Showing posts from 2008


This year is closed with a thought that still a lot to be done to support heritage movements in Indonesia. The Indonesia Heritage Trust has a very dedicated and energetic Executive Director and a group of very generous Board of Directors, but the Trust still struggles to have its own office, find an endowment fund and creating longer term programs which give more impacts to the country. Efforts to create the endowment fund should be really thought seriously because it is difficult to survive merely from donations. How certain a possibility to sustain the organization in a long run? The same situation applies for other heritage organizations. Aren't we all creating projects to generate income? Idealism is good but very difficult to implement it without monetary means. For six year (1998-2004) I was the Executive Director of Sumatra Heritage Trust and I knew perfectly all headaches about operational costs. My colleagues and I had to come up with ideas what to do next. We had hardly a

I am Sorry to Hear This!

(Sad news from my LEAD network. I am deeply concerned when this thing happened. Absolutely sad. ) From: Simon Lyster, LEAD International, Chief Executive Dear all, You may have heard the news that LEAD Fellow Jestina Mukoko from Zimbabwe (Cohort 10) was reportedly taken from her home by armed police on 3 December and has not been seen since. Clearly this is of grave concern, and there has been an international outcry as a result. Jestina is Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project and a Board member of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Forum. You find a letter I have written to Robert Mugabe, and also a background fact sheet prepared by Amnesty International. I have focused my letter on the fact that Jestina is a LEAD Fellow, but you may like to refer to other matters raised by Amnesty as well. (Up-date per 15 January 2009) It has been 40 days since LEAD Fellow Jestina Mukoko has been taken from her home in the town of Norton, Zimbabwe. LEAD is engaging with the political leaders in the region


I saw the film “Pearl Harbor” last night after zapping the channels for a while. I was reminded about the Japanese actions during the Second World War, not only by bombing the Pearl Harbor but what they have done in Asia including in Indonesia. And the Dutch suffered a lot from the Japanese occupation in Indonesia because many of them went to camps. The Japanese camps in Indonesia were in a devastated situation with barely supply of basic needs. It was a dark period for the Dutch. Somehow I was curious about how the Dutch nowadays feel towards the Japan. So last Saturday when I went to the library and I saw a book titled ‘Op Oorlogspad in Japan’ (On the War Path in Japan) by Adriaan van Dis, I took the book right away. The first book for me about Dutch-Japan relationships. I am sure many more books on the subject but I have to start somewhere. No wonder I was caught by the ‘Pearl Harbor’ film last night; it was a kind of a warming up to enter the subject. It was a perfect serendipity

Paradigm Shift about Shared Heritage Cooperation

My preposition about : Bilateral Shared Heritage Cooperation Indonesia-The Netherlands Foreword Heritage movement by community in Indonesia is relatively new. It started about the mid of 80’s in big cities in Java. Only at the end of the 90’s it is disseminated to other islands, mainly Sumatra and Sulawesi. The understanding about heritage itself began in a very limited definition mainly about built heritage which heavily influenced by the Dutch architectures in urban areas. The heritage movement made a progress in 2004 when all non-government organizations established an umbrella organization, Indonesia Heritage Trust. It was continued with the launching of Indonesian Charter for Heritage Conservation which defined heritage and its broad understanding beyond built heritage. This charter became a foundation of heritage programs ever since. As nature of a movement, there are a lot of initiatives have been launched and some executed into implementations over the years by different organi

Keep the Spirit High

From 4-10 Dec I accompanied two colleagues, Sita and Catrini, who visited the Netherlands. We are all from BPPI (Indonesia Heritage Trust.) It was always fun to get together with other members of the same 'habitat.' 5 December . First, we met with the Prince Claus Funds in their brand new office in Amsterdam. The PCF helped BPPI with funds related to the earthquakes in Yogyakarta and West Sumatra. It was a very friendly meeting. Then we run to the second meeting in Erfgoed Nederland, had lunch with the representatives of the Indonesian Embassy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Education, Culture & Science, the Institute of Netherlands Collections and Dept. of Conservation. Mainly it was about the new policy of the Dutch government related to the shared heritage cooperation with 8 prioritized countries. One of them is Indonesia. The third meeting was with extra participants from Tropen Museum, Museum Maluku and PAC Consultants. We discussed more about shared heritage

