Thursday, December 31, 2020


International Symposium on Water and Culture,
Monday, February 3rd, 2020,
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), Tokyo, Japan,

(Organized by High-level Experts and Leaders Panel on Water and Disasters (HELP), National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism of Japan (MLIT), UN Center for Regional Development (UNCRD/UNDESA), and ICOMOS Netherlands)

Water nurtures a unique and diverse culture of a society that becomes a solid foundation of sustainable development of regions. Innovative paths for regional development can be found by looking at people’s lives and livelihood through a water lens.

Leading experts on water and culture will present cases of rich water culture and their impact on regional society and economy. Good practices and lessons on water-related regional development will be shared from both historical and modern cases.

The panelists discussed how the issue of water and culture can contribute to the advancement of global agenda such as 2030 Agenda, Paris Agreement, and Sendai Framework for Action.


I delivered a presentation "Traditional Water Management of Indonesia"

Ryuichi Tanigawa and Hiroko Sasamoto, two dearest friends in Japan

The delegation from the Netherlands

The Emperor and Empress of Japan

Member of the Advisory Committee 
on the National Policy Framework for Colonial Collections
October 2019-October 2020

The Advisory Committee, chaired by Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You, was established by the Council for Culture last year at the request of Minister of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands, Ingrid van Engelshoven.

It has been an honor to be one of the members of the Advisory Committee. We have worked during the pandemic through online meetings. Finally, on 7 October 2020, the result called the National Policy Framework for Colonial Collections presented to the Minister.

Demonstrate a willingness to return colonial looted art.

The recognition of injustice and the willingness to rectify it as far as possible should be the key principles of the policy on colonial collections in Dutch museums. The Netherlands must therefore be willing to return unconditionally any cultural objects looted in former Dutch colonies if the source country so requests.

The committee advises Minister Van Engelshoven to coordinate this policy with countries formerly under Dutch colonial rule, in particular Indonesia, Suriname and the Caribbean islands.

For more information on this report

The 3rd Forum on Asian Industrial Heritage Conservation
The Connection of the Genealogy of Industrial Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region
27 October-4 November 2020

The event was originally planned to be held in Sawahlunto, West Sumatra, Indonesia. Due to the pandemic, it was held online in three sequences with the topics: 

1. Establishment of Industrial Heritage Networking and Genealogy
2. Sustainability and Challenges of Industrial Heritage
3. Youth Dialogue – The Motivation of Youth Participation in Industrial Heritage Preservation

My presentation on how to involve the youth in industrial heritage preservation

The Making Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) Quick Scan Method Handbook
To be launched in 2021
(The Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands-RCE, University of Indonesia, the IPB University, Trisakti University, and Heritage hands-on)

The Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) is an approach to the management of heritage resources in dynamic and constantly changing environments. It is based on the recognition and identification of a layering and interconnection of natural and cultural, tangible and intangible, international and local values present in any city. According to the HUL approach, these values should be taken as a point of departure in the overall management and development of the city (Quoted from WHITRAP, The World Heritage Institute of Training and Research for the Asia and the Pacific Region)

 I coordinated the team from Indonesia and the Netherlands to introduce the HUL Approach in Indonesia using a method of Quick Scan that was developed by RCE.  This Quick Scan (QS) Method explaining the structure of a historical inner-city in a practical way, assessing threats and opportunities, and formulating future development opportunities.

We have organized two HUL QS Method in Indonesia. First in 2018 in Muntok, West Bangka, Sumatra and the second in 2019 in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan. We would like to disseminate the HUL QS Method all over Indonesia and we decided to do it by publishing a handbook for university teachers. Hopefully, the university teachers could organize workshops with their students. The Handbook will be launched in 2021 in two versions, Indonesian and English. 

The participants of the HUL site visits in Muntok

Banjarmasin, a city of thousand rivers

Online Monthly Meetings

Pansumnet exists since 1998 as an informal network of organizations and individuals who save heritage in Sumatra. All kinds of heritage, tangible and intangible. All are equal and involve voluntarily. We meet regularly through training or gatherings. But what makes this network still alive is the genuine passions of all members. 

