Published online by Cambridge University Press: 07 September 2010
1. Administration in 1900. The administrative machinery which had served well enough for a policy of laisser-faire in Java was quite inadequate for a constructive policy of building up human welfare throughout the archipelago, and quite unsuited for the creation of an autonomous state; the present century has seen therefore a rapid succession of reforms, revisions, readjustments (hervorming, herziening, herschikking) which many officers who have survived them seem to regard as a wakeful nightmare that has never let them go to sleep. Before describing the reforms it may be well then to recall the administrative system at the beginning of the century.
The supreme authority rested with the Colonial Minister responsible to Parliament. In India government was vested in the Governor-General, but in legislation and certain other matters he was required to consult, and ordinarily to act with, the Council of India, comprising a Vice-President and four Members, all officials. The several branches of civil administration were distributed among five Departments: Internal Administration; Education, Religion and Industry; Civil Public Works; Finance; and Justice. The law provided for a Council of Directors, but in fact their opinion was taken in writing and they never met for mutual discussion. The machinery of central administration comprised also the General Chamber of Accounts, and the Secretariat. The administrative Civil Service, which was quite distinct from the Secretariat, was distributed territorially, and included distinct European and Native Services, in different cadres and with different functions.