Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cultural differences

I once wrote about the similarities between Malaysian (especially Malays) and Indonesian which are due to the same roots that both country have (the link can be found here - This is true as much as most Malaysian wouldn't be caught dead being said to be an Indonesian. As most Indonesians who work in Malaysia are maids and hard labourers, Malaysian treat them as such. As Malaysia and Indonesia as a country itself had their own conflict which nearly escalate to full-blown war, thankfully averted, the people seems to do the same.

However, as much as we are the same, I sometimes wonder how history can lead us to be so culturally different. The language, the meaning od the same word and the reference to the same brand but different usage for it. Of course the similarities are there but as we chart our own course, we tend to divert from the same path. Malaysia took the road less familiar by transforming itself from a small country to a country vocal on it's stand (regardless of the people's stands) and Indonesia just trying to survive everyday life as it encompass nearly the whole of South East Asia.

Taste of food, how you order certain food, education, politics and culture. Malaysia and Indonesia once even fight over the song's origin as Malaysia used the song 'Rasa Sayang Eh...' to promote Malaysia in Indonesia. In all actuality, all music history teachers knows that a cord or a tone being changed can turn a melody from being Chinese to Malay to Indian. Like the band Queen once asked in one of it's last song "What are fighting for?".

It's not that bad if you look at it on certain point's but Indonesia is to Malaysia is like Malaysia is to Singapore. One is considered poorer in term of economic reach but the other always hated the other's for it. It is the perfect example of  can't live with them, can't live without them. Truth be told, being neighbouring countries, we depend on each other.


  1. that reminds me of a folklore (unverified gossip, hehe) regarding U-Wei and an interviewer from a european country. the interviewer asks him questions in Malay, and U-Wei answered in English. After a while, the interviewer asked why bother with English, since he too understands Malay. U-Wei said "Awak cakap bahasa Indonesia, bukan bahasa Melayu Malaysia. Next question, please."

  2. Indonesians claims that we stole their culture but in reality a lot of Indonesians long ago migrated to Malaysia while Malaysia was known as Malaya or even way back. Hence a lot of their own songs, dance, culture is assimilated with our own mix of way of life. There was never any stealing, just an assimilated rich culture evolve that is known to us Malaysians.