Renewed focus on Chinese Indonesians

cina jakarta

Darul Aqsha

THE failed coup by the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in 1965 resulted in rising anti-Chinese sentiment throughout Indonesia because of the party’s links to the People’s Republic of China. Racial riots erupted, with ethnic Chinese citizens the targets of looting and vandalism.

The Orde Baru (New Order) government dissolved the PKI, then banned everything associated with China, including the use of Chinese letters and symbols. It also closed Chinese schools and recommended that ethnic Chinese citizens change their names.

The resignation of President Soeharto more than 30 years later hailed a new era. President BJ Habibie openly endorsed reformation and democracy. He revoked the ban on Chinese culture, starting with lifting the ban on Chinese letters, writings and symbols in 1998.

Seizing the opportunity, some publishers started publishing books with themes linked to China or written by Indonesians of Chinese descent.

In the past six months, at least three biographies of prominent Indonesian figures of Chinese descent have been published and are now in notable bookshops in Jakarta.

Tokoh-tokoh Etnis Tionghoa di Indonesia (Prominent Chinese Ethnic Figures in Indonesia) was published last September by Gramedia. Two books with similar themes were published early this year: 10 Tokoh Tionghoa Paling Populer di Indonesia (The 10 Most Popular Chinese Figures in Indonesia) and Peranakan Tionghoa Indonesia: Sebuah Perjalanan Budaya (The Indonesians of Chinese Descent: A Cultural Journey), published by Bio Nusantara and Komunitas Lintas Budaya-Intisari Magazine, respectively.

The three books were apparently published to coincide with Chinese New Year in January.

buk 10 Tionghoa-320x50010 Tokoh Tionghoa Paling Populer di Indonesia contains biographies of a variety of Chinese Indonesians who are very popular in the most populous Muslim country in the world.

The people featured are Kwik Kian Gie (politician, economic observer, former Chairman of the National Development Planning body); Rudy Hartono (sportsman, businessman); Soe Hok Gie (activist); Anton Medan nee Tan Hok Liang (former convict, who embraced Islam and became a Muslim leader); Liem Sioe Liong, Sofyan Wanandi, Ciputra, Putera Sampoerna and Eka Tjipta Widjaja (businessmen); and Mari Elka Pangestu (economic observer, Minister of Trade).

buk Peranakan pustaka01Peranakan Tionghoa di Indonesia contains several articles on the acculturation of the local Chinese and Indonesians, written by Chinese-Indonesian writers.

In his endorsement of the book, Kompas journalist Irwan Julianto states that the Chinese in Indonesia have enriched the cultures of the other Indonesian ethnic groups, creating a unique cultural blend that is very richly manifested throughout the different Indonesian cultures, even more so than the Chineese have influenced Malaysia and Singapore.

buk Tokoh-Tokoh Etnis Tionghoa di IndonesiaTokoh-tokoh Etnis Tionghoa in Indonesia was jointly published by Jakarta’s Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia and the Chen Xingchu Foundation, with a preface by political analyst Harry Tjan Silalahi. It’s a veritable Who’s Who of Chinese Indonesians from the 15th through 21st centuries, covering hundreds of people, from the most respectful people to outright bad guys. Kwik Kian Gie dubbed them “The White” and “The Black”.

Prof. Dr. Abdul Hadi WM

Prof. Dr. Abdul Hadi WM

There are some surprises. Hidden among the pages is Abdul Hadi Widji Muthari, the 63-year-old professor in Islamic mysticism and renown man of words who is often invited to speak at Universiti Brunei Darussalam. He, too, is of Chinese blood, of the family name of Ang.

Many Chinese Indonesians have became Muslim figures, such as Abdul Karim Oey (President Sukarno’s companion), Prof Dr Tjan Tjoe Sim (expert in Islamology and Arabic), Junus Jahja (Muslim assimilation activist and preacher), Dr Muhammad Syafii Antonio (Islamic finance and banking expert), Anton Medan (Muslim preacher), Usman Effendi (journalist, actor and Muslim preacher), Hembing Wijaya Kusuma (expert in herbal medicine), Alifuddin Al Islamy (Muslim preacher), and so on.

