Thursday, June 05, 2008

History of Stovia: Home to national change

Matheos Viktor Messakh , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Fri, 05/30/2008 4:41 PM | City

It was in 1847 that a Dutch health officer in Batavia, W. Bosch, received reports of several deadly diseases in Banyumas, Central Java.

In response, the government came up with a plan to educate local indigenous youths to become health counselors or vaccinators.

The government decreed on Jan. 2, 1849, that 30 young Javanese be educated at the Weltevreden military hospital (now the Army Central Hospital Gatot Soebroto) as vaccinators.

The education was free and, soon after graduating, the vaccinators received 15 gulden a month as well as housing.

They were trained by Dutch health officers, with support from officers at the military hospital.

In 1856, the school started a three-year program for its students and started to enroll students from outside Java. The school was called the Sekolah Dokter Jawa, or Java Doctor School.

In 1898 Java Doctor School director H.F. Roll came up with the idea to upgrade the school to become the School tot Opleiding Van Inlandsche Artsen, or Stovia.

Roll's proposals were accepted and in 1899 the Dutch government started constructing a new building for Stovia on 15,742 square meters of land in gang Manjangan in Weltevreden area, now Senen.

But the construction was interrupted due to a lack of funds. It only continued after Roll collected 178,000 gulden from three businessmen in Batavia, P.W. Janssen, J. Nienhuys and H.C. van den Honert.

The building was finished in 1901 and was formally opened as Stovia on March 1, 1902.

Students accepted into Stovia were graduates of the Europese Legere School (ELS), the Dutch primary school, or its equivalent. They had to spend two to three years studying a preparation curriculum and then continued studying a college medical curriculum for another 5-6 years.

The students were obliged to live in the building's boarding house until they completed their studies.

It was in the anatomy classroom of Stovia on May 20, 1908, that nine medical students formed Boedi Oetomo, the first modern organization that led to the national movement against colonial rule.

Boedi Oetomo was established by class IV and V students, after a meeting led by Wahidin Soedirohoesoedo a year earlier. It is believed Wahidin was the instigator of Boedi Oetomo.

The building was not only where Boedi Oetomo was established, but where two other youth organizations formed, namely Tri Koro Darmo in March 7, 1915, which later became Jong Java and Jong Sumatranen Bond on Dec. 9, 1917.

The curriculum of Stovia improved during 1913-1914, with the duration of study extended to seven years. It then started to accept students of more diverse backgrounds.

From 1926 onwards, the Stovia building in Hospitalweg was used by the Algemeene Middlebare School (AMS) high school, the MULO, and the pharmacist assistant school.

During Japanese colonial rule in 1942-1945, the building was used to house prisoners of war from the Dutch battalion V, with most of its members from Ambon.

As many as 196 Ambonese households continued to occupy the building until March 1973, before the Jakarta governor Ali Sadikin relocated them to a new housing complex in Pedongkelan, Cengkareng.

The Jakarta administration began renovating the building in April 1973. On May 20, 1974 it was formally opened by President Soeharto as the National Awakening Building.

As the National Awakening Building, it became home to four museums: the National Awakening Museum, the Health Museum, the National Press Museum and the Women's Movement Museum.

On Sept. 27, 1982, the Jakarta government handed the building over to the central government. The building became the National Awakening Museum in February 1984.

National awakening museum in need of revamp

Matheos Viktor Messakh , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta | Fri, 05/30/2008 4:41 PM | City

In contrast to the glamorous 100th National Awakening Day at the Bung Karno sports stadium, the National Awakening Museum on Jl. Abdul Rahman Saleh in Senen, Central Jakarta, is in an appalling condition.

The neoclassical building, built in 1899 for the School tot Opleiding Van Inlandsche Arsten, or Stovia, a Dutch medical school for native students, is struggling to preserve its grand history as a place where local students initiated a movement and established a modern organization, Boedi Oetomo, against colonialism in the country.

Once you walk through the main entrance, you will find parts of the building have been overtaken by white ants.

Not much national awakening memorabilia can be found here.

What can be found are faint trails of the past, like some replica Dutch sailing vessels, hundreds of reproduced photos and paintings of national heroes, reproductions of old newspapers, life-size bust models of nine people believed to be the founders of Boedi Oetomo and several dioramas.

"Apart from the building, the only originals are some furniture and medical equipment," said Edy Suwardi, the National Awakening Museum head.

The poor preservation has made it difficult for the museum's management to attain original items, Suwardi said.

