Indonesia Freedom Movement – 3


This first motivation is clearly economic – the city wants to attract tourist money by appealing to the heritage and intellectual interests of tourists, which may or may not reflect the cultural identity of the tourist.  Tourists may be interested in the restored Dutch

Historic Urban Center and the National Archives Building because of a general interest in the past, or in the heritage of others, or tourists may be interested as this heritage preserves their own culture, such as Dutch, Indonesian, or Chinese tourists.

The example of Singapore, which has undergone various restoration projects specifically in response to tourist interests, is a useful comparison here.  Based on government survey forms, Singapore’s Tourist Promotion Board realized that tourists were losing interest in the city because of a perception that the city was becoming too modern and Western, not historical enough or Asian enough for their expectations.   It is not clear whether these tourists are Western or relatively local, if they have a particular interest in Singapore such as British citizens seeing their former colony or merely out of a Western interest in the East.  One of the appeals of Singapore was its multicultural population, which was being subsumed by modern (Western-style) buildings. The solution was determined to be heritage preservation: “Conservation does generate money, and tourists will come.” The preservation projects in Singapore included Chinese shop houses, British colonial buildings, and the historical remains of other groups, though it seemed that the Malaysian areas were not going to be preserved.   This article spends more time talking about the restoration of colonial British buildings, and explains this away by stating that in Singapore, there is no anti-colonial impulse, that the residents have no problems with the remnants of colonialism. This example shows the importance to international tourism of heritage, whether it is the history of the tourist that is visiting or not, and poses a counter-example to Jakarta, where there is an anti-colonial impulse, seen for example in the nationalist desire not to mark the streets in downtown

Jakarta with the original Dutch street names, as had been planned by the project leaders.  If we take a classic guide to Jakarta as an example of the tourist interests in the city, Adolf Heuken’s Historical Sites of Jakarta, we see that most of the historical sites expected to appeal to tourists are Dutch colonial sites, and there are also examples of Chinese, Portuguese, and some indigenous sites as well, all dating from the colonial period.   This assumes that the only history of interest is the colonial history – while

Heuken mentions the possibility of writing a second volume to cover the period from 1850-1965, this too, would likely focus on colonial history.  Heuken introduces his guide with startlingly harsh statements about Indonesians’ lack of interest in history: “Since 1982 [when this guide was first published], several historical sites have vanished for different reasons, but mostly because of a disinterested and careless attitude…Even though the governors of Jakarta have appealed to take good care of the still existing heritage, the attitude mentioned above and the greediness to obtain material gain by pulling down an old house in order to put up a new building, will always threaten the remains of the past and the historical heritage.”This, for one, shows the failure of the Dutch Historic Urban Centre project to have a long-term affect, and second, contrasts with his description of the National Archives building, whose renovation makes it shine, thanks to the Dutch companies that initiated it.  I am not certain that Heuken’s attitude can speak for all guides to Jakarta, but this guide at least speaks to the attitude that historic sites are an important part of the tourist attraction.