Even former Indonesian president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid once claimed he was of Chinese descent.

The writer’s ambition to include too many people resulted in several holes in the book. He included the late Iskandar Suryaaatmadja, a well-known swimming instructor of Surabaya, as alive; did not include the young female singer Agnes Monica; or maybe plain forgot to include that N Riantiarno, actor and leader of Teater Koma, was once jailed for publishing an “obscene” cover on Matra magazine, which he led.

Despite these shortcomings, the book, as with the other two books, is a useful reference, especially for young ethnic Chinese, and for researchers or people who want to study the Chinese community in Indonesia.

The writer, Dr Sam Setyautama, took four years to research and complete the book.

The importance of the publication of such books should not be underestimated, as Indonesia is home to more than 10 million ethnic Chinese, the largest ethnic Chinese community in Southeast Asia.

The Brunei Times
7 June 2009

“Reasons why Britain bombed Surabaya”

Darul Aqsha

buk mengapa inggris“10 November ’45, Mengapa Inggris Membom Surabaya?” (“10 November ’45, Why Did Britain Bomb Surabaya?”)
By Batara R. Hutagalung; Millenium Publisher, Jakarta; (Oct. 2001), first edition, xiv + 472 pp; Rp 59,900,-

THIS book analyzes the simultaneous sea, land and air campaign by British forces against the defenders of the East Java capital of Surabaya in November 1945.

To this day, it remains a bitter memory for older Indonesians.

In the author’s opinion, there are two main reasons why Britain, which did not hold colonial authority over Indonesia, launched the invasion.
First, there were psychological and emotional reasons at play, since Britain was victorious in World War II. Second, the British were bound by a treaty with the Dutch stemming from the conference at Yalta on Feb. 11, 1945, and the Postdam Declaration, which took place on July 26, 1945.

The objectives of the treaty were “to reestablish civilian rule, and return the colony to Dutch administration,” as well as “to maintain the status quo which existed before the Japanese invasion”.

They can be found in a letter dated Sept. 2, 1945 by the Allied Forces’ Supreme Commander South East Asia Vice Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten. British assistance was also in line with the Civil Affairs Agreement between the Dutch and Britain in Chequers, Britain, on Aug. 24, 1945.

The author also outlines the violations committed by British troops. They include infringements upon the sovereignty of the fledgling nation of Indonesia, human rights abuses — including crimes against humanity and forced displacement — and war crimes.

buk mallaby5

Apart from its thorough dissection of this bloody chapter of Indonesian history, this book carries something else of equally important historical significance: an official apology from the British government. It was expressed by British Ambassador to Indonesia Richard Gozney in the name of the British government during a seminar on the Battle of Surabaya in Jakarta in October 2000.

It was a sympathetic act — one which has yet to be offered by the Dutch who, as a colonial power, ruled Indonesia for centuries.–

The Jakarta Post
Sunday, December 30, 2001

“An effort to fuel further research into cannons and its history in Brunei”

Darul Aqsha

Bedil: Khazanah Ristaan Brunei Silam (Cannon: Momentoous Treasure of Brunei’s Past). By Pudarno Bichin, et. al. Publisher: The Museums Department of Brunei Darussalam, 2012.

bedil_book_cannonsA BOOK launching entitled Bedil: Khazanah Ristaan Brunei Silam (Cannon: Momentoous Treasure of Brunei’s Past) highlighted the exhibition of Brunei cannons held at the Muzium Teknologi Melayu in Kota Batu recently. Since 1952, the Museums Department has a collection of over 700 cannons, but the exhibition features only 22 cannons and nine miniatures due to the limited space

The book, prices $12, depicts the history of traditional cannons in Brunei. It includes the history and technology of cannon makings, its ornamentals describing flora – mostly Air MuliH flower, and fauna, materials (from brass and bronze), functions and symbolism (status, money, communication and fine payment tools) as well as its rOles in Southeast Asia region for four centuries (15th-19th centuries) and in supporting Brunei’s tourism.

