indian/malay and present PM’s family originate from Hainan muslim community. All claim and embrace the malay culture.

    Malaysia’s tourist promotion is succesful in attracting the arabs by the millions. All rooms during the summer months are fully booked from mid june until mid september. All major hotel counters have arab speaking guest officers and major shopping malls have arabic signs. KLIA have announcements made in four major languages – malay/english/mandarin/arabic.

    despite all these, more non-chinese parents are sending their kids to chinese schools, where they are taught to speak in three languages plus read jawi. Malaysians are getting global in their outlook. It was stated that in 2015, most Malaysian will be trilingual, even better than singapore who are mostly bi-lingual.

    Best for indonesia to follow Malaysia’s footsteps in this direction and embrace globalisation.

  10. avatar Teng says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 12:19 am

    Maybe Indonesia is angry that Malaysia stole this song…. but trust me… there are thousands and thousands of orang Maluku in Holland who will be twice as angry… first that Malaysia “stole” it.. but even more so because Indonesia “stole” it from them.

    This song is still widely popular among the many Moluccans living in the Netherlands and they won’t be too happy knowing Indonesians (in their eyes Javanese) claim this to be their song.

    In my personal opinion I agree with iamisaid and Janma, there are manya many many more pressing issues and Indonesia should really stop playing the victim… its getting really boring really fast

  11. avatar Andrew says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 1:18 am

    Parvita said:

    Malay have nothing diverse when it comes to cultur than Indonesia. We have thousands of different cultures and sub cultures from Aceh to Papua. Malaysia, only Indian, Chinese, and Malay. Malaysia has been really obnixious. Songs, only Malay rooted songs. And of course, Chinese and Indian songs.

    They may have used a song that doesn’t belong to them, but why do they have to be as diverse as Indonesia to claim that they are a multicultural nation?
    And what do you mean by “only Indian, Chinese and Malay” – don’t forget that Sabah & Sarawak also belong to Malaysia, and there are the Dayaks there. And doesn’t the word “Chinese” also means Hokkien, Hakka, Cantonese, etc. that each speaks different dialect? and I’m sure there’s more than one “Indian”.

    Whether or not you want to admit, like Peter said Indonesia often put itself in the victim position. So childish, so insecure, feeling so inferior that a single, minor poke on our arm triggers an overreaction. We’re 60+ year old nation. Why can’t we have a big heart, be mature, be cool and be confident? Even a tiny Singapore doesn’t respect us – and guarantee we’re not going to earn any if we continue to walk down this path.

  12. avatar Anita McKay says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 4:35 am

    Andrew,
    I think most of us actually are upset because our government doesn’t do anything to fix the situation. If only they react correctly and could gain respects from the Malaysian government, we would be sipping kopi luwak and eating pisang goreng without feeling cheated.

    PS: I don’t think it’s only ‘a single, minor poke on our arms’. there have been a lot of pokes, and as a normal human being poking by the person next to us, we start feeling itchy, and want to say “hey, stop poking me!”. Probably with an addition “… or else….”

  13. avatar Dragonwall says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 5:27 am

    Hey guys Look Out, there is going to be another united Genghis Khan of Mojopahit that is about to conquer Asia by an ass. So what is there to talk about. Just Dream.

    Malaysia stole that song? Be more creative Jaco Waco and Andi Matabuta, find something else. Doesn’t it smell fishy? How about having a seat in the Malaysian Parliament or be a Sultan for a day?

    There were so much talk about Malays coming from the north and Dayaks from Borneo as most Pribumis are not orang asli at all. So where they come from. Now everyone is scuttling over the issue that Malaysians were actually Indonesians. Then about food coming from Indonesian. Just because someone speaks almost the same language they are all from Indonesia? The next thing will be that all Dutch were English and all Rusians were actually Czehs. How about Pribumis were not even homo sapiens?

    Everyone seemed to have all forgotten about the migration of Islam from China into Indonesia.
    Look up the map and start tracing the route to come up with an answer yourself and where the roots actually originate from. Indonesians are good at staking claims that aren’t theirs.

    The Malaysians have for decades use the Rasa Sayang tune and just because they were successful in attracting tourists with that song, the Indonesians are having an eye sore. Create a song call Pancasila and make it work!

    One more thing Sputjam.. just FYI. You had earlier said that Singapore had split up with Malaysia was because they refuse to share their state coffer which you claimed to have 400 million? So that you really understand the socio politics of Singapore rather than hearsay.

    This was Muhui Eunice Huang a political student who wrote the thesis’ Singapore.. a reluctant nation’.

    “We, the citizens of Singapore,
    Pledge ourselves as one united people,
    Regardless of race, language or religion
    To build a democratic society,
    Based on justice and equality,
    So as to achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.”

    This was the national pledge of allegiance I had to recite every morning without fail, with my right fist over my heart, ……………..

    http://www.rjc.edu.sg/newrjc/deptsite/links/eeunice.doc

  14. avatar Andrew says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 5:32 am

    I disagree, clearly these are minor compared to a lot of other issues that we choose to turn a blind eye on. It surely is EASY to make a big fuss out of simple issue like this one.

