28 January 2010
Indonesia, Armani, and a Garuda...
This is one of those times where you sit back in your chair, shake your head, and wonder out loud whether Indonesian politicians have anything better to do. I understand national pride, I understand the need to protect cultural heritage, and I understand insult.
However, I do not understand why you would want to make a mountain out of a molehill on this issue. Unless, of course you wanted to distract the people's attention from more pressing and important matters such as providing a clear explanation of the Bank Century Bailout so that even non-economic types can understand the need, as the government saw it, to bail out a bank of Bank Century's size during a global financial crisis.
Perhaps there is a need to distract people's attention from the shenanigans going on in the Antasari Azhar trial for pre-meditated murder of a love rival. Or maybe it is as simple as needing to distract people's attention away from the faltering president whose 100-day agenda is looking increasingly unlikely to transpire as opposed to just expiring in the sense of dying where it lay.
So, what is this mountain out of a molehill?
Some members of the House of Representatives (usually representing no one but themselves) decided that they were going to pursue Armani for producing a T-Shirt which allegedly desecrates the national symbol of Indonesia. The offending shirt, or at least the image off of it is in the photo above (photo courtesy of Multibrand), has caused quite a stir. The claims, including one from the Minister of Law and Human Rights, Patrialis Akbar, are that the Garuda Pancasila is patented by Indonesia. Now, if this were true, then the image on the offending Armani t-shirt would need to be more than just similar, wouldn't it?
In my mind it would have to be unmistakeably the Garuda Pancasila that everyone associates with being the national symbol of Indonesia. My guess is that most people throughout the world might have some trouble recognizing their own national symbols let alone those of other countries. Yet, in any event, this hardly seems to be a breach of patent (considering patents are for inventions and I am pretty sure that Indonesia did not invent the Garuda). It is also unlikely a breach of trademark.
If Armani was an Indonesian company, then the most likely law to pursue the company under would be the recently passed Law No. 24 of 2009 which deals with matters relating to national symbols, among other matters. Unfortunately, Law No. 24 of 2009 is not likely to have much extra-territorial application if the idea is to pursue Armani overseas. It is also unlikely to succeed in pursuing Armani stores that sell the goods in Indonesia either.
Brett over at Spruiked takes a peak at this issue in his usual forthright manner, and it is worth a read.
The real question is does the use of the Garuda in this way really offend the sensibilities of the majority of Indonesians? My guess is, No! The common sense of the vast majority of Indonesians need not be questioned. And, it is an unfortunate thing that this vast majority is not in the House of Representatives, because then Indonesians and those of us with an interest in Indonesian affairs would not have to read such drivel as a few members of the House of Representatives exploring the possibility of suing a fashion label for using an image of a mythical creature.
Maybe Indonesians are, on the whole, proud that an image they associate with is used in such a way. It is worth noting that Armani has supposedly apologized for any offense it may have caused.
There really must be more important issues of governance to attend to, right?