"People may be willing to donate their heirlooms, but they are worried they will not be preserved."

Some of the museum's collections are poorly kept. Some photos have no labels and the ones that do are accompanied by vague explanations. Some photos have already gone missing. Only a few rooms have the correct amount of light and the right temperature.

Built as a medical school by Dutch military engineer corps, the Stovia building's design is more like a fortress or military dormitory than a medical school.

The facade above the main entrance is classical Greek in style, but the main entrance itself is a colonial fortress.

The 19th-century building has long windows inviting sunshine. Every window has two shutters and a semicircular grille fanlight attached to each one.

Some windows were restored to their original style in 1973, but glass panes have been replaced by iron bars.

Until a renovation by the Jakarta administration in 1973, the building was home to 196 households of Ambon soldiers.

During the renovations, former Stovia, Meer Uitgebreid Lager Onderwijs (MULO) and Algemeene Middlebare School (AMS) students provided photos and shared their memories of the original building.

Some changes have been made, including new doors connecting rooms, to accommodate visitors to the museum.

Suwardi said despite being of heritage status since 1983, the museum still lacked government funding.

Last year the museum received Rp 2.8 billion (US$ 300.8 million) from the government, but this year it received only Rp 1.8 billion.

Every year, the government earmarks about Rp 300 million for maintenance.

"With this amount there is not much we can do. Painting doors and window frames is cheap, but replacing old and broken materials is expensive," said Suwardi.

Suwardi said the government allocated 30 percent of the funding to fixed-expenditures, such as employee salaries and building maintenance, while the remaining 70 percent should go toward museum activities.

However, more than half of the money is used to pay its 44 employees.

"It is difficult to apply this ratio because we have many employees and obviously our expenditure on human resources is larger," said Suwardi.

Earnings from entrance fees and the museum shops form only a tiny part of their income.

Suwardi said the museum received up to 1,000 visitors a month, but since the entrance fee was set by the government in 1998 at Rp 750 for adults and Rp 250 for children, the museum does not earn much money.

In addition to rooms exhibiting photos, four rooms are dedicated to specific occasions and national awakening dioramas.

There is a Boedi Oetomo memorial, a diorama room of a Stovia lecturers' meeting, a room for a Stovia class diorama and a room depicting national heroine R.A. Kartini's classroom.

On the front corner to the left of the building is the Boedi Oetomo memorial room, which is the only room in its original state. It is believed that Raden Soetomo and eight other students held a meeting here on May 20, 1908, to establish Boedi Oetomo. Back then the room was used for anatomy studies.

In this dark room there are the bronze busts of eight people believed to be the founders of Boedi Oetomo, including Goenawan Mangoenkoesoemo, Raden Angka Prodjosoedirdjo, Gondo Soewarno, Raden Mas Goembrek, Soeradji Tirtonegoro, Moehammad Saleh and Moehammad Soelaiman.

An original human skeleton used for medical students is still hanging inside a display case. A surgery table lies next to it.

Next to the Boedi Oetomo memorial room is a room with an exhibit detailing the situation of the lecturers' meeting when Stovia director H.F. Roll defended Soetomo.

When Soetomo was about to be expelled from Stovia due to his activities in Boedi Oetomo, Roll was able to defend him with his famous saying: "Wasn't anyone among the gentlemen present here redder (more radical) than Soetomo when they were at the age of 18?"

The original table used during the meeting is on display, but the exhibit itself does not represent the real event. From paintings and photos depicting the event, it appears that eight people attended the meeting, but we only find three people in the exhibit, one being Roll.

It's common knowledge the poor management of many museums in the country is caused by a lack of funding. Not only are the collections poorly kept, but they also lack modernity. In a shop inside the museum, apart from soft drinks and snacks, don't expect to find souvenir proving you visited the museum.

"Our museum shop is run by our cooperative, which emphasizes employee welfare. We have some miniatures of the building and some T-shirts and caps, but sometimes we just give them to visitors for free," Suwardi said.

The PKB's unfinished business: Changing the nation

Thu, 05/29/2008 10:34 AM | Headlines

The National Awakening Party (PKB) was recently shaken by an internal dispute after chairman of the party's executive body, Muhaimin Iskandar, was dismissed from his position, first in a vote at the party's leadership meeting and then at its extraordinary congress. The PKB faction led by Muhaimin also held an extraordinary congress maintaining his leadership. Secretary-general of the other PKB faction, Zannuba "Yenny" Arifah Chafsoh Rahman Wahid, accompanied by newly appointed chairman Ali Masykur Musa and a number of party executives, met with The Jakarta Post on Tuesday to discuss the party's situation and its preparations for next year's general elections. Following are excerpts from the interview.

