Malaysia Anthem Furor Hits Wrong Note, Says Indonesian Expert

Solo. Oops! We did it again. Moral indignation over Malaysia’s alleged use of an Indonesian song for its national anthem appears — rather embarrassingly — to have been misplaced, according to a leading Indonesian musician and artist, Remy Sylado. 

The episode follows a recent outpouring of anger — including a heated protest outside the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta on Tuesday — over Malaysia’s supposed theft of the Balinese pendet dance to promote itself in a television advertisement. 

The Singapore office of cable television station, Discovery Channel, however, quickly acknowledged that it was responsible for mistakenly featuring the dance in a promotion for its documentary program, “Enigmatic Malaysia.” 

Sylado, speaking in Jakarta on Wednesday, said the so-called Indonesian song “ Terang Bulan ” (“Moonlight”) was actually an adaptation of “La Rosalie,” which was composed in the 19th century by Pierre-Jean de Beranger of Francey. 

Citing a Dutch historical text on national anthems, Sylado said the song became popular in the former French colony of the Seychelles and arrived in the Malay archipelago at the turn of the 20th century, where it was eventually used as the basis for Malaysia’s anthem, “ Negaraku ” (“My Country”). 

“It is written clearly that ‘Negaraku,’ the Malaysian anthem, is adapted from Pierre-Jean de Beranger’s song. Not from ‘Terang Bulan,’ ” Sylado said. 

He said the adaptation of “La Rosalie” to “Negaraku” had a long evolution. In 1888, during British rule of the Federated Malay States, the lyrics were rewritten and localized to “God Save the Sultan” by Raja Mansur, the eldest son of Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah II Habibullah of Perak. 

The song was first performed formally during the sultan’s royal visit to England, where the song was presented as the Perak state anthem. 

Sylado said this version of history had long been recognized by the Malaysian authorities and was used in the nation’s history books. He said that before declaring independence in 1957, Malaysia’s first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, decided to use a revised version of Perak’s state anthem as the national anthem. 

“If the Indonesian government wants to sue Malaysia for copying ‘Terang Bulan,’ it would be a bad move,” Sylado said. “I’m concerned there will be a countersuit for using bahasa Indonesia , which is adapted from Malay and is indeed a part of Malaysia.” 

In the wake of growing anger toward Malaysia over the pendet furor and other cross-straits issues, such as abuse of Indonesian migrant workers and simmering territorial disputes, Ruktiningsih, an executive from Solo-based state recording company Lokananta, had recently claimed “Negaraku” was suspiciously similar to “Terang Bulan.” 

He claimed that “Terang Bulan” was written by the Bandung Ensemble and recorded by Lokananta in March 1956 — a year before Malaysia announced its anthem. 

Ruktiningsih said the song was one of 49 recorded by national radio station RRI on the orders of then-President Sukarno. The songs were later made into a recording by Lokananta.

By: Candra Malik (Jakarta Globe)


Emotional-focused coping style shouldn’t be used exorbitantly in handling bilateral relations between two neighbouring nations. Both countries should use problem-focused coping strategy in order to sort out all obstacles which hinder progress and impede them from moving into the next phase of development.

People from both countries should restraint themselves from displaying their emotions and study motives or propaganda before taking unscrupulous action. Obviously, PDI-P is throwing stone to discredit SBY and using patriotic issues to garner support. This party is mobilizing uneducated public to maneuver political support for it’s own political agenda.

Indonesia is facing a hard time to handle humanitarian crisis due to 7.6 Richter scale earthquake in Padang. All humanitarian efforts should be mobilized there rather than elsewhere. Bye.