The Walls of Old Batavia

The map below shows the outline of the City of Batavia and its defensive walls and bastions in 1780, at the peak of its commercial development and before the subsequent bankruptcy of the United Dutch East India Company (VOC) only another 15 years later.

The walled city of Old Batavia

The walled city of Old Batavia

Who would believe that after more than 300 years some of the walls of Old Batavia are still standing? Along with Sake Santema from the Bartele Gallery and a small group of enthusiasts we decided to mount an expedition to ‘discover’ part of the old wall. Walking north from Fatahillah Square along Jalan Pintu Besar Utara we passed under the tollroad and then turned right across a muddy open area used to store construction materials. The detail map shows the location of the remaining warehouse and the old wall.

Map of Batavia. Detail

Map of Batavia. Detail

The map shows four warehouses originally built in this location but only one is remaining. These warehouses were built by the VOC from 1700 to 1752 in the eastern area between the City of Batavia and Kasteel Batavia. Known as the Graanpakhuizen (grainwarehouses) they were used to store corn, rice, beans, peanuts, peas, ships biscuit and other foodstuffs. It is possible to enter the abandoned warehouse and after you pick your way throught the dust, dirt and debris you can admire the massive teak beams used in its construction. There must be a way to preserve this historic building before it is allowed to be destroyed by the onslaught of ‘development’.

How much longer can this historic building survive?

How much longer can this historic building survive?

On the east side of the warehouse we passed through a gap which allowed us to follow the outside of the Old Wall towards the northwest. Here there is a pathway between the wall and the temporary houses built along the canal which extended towards Kasteel Batavia before it was demolished by Marshall Daendels in 1809 to build Fort Cornelis.

The old wall and local residents

The old wall and local residents

This photograph show our small group standing in front of the old wall which towers above us. Sake Santema is holding the historic map of Batavia that we used as our guide.

A remaining part of the old walls of Batavia

A remaining part of the old walls of Batavia

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The Coronation of the Sultan of Tidore — October 2014

The Coronation of the Sultan of Tidore

The Coronation of the Sultan of Tidore

When our first Spice Islands Sailing Adventure reached Tidore in 2012 we sadly learnt that the Sultan had recently passed away. During that visit we were taken to a Council House high on the mountain, where the elders would meet to decide which one of the Sultan’s heirs would become the new Sultan. When we returned in 2013 there was still no new Sultan. However our visit in 2014 just preceded the official Coronation of the new Sultan of Tidore. One of our voyagers, Randall Rutledge, stayed on to view the proceedings and our thanks go to Randall for the following account and photos of the event:

One does not normally think about monarchy in relation to the unitary Republic of Indonesia, but monarchies do indeed exist within the confines of the republic. One such polity is the Sultanate of Tidore located in the Province of Maluku in eastern Indonesia. On October 22 this year, the 37th Sultan of Tidore, Husain Syah, was enthroned in a ceremony held at the newly restored palace (istana) in the royal capital town of Soasiu. I was fortunate enough to secure an invitation, along with eight other foreigners, to attend the ceremony.

Preparations at the Sultan's Palace

Preparations at the Sultan’s Palace

Starting at around 8:00am, the thousands of invited guests, ranging from local citizens to representatives of the republican, provincial and regency governments, to members of the ulama and representatives of other traditional monarchies, started to arrive. We were all seated beneath enormous tents arrayed around the periphery of the palace grounds. All attendees were required to dress in traditional clothes. I certainly stood out in my poorly fitting borrowed outfit, but the locals seemed to appreciate and enjoy the fact that we made the effort.

Much to our surprise, and slight embarrassment, our group of nine was ushered to front row seats in one of the tents facing the royal dais in front of the Istana’s grand dual staircase. From this vantage point we were able to take in all of the festivities. The actual coronation of the Sultan with the crown (mahkota) of Tidore took place out of sight of the gathered guests within the palace itself. The ceremony was described to those outside the palace over a public announcement system in three languages: Bahasa Tidore, Bahasa Indonesia and English. After the coronation, the Sultan, wearing the mahkota, which is made of gold and human hair, made an appearance on the second floor balcony of the palace giving all of those in attendance an opportunity to see him in his regalia.

Soon after, about twenty cars and vans drove into the Istana grounds with government officials and representatives of other traditional monarchies, who proceeded into the Istana to offer their congratulations to the Sultan and his wife. After lunch was served the the Sultan rose from his throne and delivered a speech in Bahasa Indonesia, to the gathered multitudes.

The Sultan of Tidore and his wife

The Sultan of Tidore and his wife

Once he concluded all of the guests were invited to come to the dais and greet and congratulate the new sultan and his wife (who has the title of Boki). And they all did! The event took on a festive air at this point as thousands of people queued up to shake hands with both the Sultan and his wife. The Sultan sent one of his aides to ask our group to wait till the end so that we could pose for photos with the royal couple. In the meantime while we waited we must have been photographed by everyone with a camera. Foreigners apparently aren’t that common on Tidore, especially a group of such motley dressed ones. I couldn’t tell if they were laughing with us or at us. But it was fun none the less. By now it was close to 2:00 as we were escorted onto the stage to greet the Sultan who welcomed us in English and gladly posed for photographs with all of our group. We then took our leave and returned to our hotel on the neighboring island of Ternate; exhausted from the heat, but excited about the rare event we had been fortunate to witness.

