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 so 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, those who have physical power and those who have money. And we? We are citizens who merely depend on our common sense. Nothing more.

That nature of work, based on common sense, is my understanding and principle of my actions in heritage field, either as a conceptor or practitioner. The Mega Eltra case was one of my involvement, but I am involved in many other cases, too, non-stop since 1993. I was invited by Toeti Sudibyo and Frances Affandy to help Bandung Heritage with their newsletters. Since then, heritage became and become my passions because its contribution to human's life. It is far beyond historical buildings & story telling. Heritage is so wide and deep as width & depth as life itself. Since then I also learned that heritage is very close to politics, power and money. Even now when I live in the Netherlands, I also learned the same things. Modus operandi might be in different forms but the principles are similar. That is why I always see that all cases are equally interesting and important. What I want to say is that I never think Mega Eltra as a special case. All cases are specials for me. But as Catrini said, she needed a hint to let her audience learned about community participation in heritage movements in Indonesia. And pictures speak always more than thousand words.


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