Some of articles in the book have been already published. Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports Hj Mohd Rozan Dato Paduka Hj Yunos, for an instance, admitted that his introduction for this book originally came from his article that he wrote for The Brunei Times in 2007. The rest are new articles.

There are nine authors who contributed their articles in this book, including Hj Mohdb Rozan. Beside Rozan with his article entitled An Introduction to Bedil: The Traditional Brunei Cannons, there are Bantong Antaran (Director of Brunei’s Museums Department) who wrote on Bentuk Tumbuh-tumbuhan dalam Lorekan Perusaan Tembaga Tradisi, Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng (currently Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II and former Museum Curator in his early days) and Pg Dato Paduka Hj Sharifuddin Pg Metali (a former Director of Brunei’s Museums Department) on Brunei Brass: The Traditional Method of Casting, Pg Dato Sharifuddin on brunei Cannon, Muhammad Zharif bin Haji Sabli (currently student at UBD) on Brunei Cannon: Function and Symbolism, Dk Norazah bte Pg Haji Muhammad (Ethnology Officer at the Brunei Museums) on Bedil Brunei: Warisan Budaya Masyarakat Negara Brunei Darussalam, Tom Harrison (the former pioneer of Archaelogy in Brunei in the 1950s) on Brunei Cannon: Their Role in Southeast Asia (1400-1900 AD), Puasa Kamis (Researcher at Ethnography Division at the Brunei Museums) on Teknologi Pembuatan Bedil di Brunei, and Pudarno Binchin (currently Curator of Ethnography at the Brunei Museums) on The Commodification of Bedil: From Weapon of Destruction to Museum Display and Tourism.

According to Pudanto Binchin, the publication of the book is an effort to fuel further research into cannons and its history in Brunei in particular, with the existing foundation of early studies initiated by Pg Dato Sharifuddin with Tom Harrison in the 1960s.

Islamia/The Brunei Times
Friday, 6 July 2012

The story of Kampong Ayer hero


Darul Aqsha

abdul sabaAFTER the success of his previous novels G.P. (2001) and S.i.r.! (2007), Bruneian novelist JaBiT Abdul Aziz, a pseudonym for Haji Abdul Aziz Tuah, now comes up with another interesting work, Sa.b.a.!

Both of G.P. and S.i.r.! were teenlit (novels for teenagers). They were respectively runner-ups of the Teens Novel Writing Competitions in conjunction with the 35th anniversary of the Language and Literature Bureau of Brunei Darussalam (DBP) in 2001 and the 45th anniversary of the official inclusion of Malay Language in the Constitution of Brunei Darussalam in 2007. Like G.P. and S.i.r.! earlier, Sa.b.a.! was published by DBP in 2010.

Sa.b.a.! focuses on two idealistic men in Bandar Seri Begawan, Abdul Hafiiz bin Dato Mansor and Daniel bin Sahak. Hafiiz is a young lawyer who turns to an idealist publisher-cum-journalist of the New Daily, a bilingual newspaper in Jawi script, in the town. As an idealist, he doesn’t want his newspaper to contain any sensational news. He had resigned from his father’s law office for charging clients too high fees.

Hafiiz just broke his complicated relationship with Sainah. In the midst of writing a report of fires which had razed Kampung Saba Darat, an area in Kampung Air (Kampong Ayer), his state of mind was such that his car hit a man who suddenly popped up on the street. Before Hafiiz rushed him to the Ripas hospital, the man entrusted his bag to him.

