Sat, 27 Sep 2003

Titles up for grabs, politicians line up

Blontank Poer, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Some people may have taken Shakespeare's "What's in a name?" to heart and decided they needed more weight to their names, yearning for the prestige of a royal title.

About 600 people, including prominent politicians, have reportedly submitted requests to be granted royal titles from the Hadiningrat Kraton of Surakarta in Central Java.

Among them are Minister of Manpower and Transmigration Jacob Nuwa Wea, Minister of Settlement and Regional Infrastructure Soenarno, People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Amien Rais, House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tandjung, Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno and a Malaysian minister.

Should the requests be fulfilled, royal titles will be granted to the applicants on Sept. 27, a day before the 60th anniversary of the crowning of Sultan Pakubuwono XII, who is locally called Jumenengan. The celebration, held four times a year, will take place on Sunday.

"This time we have 600 requests," Prince Dipokusumo, the executive operator of the Surakarta palace, told The Jakarta Post on Friday evening.

Not all of the requests will be fulfilled as there is criteria to be met. Among the criteria are that applicants should be known by the palace, respect the country's many cultures -- not just Javanese -- and have historical ties to the palace.

However, meeting only one of the criterion could be enough to be granted a royal title.

Royal titles to be granted are, among others, Kanjeng Raden Tumenggung, equal to a district chief, and Kanjeng Raden Adipati, equal to a regent.

Both Amien and Akbar are likely to be considered as highly as regents.

"Who will get what will be decided by the sultan," said Dipokusumo.

Those granted royal titles are expected to help retain the kraton's dignity as well as develop the royal culture.

However, Dipokusumo said there was no monitoring board to later evaluate the behavior of those bestowed with royal titles.

No money should be paid to the palace for the royal titles, at least not for Dipokusumo as he said: "I do not know about the others, but I myself have never accepted any payment or bribes from people for granting them royal titles."

Those bestowed with royal titles should pay only Rp 50,000 (US$5.80) for a certificate.

The advantage of becoming a royal is a question of prestige, not material gain.

With the bestowing of titles, more "district chiefs" and "regents" will be among the populace by the end of this month.