Question:Is it true that conflicts within the PKB occur because Gus Dur (patron board chairman Abdurrahman Wahid) is too dominant?

Answer: As the PKB is a party that depends on a charismatic figure, it is true that Gus Dur is a dominant figure. But the dismissal of Muhaimin Iskandar demonstrates that is not the case because Gus Dur in fact has been too kind to Muhaimin. Gus Dur has repeatedly made excuses for him, and as a result the conflict was drawn out and was only resolved early this month.

The conflict started about two and a half years ago. Within the PKB faction at the House of Representatives Muhaimin continuously opposed the party policies and Gus Dur had repeatedly warned him during PKB central board meetings.

For example, the PKB faction issued statements that contradicted the party policy, so Gus Dur then had to call press conferences to deny the statements. In the Lapindo (mudflow) case, the PKB is the only party insisting on using the House's interpellation right to question the government over the case. But Muhaimin, as one of the House leaders, gave in to lobbying so our intention to interpellate the government was halted.

That was until this month when Gus Dur said he could not work with Muhaimin anymore. He called for party leaders to make a decision.

He said if the meeting ultimately decided to uphold Muhaimin's position, he would take his own steps. Taking Gus Dur's statement as a warning he would resign, members at the meeting came up with several options. One was to hold an extraordinary meeting and another was for Muhaimin to resign.

Before those at the meeting voted, Muhaimin was asked whether he would accept the group's decision. He said it was up to Gus Dur.

Obviously more than two-thirds of the meeting attendants chose to dismiss Muhaimin. The decision was legitimate because although our statute stipulates that the party's executive chairman (Tanfidzh) is elected through a muktamar (congress) and can only be dismissed through the same forum, the statute also stipulates that an executive chairman can be tentatively suspended through a lower level of (leadership) meeting. The definitive dismissal of Muhaimin was later taken in the extraordinary muktamar.

The problem only arose later when Muhaimin was instigated by his friends to hold a national board meeting. Only a few members of the party's central board and representatives of provincial chapters attended the meeting and no members of the party's Syuro (patron) council attended the meeting.

The presence of Syuro council members is important because they are the highest authority in the party. The Tanfidz council is the executive.

As a consequence, all activities done without the Syuro council's approval are illegal. The extraordinary meeting held by Muhaimin's group in Ancol was also illegitimate.

What if the court ruling (on the PKB leadership dispute) favors Muhaimin's camp?

It will be a blatant robbery. It would be nonsense if we were annulled. We have all the things to be considered legitimate. In fact, this case shouldn't even have gone to court. The Justice and Human Rights Ministry should only verify whether we have complied with all of party statutes or not. But they don't seem to want to bother themselves. Actually, we could sue them (the ministry) in court for their inertia but that is what they want. If we did, it would take a long time and we could be late for registration (for the 2009 elections).

Why has the PKB nominated Gus Dur for the 2009 presidential election?

First of all because politically we want to accomplish the mission of bringing about change to the nation. And change can only be accomplished by a brave leader. This country has been too much co-opted by foreign powers. This situation needs to be corrected.

Gus Dur has been trying to release Indonesia from the Washington Consensus by conducting capital registration. It was one of the policies to make sure the outflow of money is under control, which opposes the IMF recipe.

The second reason why we nominated Gus Dur is a philosophical one. We want to teach the nation not to be discriminatory. If Gus Dur, who is well known as an anti-discrimination advocate, could be discriminated against because he is blind, how must things be for other minorities in this country?

There is no legal basis to exclude Gus Dur. We don't care about the result of the election, it's more important to give Gus Dur his political right.

So if anyone says that we thirst for power, indeed, we do thirst for power. But we thirst for power because with power we could do more to bring about changes to this nation. How can we bring about changes if we don't have power?

Why did you agree to become one of President Yudhoyono's special staff? But why did you quit later?

I had to make a statement that I was personally motivated to become a presidential staff member.

Initially I believed SBY could become a solution to this nation but later I came to realize that he is only a liability.

I started to have a lot of arguments with other staff members. We are so different in our perspectives on so many things including the Lapindo case, the National Exam and many other things.