Driven by his curiosity about the man who is getting a medical care, Hafiiz silently read some documents in the bag. The documents consist of short stories and a diary. From the diary, he discovers the man’s name, background, activities and ideals. The man’s name is Daniel. He works as a tourist guide, sometimes as a boat driver, and a devout person , activist and visionary who cares with his environment.

He strives to develop Kampung Air and its people by planning projects, but he also tells about Saman, a tough guy, drug and obscene video dealer in the area who hates his activities. Saman is mad about Saliah, Daniel’s younger sister, but Saliah dislikes him for his bad behaviour.

One of Daniel’s projects is Ba.Hal., stands for “Balai Halimah” (Halimah Hall) named after of his late mother, Halimah binti Selamat. In the past, she was married to a white-man, a teacher. The white man left his mother before he was born.

That’s why Daniel is tall has fair skin. Saliah is his mother’s daughter with her Thai husband, a blue collar worker. Daniel and Saliah grow and live with their grandparents’s in Kampung Saba Darat.

Daniel’s project, Ba.Hal, gets financial support from HaDani Sdn Bhd, a private company in the town, to realise Daniel’s dreams. In Ba.Hal, people can hold discussion, study Al-Quran in corners or read books and newspapers in the library.

He had voluntarily installed sewerage system and sprinkling pipes network in the event of fires. That’s why some houses which already had the facilities were not gutted by fire. He also tried to make fibreglass to wrap the local people’s boats. Even he plans to propose Kampung Air becoming one of the world heritage sites of Unesco.

The latter thing stimulates Hafiiz to browse the Internet to know about Unesco’s world heritage sites and its criteria. But when his friend told him that an Unesco-acclaimed world heritage site cannot be developed anymore for the reason of cultural conservation and it would be disadvantage to its people, Hafiiz dismisses his will to help realising the idea but trying to help the other ones. Besides, another tip from his friend that increased Hafiiz’s curiosity is that Daniel has a beautiful younger sister.

The car accident itself, however, makes Daniel a hero. Many people who knows his merits, especially from Kampung Air and even his foreign friends from a foreign NGO who sympathise with his activities, queue to see him at Ripas hospital. It’s here that Hafiiz and Saliah meet. But, an unexpected-incident occurs. Saman’s henchmen sneak and suddenly pour urine on Daniel’s head!

One night after Daniel was released from the hospital, an NGO delegation arrives in Ba.Hal. to discuss Daniel’s projects, including an underground tunnel from the Yayasan to Ba.Hal., like the Channel Tunnel. A video from the owner of HaDani Sdn Bhd in Finland is turned on. It shows a message from the company’s owner who died a month before that he was the biological father of Daniel named Christopher Daniel and inherited some £500 million to maintain Ba.Hal. and Kampung Air. Suddenly, Saman and his gang appear guns in hand and fire bullets in the discussion room. Saman pour acid liquid on Daniel, while his man shoots fatally, then runs away…

The novel flows with a blend of idealism, solidarity, integrity, social concern with some seeds of romance, violence and heroics in the story within the story.

Nevertheless, the strength of the novel lays on the author’s unique plot and his narrative style. Besides using bilingual narration, Brunei Malay and English, the chapters are named after each character and in every new chapter a particular character tells his/her story so that readers can understand the story from each person’s point of view.

This reminds me of Remy Sylado’s style in his novel Kerudung Merah Kirmizi (The Dark Red Headscarf), a serial published in the Jakarta-based newspaper Republika in 2001, then published as a novel by Gramedia in 2002. Remy Sylado, pseudonym for Yoppy Tambayong, is an Indonesian multi-talented and productive author, poet, and actor residing in Bandung, West Java.

Another unique thing is the author uses inversely words in his narration which he called “360 degree word” such as “hasileg” for “gelisah” (anxious), reminding me to the colloquial tradition of people in the Indonesian town of Malang, East Java. Beside that, he also uses the ending word of a sentence — both in Malay and English — as the first word of the next sentence like a pantun (traditional poetry) as it’s expressed in the narration found in Daniel’s diary. Such expressions can also be found in the Malay “mystical” poems of Sutardji Calzoum Bachri, a renowned Indonesian poet.

