Wed, 05 Apr 2000

Not for the benefit of people

I refer to the letter by Pak Djoko Soejoto entitled Past deeds of the Dutch (The Jakarta Post, March 31, 2000). He said in the letter: "not all the things the Dutch did in Indonesia were bad. The Dutch built us the best narrow-gauge railroad in the world at that time."

I certainly would not dispute the statement and even that the Dutch built much more infrastructure, including the more than 800-kilometer road in Java at the beginning of 1800s, stretching from Anyer in the west to Panarukan in the east by the infamous Daendels, the then Dutch Indies governor general. Not to mention that the Dutch also built all the Indonesian presidential palaces, with the exception of the palace of Tampak Siring in Bali. But all these "good" things built by the Dutch were mainly much less for the benefit of the islanders/natives then. Indeed, these "good" things were undoubtedly financed by the people of this archipelago and not forgetting the blood, sweat and tears of these people who made sacrifices to make Indonesia a reality.

With great respect to the names of our great Indonesian pioneers mentioned by Pak Djoko in his letter, may I query what choice of education all these great Indonesian men had during the Dutch colonial time rather than to follow the colonial education system? Fortunately, these respected Indonesians managed to mobilize most of the people in de gordel van smaragd (the belt of emeralds, a figurative description of the Indonesian archipelago) to challenge the colonialist Dutch not to dictate their faith and future. And they were successful in kicking the colonialist Dutch out of this land.

I certainly would not use Bart van Assen's hypothesized theory in his letter in the Post on March 28, 2000 where he repeatedly uses the word "if", as in my opinion "if" is misleading, irrelevant and not based on fact.


Bekasi, West Java