Tuesday, December 30, 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 pause to be relax about this issue. I myself worked as a full time volunteer but the staff had to be -at least modestly- paid. We needed telephone and Internet to be paid. We needed electricity to turn on computers. We needed to pay printing company and bought stamps for our newsletters.

We developed souvenir designs to produce and to sell. We asked a right to reproduce old pictures and this was the best seller ever. People loved to see their city in the past and probably dreamed to get it back, at least in their living room. When we lacked of cash, we brought several reproductions to a businessman, approached him and we went back to our office with several million rupiahs. Selling souvenirs were not very difficult, getting a trust from someone who had money was difficult. It took a lot of time and effort to build network and trust. We sold our reputation, not merely souvenirs. There were times when things didn't work as we expected, either. Once I ended up sold my gold jewellery to pay the staff.

I tried to find out, too, how to create an endowment fund. I knew that an ex-minister in Jakarta set up a non-profit organization funded by an endowment fund from a foreign agency. They simply used the interest of the deposited money. I wish I could get such an opportunity. Unluckily it was almost zero chance to get an endowment fund without international reputation and political influence. There were a lot and a lot funding schemes out there, mostly for projects and you can save a bit if any for an endowment fund. How many projects did we have to create to be able to save a decent amount which produces sufficient interest for operational costs?

Unfortunately after so many years, the situation in general didn't shift much. It stays the same until 2008. On one side this struggle makes most heritage activists in Indonesia tough. This situation is a kind of test for commitment and dedication. On the other side it slow down achievements that possibly could be achieved or even dismiss the chances at all. But again, as we always said, keep being optimist and isn't it that makes us all until now still doing what we are doing?

For my heritage fellows, Happy New Year 2009 and keep our fingers crossed for a better heritage movement all over the world.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

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 as well as organisations such as Amnesty International to put pressure on Zimbabwean authorities to free Jestina.

We all need to continue to persevere in our efforts for a safe release of our Fellow Jestina Mukoko, so please keep sending letters reflecting deep international concern for Jestina and other human rights activists in Zimbabwe and urgent calls for their safe release. We will keep you informed of the situation.

Sincerely, Simon Lyster
Chief ExecutiveLEAD International

(Up-date per 9 March 2009) Finally Jestyna Mukoko was released last week on bail after three months of captivation.

Monday, December 15, 2008


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 between the book and the film.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Paradigm Shift about Shared Heritage Cooperation

My preposition about :
Bilateral Shared Heritage Cooperation
Indonesia-The Netherlands

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 organizations. The main issue is how to provide a stable foundation for the heritage movement in Indonesia to enable itself with planned & longer term programs. A well planned and long term program will deliver a better result in term of outreach and sustainability.

Characteristic of most heritage organizations in Indonesia are :

As a personal initiative
Human resource : depend on individual supports as volunteers
Run as a part-time job and voluntary not for profit management
Mobilize and use of local resource
Affiliate with education institutions or professional associations
Lack of capacity to benefit from technology availability (advanced website, etc)
Mostly focus on built heritage
The nature of activities are short term and incidental
Multi-sector approaches : advocacy, awareness, documentation, action

And the challenges are :

Human resources (Heritage management as a profession)
Financial foundation (availability of Endowment Fund)
System support
Consistency of policies implementation
Improvement of regulations

Related to the bilateral cooperation with the Netherlands, the focus should be about shared heritage in both countries. Both countries mean that initiatives are not only executed in Indonesia as our common understanding so far, but also in the Netherlands as Indonesia has brought a lot of influence to the Netherlands as well in the past.

The imbalance understanding about shared heritage –as noticed merely as an initiative from the Dutch side- mainly triggered by lack of understanding that the word ‘shared’ consist of both sides. Indonesia should learn also about its heritage in the Netherlands but this facet so far is hardly covered. If this lack of understanding is not encountered then the result is there would be no sense of needs from the Indonesian side to preserve and conserve the shared heritage.

It takes a shift of paradigm about what shared heritage is to ensure that the bilateral cooperation reach more substantial aspects rather than accommodating incidental programs. The heritage infrastructure in the Netherlands is relatively more stable with institutional & financial supports from the government; on the other hand heritage infrastructure in Indonesia is still in premature stage. If we would like to conserve our shared heritage, it is considerable to have stable heritage infrastructure in both countries. That is why empowering heritage organizations in Indonesia should be one of the goal through the cooperation. In the long run, this empowerment effort would support intention to have a better understanding and practice about shared heritage. In short, two goals in this cooperation are two sides of a coin.

Two main goals :

Empowering infrastructure of heritage movement in Indonesia through capacity building in management and finance;
Paradigm shift about what shared heritage is and how to deal with it in both countries by:
Building understanding of shared heritage
Inventory of shared heritage both in Indonesia and the Netherlands

Tangible heritage
1. Architecture
2. Textile (for example : Batik Belanda)
3. Industrial heritage
4. Culinary

Intangible heritage
1. Linguistic (for example : Dutch influence in development of Bahasa Indonesia or vice versa)
2. Law (for example : influence on cultural heritage protection law)
3. Urban planning (for example : retracing Dutch footprints in Indonesian cities)



Training & internship about professional management of heritage organization. (Note : practice of ‘Erfgoed Huis’ in several provinces in NL is good example as place for interns. For community organizations, internship is more appropriate)
Providing financial scheme in form of endowment fund for BPPI with certain agreements to ensure accountability & outreach.
Expertise mobilization for projects in both countries.

