Showing posts from January, 2009


Yesterday (29 Jan) I was invited to the opening of exhibition about "Wayang Superstar" (wayang is puppet) with the 'dalang' (player) Ki Enthus Susmono. It was in the restaurant of Tropen Museum, Amsterdam. The guest were welcomed by traditional Indonesian drink, 'cendol' or 'dawet' and Indonesian snacks. And in this kind of occasion for sure I met a lot and a lot of friends and acquitances from cultural heritage network. Back to Ki Enthus, he delivered his speech in a special way with a self portrait puppet and a translator because he doesn't speak much of English. He didn't hesitate a bit to tease the female translator in public; his puppet did it but who moved the puppet? Him. Ki Enthus is nowadays popular in Indonesia because of his unconventional approach to perform his puppets. He made contemporary profiles like Saddam Hussein, George Bush, etc. He created also different kind of stories for his various public segments : young, old, urban,


Today ten years ago, an article about Sumatra Heritage Trust and built heritage in Medan appeared in the largest newspaper in the Netherlands, de Volkskrant, written by Wiecher Hulst. MEDAN koestert zijn erfstukken de Volkskrant, Traject, 23 januari 1999 (pagina 3) WIECHER HULST Several readers have contacted me and we keep in touch with each other even until today. With some, we become almost like a family. We exchanged places to stay, we shared new friends and at some point tried to conduct projects. What I have learned later, that friendship and project do not get a long together, so the projects were not realized, but our friendship stays. Coincidentally at the same year, 1999, I also visited the Netherlands for the first time invited by the Netherlands Architecture Institute, NAi, in Rotterdam (thanks to my friend Soehardi who organized it.) With several Indonesian architects we looked around about heritage conservation and urban renewal projects in some cities. Continue


Millions of people in the world watched the inauguration of Barrack Obama on Tuesday, 20Th January. He has given a wonderful speech and every statement was delicately evaluated by God knows how many critics, but for me this statement was the most interesting : "For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness." I don't have to explain more, it is simple and clear. But probably I could tell why it attracted my attention. First of all because I am attracted to the word 'heritage' itself, everywhere and anytime. I know it sounds crazy but nothing to be ashamed I guess. Second, being in the Netherlands, I was encountered with a lot and a lot of discussions about multicultural society. The Dutch people is known of being open minded and friendly to newcomers but then in 2002 the politician Pim Fortuyn and in 2004 the film director Theo van Gogh were assassinated due to their concern about Islam in the Netherlands. Since then multicultur


The Indonesian heritage network discuss a lot about class action lately, triggered by the Trowulan case. In law, a class action or a representative action is a form of lawsuit where a large group of people collectively bring a claim to court. This form of collective lawsuit originated in the United States and is still predominately a US phenomenon, at least the US variant of it (Wikipedia) I do welcome the suggestion to do a class action in Indonesia although based on my own experiences so far it stays as an impulsive idea without a follow up action. Why? First of all, the idea mostly came from a discussion platform where nobody has an authority to take an action. Nobody is responsible to follow up an idea. It is a free forum where freedom of expression is guaranteed. Second, when my colleagues and I once were serious to do a class action in the case of Mega Eltra building demolition in Medan in 2002, we didn't have sufficient resources to do it properly. We have prepared some pa


This is not exactly about heritage but related to the the job I do, at least 8 hours per day. When I came to the Netherlands, I needed to learn from scratch about management culture here. It is still going on but in general I have got some idea about it. Then I read an article in the Expatica about this issue and I will give some hints what I like about habits on the work floor here. Something completely different from my own experience in Indonesia. Executives do not usually display their power – the boss is part of the group. The Dutch are known to be forceful, stubborn and tough negotiators, while honesty and reliability are perceived as vitally important. Missing an appointment or being late at a meeting is not only experienced as annoying, but also as unreliable. In the Netherlands, dress codes can be amazingly informal. In the summer, jeans, blouses and t-shirts and even trainers are not uncommon. The point number one is a magic. Coming from a culture where bowing to authority is


I have been reading 'Indische Duinen' (Indonesian Sand Hill) by Adriaan van Dis in the last two weeks. It apparently one of his masterpiece which almost everyone in Holland is familiar with. Basically it tells about his experiences as a member of family who went to the Japanese camp in Indonesia around the Second World War. He himself didn't go to the camp but the rest of the family did, so to some extend he had a burden to be 'an outsider' of their collective memories. There are Indonesian words here and there and it is amusing to see how these 'foreign' language flow smoothly amongst the Dutch expressions as if they are part of the Dutch language itself. Simply a proof how two cultures and languages melt together easily as prejudice didn't exist. I appreciate this book in helping me getting some understanding about emotions of the Dutch towards Indonesia, Japanese and and the past. It is a fiction, though, but to some extend I am sure it is based on


One of the highlight of my role as the guest lecturer in the Reinwardt Academy, Amsterdam, is when I meet and talk to a bright student. And many of them are bright students. Students with visions, ideas and maturity to know what they want to achieve. Last December in the Hague during a conference of Blue Shield, surprisingly I met Marjan den Visser, one of the student. And at the end of the year I received a greeting card together with a brochure about her restoration atelier in the Hague. Marjan is a painting restaurateur. In 2006 she even had an assignment to work with the Affandy paintings in Jakarta. I salute the spirit of entrepreneur of Marjan and also her persistence to do her important work while pursuing a masters degree in the Reinwardt. I am to some extend also inspired by her effort. (source : )


Fon Prawira, the grandson of Tjong A Fie (TAF), has informed BPPI that he is going to organize an exhibition to commemorate 88Th year of TAF. For those who is not familiar with TAF, probably this information will be helpful. (source : KITLV Leiden) Tjong A Fie - a Hakka entrepreneur and one of the founding fathers of Medan - came from Canton in 1875 and made his fortune in the plantation industry together with his brother, Tjong Yong Hian. He built up good connection with the Sultan of Deli and the Dutch planters and was appointed as 'Majoor der Chineezen' or the Chinese community leader. He was a famous philanthropist which became one of the founders of the Colonial Institute (the present Koninklijk Instituut voor de Tropen or the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam). His house in Kesawan was completed in 1900, a hybrid Chinese - European - Art Deco court-yard house. The design of this house is very similar to his relative's mansion in Penang, a more famous tycoon Cheon


(source : ) The Indonesian heritage network is being fired lately by a case of Trowulan. The government body wanted to build the "Majapahit Information Centre" on the archeological site in Trowulan, Mojokerto, East Java. (For the masterplan of this Centre take a look at the above source) The intention is good but most people thought that the logic behind the plan is ridiculous. The intention is to spread awareness about history of Majapahit Kingdom but if it is built on the site then some historical values will diminish. It is against the principle of conservation. The Indonesia Heritage Trust tried to 'remind' the Dept. of Culture and Tourism, Directorate General of History and Archaelogy, about the mistake. In cooperation with the largest national newspaper, Kompas, the reminding seemed effective and heard. The project is temporarily stopped and nowadays several meetings are organized in