Randall Rutledge with the Sultan and his wife

Randall Rutledge with the Sultan and his wife

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The Forgotten Founder of Singapore

I have always been surprised by the lack of recognition in Singapore for its co-founder William Farquhar. Please correct me if I am wrong but I cannot find a street or place named after him anywhere in the city.

William Farquhar Image 3

In 1818 the Governor-General of India authorized Stamford Raffles to establish a post at the southern end of the Strait of Malacca provided it did not cause a conflict with the Dutch and his orders stated:

The long experience and peculiar qualifications of Major Farquhar, the late resident of Malacca, and his late employment at Riau and Lingga, eminently fit him for the command of the post which it is desirable to establish, and the local superintendence of our interest and affairs.

While the British Resident in Malacca from 1803 to 1818, William Farquhar had established friendly relations with the Temenggong Abdu’r-Rahman of Johor. Knowing that the Dutch would soon be returning to the Strait of Malacca after the hand-over of Java and its dependencies by the British in 1816, he concluded an agreement with the Temenggong (A Malay Chief) allowing the British to establish a settlement in the Riau Islands. Subsequently the Dutch had installed their Resident in the Riau Islands and forced the Temenggong to annul the agreement with Farqhuar.
It was Raffles and Farquhar who landed together at the Singapore River on 29 January 1819. The Temenggong who lived nearby came out to welcome his old friend William Farquhar. Introduced to Raffles, he told them of the current dispute within the Johor-Riau Sultanate. In 1810 the Sultan of Johor had died, his eldest son Tengku Long was his successor; however, the powerful Bugis faction in the Johor-Riau court exploited Tengku Long’s absence at his own wedding to declare his more compliant younger brother as Sultan.

Raffles took advantage of this dispute to sign an agreement on 6 February 1819 with ‘the legitimate successor to the empire of Johor’ for the British to set up a trading settlement on part of Singapore Island and his official Proclamation reads:

The Honourable Sir T.S.Raffles, Lieutenant-Governor of Bencoolen and its dependencies, Agent to the Governor-General is pleased to to certify the appointment by the Supreme Government of Major William Farqhuar of the Madras Engineers to be Resident and to command the troops of Singapore and its dependencies and all persons are hereby directed to obey Major Farquhar accordingly.

Farquhar with his long experience in Malacca was an effective Resident of Singapore for the next four years until churlishly dismissed by Raffles on 1 May 1823, just before his term was about to end.

William Farquhar Book

During his twenty years in Malacca and Singapore, William Farquhar amassed a unique collection of 477 paintings of native flora and fauna especially commissioned from local artists. The William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings was presented to the Royal Asiatic Society London in 1827 where it remained until put up for auction in the 1990’s. Thanks to the generosity of Goh Geok Khim, founder of the brokerage firm GK Goh, the collection was purchased for S$3 million in 1995 and donated to the Singapore History Museum in honor of his father. The William Farquhar Natural History Collection is now listed as one of the National Treasures of Singapore.

William Farquhar.Collection

For those interested in knowing more about the founding of Singapore, the book or e-book of East Indies is available on order from your favourite bookstore, or the usual online retailers.

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The Ambon War Cemetery


They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old, age shall not weary them nor the years condemn, at the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.


The Commonwealth Graves Cemetary in Ambon is green oasis in the busy town of Ambon, carefully maintained in honour of our fallen soldiers, sailors and airmen, a visit here is a deeply moving experience.

After the fall of Ambon in February 1942, a former Dutch army camp on the island was used to hold Australian, American and Dutch prisoners of war, captured during the invasion. The recently published book Ambon by Roger Maynard tells the story of the Australian 2/21 Battalion known as Gull Force sent to defend Ambon from the expected Japanese invasion. This Japanese prisoner of war camp had the highest death rate of any similar camp during the war. With food reduced to starvation levels combined with forced labour, the death toll soared in 1945. By the time of the Japanese capitulation only 123 of the 532 Australians left on Ambon in late 1942 remained alive. It was one of the highest death tolls that Australians experienced in captivity and many of these survivors would continue to suffer the effects of their long ordeal.

Private Leo Ayres

Private Leo Ayres

The Gull Force Associaton conducts a pilgrimage to Ambon every year to coincide with Anzac Day, where a service is held at the Tantui War Cemetery with full military support.

GullForcememorial Tantui

The War Cemetery was constructed on the site of this camp (known as Tantui) after the war. The cemetery contains Australian soldiers who died during the Japanese invasion of Ambon and Timor, plus those who died in captivity in one of the many camps constructed by the Japanese on the Moluccas Islands, including many British prisoners who were transferred from Java to the islands in April 1943. Soon after the war, the remains of prisoners of war from Haruku and other camps on the island were removed to Ambon and in 1961, at the request of the Indonesian Government, the remains of 503 graves in Makassar War Cemetery on the island of Celebes were added to the cemetery.

