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Yes, Minister!

Jakarta Lawmaker Sees Need for Indonesian Ministry of Culture and Tourism to be Restructured with Culture Handled Under a Singe Ministry.

(7/4/2011) Former TV presenter turned national legislator Tantowi Yahya is recommending the Indonesia’s current approach of having a Ministry of Culture and Tourism be revamped with affairs of national culture handled under a single ministry.

Tantowi, a member of Commission I at the House of Representatives (DPR-RI), sees a dedicated Minister of Culture as a better guarantee that Indonesia’s rich and diverse cultural heritage will be protected and preserved. Quoted in NusaBali, he said: “If culture is handled, as it is now, together with tourism, then the protection of cultural heritage is less than optimal." He also warned that the current arrangement creates a tendency to use culture as a promotional tool for Indonesian tourism.

The well-known legislator’s comments were made at a seminar held in Kuta, Bali, on Wednesday, June 29, 2011, on “Indonesian Culture Amidst the Global Culture.”

Tantowi continued, saying, “in addition, we need to establish cultural centers in developed countries, such as the United States and Japan.” Such centers he sees as fundamentally important for spreading information on the Nation’s culture and reducing past problems with protecting cultural assets from infringement and misappropriation by other nations. 

Accoding to Tantowi, not only would a network of cultural centers help protect Indonesia’s cultural inheritance, but they could also administer a program of international scholarships for foreign student interested in studying the archipelago’s culture. Seeing another role for the proposed Indonesian Cultural Centers, he thinks international celebrities could be recruited as Cultural Ambassadors via the centers.

The well-known presenter does not blame the current failure to protect national culture solely on the government, insisting the public must also play an active role in this task. He said the tendency at the moment is to allow culture to become little more than a tourism commodity.