The author, who hails from Kampung Saba Darat and an employee at the Brunei’s Ministry of Finance, is apparently still not satisfied with the details on the Unesco’s world heritage sites list which occupy over 20 pages. He put the list as an attachment in the end of the novel. Unfortunately, it is superfluous.

The Brunei Times
Sunday, February 6, 2011

Author’s comment/correction:

Comments on book review, Sa.b.a.!

Dear Editor,

I AM referring to the book review Sa.b.a.!. published in your esteemed newspaper on February 6, 2011. A special thanks to Darul Aqsha (the writer) for writing the book review.

I am the author of the book in review. I would like to make comments/rectification on the review as follows:

I hope the writer read the book again because when I wrote the book, it was intended for the reader to read them twice. I embraced the idea that the book should be read seriously. By reading the book twice means that it should be read seriously;

In relation to the above point, the writer was misconstrued in telling Saliah’s father is a Thai national. Saliah’s father is a Chinese expatriate. Putih’s father is a Thai national;

Abdul Hafiiz, a lawyer, peeks into Daniel’s bag not because of curiosity alone but to make sure the document is not of subversive in nature;

As an author, I feel privileged being compared to two contemporary, famous writers from Indonesia. What the writer missed was that he could not explored and explicitly named the “original” title of the book.

He only mentioned Sa.b.a.!. The writer may look at: page 9, paragraph 4; page 86, paragraph 12 and page 102, paragraph 4.

The bolded words were supposed to be coined together. After successfully doing that, jolt it down in your mind or a piece of paper, that is the true title of Sa.b.a.! I am proud to say that the way the real title was created may be the first in the world!;

The details on the back page of the book are not “superfluous” but an additional information which I felt “a bonus” to the reader: the significance of Unesco’s World Heritage Site.

The writer also forgot to enunciate the NGO was not only looking at Kampong Ayer but also Ba.Hal. to be the nominees of the Unesco’s World Heritage Site. Please remember, the book is only a fiction;

Anyway, thank you for the book review which, I as one of the many local writers need someone to review our literary work. Thank you once again to the writer. Sincerely

JaBiT Abdul Aziz

Bandar Seri Begawan

The Brunei Times
Monday, February 14, 2011

abdul aziz tuah

New volume reveals ‘hidden intentions’

pram dok

Darul Aqsha

PRAM KRONIK 3Kronik Revolusi Indonesia Jilid III (1947); By Pramoedya Ananta Toer,; Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia, Jakarta (2001), xxvi, 507 pp.; Rp 54,000,-

JAKARTA (JP): A friend once warned me against “”the hidden intention”” of the two earlier volumes (1945 and 1946) of this title.

What my friend meant was, in fact, “”the leftist”” message inserted in several pages of the volumes concerning the labor unions and the communists during that period.

In this third volume, Kronik Revolusi Indonesia Jilid III (1947) {Chronicle of the Indonesian Revolution Volume III (1947)}, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, the editor of the book, is open in his recognition of the elements that my friend referred to.

Pramoedya, the cultural editor of Lentera, the supplement of 1the (now defunct) Bintang Timur daily, which was the trumpet of the (now banned) Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in the early 1960s, says those disclosures went “”missing from circulation”” for several decades.

He considers this news to be important in being exposed because news is a reflection of events.

On June 9, 1947, for instance, the Central Bureau of the All-Indonesian Labor Union (SOBSI), a labor wing of the communist party, was accepted as member of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) in its meeting in Prague, in what was then, Czechoslovakia. Indonesia was represented by two SOBSI activists, Setiadjit and Oei Gee Hwat.