It was also difficult for me to provide the President with any suggestions, advice or reports.

At first we met with the President once a week, later twice a week and then once a month. In these 30-minute meetings we only had about three minutes each to speak because so many people were present. What could we say in three minutes?

Later on I wasn't invited to the meeting anymore, so I put my suggestions in writing, but unfortunately they didn't get to the President's hand.

I feel that I was undervalued. They only asked me to write books. I had no authority, no facilities. I was complaining a lot. I had no desk for a long time so I had to bring my own furniture. And how difficult it was to deal with bureaucracy. Finally I got bored and I decided to resign. (Matheos V. Messakh)

Let bygones be bygones: Gusmao

Fri, 05/02/2008 1:33 PM | Headlines

Thorny issues from the past have often derailed relations between Timor Leste and its former master Indonesia. Timor Leste Prime Minister Kayrala Xanana Gusmao, on an official visit to Indonesia, discussed with The Jakarta Post's Riyadi Suparno and Matheos V. Messakh bilateral issues and the future of Timor Leste. What follows are excerpts:

During your visit, a number of economic agreements have been signed. How do you see the prospects for economic relations with Indonesia?

We see the relationship as more than the small amount of trade volume. We have held a meeting with Kadin (the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry) where we told them to look at us as a place of investment. As a business, maybe we cannot offer Indonesia high capability to buy your products. But look at us as a place of investment.

If you invest money, we could together sell your products to some other countries. We are a member of ACP-EC (African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and the European Community) Partnership Agreement, which is also known as the Cotonou Agreement. We can sell your products to Europe without tariffs, we can also sell the products to China and even to Australia without any tariffs.

This is the relationship. You bring your money through investment, give jobs to our people and together we sell products from Timor Leste. This is what we are trying to say to Indonesians.

We understand that there are still some elements in Timor Leste who have hard feelings about Indonesia. Do you think Indonesian investments will be safe?

Many Indonesians live in Timor Leste currently. The relationship with Indonesian is not a problem.

The Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF), which was founded under your presidency, has received lots of criticism including from the United Nations. Some critics said the joint commission offered only impunity and undermined the judicial system. What's you stance?

In December 2006, I went to New York and also to Geneva to hand over the final report of the CAVR (the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation), a similar report to the CTF report.

We talked about an international community solution. I said, "It's yours, we do what we think the best for our country. If you want, go on. It is not my business."

It is the CAVR report that recommended Timor Leste bring all the countries that helped Indonesia occupy Timor Leste, whether it was politically or financially or even with equipment, to an international tribunal.

I told Timor Leste's parliament in 2005, "We don't have to do this after the devastation in 1999. Do we have to do this after everything was destroyed? The international community came and pushed us to do this." I asked the parliament, the people elected by our people, to decide.

The decision of the state is that the past is the past. We have to build our future. Are we strong enough to put the past in the past? We should be and we must be.

We must not avoid the past. We must tell the truth, we must say that something happened in Timor Leste and Indonesia in the past. We cannot just erase these things. This is what we are trying to educate ourselves about, that we lived together in a very dramatic situation in our history. But it was the past. Now we live together to build a better future for all of us.

But critics say that you cannot provide truth without going through a tribunal process. Your response?

But why me? When Timor Leste has many social problems, security problems, humanitarian problems, why do I have to divert my attention to this when my task is to provide service to my people?

Mozambique also had a war after their independence with thousands of people dying, but they could solve their problem internally. Perhaps some problems still exist but they don't have to kill each other because of the past.

Northern Ireland is also in a process of national reconciliation.

Why only us? Our position is not to vacate the past but to take the past as a lesson in order to prevent similar mistakes in the future.

I can say that whoever provided the TNI (the Indonesian Military) with weapons, bullets and other equipment must go to trial. I can always say that.

But for now, my biggest concern is how to make the life of my people better. The TNI are in the process of putting themselves in a democratic system. So, the best that we can appreciate from both sides is that we are conscious that in the past it was wrong, and now we have to move to share the future.

Even in Timor Leste, lots of people criticize you and President Ramos Horta for your position on the CTF.

I met (former military commander) Wiranto before the Indonesian presidential election in Bali in 2004, and when I went back to Dili they called me a traitor and liar. I don't mind. You can define me however you like, but my concern now is how to put the interest of the people above what can happen to me.

Some say that the 2006 crisis in Timor Leste was caused by the rivalry between you and Jose Ramos-Horta on one side, and Mari Alkatiri and the Fretilin party on the other side. What's your explanation?

