Thursday, August 1, 2013

Between Timber Company and Saminism

The Vereeniging Javasche Houthandel Maatschappij (Java Hout) building in Bandarharjo, Semarang as it appears on 2013, abandoned and decayed. No longer could showed the glorious of the primary Dutch-Indies timber company. 
Timber, one’s of the basic resources for the humankind. Talking about this, moreover about the business related to this were very interesting. In this modern era’s where the forestal area  were reduced from time to time, the needs of timber were also growth significantly. A lots of ways had been made to changed the used of timber, since its getting so expensive today. But for those who pursuing the luxurious and prestigious felt, there are no doubt for them to spend more to it. Last nite, after a charity events, in the rural areas outskirt of Semarang City, in Genuk, me and my friends passed a multinational furniture company that’s owned their own “palace” over there, The Harrison & Gill Co . A walled building with a mediteranean style gate, with the several Moorish-style building inside. The people surround said that it’s used as both the residence of the owner and its production facilities. Checking on the owner profile on wiki, He designed and built a one million square foot workshop complex in Java in order to accommodate the 1,400 carvers, woodcarvers and specialist finishers that craft his designs. Could you imagine how big its?

The warehouse of Java Hout on 1915, located besides the
offices now is no longer existed anymore. (source: Leiden University Library)
Here in Semarang, long before Harrison & Gill existed, once there’s a big timber company established by the East-Indie government. It’s the important timber exporter to Netherlands specifically, Europe Generally. Its Vereenigde Javasche Houthandel Maatschappij or simply called as Java Hout in Bandarharjo, North Semarang. The building of this primary timber company in East Indies now is used as the office of Perusahaan Daerah (Perusda) Jawa Tengah. But since its often to get floods, now its abandoned, like the others building surround it, the Lendeteves Stokvis building for example, that located in front of it, its getting badly damaged from time to time.

From the inscription in front fa├žade of the building, its showed us that its established on 1911. The workshop of Java Hout, besides this building were already collapsed. There’s lack of activity except a few people’s who residenced in the housing complex behind it. The Java Hout, instead having the important role for the timber industry in Indonesia, related to the modernization of timber industry, its also having a story related to the creation of Samin movement in Blora, the main source of Timber in Java.

Its Samin Surosentiko or Raden Kohar from di Ploso Kedhiren, Randublatung, Blora. He was the leader of the Samin movement that persuade the people of Blora, specifically those who lived in the teak forest area, performed protest against the Dutch. At that time, the Dutch via Java Hout claimed the permission to exploitated the teak forest in Blora. Here for long time until now, is famous for the best quality of its teak wood.  Thus, people outside the company, the indigenous people also were forbidden to cut the trees surround the areas which already monopolized by Java Hout. Those who were violated the rules would be prisoned.

Monorailbaan, the monorail track using for the timber
transport in Blora, around 1914. (source: Tropical Institute)
Seeing this condition, and felt that He together with his people are the owner of this forest for a centuries, a legacy from their ancestor, so long before the Dutch claimed that its belong to them. During his speeches on 1889, Samin stated that the land of Java is owned by the descendants of the Pandawa, Pandawa are family descendants of Majapahit Kingdom. This history is written on one’s of the Java book tittled Punjer Kawitan. According to the content of Punjer kawitan, Samin Surosentiko persuade his people to fight against the Dutch Government. “This Java soil does not belong to the Dutch, this were our ancestor land! Java is for the Javanese!” he said.

Hence, after that, He together with his follower formed Samin Movement. A peaceful protest, like what Gandhis with his Ahimsa principle. The Samin people were refused to pay the tax, refused the duty to work for the Dutch-Indies government, and refused the duty to performing the regular night watch. The Samin movement soon gained hundreds of follower and its spread into the cities surround Blora like Cepu and Bojonegoro. The Samin movement also have a purposed to create the Independence State ruled by the Javanese, thus they could live in peace and harmony.

The government of Dutch-Indies getting furious knowing what the Samin Surosentiko and his follower does.  The Batavia feared that the Samin movement would growth bigger and could harm the stabilization in Java. Then on the same years,on 1907 Samin Surosentiko together with 8 of his follower, arrested by the Dutch-Indies government and exiled to Padang, West Sumatera until he died on 1914. The Samin movement after their leader being exiled were not extincted, they isolated themselves from the outside, and even there’s a story told that they just found a fact that Indonesia has gained their independence from the Dutch in the years of 1970’s. 
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