Pramoedya points out that a chronicle is a chronological record of a series of events and incidents in the past. “”It’s history minus opinion, (what one does is) merely putting forward the facts””, he writes in his preface.

But facts are not identical to events or incidents, because it is impossible to describe them “”intact”” in whatever form.

“”Here we speak about subjectivity, namely that the chronicle -albeit in principle, has characteristics of objectivity – cannot take away subjectivity away from history””, the editor says.

The task of a chronicle, just like history, is to give a form to the past in order that its pluses and minuses are revealed.

Renowned historian Ong Hok Ham in his introduction criticizes the previous two volumes for inadequate references. In the two books, the editor only used sources (such as newspapers, magazines and books) from Indonesia and focused on events occurring around Jakarta.

Ong suggested that the editor use other sources such as diaries, memoirs, biographies, articles written by national leaders including Adam Malik and Mohammad Hatta, as well as manuscripts published by the Rijks Geschiedkundige Publicatien in Holland such as Netherlandsch-Indonesische Betrekkingen, 1945-1950 (Netherlands-Indonesia Relationships, 1945-1950).

However, some improvements have been made in the third volume. The editor has apparently tried to accommodate Onghokham’s suggestions. The volume is richer in references and covers more regions, thanks to the effort of another editor, Ediati Kamil, a former librarian at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Indonesia.

Pramoedya-Ananta-Toer21Nevertheless, Pramoedya fails to suppress his nationalist sentiments when speaking about the references included in the book. He says it is mainly from Indonesian sources, as read in the bibliography, because it is the Indonesian people who are the most concerned about Indonesian history.

And because the editor of this chronicle is an Indonesian, “”the Indonesian-centered inclination is unavoidable, despite the fact that a chronicle should not take any side””.

When composing this volume, Pramoedya has admitted to predominantly using two main chronicles, namely Documenta Historica Jilid I (1953, 373 pp.) by Osman Raliby, and three volumes of Perjuangan Kemerdekaan di Aceh (Independence Struggle in Aceh) by T.A. Talsya (1990).

Those two books have enriched this volume with details about the province of Aceh, which was Indonesia’s stronghold in the struggle against colonialism at the time.

If you take the present situation of Aceh in mind, it’s interesting to read that on January 15, 1947, Muslims throughout Aceh observed the feast for three days without a break as a plea for divine help for the safety of the fledgling republic and the safety of its soldiers fighting on the front line.

There’s more. The Aceh Regional Council for Defense then called on the people of Aceh to raise funds and collect food for the front line. The Acehnese had indeed made material and spiritual sacrifices for the survival of Indonesia.

Pramoedya notes that in literature on the history of the Indonesian Revolution, only those two chronicles by Raliby and Talsya are in existence.

In fact, the Ministry of Information had published in 1950 a chronicle entitled Beberapa Catatan: Detik dan Peristiwa 17 Agustus 1945 – 23 Januari 1950 (Some Notes: Moments and Events of August 17, 1945 – January 23, 1950).

Maybe Pramoedya could use this chronicle for his next volume.

The editor also notes that, based on the information from Jaap Erkelens of Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land-, en Volkenkunde, some bulletins of the Antara news agency in the revolution years of 1945-1949 are still stored at the Arsip National Republik Indonesia in Jakarta.

There are at least two important events in 1947 contained in this third volume. They are the signing of the text of the Linggarjati Agreement on March 25 in Jakarta, and the first clash with the Dutch that started on July 21. The press and literature published during that period was preoccupied by the two events, details about them dominate this volume.

Although there is a concern about the so-called “”hidden intention””, the publication of chronicles documenting the years in which the struggle for independence took place is very important, not only to inform the younger generation about the armed struggle, but also as a source of reliable reference for historical or scientific purposes.

Despite his “”leftist”” image, Pramoedya has obviously tried in this book to be objective and treat all events and actors equally.