Wisdom, Devotion and Modesty

One of my task currently is assisting BPPI in establishing the National Committee of Blue Shield Indonesia. The Blue Shield is a kind of red-cross initiative for culture when (natural or war)disaster happens. For this task I came across the presentation of Jan Pronk again which he presented during 'Cultural Emergency Response' Conference in the Hague, 25 September 2006. I was impressed by his thoughts and asked his permission to quote them here. He was very kind to let me to do it. His speech titled 'Wisdom, Devotion and Modesty.' For the full text you can see through his website : but here are several points which caught my attentions. The Taliban wanted to break more than stones of the Buddha statues. They wanted to break the spirit of another religion. They were after the soul of another culture, the mind of people worshipping other gods. The Serbs bombed a national library in Sarajevo because they wanted to destroy the heart of mult


I have been reading 'Dulari' in the train in the last few days. It is written by Usha Marhe. It is about six women who tried to look back at their past with Hindustan background. I am happy to find this book since I have been curious for some time about the Hindustani culture. Why? When I was in Medan, Indonesia, I liked to visit Kampung Madras, an enclave of Indians. It is an interesting area to visit with a traditional market, restaurants, buildings, temples and the smell of Indian scents everywhere. And we won the UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Award for Merit in 2003 for fixing the Tjong Yong Hian bridge in this area. The bridge for a Chinese Mayor in an Indian area, what a special mixture. And for several years with my friends in Sumatra Heritage Trust we have done a research about Kampung Madras; beautiful pictures about the people and their Indian culture. And in 2005 I joined IFSAH (International Field School of Asian Heritage) by visiting India for two weeks. I met and t

Saint Nicolas Came Again....

Sinterklaas (Saint Nicolas) came again to the Netherlands from Spain last Saturday, 15 November. The official Sinterklaas, it means the Sinterklaas who was officialy organised by the Dutch government, came to Almere Haven. But hundred of other Sinterklaas-es came to other places, too, including to Weesp where we were last week. We came to Weesp every year to welcome the Sinterklaas. For the first two years I was waiting for the boat with Sinterklaas on it and his assistants, the Black Piets, to come. But this year its magic has disappeared and I asked my husband to take care of Dian and I went shopping nearby. Then I sat in front of a bakery waiting for Dian and her friends to come, all of sudden I heard music and people danced everywhere. The atmosphere became very cheerful and happy. And I saw the Sinterklaas with his white horse, Amerigo. Spontaneously I made a lot of pictures and started to appreciate this Dutch culture. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, remembered all the song

Shared Culinary Heritage

Lately I had a lot of discussions with my heritage contacts about shared culinary heritage between Indonesia and the Netherlands. We want to do something about it because it is fun, enjoyable and touch everyday life of everyone in both countries. Besides, it is not part of heritage that has been much discussed so far. Everyone both in Indonesia and the Netherlands can easily mention something that possibly crosses both cultures. During the Moslem's festivity in Indonesia, almost every house has kaastengel or naastar. And in the Netherlands, you can buy spekoek (lapis legit) or sambal in every corner of a city. Those are only a phenomena on surface but deeper it actually reflects a long history, bitter or sweet, between the two countries. We could have hundred conferences and never-ending discussions about history but what we eat from day by day is happening without force from any side. People simply eat and cook what they like. If the Indonesians still make bitterballen and croquet

Root and Home

I was born in Semarang and grew up for the first 26 years of my life in Bandung, in a house in Oranjeplein or to be precise, Riau street number 112. The new name of the street is LLRE Martadinata. After 26 years I moved to several places either in Indonesia or outside Indonesia until I reached my current coordinate in Amsterdam. If I think of my root in term of place then I will always think of that house in Riau street. I have stronger memories of my childhood there than other period of my life. If I could recall what a home was, it would be also that same house. When Dian and I moved to the Netherlands in 2005, the hardest decision I had to take was not about myself but the realization about root and home for Dian. I realized that if Dian grows up and lives in the Netherlands, it would be her root and home with all their consequences : language, norm, value, lifestyle, way of living, way of thinking, culture, habits. To some degree naturally she will receive Indonesian influence from

Taken for Granted

From my last visit to Indonesia, I noticed that I took pictures of things which I never did before. S ee here pictures of my lunch in Sogan Village or bunch of tropical fruits. I took more pictures of simple things like this as if I was a tourist. I had to laugh to myself. The truth is I don't take things for granted anymore because in the country where I live now, the Netherlands, I don't see this type of mango or having the same type of lunch as I had in Yogyakarta. Before, when I visited the Netherlands, I took a lot of pictures of everything, from windmills to street furniture. Now I accompanied a lot of guests and no single picture I have taken. Again, this is what Pak Tukiman said to me during our walk in Sogan Village two weeks ago. We have a tendency to neglect the near heritage and look for something far away. We have a tendency to take things for granted until those things disappear and difficult to get.