Paradigm shift about shared heritage

Providing scheme for masters and doctoral studies about shared heritage both in Indonesia and the Netherlands in cooperation with education institutions. (Note : study scheme stimulates long term in-depth research and knowledge exchanges . The result can be published as books and other materials)
Publication of shared heritage series products in form of printed (e.g. books, postcards) and audio visual materials (e.g. DVD, CD) for tourism segment.
Youth exchange visits between both countries for high-school students.

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 from various perspectives, but my attention went to Indonesian footprints in the Netherlands. So far it is always about the Dutch footprints in Indonesia which are mainly focused on built heritage. But actually it is also important to see it in reverse so both sides have the equal understanding about what shared heritage is.

The fourth meeting was only with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and RACM. We discussed about possible cooperation with BPPI.

Then everybody must run to home for the 5 December tradition : gather with family, exchanging presents and poems. Catrini and Sita were invited by Elisabeth who served traditional Spanish dishes. I tried to enjoy and appreciate 'the 5 Dec madness party' at home.

6 December. Catrini went to Brugge. Sita and I (and her friend, Lia) joined Jean-Paul and Hans for heritage tour in Utrecht. This tour was about the reuse of old buildings for new functions. We visited the Dom church, the former court that used as a hotel, the Utrecht Archive office for tourist, a former school as houses, a former church used as apartments and the former police department as a cinema and cafe. We ended up the tour with an Indonesian dinner in the 'Djakarta Restaurant.' I went to Utrecht several times but hardly have idea how many interesting projects until this day. The city centre was very cozy, beautiful and in human scale.

7 December. We went to the Founding Conference of Blue Shield in the Royal Library in the Hague. Sita, Catrini and I are part of founding team of the Indonesian National Committee which is still under construction. To this day the active members of Blue Shield are European countries but I guess it will shift slowly to cover other continents, too. In the evening we finished our homework for presentation tomorrow. We got an accommodation in 'Hotel Sebel' which in Indonesian means nausea. We had a lot of fun with this name.

8 December. Three of us delivered a presentation about 'Heritage Emergency Response' in Indonesia post tsunami until the recent natural disaster. We called ourselves 'Three Musketeers.' It was fun and for the first time we presented together. After the presentation, Catrini and Sita managed to promote the silver jewelleries from Kotagede, Yogyakarta, and raised reasonable funds from the purchases. After the Conference, we had (again) Indonesia dinner in the famous 'Puntjak Restaurant' in the Hague.

9 December. Sita and Catrini joined the workshops but I stayed home to prepare a dinner for heritage invitees. Sita had to leave back to Indonesia this evening but Catrini joined the dinner. It was informal dinner but I noticed that mostly guests talked about work. When heritage freaks meet each other, what else to talk about? Besides, when we like it, it doesn't feel like work anymore.

10 December. I said to Catrini that today we would enjoyed ourselves and no meeting. She attended a conference in New Delhi, direct flew to the Netherlands for another conference, so she deserved a day off. We biked around Amsterdam Southeast and then visited Zaanse Schan. This is a touristic place specially created for tourists who want to see canals, Dutch houses, windmills, cheese making and Dutch wooden shoes making in one go. It was a long day but enjoyable. Catrini had to run to Schiphol this evening.

A lot more to share through this visit but substantially we struggled for the heritage movement in Indonesia in cooperation with the Netherlands. We explored possibilities, built networks, strengthening friendships and spending hours and hours for talks and discussions.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

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 : www.janpronk.nl/index263.html 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 multicultural society.

  • Spaniards, Britons and Dutch plundered their colonies in Africa, Asia and South America by killing indigenous people and shipped others to slave markets. They robbed these societies, bringing indigenous raw materials to Europe and cultural artifacts back home.

  • The destruction of each other's holy buildings (in Jerusalem, Iraq, India and Indonesia) were done in order to break spirits.

  • The hesitation of Western countries to sign and implement international conventions to return stolen cultural property, arguing that the countries of origin can not be trusted to protect their cultural heritage, discloses arrogance, hypocrisy and greed.

  • Culture is an essential element of humanitarian assistance.

  • Other kind of disasters that lead to destruction of cultural objects are economic growth, modernization and globalization. They lead to ruined landscape, a knock-down of age-old city centers and the sacrificing of historical buildings.

  • The looting of the museum in Iraq was a cultural emergency; the destruction of norms and values accompanying the intervention in Iraq was a cultural catastrophe.

  • People hurt each other that much for reason of cultural identity.

  • The reconstruction of this heritage (in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan) is a symbol that life returns, that the society is no longer paralyzed, that the culture is vibrant and that there is no parting between its past and its future.

  • To save some people you have to sacrifice other reflects an erosion of norms and values, a wrecking of cultural beliefs.#