January 03, 2010
Solo. With controversy still raging around the bill to extend the special status of Yogyakarta, rival central Javanese city Solo wants to get in on the act.
The royal family of the Surakarta Hadiningrat court in Solo has asked the government to return the status of special province to the city, which is also known as Surakarta.
They argued that on Aug. 19, 1945, President Sukarno declared Solo the Special Region of Surakarta, following a meeting of the Indonesian Independence Preparation Committee.
“We ask that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono return the status as promised by his predecessor,” Gusti Raden Ayu Koesmurtiyah said on Sunday during the commemoration of the 273rd anniversary of the founding of Surakarta, according to the Javanese calendar.
Koesmurtiyah said Sukarno had established Surakarta as a special territory in gratitude for the support for Indonesian independence from the kings of Solo.
However, Sudharmono, a historian from Sebelas Maret University in Solo, said the special status had been revoked on Jun. 16, 1946 a campaign to dismantle the Solo and Mangkunegaran courts.
From October 1945, Tan Malaka, suspected to be chair of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), led a movement to annul Surakarta’s special territory status and dissolve the Surakarta and Mangkunegaran courts. Malaka was allegedly involved in the confiscation of royal farmlands and the murder of several government officials and royal family members. The movement led to the 1948 PKI uprising in Madiun, East Java, which borders Sragen, Central Java, part of Solo’s territory.
“Not equipped with military and police forces, the central government issued the 1946 presidential decree No. 16 on government of the special territory of Surakarta and Yogyakarta, temporarily taking over control of Surakarta until the law on the special status of Solo had been passed. If the bill on the special status of Yogyakarta is being deliberated now, we demand that the promise to make Surakarta a special territory is also upheld,” Koesmurtiyah said.
Julianto Ibrahim, a history expert at Gadjah Mada University, said the archives were still available and could be tracked down.
He said it was not appropriate for Solo to remain a common city and for the Surakarta royal court to be considered merely as a traditional entity without legal recognition or powers.
“Surakarta’s status as a special territory is a forgotten part of the nation’s history,” he said, especially as Surakarta’s declaration of special territorial status was made on Sep. 1, 1945, before Yogyakarta’s declaration on Sept. 5, 1945.
Imam Samroni, chair of the Surakarta Special Status Reinstatement Preparation Agency, said that in 350 years of Dutch rule in Indonesia, Solo had never been occupied.
“The Dutch colonial government honored Surakarta’s status as Zelfbesturande Landschappen, or non-occupied territory, so there was no ban on raising the red and white flag or the rice and cotton herald,” he said.