During the pandemic, we even meet monthly. I am so touched by all the speakers and friends in Sumatra who keep doing something useful despite all challenges and difficulties. When I listened to them, I always felt recharged, and reminded me why I do what I do. 


Who thought that 2020 will be a rigorous online year with the Covid19 virus, lockdowns, and intensive virtual life? 
If life gives you lime, make lemonade. 
That was exactly what all of us did in 2020 with numerous online seminars and meetings.

Sumatra Heritage Trust 22nd Anniversary

Connecting two former coal mining World Heritage Sites in Europe and Asia

Historic Urban Landscape discussion hosted in Washington DC

How City Development Should Connect to Its History

The Network of Spices Route 

Indonesia Diaspora Speak!

LEAD (Leadership for Environment and Development)

Asia Network for Industrial Heritage (ANIH)

Livecast, 7 December, New Metropolis Amsterdam Southeast, 
about the experience of living in Southeast


The year twenty-twenty has taken me closer to nature as a volunteer to take care of a piece of protected forest in the Netherlands. It is a few hours per week. 

Starting with not knowing what to do and slowly learning about the values of being protected forest by the local authorities. Each type of flora and fauna are special for the local habitat. Some are endangered, some are migrated from other parts of the world. 

Regular contacts and better understanding help a lot of loving the protected forest more and more. 
An important lesson learned: when you are kind to nature, nature is more kind to you. 
I always feel refreshed and recharged after working in the forest. 

Various experts helped me to understand
some details of the protected forest. 

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Le Corbusier's Ghetto (and how the Dutch deal with it)

Last night I took a part in an online discussion for television and live stream programs with the representatives of the Municipality of Amsterdam and the Housing Corporation Rochdale about living in Amsterdam Southeast. It was organized by the New Metropolis Zuidoost, a branch of Pakhuis de Zwijger, a think tank for urban and sustainability issues. 

I had to be bold in five minutes that I had during the broadcasting. So what I said is that Amsterdam Southeast was built based on the ideals of Le Corbusier, the Swiss architect, that everyone no matter from which background has the right to light, air, and space. He dreamed of urban development that separated work, living, recreation, and various modes of mobility. This ideal was applied in Amsterdam Zuidoost in the 1960s to be the largest experiment ever in the world in terms of scale and innovations. The experiment was lead by Cornelis van Eesteren, the pioneer of modern architecture in the Netherlands.

The reality showed that some parts of the ideal of Le Corbusier turned to create the first and largest ghetto of the Netherlands between the 1970s and 1990s due to various reasons. 

From the 1990s until the present day, the local government has been working hard to fix the mistakes of the experiment through renewal programs physically, socially, and economically. 

I have witnessed 15 years of the renewal programs as a resident of Amsterdam Southeast. As someone with an academic background in social welfare and regional planning, the whole process becomes an exciting and dynamic living lab for me. Nothing is perfect but I have to admit that to some extent the local stakeholders have managed to fix a lot of mistakes. Amsterdam Southeast has regained its confidence as a former charming Le Corbusier's ghetto that offers interesting adventures for the new middle class. 

I am lucky to live in the part where the ideals of Le Corbusier are still intact. Plenty of green, open space, car-free area, in short abundant of light, air, and space. A true luxury for Amsterdam's standard of living. 

That is exactly the point that I have said last night. To keep the ideals of light, air, and space for everyone in the next masterplans of Amsterdam Southeast that is in the making for the next 20 years. 

Monday, November 16, 2020


In Indonesia, there are 33 former sugar factories that are older than one hundred years. And the plantation industry echoed the glorious past when Indonesia or to be more correctly, the Dutch Indies, supplied the world with the best tobacco, tremendous amount of spices, and other commodities. A story of industrial heritage is a story of the economic history of the country intertwined with stories of culture and people. Every time I saw a former and still existing industrial site, I am excited to learn and to find out more. On the other hand, I found a few resources from the Indonesians self. Most resources come from the archives and resources of the Netherlands. It shows that industrial heritage is not on the agenda yet in Indonesia. 