  15. avatar Andrew says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 5:33 am

    Oops, that was for Anita McK

  16. avatar Dragonwall says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 6:52 am

    Like you said P. Ramlee was of Aceh origin and all the likes. They have since renounce their citizenship but I am sure they still remember their roots. The same thing Liem Sioe Liong and all the likes were from China and they have renounce their citizehship they still remember their roots. But the former being able to be taken as Malaysian why can’ the the latter be taken as Indonesians?

  17. avatar Ihaknt says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 6:56 am

    I think most of us actually are upset because our government doesn’t do anything to fix the situation

    They hardly ever do Anita, just about anything.

  18. avatar Arema says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 9:16 am

    dragonwall >> thanks for the excellent article about Singapore =) Inter-everything Harmony is something that has proved to be elusive for Indonesia, and imho is the very basis for national growth. If we and our brothers do not see a common goal and work as individuals, backstabbing each other in the process, how can we expect growth? Not collapsing is an achievement in such a condition.

    There were so much talk about Malays coming from the north and Dayaks from Borneo as most Pribumis are not orang asli at all. So where they come from. Now everyone is scuttling over the issue that Malaysians were actually Indonesians. Then about food coming from Indonesian. Just because someone speaks almost the same language they are all from Indonesia? The next thing will be that all Dutch were English and all Rusians were actually Czehs. How about Pribumis were not even homo sapiens?

    Everyone seemed to have all forgotten about the migration of Islam from China into Indonesia.
    Look up the map and start tracing the route to come up with an answer yourself and where the roots actually originate from. Indonesians are good at staking claims that aren’t theirs.

    Spot on. Indonesians, Malays, and most inhabitants of south-east Asia were originally Chinese, if the history I learned in school is correct.

    About the Rasa Sayange song “theft”, I still agree that Malaysia stole the song somehow… but we shouldn’t be such a sore loser crybaby. Even if we do claim the song back, in whatever manner, what good does it bring to Indonesia?

    Better think of something more useful like preserving and nurturing national and traditional culture that is seriously threatened by Arabs, Mr Jero Wacik.

  19. avatar Parvita says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 4:42 pm

    And what do you mean by “only Indian, Chinese and Malay” – don’t forget that Sabah & Sarawak also belong to Malaysia, and there are the Dayaks there. And doesn’t the word “Chinese” also means Hokkien, Hakka, Cantonese, etc. that each speaks different dialect? and I’m sure there’s more than one “Indian”.

    Indonesia has all that. Read geography before you write.

    Whether or not you want to admit, like Peter said Indonesia often put itself in the victim position.

    Has your thick brain heard the word ‘intellectual right’, or ‘arts right’ or ‘copyright’?

    Next you will hear Kuch Kuch Kotahai, or Ol’ McDonald had a Farm, sung in Malayan rhythm and dialect. And claim that it’s theirs and “Well….Ol’ McDonald has been sung in our country since the British Colony…therefore it is ours, too….”. What victim position.

    Hi Achmad, good to hear your comments again.

  20. avatar Anita McKay says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 5:34 pm

    Andrew:
    100% agree. We’ve got illegal loggings and TKI issues to name a few. What I don’t like is our government never has such pride like all of us here and keep bending over to Malaysian government. The Rasa Sayange song is a minor example, yet it hurts us as a nation, because we love our country and we’re sick to see Malaysian arrogance, yet our government is still doing nothing.

    But, what can I say? I’ve worked with ministry of tourism & culture once and know that the department is run by idiots. It’s hard to comprehend that some of us are more than ready to run and yet there are people who think that “belanda masih jauh”, the laid-back mentality, come to office at 10.30 to read newspaper then off for lunch for 3 hours. No wonder lah we’re beaten all the time by our neighbour, we never use our brain to the maximum capacity. *big sigh*

  21. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    Parvita,

    It wasn’t me, the true Achmad. I feel a growing chemistry between us, you, Parvita, and me, Achmad Sudarsono. I feel it is generated by a meeting of minds, albeit you the junior and me, the senior.

    Merdeka.

    Achmad.

  22. avatar Honza says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 6:45 pm

    This dispute over the ‘ownership’ of the song sounds a bit ridiculous to me. Some of you will strongly disagree with me, I’m sure of it (perhaps claiming it’s not the same and that I’m comparing incomparable), but this is a folk song and as such it got popular even in Malaysia where it found its second home, and no Indonesian can do anything about it whether (s)he likes it or not.
    I understand it makes people upset but wait, should I – as a Czech – be upset about Polka songs which originated in my country and got popular all over Europe, the lyrics got translated to other languages… Polka is part of Czechs’ cultural heritage but as far as I can remember nobody fussed about others using the name ‘polka’ or even claiming some of the songs as a part of their heritage.

    The Malays maybe should have thought twice before choosing this song as a representative of their culture but as I wrote above, they feel it’s become part of their culture already. And since it’s a folk song there is no question about intellectual right property (mentioned in one of the comments above) – simply no such thing can be applied in this case (and, no offence to any Indonesian, I’d be very careful about copyright…)

    Why do Indonesians get so upset about such a trifle? I reckon they should be much more concerned about seeing to their government and local officials do something to improve the overall situation in Indonesia. Since the fall of Soeharto, really nothing much was done, I’m afraid.