Ambongrave stone

The total number of graves in the cemetery is over 2,000. Of this total over half are Australians, of whom about 350 belonged to the 2/21st Australian Infantry Battalion. Most of the 800 British casualties belonged to the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force; nearly all the naval dead were originally buried at Makassar. The cemetery is laid out in a series of terraces approached by short flights of steps on the central axis. The Ambon Memorial, which is in the form of a shelter, stands on the first terrace. It commemorates over 450 Australian soldiers and airmen who died in the region of Celebes and the Molucca Islands and have no known grave. The Cross of Sacrifice stands on the highest terrace in a wide expanse of lawn; the terrace below it contains most of the burials from Makassar. All the graves are marked with bronze plaques mounted on concrete pedestals and set in level turf. Tropical trees and shrubs are planted throughout the cemetery and around its boundaries. There are 1,956 Commonwealth burials of the 1939-1945 war here,357 of these are unidentified. There are 186 Dutch burials here, 15 being unidentified, and 1 American Airman. The American airman was killed with 7 Australian airmen in July 1945; all were buried in a collective grave in Plot 28.

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The Ambon War Cemetery – Damien Parer


They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old, age shall not weary them nor the years condemn, at the going down of the sun and in the morning we will remember them.

The famous Australian war photographer, Damien Parer, was killed on the afternoon of 17 December 1944 by Japanese machine-gun fire, while walking backwards and filming the faces of advancing American marines on the small Pacific island of Peleliu. He was subsequently buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetary in Ambon where we found his gravestone. Parer’s short life was the stuff of legend. He was good looking, talented, fearless and deeply religious. With an infectious laugh, he was everybody’s friend.

Damien Parer 3

Parer was the first official Australian photographer of World War II. In January 1940 he sailed for the Middle East with elements of the Australian Imperial Force. From the gunboat, H.M.S. Ladybird, he filmed the bombardment of Bardia, Libya, on 2 January 1941. With Frank Hurley, he covered the Australian assault on Tobruk on 21-22 January. Three days later he accompanied ‘C’ Company, 2nd/11th Battalion, in its attack on the aerodrome at Derna, and shot his first film of infantry advancing under fire. His work was seen in war newsreels and his name became well known across Australia.

When Japan entered World War II Parer returned to Australia. After covering operations with Kanga Force around Wau and Salamaua, New Guinea, in 1942-43, he filmed the Australian withdrawal along the Kokoda Track in Papua. On 18 September Cinesound Productions Ltd released the newsreel, ‘Kokoda Front Line’, which used his footage. This film was one of four films that won the inaugural award for Best Documentary at the 1943 Academy Awards and an Oscar was presented to its producer, Ken Hall, ‘for distinctive achievement in documentary production’.

Damian Parer 1

In 1943 Parer’s footage was used in the Cinesound newsreels, Men of Timor, The Bismarck Convoy Smashed and—arguably his finest work—Assault on Salamaua. Disgruntled with his salary and allowances, and convinced that the Department of Information had victimized his colleagues George Silk and Alan Anderson, he resigned in August and joined Paramount News. Thereafter he covered American operations. On 17 September 1944, the second day of the invasion of Peleliu Island in the Palau group, Parer was killed by a Japanese machine-gunner and was subsequently buried in the Ambon war cemetery.

Lest we forget

Damien Parer

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Taking a Taste of the Archipelago

2015 logo

Archipelago Panel

By Phil Kimmins

“Get out there. Get on a boat, a plane, and go visit Indonesia, because you’ll find the most extraordinary food.”

This was the advice of Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (UWRF) Founder & Director Janet de Neefe, hosting a fascinating panel session on Sunday 5 October. Visitors were treated to an informative and humorous look at the diverse range of foods and spices of the Indonesian archipelago, The Spice Islands.

Panellists Bondan Winarno, legendary East Javanese cook featured on Saturday’s Kitchen Program, and Ian Burnet, “a man who knows his nutmeg,” provided a highlight for foodies. Bondan enchanted the audience with anecdotes and his in-depth knowledge of the origins and histories of all things culinary within Indonesia.

Ian Burnet, who moved from Australia to Indonesia in 1968, delved into the history of the Spice Islands and fascinated guests with some bizarre recipes popular in the 17th century. Ian hosts sailing ventures that roam the archipelago on voyages of culinary discovery.

An entertaining session concluded with Janet reminding visitors of her dream of a food festival for next year and what the cuisine of Indonesia means to her.

“I never stop being curious about Indonesian food and I love these sorts of sessions, especially with Bondan Winarno, because he is so knowledgeable, and Ian Burnet’s great knowledge of spices. The little pearls of wisdom and wonderful anecdotes are a joy.”


About Global Indonesian Voices
Global Indonesian Voices (GIV) is Indonesia’s first independent online media, established for ‘Connecting Indonesia to the World‘ by publishing independent news and stories written by and for Indonesians and Indonesia-philes all around the world.

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Congratulations President Joko Widodo


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