That is basically my motivation to promote the industrial heritage of Indonesia through ANIH, the Asian Network for Industrial Heritage, that was established in 2018 initiated by Taiwan. I would like to encourage the Indonesians, especially, about the potentials of industrial heritage, and the Asians, generally, to adaptive reuse industrial heritage sites on Asian ways and approaches, that might be different from the existing ones. These relatively new paths are exciting to explore.

In 2020 originally the Third Forum of ANIH and Field School would be held in Indonesia, in Sawahlunto, West Sumatra. Due to the pandemic, the programs turned online into three webinars. I helped out as a moderator and as a speaker about how we involved the youth in the industrial heritage field. I have chosen to be responsible for the education of youth in the Advisory Board of ANIH, that was why I spoke about the topic.

I realize that it takes generations to raise awareness about industrial heritage. Nevertheless, it has to start somewhere. I do what I can. Act. Now. 


Monday, October 19, 2020


Indonesia is busy dealing with a lot of economic and social problems at this moment. I am hesitant to inform you of what I thought a milestone in the cultural sector today. But there is never a right moment if I wait. So I put forward what I think the Indonesians should know.

In colonial times, there were many cultural goods were looted by the Dutch. The current Minister of Education, Culture and Science of the Netherlands, Ingrid van Engelshoven, would like to have a policy on what to do with those looted cultural goods. The Colonial Collections Committee was established about a year ago with the main task to provide advice to the Minister. 

I was humbled to be asked to join the Committee, together with the other nine members. On Wednesday 7 October 2020, we officially handed over our advice to the Minister. Later this advice will be disseminated in English and Bahasa Indonesia.

For now, I share here the summary of the advice in English. I think it is worth reading since it is about the cultural heritage of Indonesia.

The main point is that the Netherlands admits the existence of those looted cultural goods and if the former colony countries, including Indonesia, would like to have them back, it is possible through G to G contacts.

Looted is looted and it should be given back without conditions. That is our advice. I copied here the press release and for the content of the advice, you can open the link below. 


7 October 2020

Demonstrate a willingness to return colonial looted art

The recognition of injustice and the willingness to rectify it as far as possible should be the key principles of the policy on colonial collections in Dutch museums. The Netherlands must therefore be willing to return unconditionally any cultural objects looted in former Dutch colonies if the source country so requests. That is according to the advisory report by the Advisory Committee on the National Policy Framework for Colonial Collections presented today to the Minister of Education, Culture and Science, Ingrid van Engelshoven. This Advisory Committee, chaired by Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You, was established by the Council for Culture last year at the Minister's request.

During the colonial period, many cultural heritage objects were brought to the Netherlands against their owners’ will, for example as war loot. This historical injustice is preserved in the colonial collections that can be seen today in Dutch museums. The Gonçalves Committee believes the Netherlands must assume responsibility for its colonial past by making the recognition and redress of this injustice a key principle of the policy on colonial collections. Discussions with representatives of countries formerly colonized by the Netherlands also emphasized the importance of recognizing this injustice.

The Committee advises Minister Van Engelshoven to coordinate this policy with countries formerly under Dutch colonial rule, in particular Indonesia, Suriname, and the Caribbean islands. It is important to respect these source countries’ views and wishes because that is the only way to achieve an outcome satisfactory to all parties. The Netherlands must take care not to adopt a neocolonial approach based only on its own views and standards, the Committee warns.

Discussion partners from source countries also expressed a desire to cooperate with the Netherlands. For example, they want fuller information on the presence and provenance history of the colonial cultural objects held by Dutch museums. They also want to work together to develop appropriate museum infrastructure and arrange exchanges of students and academics and internships in Dutch museums.