Heritage Education in Indonesia

Between 1-5 November 2008 the Indonesia Heritage Trust ( BPPI ) and the Netherlands Institute for Heritage ( Erfgoed Nederland - EN) organised a training of heritage education for 12 elementary schools around Yogyakarta , Central Java, Indonesia. In 2006 I drafted the idea to introduce heritage education in Indonesia. I have brought the proposal to Elisabeth Wiessner as my "date" of Stepping Stones program. She works for EN and has experiences about heritage education in the Netherlands. We worked out the proposal together, back and forward finalising it and looking for possibility of funding. It took almost a year when finally EN decided to fund the project itself. January 2008 we started the project and supposed to end it at September 2009. This is a pilot project to find out a method and materials for heritage education in Indonesia with a trial location in Yogyakarta and surroundings. We showed the materials from the Netherlands and also shared the experiences in th

Making the Case for the Conservation and Preservation of Our Cultural Heritage

From my Salzburg network : Connecting to the World's Collections: Making the Case for the Conservation and Preservation of our Cultural Heritage 28 Oct - 01 Nov, 2009 (Session 468) Abstract:Museums and libraries - large and small - around the world house our artistic and cultural heritage. As guardians of unique and irreplaceable treasures, including art works, documents, artifacts, and digital materials, museums and libraries bear the tremendous responsibility of preserving our cultural legacy for present and future generations. Collections stewardship is central to the mission of all cultural heritage institutions, and yet resources for proper preservation and treatment are often sorely lacking, emergency plans are not always in place, and public awareness of and support for conservation is not as strong as it should be. In addition, advances in conservation research and preservation technologies are offering new solutions and strategies for addressing conservation needs. T

Mega Eltra and Beyond

Yesterday I received a request from Catrini, the Executive Director of Indonesia Heritage Trust, about slides & stories of Mega Eltra case in Medan. Earlier this year, my colleague, Sita from Yogya, has suggested me also to write an article to commemorate 5 years demolition of the building. In 2003 on behalf of Sumatra Heritage Trust, I was involved in an effort to save the Mega Eltra building from demolition done by a triangle conspiracy amongst bureaucrats, militaires and capitalists. The story went relatively dramatic and seemed to leave a mark in the Indonesian heritage network. I have to say that I didn't realised about it. My colleagues and I in the Sumatra Heritage Trust did what we supposed to do without any intention of publicity or what s o ever. If the case received a lot of publicity it was because of the scale and nature of the case itself. The fact that it was done by the perfect conspiracy we could think of in Indonesia : those who have authority to decide, tho

Only If We Could Choose

Lately I am amazed about discussions on the media related to the background of people as if we could choose where we are born, from whom and how we look like. Barack Obama is an example whom globally exposed by the media of being special because he is the first African American president candidate. Yesterday, Ahmed Aboutaleb was chosen as the new Mayor of Rotterdam. Leefbaar Rotterdam, the opposition party, was against the decision because of his Morocco background. He has been living in the Netherlands since he was 16 and openly declared his loyalty to the country through his positions in politics. So far he has a good reputation and good intentions through his efforts to integrate immigrants and marginal groups into the Dutch society. But why did some people want him to deny his Moroccan identity and background? "Send his Moroccan passport by mail back to the Moroccan King," they said. What a suggestion. Why can't people just value his capacities, his records and achiev

The Threatening Heritage

Last night I went to the "Erfgoed Arena" (erfgoed = heritage), regular discussions organized by the Reinwardt Academy and Erfgoed Nederland. The theme was the threatening heritage. It is not heritage which are threaten as generally understood but heritage which threat the identity and history of a nation (in this case the Netherlands). Rob van der Laarse from the UvA said that a heritage can threat depends on context and how we look and interpret it. He gave some examples, e.g. a statement of Princess Maxima that a Dutch identity doesn't exist (which widely quoted by everyone) or a new painting collection of the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam which represented national socialist movement in country. The other speaker was mostly talking about importance of accepting multicultural heritage in daily life, comparing his experiences in Israel (lived 12 years there) and the Netherlands. Talking about Jews, lately a researcher from UvA has exposed a house in Amsterdam which he said s

Asian Cities - Legacies of Modernity

The 7th mAAN Conference will be held in New Delhi, India, from 23rd to 25th February 2009. The mAAN-7 conference will be located at the famous India International Centre and in close proximity to the early-20th century heart of New Delhi, one of the most endangered urban heritages of the modern world. The fate of “‘Lutyens’ New Delhi” – as it is widely known, in memory of the garden city’s chief architect and author of its final plan, Edwin Lutyens – is symptomatic of the beleaguered future of other such modern cities, where the heritage precinct circumscribes a prized parcel of land, preserving the image of the modern city, but at odds with the density and social character of the contemporary. The fascinating aspect of the modern city and its tenuous existence within the contemporary metropolis is that it not only represents the spatial imagination and technology of the recent past, but is also a receptacle for polarities of privacy and publicity, of native and foreign, of order and c

Shared Heritage Reception

On Thursday, 25Th September 2008 I was invited to attend a "Shared Heritage Reception" in the Ministry for Education, Culture and Science in the Hague. The Dutch Government has a new policy about international co operations with its ex-colonies, one of them is Indonesia, and they wanted to socialize this new policy. The main thing is about allocation of budget which now distributes through the Embassies in the partner countries. I met the Indonesian delegation from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Indonesian Embassy. We were together most of the time simply because there were a lot to catch up. But some people came to talk to us, too, and we had good laughs and conversations. We even thought about a join cooperation for a very interesting project with one of the Dutch partner. In this sort of occasion I thought how small the heritage network is. I met the people and I encountered the names which are very familiar already in the network for years. One or two new nam

Erfgoed a la Carte

Part of my involvement in heritage education, I have attended the Closing Conference of Erfgoed a la Carte (erfgoed = heritage), in Spoorwegmuseum (Railway Museum), Utrecht, 24th Sept 2008. I have written the report in Indonesian because I sent it to my Indonesian network. Rabu, 24 September 2008, saya menghadiri penutupan Program "Erfgoed a la Carte" yang kalau diterjemahkan secara harafiah berarti "Prasmanan Pusaka", lokasinya di Museum Kereta Api, Utrecht. Prasmanan Pusaka adalah program stimulasi edukasi pusaka untuk sekolah dasar yang dilaksanakan antara 2004-2008 oleh 15 organisasi di Belanda, terdiri dari institusi pendidikan dan organisasi pusaka. Pimpinan proyeknya Cees Hageman yang sudah kita kenal dengan baik. Tujuan utama proyek ini adalah untuk merangsang agar edukasi pusaka dapat diintegrasikan kedalam kurikulum sekolah dasar dan juga kehidupan sehari-hari siswa. Caranya adalah melalui kerjasama antara sekolah-sekolah dasar dengan berbagai organisasi

Sad Story

In 2003 Sumatra Heritage Trust received the UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Award of Merit for its project to refurbish a historical bridge "Tjong Yong Hian" in Kampung Madras, Medan, Indonesia. More info about this can be seen through One specific thing I was proud of this project is the historical sign that has been designed by volunteer Soewandi so nicely and placed next to the bridge. Every pedestrian can read the text and photo in English and Indonesian. This was part of public education and promotion of the historical value of the bridge. When I was in Indonesia this year I was told that the historical sign has been stolen. Disappeared. I was stunned. The most shocking news from Medan. I knew that economic life is getting more difficult but it is unthinkable that someone would steal the sign, the metal part to be cut in pieces and sold for almost nothing. I am sure that whatever rupiahs the stealer has earned is not equal with the


Being an Indonesian in the Netherlands I am amazed to how much I am exposed to the word "Indonesia" or "the Dutch Indies" from time to time. It is true that the Dutch has settled about 350 years in Indonesia but Indonesia has been independent since 1945. Apparently 63 years are relatively short to get rid of what has happened between the two nations. A small example. I have chosen a small book titled "Laatste Schooldag" (the Last School Day) by Jan Siebelink because I want to learn about school life in the Netherlands. And all of sudden in one part of the book appeared a story about gold mining of Sumatra. Other story. Last Sunday I joined a tour to Fort of Abcoude. The guide told a long story and suddenly mentioned that the Fort has been used as an exercise place for armies who went to the Dutch Indies in the 50's. Several months back I went to a jail museum in Drenthe Province. All participants biked, lunched, walked and during the talk I found out t

Open Monumentendag

The Open Monumentendag (Heritage Days) is designed to bring people into contact with the historic environment, and to encourage interest in and understanding of historical monuments and the need for their preservation. During the Open Monumentendag - every second weekend of September - thousands of historical buildings and sites (about 4,000) are open to the public free of charge. Besides opening their doors, many locations also organise on-site activities like exhibitions, music and guided tours. Each year around 80 to 85 percent of Dutch municipalities participate in the Open Monumentendag , organised by local committees. In recent years around 900,000 visitors have participated annually, making the Open Monumentendag one of the Netherlands' premier cultural events. The Open Monumentendag in the Netherlands started in 1987 and is co-ordinated nationally by the Stichting Open Monumentendag , which has its office in Amsterdam. The Open Monumentendag is part of an internationa