CHARLES OLKE VAN DER PLAS: Dutch East Indies Administrator-cum-Orientalist

Ch. O. van der Plas

Ch. O. van der Plas

CHARLES O. van der Plas or Ch. O. van der Plas (1891-1977) was an administrator in the Dutch East Indies colonial government who served as the Governor of the State of East Java during the Indonesian National Revolution.

He was born on 15 May 1891 in Buitenzorg, Duth East Indie (Bogor, Indonesia) and died on 7 June 1977 in Zwolle, a municipality and the capital city of the province of Overijssel, Netherlands, 120 kilometres (75 mi) northeast of Amsterdam.

He is son of Charles Olke van der Plas Sr., Administrator in the cultures, and jkvr. Catharina Cornelia Eleanor Clifford Kocq van Breugel. He married Lilian Mabel Skerrett Rogers on 30 April 1919. From this marriage one son and one daughter were born. After her death on 10 December 1924, on 8 November 1933 he married Johanna Jacoba Willemina Hermine Pleijte. From this marriage no children were born.

After finishing his high school, on September 22, 1908 van der Plas went to the University of Leiden to study to prepare for the exam for the Dutch East Indian administrative service on June 20, 1911. In 1912, he started as an administrative officer in the Civil Service (BB) in Java and was inspector of BB. Since 1913, the fulfillment of special tasks drew early attention to him. In 1919 he was admitted to the Netherlands’s Bestuursacademie and he wooed the function of Dutch consul in Jeddah. It was the famous Leiden Professor C. Snouck Hurgronje who chose him for this strategic diplomatic post. He served as as the Dutch consul to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia from 1921 to 1926.

van der Plas was influenced by the Dutch Islamist scholar Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje and became an expert in Indonesian society and politics, Islam and Arabic.

Following the Japanese occupation of Indonesia during World War Two, he served as a member of the Netherlands Indies Civil Administration and rose to the position of Governor of East Java (18 May 1936 to 30 June 1941). van der Plas played an important role in establishing the State of Madura, a constituent state of the federal planned Republic of the United States of Indonesia.

After the Allied soldiers landed in Jakarta and various parts of Java in September 1945, the situation became heated and critical. On 15 September, British First Admiral Patterson arrived on the battleship HMS Cumberland at Tanjung Priok harbor accompanied by Charles Van der Plas, the representative of Netherlands Indies Civil Administration (NICA) at the Allied headquarters in Singapore.

After having a small incident with the young republicans, Van der Plas told his British colleagues that wiping out the Japanese-made republic would be fast and easy. Take down the “red and white” flag from department buildings, capture Soekarno and the other leaders as Japanese collaborators and war criminals, and the republic would become a history.

Wikipedia/Kahin, George McTurnan and Audrey Kahin. 2003. “Southeast Asia: A Testament”. London: Routledge Curzon;;;


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