It will take a long time to tell. I was a member of the Fretilin central committee a long time ago. If each one said that they are the best, I can have this opportunity also to say that I am the best.

We were defeated by the TNI in 1978, all the senior leaders died and I took over the leadership. I did everything in my capability and my capacity to continue until 1986. I changed the policy, then I became a traitor at that time. I came out from Fretilin (Revolutionary Front for an Independent Timor Leste) and put the guerrilla forces (Falintil) outside of the political party, and we became independent.

In 1999-2000, I said I finished my duty and let the parties to deal with state issues. We had confidence in Fretilin to take over the government for five years, but they made mistake.

So, I said I'm still ready to defend the interests of my people and I built a party. I let them save the country, now I'm ready to lead them again to free themselves from a condition of frustration.

There are still thousands of refugees in West Timor. What's your policy about these refugees?

If we look at the past, from 1999 to 2001, I was along the border, meeting with many of them including some high-level leaders. We solved many things. We brought back thousands and thousands of people.

Now that I am the head of the government, first, I have to look after the stability within my country. I will continue to look at this issue and in the middle of that we will create all the conditions for them to be sure that if they return they will not meet the enemy.

Bahasa Indonesia is still spoken widely in Timor Leste. What will be the future of Bahasa Indonesia there?

In our constitution, Bahasa Indonesia is our working language. And now under our cooperation, Indonesia will help us with teachers to teach Bahasa in secondary schools so that our students will be ready if they go to Indonesian universities.

There is a joke in Timor Leste that Indonesian graduates are "sarjana supermi" (instant noodle scholars). What's your opinion?

I have many of them working with me. I am also a sarjana of life, graduated from "Universitas Tertutup" in Cipinang penitentiary.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Traditional Iranian sport gets warm welcome in RI

Matheos Viktor Messakh, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

As part of an exchange in traditional sports between Iran and Indonesia, two experts in zurkhaneh, an Iranian martial art, have come here to introduce the sport to Indonesians.

The two delegates, coach Reza Mahmoodi and morshed Ebrahim Ghasemi, arrived in Jakarta on Jan. 24 and have just finished a four-day training program with 40 representatives from the regional administrations of Java and Bali at the State University of Jakarta.

"We are amazed by the enthusiasm of young people here," Ghasemi, an expert in the drum pieces and songs that traditionally accompany the sport, told The Jakarta Post.

"Some of them can learn the sport very quickly," he added.

Zurkhaneh, which means "house of power" in Persian, is an ancient Iranian sport that is believed to be around 2000 years old. The practice includes gymnastics-like stretching exercises and calisthenics with the help of some specific tools such as wooden clubs (mil) and bow-shaped iron weights (kabadeh).

Beginning with acrobatics and juggling by a novice (pishrav) inside a circle of participants, a demonstration will end with a wrestling contest between two of the participants. All movement is made in accordance with the rhythm kept by the drum (zarb) and accompanied by traditional songs performed by a murshed.

The 42-year-old Ghasemi said the training program would prepare the Indonesian team to compete in the International Zurkaneh Sports Championships on Kish Island in Iran from Feb. 16 to 20.

The Indonesian team finished fifth in the championships in Iran in November last year, out of 24 participating countries.

Indonesia will also host the Asian Zurkhaneh Sports Championships in May 2008.

The two experts will now fly to Medan, North Sumatra to train 30 representatives from 10 provinces in Sumatra and later continue to a zurkhaneh club in Bandung, West Java until Feb. 12.

Djohar Arifin Husin, an advisor to the state minister for youth and sports affairs, said the presence of the Iranian zurkaneh experts was part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed by sport minister Adhyaksa Dault and Iranian Vice President Mohammad Aliabadi during the former's official visit to Iran in November 2007.

Friday, February 01, 2008

"The two government administrations agreed to exchange traditional sports. Iran came up with zurkaneh, while we proposed pencak silat," Djohar told the Post.

He said the Indonesian Embassy in Teheran was still preparing its pencak silat training program.

"Hopefully, after the training, Iranian pesilat can help promote the sport in the country," Djohar said.

Djohar added that the sports ministry in cooperation with the government of Iran would construct three zurkhaneh halls in Bandung, Jakarta and Medan in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, zurkhaneh coach Reza Mahmoodi said that the International Zurkhaneh Sports Federation had received requests for training from at least 35 countries worldwide.