You have 1 free article for this week. Get
4 free articles after Register.
THE keris (dagger or kris) belonging to Diponegoro, also known as Raden Mas Ontowiryo, was returned by the Dutch government to Indonesia on March 10. The dagger, known as Kiai Naga Siluman, was believed to have been given to the Dutch by Diponegoro. Dutch and Indonesian researchers who studied the kris verified that it was Naga Siluman based on a letter from Diponegoro’s former officer Sentot Alibasya Prawirodirdjo, and a description of the dagger by Javanese painter Raden Saleh, who lived and worked for many years in Europe in the mid-19th century. However, Indonesian kris specialists have casted doubt on whether the old weapon is indeed Diponegoro’s Naga Siluman as mentioned by Sentot. From the details, they say, it seemed that the dagger is a Naga Sasra, which has quite distinct characteristics from a Naga Siluman. These Indonesian experts deem it impossible that Prince Diponegoro would not know the difference between a Naga Siluman and a Naga Sasra. Thus, the National Museum will be waiting for a compromise between kris specialists and historians before exhibiting the dagger, together with other items owned by Diponegoro, at a certain point after the corona pandemic subsides.
THE government’s dream to reach garlic self-sufficiency in 2021 seems far-fetched. Importers have been required to plant garlic since 2017, but the program has not been able to overcome the annual garlic deficit of 500,000 tons.
The price of garlic skyrockets at the start every year, going over Rp50,000 per kilogram. Due to government’s requirement to plant garlic in the import quota system, garlic prices in the country are consistently high, even when prices in its exporting country, China, are under Rp10,000 per kilogram. With an annual profit of up to Rp8.4 trillion, garlic import regulations are creating illegal fees in the permit issuing process. As a result, prices continue to soar and the commodity is controlled by a number of companies with import quotas and the power to withhold or pour garlic into the market.
By all appearances, 2019 did not produce many surprising works of art. Nevertheless, the Indonesian art scene still managed to come up with some strong gusts of fresh air, and several efforts were made to explore new aesthetic realms. Tempo invited a handful of art scene observers to select and discuss nominees before we elected them to become the works and our artist selection of the year.
Besides films adapted from books and biopics, the year 2019 has harvested grass-root indie movies. Several of these indie movies have even broken through at international festivals. Tempo has the annual tradition of selecting films as an alternative to the annual Indonesian Film Festival, and as a way to celebrate quality cinema. These are our picks.
THE directorate of culture at the ministry of education and culture launched a new book titled Art & Diplomacy on August 17. The book contains rare pictures from the independence movement taken by photographers under IPPHOS—the nation’s very first photojournalism news agency—and posters, caricatures and cartoons created by artists of the day.
THE life and times of Amarzan Loebis was much like a long, winding road. From Tanjungbalai, Asahan, North Sumatra, he landed in Jakarta with an aim to continue his studies. But Amarzan, at the time just 23 and already known as a poet under the moniker Amarzan Ismail Hamid, was drawn to being reporter for the daily, Harian Rakyat Minggu, instead. At the newspaper, which happened to be affiliated with the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), Amarzan edited the culture page.
THE life and times of Amarzan Loebis was much like a long, winding road. From Tanjungbalai, Asahan, North Sumatra, he landed in Jakarta with an aim to continue his studies. But Amarzan, at the time just 23 and already known as a poet under the moniker Amarzan Ismail Hamid, was drawn to being reporter for the daily, Harian Rakyat Minggu, instead. At the newspaper, which happened to be affiliated with the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), Amarzan edited the culture page. When the PKI established the People’s Culture Institute, better known as Lekra, Amarzan was one of a long line of artists who lent their support to the initiative. This involvement ended up with the New Order regime detaining him and finally throwing him to Buru Island after the political melee of 1965, without a trial. In 1979, after being released and returning to Jakarta, he began working for Tempo. After a year or so struggling with his stroke, the poet breathed his last on September 2 at the age of 78 years.
Andi Syamsuddin Arsyad, owner of Jhonlin Group
In the name of national sugar self-sufficiency and to cover the 1.1 million ton shortage in annual demand, the government called on companies to invest in the development of sugar cane plantations and processing plants. Of 10 locations in Java, Sumatra, and Nusa Tenggara, one of the largest of these producers is found in Bombana, Southeast Sulawesi. The concession there is held by Andi Syamsuddin Arsyad, a man in the coal business. He is a cousin of Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman and a former deputy treasurer of the Joko Widodo-Ma’ruf Amin election campaign team. Amran was directly involved in taking care of authorization down to the regency level, an action which broke zoning regulations and went against the ministry’s own program.
Even though a five-year prison sentence awaits anyone who hunts and trades the Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica), many still risk breaking the law.