Pram rokok

The Jakarta Post
Sun, June 24 2001

Snapshot on the role of women in an era of armed struggle

Darul Aqsha

larasati1Larasati; Pramoedya Ananta Toer; Hasta Mitra, Jakarta, 2000 ; viii + 176 pp; Rp 23,000

JAKARTA (JP): What was the role of women in defending Indonesia’s independence during the revolutionary era?

At that time, most of the women involved in the independence struggle worked as nurses at Red Cross centers, were active at public kitchens or provided logistics for independence fighters. Very few were involved in militias, such as the Laswi (Indonesian Women’s Militia), or in politics.

What were female film stars doing at that time? Very few film stars were involved in the historical struggle.

Pramoedya Ananta Toer, through his realism in this revolutionary tale, has taken a snapshot of the life of a popular female movie star named Larasati, nicknamed Ara, during the armed struggle between 1945 and 1950.

After spending one year with independence fighters as an unpaid stage star in Yogyakarta, Indonesia’s capital at the time, Ara returns to Jakarta, under occupation by the Allied and Dutch troops, to meet her mother and resume her career as a film star.

During her journey on the train, Ara meets many young people and artists who have relinquished their lives in the big cities to join guerrilla forces, particularly in the West Java towns of Cikampek, Karawang, Bekasi and East Jakarta.

In the demarcation area of Bekasi, Ara meets an indigenous colonel of the Netherlands Indie Civil Administration (NICA), Suryo Sentono, as well as Marjohan, a former announcer during the Japanese occupied era who became an opportunist. Marjohan offers Ara the star role in a NICA propaganda film.

Because she sympathizes with the independence fighters, Ara refuses the offer and is jailed by the indigenous colonel, angry at her stubborn behavior. However, ultimately she is freed by a Dutch colonel, Drest.

Ara manages to enter Jakarta thanks to the assistance of a NICA sergeant from Papua, who has deserted the armed forces. He leaves Ara at one of the city’s kampongs.

larasatiIn the kampong, she lives with an old woman who was her mother’s neighbor. Her mother, Lasmidjah, works as a domestic servant for an Arab family, who turn out to be Dutch spies.

At their home, Ara meets a yellow-eyed Arab youth named Jusman, who asks her to join his gambus (Arabian music) group as a singer. She refuses the offer.

Ara becomes involved in the smuggling of ORI, new banknotes issued by the republic’s government to replace the Japanese currency. The money belongs to the state.

She joins the youths fighting as city guerrillas, led by a brave young man named Martabat.

Meanwhile, her mother is arrested by the NICA troops. A year later, Jusman persuades Ara to meet her mother, who has returned to his home. But, at Jusman’s home Ara becomes a sex slave. Jusman, whom Ara knew while he spied on local fighters and residents, falls in love with her.

Jusman claims that he had nothing to do with the battle between local fighters and NICA troops, but, eventually, he is captured and tortured by local fighters for his espionage activities, leaving him in hospital for several weeks.

Ara does not visit him and she is treated in hospital for several months as a result of Jusman’s sexual assaults. Jusman does not marry Ara because of the changing political situation. After the Round Table Conference is finalized and President Sukarno returns to Jakarta, Jusman flees to Singapore.

Eventually, Ara meets Captain Oding, who provides her with travel documents and an assignment to collect a suitcase of money from Yogyakarta. Oding invites her and her mother to live at a Dutch house in Jakarta.

In this romance, Pramoedya tells the role of people of Arab descent in Jakarta, who sided with the Dutch colonialists. The Arabs are described as doing nothing but playing gambus.

Through Ara, Pramoedya says “”the Arabs know absolutely nothing about politics. What they look after is money and they only came to Indonesia for money””.

It is, of course, an over-generalization to say that Arabs couldn’t care less about politics and do not care about anything but money.

As recorded in history, many people of Arab descent in the country were involved in various fields, such as journalism, politics, social welfare, education and religious propagation, including the establishment of modern organizations like Jamiat Kheir, Al Irsyad and the Indonesian Arab Party.

As noted poet Taufiq Ismail once said, Pramoedya used to portray all of his figures who performed prayers and had a haj title as a bad guy.

In his early years as an author, in the late-1940s, Pramoedya was well-known for his genre of “”long short stories””, such as Perburuan (The Hunt), Keluarga Gerilya (Guerilla Family) and Kerandji Bekasi, which was republished as Di Tepi Kali Bekasi (By Bekasi River).

The long short story Larasati was published for the first time in Bintang Timur newspaper’s cultural supplement, Lentera, between April 2 and May 17, 1960.

Later, it was published in the form of book, together with Gadis Pantai (The Girl from the Coast) and Panggil Aku Kartini Saja (Just Call Me Kartini), where a woman become the main protagonists out of respect for Kartini Day, which falls on April 21.

The publication of this story was made possible due to the work of two Indonesian students, Alfred D. Ticoalu and Ben Abel, who handled the Lentera/Bintang Timur documentary project at Cornell University, Ithaca.

The Jakarta Post
Sun, May 13 2001

pram berani

Looking at a century of Brunei-British relations

Darul Aqsha

Brun Brit cover100tahun

THIS book is a compilation of working papers that was presented during the Brunei History Seminar III which was organised by the Brunei History Centre on March 8 to 9, 2006, in conjunction with the 22nd Anniversary of the country’s Independence Day.

The book, entitled 100 Tahun Hubungan Brunei-British: Kumpulan Kertas Kerja Seminar Sejarah III (100 Years Relations of Brunei-British: Collection of Working Papers of History Seminar III), presents 17 working papers that discuss various aspects covering political, economic, social, educational and commercial between Brunei and Great Britain since 1906 until 2006. Among of the topics featured in the book were “The relationships of Brunei-British friendship”, “The 1888 treaty: A hope and disappointment”, “Brunei’s achievement in self-government: Reviewing Brunei and British ties since the end of World War II to 1959”, “The administration of residents in Brunei 1906-1959: Educational basis and its influences over the development of education in Brunei until 1953”, and “Brunei Darussalam’s administration of Islamic Law during the British Era”.

In a paper on the Brunei-British relations entitled “HUbungan Brunei dan Great Britain” (Brunei-Great Britain Relations), Brunei historian Dr Muhammad Hadi bin Md Melayong said that after the independence of Brunei in 1984, the British kingdom still agreed to place the Gurkha batallion in the sultanate based on the defence agreement that was signed in September 1983.

He added that the Brunei-British ties had been binded based on agreements of 1847, 1888, 1906, 1959, 1971 and then 1979. The agreements were tools that both of Brunei and British use for their political and economic interests respectively. “For Brunei, the agreements from 1847 to 1979 have been able to protect Brunei from any domestic and foreign threats for the sake of defending its survival and sovereignty,” Hadi concluded.

The Brunei Times
Sunday, June 16, 2013

Measuring the Potential of Islamic Media Revival


THE book that is published by Pustaka Al-Kauthar indeed describes various weaknesses of Muslims in the management of information through the mass media. At least up to now there is no, or at least only slightly, professional media whis are run by Islamic practitioners who convey the correct information to the Muslims .

Nevertheless, this book is not intended to make Muslims pessimistic or skeptical about the dream of the birth of the Islamic media. This book was made precisely to foster the belief that someday there will be a media onslaught of Islam which could offset the secular media information. Although not technically discuss the formation and establishment of the Islamic media, at least this book outlines the key points are duly fought Islamic media.



As Mashadi said in the introduction of the book that is published in December 2013, “Imagine, 1.5 billion Muslims around the world cannot be afford, cannot move in facing (the invasion of information ) United States and the Israeli Zionist, as the nerve center and their hearts are already controlled by corporate – owned mass media Israeli Zionist.”


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