What unique of Indonesia and Malaysia conflict is that it happened not in the governmental level but mostly in the grass root level. I saw that even though Malaysia did mistake in the tourism advertisement, Indonesian people sentiment to Malaysian, which I am sure has grown since its independence, contribute a lot in these two countries dynamics. I do regret to see many Indonesian people so emotional to deal with this problem. They are taking for granted what the media told them and acting like all the Malaysian is just the same group of people who would like to claim Indonesian culture.
What get me frustrated is that even among my fellow university students, this sentiment is so significant. This week, Gadjah Mada University celebrates its anniversary by holding GamaFest 2009 in Graha Sabha. This is a weeklong event of traditional food festival, educational festival, culinary festival, UKM exhibition, Gelanggang Expo and World Peace concert to celebrate Dies Natalies of the campus. Yesterday is the time for International Food Festival. There were so many traditional foods from many countries all over the world such as Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, France, Japan, and many others. What shocked me is not the huge masses of people flooding this stands and fight over the food, instead, I was shocked by what these people doing to avoid Malaysian stands! Most of them said “oh, it’s Malaysia. I don’t want it.” It really makes no sense of what they are doing. These Malaysian students are like others international students, also part of this University, coming to celebrate the anniversary together and cooking you their traditional food which probably you never taste before. So what’s wrong?
What shocked me in the second place is during the Gelanggang Expo. This is the stage to introduce student activities communities within the university to the new students. In addition, there are other performances from guest stars and international students representing their countries such as Netherlands, Japan, Korea, Iran, Africa and Malaysia. All the audiences give applause and warm responses when representation from Netherlands and Japan performs. However, they are like iced when the turn for Malaysian performance come in. There are no crowd claps of hands and smiling face enjoying the performance. There are only “boo” voices and grumbling when a couple of students dancing Malaysian dance. Small number of students including me trying to appreciate by clapping hand and paying attention to what they are performing. But I do understand the dancer look a bit nervous and it makes me feel a little bit guilty. What attracted me is that this Malaysian performance is consisted of two dances, first is Malayan dances and second is Indian dances, reflecting their strong ethnic separation there. Surprisingly, the audience only “boo” to the first dancer but give a standing ovation to the Indian dances! I think some of them don’t even know that they are still the same country Malaysia. And importantly, the audience show more sentiment to Malaysian than to Dutch who has colonize this country for three and a half century!
Well, after all, this gamafest teach me that there are strong sentiment toward Malaysia among Indonesian people, these people don’t understand and not trying o understand what the problem is and they even don’t understand what Malaysia is like. I do hope that my fellow students and other Indonesian can separate the sin and the sinner.