  23. avatar Parvita says:
    October 26th, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    Oh Ahmad….as long as you don’t eat me….why am I having visions that you look like Sumanto…:) :) :)

    Just passing an info: invitation, 27th October 2007, 20:30 pm at Tugu Proklamasi, Menteng. Remembering the “Hari Sumpah Pemuda”. Can anybody translate what Sumpah Pemuda is…limited vocabulary here…

  24. avatar marv2000 says:
    October 27th, 2007 at 1:23 am

    An in another news, India accuses China of stealing the Buddhist religion. A spokesman for the Indian council said the Chinese have no shame and should go find their own spiritual leader. The situation became more tense when the Nepalese said that the revered Gautama Buddha was born in what is now modern Nepal and should only belong to them. – Not the CNN

  25. avatar Sputjam says:
    October 27th, 2007 at 2:23 pm

    Arema said -

    Spot on. Indonesians, Malays, and most inhabitants of south-east Asia were originally Chinese, if the history I learned in school is correct.

    You meant originally from mainland asia. As the malays migrate south, the only inhabitants were the first wave of human migration such as the orang asli. So the malays settled from south vietnam (champa) to the islands of indonesia.

    Malay migration stopped at Papua and Flores (or maybe mixed marriages in flores) and did not go onwards to australia.

    As for patent rights, there are time limits. Once the limit is over, you are not obliged to pay patent fees for the products use anymore.

    As to points raised by dragonwall, singapore is to south east asia as hong kong is to china. Even in singapore, the song rasa sayang eh is considered a local folk song.

  26. avatar dewaratugedeanom says:
    October 27th, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    Isn’t there a Malaysian song we can steal for our ‘Visit Indonesia Year 2008′ campaign?

    Don’t get mad, Jero. Get even. Catch them, tiger. Let Majapahit be proud of you. Majapahit will rule again. Merdeka!

  27. avatar Teng says:
    October 27th, 2007 at 4:38 pm

    Can anybody translate what Sumpah Pemuda is”¬¶limited vocabulary here”¬¶

    Youth’s Oath

    The original was actually: “De Eed der Jongeren: een land, een volk, een taal”

  28. avatar marv2000 says:
    October 27th, 2007 at 5:52 pm

    “This dispute over the ‘ownership’ of the song sounds a bit ridiculous to me. Some of you will strongly disagree with me, I’m sure of it (perhaps claiming it’s not the same and that I’m comparing incomparable), but this is a folk song and as such it got popular even in Malaysia where it found its second home, and no Indonesian can do anything about it whether (s)he likes it or not.
    I understand it makes people upset but wait, should I – as a Czech – be upset about Polka songs which originated in my country and got popular all over Europe, the lyrics got translated to other languages”¬¶ Polka is part of Czechs’ cultural heritage but as far as I can remember nobody fussed about others using the name ‘polka’ or even claiming some of the songs as a part of their heritage.”

    It’s was never an issue until some politician opened up his big mouth and damn near start a war. It was a melody that was loved for generations before there existed countries named Malaysia or Indonesia and peopled moved freely between both side of the Melaka Straits. Even Singaporean think of it as theirs (not in the sense of it’s mine, all mine, you can’t have it, bwa-ha-ha). We Malaysian freely admit a lot of forefathers came from all over The Malay Archipelago (a fact that a lot of Indonesian seems to be ignorant of).

    If Malaysian admit that we are originally of Jawa, Madura, Bawean, Ambon, Bugis, Aceh, Riau or any other ethnicities that I cannot recall (am a mix of Jawa +Bugis myself) then the Indonesian are accusing us of stealing from ourself. Does blow your mind.

  29. avatar Peter says:
    October 29th, 2007 at 4:13 am

    Marv200 said:

    If Malaysian admit that we are originally of Jawa, Madura, Bawean, Ambon, Bugis, Aceh, Riau or any other ethnicities that I cannot recall (am a mix of Jawa +Bugis myself) then the Indonesian are accusing us of stealing from ourself. Does blow your mind.

    Good point. Indonesia, just step your game up and stop complaining about such stupid things. For example, many old American patriotic songs are based on tunes from French songs. Yet we claim those songs to be part of our American culture. Do you think France would make such a fuss about us “stealing” their songs? Yeah right, they have actual work to do.

    The only reason why Indonesia has the time to complain about this crap is that it is neglecting the real important issues in its own country. I mean no disrespect here.

    I bet that if Malaysia’s tourism industry wasn’t so much better than Indo’s, people would not be crying about this. Sounds like simple envy to me. Why don’t you guys complain about things that actually matter, such as government corruption, FPI running amok, etc. In fact it seems Indonesian politicians are the “arrogant” ones here, thinking they deserve what Malaysia has, without working for it.

    Just my thoughts.

  30. avatar marv2000 says:
    October 29th, 2007 at 10:01 am

    The way things are, soon the Indonesian are going to going to try to patent the expression a cup of Java and everytime you go to Starbuck you end up paying them royalties.

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