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THE OLD TOWN OF JAKARTA
In 1608, a vassal of the sultan of Bantam (Bantan) offered the VOC to settle in the city of Jakarta. With the help of the Europeans, he hoped to improve his own position vis-à-vis the sultan. In 1618, Governor-General Jan Pietersz Coen took the initiative to relocate all the VOC activities from Bantam to Jakarta. The old city of Jakarta was burned to the ground, and from it ashes rose sovereign Dutch settlement Batavia. The local also referred this city as “Kota Djankong”, the city of Jan Coen.
When Jan Pieterz Coen first attacked the Jakarta Bay, he would probably not predicted that this part of land will grow even further under the management of VOC ( Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie), the first truly world multinational enterprise. During its history of 200 years, the VOC became the largest company of its kind, trading spices like nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and pepper, and other consumer products like tea, silk and Chinese porcelain. Her factories or trade centers were world famous: Desjima in Japan, Mokha inYemen, Surat in Persia and of course Batavia, the Company’s headquarters in Java.
Batavia remained the colonial capital until 1948, when three hundred forty years after its foundation the government of Indonesia renamed the city into Jakarta (Jacarta), the capital of the independent republic. The city centre, the “kota”, still witnesses traces of the old Batavia. Since then, it has served as the capital of the VOC, of the Netherlands Indies after 1815, and of the independent Indonesian state after World War II.
The key Dutch commercial success in Indonesia was the security of its base of operations at Batavia. The security issue involved the VOC in the internal politics of Java. The earliest governor generals had not intended to become involved in Java’s politics. They had envisioned the company as primarily a maritime power, consisting of a network of forts and heavily defended trading routes. That is why the size of the Batavia City during VOC administration has not grew even further to the inland of Java, The VOC administration was only focusing on building defensive canal and fortresses. But during the seventeenth century and especially the eighteenth century, the Dutch found themselves caught up in Java’s perennial political instability. Defense of VOC interests required the raising of armies and collection of revenues from rulers and the general population to pay for them.
Nineteenth-century Indonesia experienced not only the replacement of company rule by the Dutch government rule but also the complete transformation of Java into a colonial society and the successful extension of colonial rule to Sumatra and the eastern archipelago. At this time Batavia size expanding quite significant., the civic relocated to the south and bureaucratic system were established.
Rapid economic development during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries profoundly changed the lives of both European residents and i8ndigenous peoples. By 1930 Batavia had a population of more than 50,000 people. Surabaya had nearly 300,000 people and other large cities-Semarang, Bandung, Yogyakarta and Surakarta – had populations between 10,000 and 300,000.
The Chinese minority in Indonesia had long played a major economic role in the archipelago as merchants, artisans and indispensable middlemen in the collection of crops and taxes from native populations. They encountered considerable hostility from Europeans, largely because of the economic threats they seemed to pose. In 1740, for example, as many as 10,000 Chinese were massacred in Batavia, apparently with the complicity of the Dutch governor general.
Lesson from 400 years History
Some of the strategic lesson learned from this very dynamic history are:
The Complexity and Challenge
Despite the complexity of today’s administration, the Old town of Jakarta still has a very significant potential role for the whole Jakarta. The potentials are:
On the other hand, the major complexities that occurred in Jakarta Old town are as follows:
Today, to elaborate the potential, eliminate the problem complexities and revitalized this precious place, the provincial Government of Jakarta is trying to implement several strategic steps:
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