The Gonçalves Committee also recommends setting up an independent Advisory Committee to advise the Minister on requests to return colonial cultural heritage. This committee’s recommendations must be made public.

Requests to return cultural heritage objects which were not looted, or which originated from countries that were not Dutch colonies, should also be considered, especially if they are of special cultural, historical, or religious interest to the country of origin. But unlike requests to return cultural objects looted from former Dutch colonies, such requests for return will not be honored unconditionally. The newly established independent Advisory Committee will assess the reasonableness and fairness of these requests and weigh up the interests involved.

Finally, the Gonçalves Committee recommends establishing a Centre of Expertise on the Provenance of Colonial Objects. This center could conduct additional provenance research and create a publicly accessible database on colonial collections in Dutch museums.

Below is the link to the content of the advice in English. 

Summary of Report Advisory Committee on the National Policy Framework for Colonial Collections

Tuesday, September 29, 2020


I encouraged monthly discussions amongst heritage activists and organizations around Sumatra who united in Pansumnet (Pan-Sumatra Network for Heritage Conservation). Dialogue is very important and it is free. Why not?

Since June, we have had consistently organized it. It was so energizing to listen to all speakers about their local activities and aspirations.


The positive side of the COVID19 pandemic is that everybody is forced to get used to the online world: meetings, seminars, and many more. For a migrant like me, the online world intensifies contacts with Indonesia. I don't have to fly 14 hours to be a speaker in a seminar or a forum. I am content with this. I think this is more environmentally friendly than the old-style way of traveling. Does the online seminar effective? For me it is. The online seminar is nothing less, it is more to the point and efficient in terms of logistics and budget. 


Thursday, August 20, 2020


The Covid19 pandemic has been going on for about a half a year now. The whole world confuses about what to do with this problem. I feel a lot of empathy for those who are deeply affected by the pandemic. I keep thinking about them each day. I also concern about my family in Indonesia. So far so good, no news is good news, although I know that Indonesians do not complain quickly. They are tough people. 

In my professional life, most of the assignments are postponed or canceled. Luckily, it didn't affect me so much personally. I travel abroad less which turns out to be a blessing because I learn more about the Netherlands now by traveling more domestically. I get used to working at home, too, so the concept of working at home during the pandemic, is not new at all. I have no crisis of missing others or colleagues. 

The blessing in disguise of the pandemic is that most people are forced to get used to online mode. I am thankful to be able to organize online programs or to join them anytime anywhere. It was great to listen to a seminar about heritage from the side of a lake in the countryside of the Netherlands. When the seminar was over, I jumped into the lake to swim. I have nothing to complain. 

The challenge is to maintain enthusiasm and passion in the long run. When the whole world confuses, how do I stay intact, creative, healthy, and genuine in what I do? Focus, focus, and focus. Positive, positive, and positive. Grow, grow, and grow. Mentally and physically. 

We don't know when the pandemic is over. What we know is that we need to keep our spirit high, no matter what. 

Friday, July 24, 2020

MANAGEMENT OF CHANGE IN ASIA & EUROPE: Case studies of Essen (Germany) and Sawahlunto (Indonesia)


Case studies of Essen (Germany) and Sawahlunto (Indonesia)"

Thursday, July 30, 2020

15.00 Western Indonesia Time or 10.00 Central European Summer Time.

On 6 July 2019 was officially inscription of Sawahlunto in the UNESCO World Heritage List. To commemorate the anniversary, Pan-Sumatra Network for Heritage Conservation (Pansumnet) supported by several stakeholders organize a webinar about management of former coal mining sites.

UNESCO World Heritage Site Zollverein, Essen, Germany, that has been in the list since 2001 will share experiences and lessons learned as presenters, and heritage experts from Sawahlunto as discussants.

What can Sawahlunto learn from Zollverein that has been on the list for almost two decades?

What are the dynamics of heritage management in Asia and Europe?

How can both sites learn from each other?

If you are interested, please register via this link: