Sat, 11 Sep 1999

Historical sites a Dutch legacy for military

JAKARTA (JP): There are no explanations available to why the military always occupies the city's historical buildings, which are mostly legacies from the Dutch colonial era, for their headquarters or offices.

A man whose family witnessed the capital's history over the last century, said recently that the habit probably originated from an unwritten agreement among Indonesian freedom fighters that they would utilize the buildings, seized from the Dutch colonists, to serve as their military base.

"After seizing the buildings from the Dutch, the freedom fighters used them as a home base for military operations. They also used the buildings as interrogation and detention centers and even as a site for executing alleged Dutch spies," said Sapnan, an occupant of the Landhuis historical building on Jl. Bekasi Timur in Jatinegara subdistrict, East Jakarta.

Sapnan, who was born in 1943 in Jakarta, sells books and his kiosk stands in front of the Jatinegara railway station in East Jakarta.

The Sapnan family can not stand to be separated from the history of the building, also described by many as Regenscaamp, or the Regent's house. Sapnan's late father, Naen bin Miran, was a centeng (watchman) for Djayusman, an East Jakarta regent during the colonial era in the early 1900s. Naen was born in 1879 and died in 1976.

Djayusman granted Naen's family a small house located on the left side of the building. Sapnan said the small house, in which his family now lives, used to be a kitchen for the regent's family.

Sapnan said that after independence in 1945, the building was then used as the Komando Militer Kota Besar Djakarta Raya, or KMKB-DR, (Greater Djakarta Raja Military command) in 1953, before it became the headquarters for the East Jakarta District Military Command in 1959.

Sapnan, a father of 12 children from two wives, said several parts of the building were later used as a detention house for the alleged members and supporters of the outlawed Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in 1965 for a year.

"The military personnel arrested the PKI members and used the building to interrogate and torture them to get information," he said.

After decades of military occupation, the building has been designated by city administration to become a museum for the home affairs ministry. The building, protected under the 1993 Gubernatorial Decree on national trust buildings in the capital, was vacated last year by the East Jakarta Military Command.

The military command has moved to new headquarters in Klender, also in East Jakarta.

The building, which occupies a 5,600-square-meter parcel of land, was built in the 19th century. Years before it was used by the military, the building, which has a European-style facade, was a regency office under Dutch colonial rule.

Now the building is used by the Wijayakarta Military Resort, which oversees four military district commands, including the East Jakarta Military District Command.

The military resort began to occupy the building early this year. The military resort had its headquarters before on Jl. Sentra Primer, Pulo Gebang subdistrict in East Jakarta.

The main building has seven rooms with walls around 40 centimeters thick, big doors, tall windows and high ceilings. Behind the main building are small houses occupied by 10 families, as well as a small mosque.

Col. George Toisutta, the commander of Wijayakarta Military Resort, said recently that they would occupy the building temporarily.

"The owner of the building is the city administration. If they want it back, we will move to another place," he said.

The commander acknowledged some parts of the building were in poor shape after being vacant for one year.

"We have renovated some parts of the building by patching up the leaky ceilings," he said.

The military command has partitioned off the building's biggest room to make several others in order to maximize the use of it as the military's office complex. (asa)