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What's in a Name?

Indonesia's Home Minister Mardiyanto Complains Foreign Names Not Appropriate for Local Destinations within Indonesia.

(8/8/2009) Indonesia's Home Minister, Mardiyanto, is concerned with the increasing number of foreign-sounding names used for geographical locations across Bali and the potential threat to the local historical quality of the island posed by foreign sounding names being used for Balinese locales.

As reported in BeritaBali.com, the Minister complained that some of the new foreign names adopted for Bali sub-destinations have no connection with local history or the cultural roots of the subject locale. If this situation is allowed to continue, the Home Minister is concerned that the traditional culture of Bali, communicated through the name of places and areas on the island, will eventually be lost.

In making his comments to the press, Mardiyanto gave no specific examples of foreign-sounding names now in Bali. BeritaBali.com did, however, point to the popular surfing beach of "Dreamland" and "Jalan Marlboro (west of Jalan Teuku Umar), as just two examples of the increasingly frequent use of foreign place names.

Speaking in Bali on August 4, 2009, at the Southeast Asian Survey Congress in Nusa Dua, Minister Mardiyanto said: "A number of places in Bali have changed their names, using foreign names or creative new names invented by foreign tourists. In some instances, these newly created terms become more popular that the actual names of the locales. In time, there is the real threat that the local names will disappear, replaced by the new foreign names. This is the equivalent of shaking our younger generation loose from their local cultural roots."

The Home Minister told the press that it is time for the government to bring order to the use of geographical place names in Indonesia, in order to prevent the use of foreign names for Indonesian places. Mardiyanto insisted that the history and legends connected with Indonesian place names should be preserved. In doing so, he said the government will preserve local culture and imbue the public with pride and a love of nation.

Mardiyanto concluded: "The names of place and their historical connection provide the Indonesian people with their pride of place and national identity. It is therefore very important to preserve historical names of geographical sites. Replacing geographical names in a haphazard manner without reference to history or culture will diminish the connection of the people with their place of birth."