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Eurasian Dilemma in Indonesia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 March 2011


To be forced to make a choice of nationality following a revolutionary upheaval is a trying experience. It becomes traumatic when one is, or feels oneself to be, part of the “privileged class” in a plural society in which the “natives” are about to achieve supreme political power. The Eurasians of Indonesia are a group of mixed descent closely tied to the land of their birth, but culturally and politically oriented to a society thousands of miles away along the shores of the North Sea. F. H. de Hoog, charismatic chairman of the powerful Eurasian League from 1928 to 1939, referred to the Eurasians as the “vanguard” of the Dutch population in the Netherlands. He emphasized that Eurasians were imbued with Dutch culture and would stand or fall with Dutch rule.1 In 1949, the “vanguard” was cut off.

Copyright © The Association for Asian Studies, Inc. 1960

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1 Onze Stem, X (1929), 560.Google Scholar

2 Articles 1 and 3 of the Rules of Procedure, UN Doc. S/1417/Add. I, Appendix I, p. 39, attached to the United Nations, Security Council, Official Records, Fourth Year, Special Supplement No. 6. S/1417/ Rev. 1, March 2, 1950.

3 The term “Dutch minority group” and “European minority” will be used in the customary Indonesian manner to include Eurasians. Eurasians as such will be mentioned when it is possible to single them out.

4 UN Doc. S/1417/Add. 1, p. 40.

5 For this modification of the broad statement in Article 8 see Article 20 (UN Doc. S/1417/Add. i, P. 42).

6 These membership figures were provided by the leaders of the three groups in the meeting with the RTC's Sub-Committee I, Section A of the Pol. and Const. Affairs Committee on Oct. 11 (GS. 724/RTC, mimeo., p. 5).

7 Hoofdbestuur Indo Europees Verbond, “Indo Europees Verbond en Indonesisch Staatsburgerschap,” Onze Stem, XXVI (Aug. 31, 1949), 1.

8 UN Doc. S/1417/Add. i, pp. 48–50. The letter, of the RTC's Sec. Gen. was dated Sept. 13, not Sept. 30, as given in the UN source.

9 Informal contact naturally existed with the Dutch delegation, and an official meeting had taken place with this delegation's Sub-Committee I A on Sept. 13.

10 This matter had been discussed by the Preparatory Committee on Pol. and Const. Affairs of the Federal Conference at Bandung in late 1948. A large majority of members at that time favored the active system for the Dutch minority group (Federate Conferentie Bandung, Ajdelingsverslagen met betrekking tot de Rapporten der Voorbereidende Staatkundige Commissie, Stuk No. 122/Ned., X, pp. 85–86). The Indonesian Citizenship Act of 1946 (Undang-Undang No. 3, 1946), however, had adopted the passive system of acquiring nationality for all minority groups. At the Inter-Indonesian Conference at Jogjakarta (July 1949), Republican representatives were willing to accept the active system for the Dutch minority group.

11 The concept of an “option period” and an “option clause” became established in the European state system after the French Revolution introduced the “Droits de l'homme et du citoyen.” It was an attempt to minimize the ill effects of a transfer of territory on its inhabitants. See Szlechter, E., hes Options Conventionnelles de Nationalité à la suite de Cessions de Territoires (Paris, 1948), pp. 92, 146.Google Scholar

12 The account of this meeting relies on interviews with P. A. Blaauw, E. D. Wermuth, and a number of others who participated. It also makes use of GS. 724/RTC which provides a brief mimeographed record of the meeting.

13 GS. 724/RTC, p. 6.

14 The Agreement concerning the Assignment of Citizens is found in Appendix XII of UN Doc. S/1417/ Add. 1. Those considered “of age” were individuals who were 18 years and over or already married.

15 UN Doc. S/1417, p. 12. Italics added.

16 Letter of P. A. Blaauw to the President of the RTC (GS. 1259/RTC). The information contained in UN Doc. S/1417, p. 12 gives the erroneous impression that all representatives of the Dutch minority group signed this particular letter.

17 U N Doc. S/1417, p. 12.

18 Mansvelt, W. M. F., “De Positie der Indo-Europeanen,” Koloniale Studiën, XVI, 1 (1932), 304.Google Scholar

19 “Bersiap” in this context means “Get ready for action.” It was the “war cry” of the young Indonesian revolutionists.

20 J. H. Kraak in De Repatriëring uit Indonesië ('s-Gravenhage, 1958), p. 92, quotes an Eurasian in Djakarta in 1953 as saying: “Between us and the Indonesians lie thousands of murdered and maltreated family members.….”

21 Some of this information is based on interviews with Eurasians of Indonesian nationality who returned to the Netherlands on die S. S. Waterman in Nov. Dec. 1959. The writer expresses his appreciation to the Neth. Min. of Social Work, Dr. M. A. M. Klompe, for sending him to Aden to board the Waterman.

22 “Keuze Indonesisch Staatsburgerschap,” mimeo., pp. 8.

23 It was only several years after the expiration of the option period that large-scale anti-Dutch action in Indonesia forced the Netherlands government to extend government loans in order to enable Eurasians of Dutch nationality to come to the Netherlands.

24 Onze Stem, XXVIII (Apr. 15, 1951), 1.

25 At the end of Nov. 1951 fewer than 4,000 names had been listed in the Indonesian State Gazette and less than 50 in the Dutch Gazette.

26 As quoted in De Nieuwsgier, Dec. 8, 1951.

27 R. P: P. Westerling, a former officer in the colonial army, had achieved notoriety through his tough actions in South Celebes in 1946–47.

28 Kahin, George McT., Nationalism and Revolution in Indonesia (Ithaca, 1952), p. 460.Google Scholar

29 van Wijnen, D. J., Pangkalpinang: Werkeliikheidszin der Minderheden (Batavia, 1946), p. 44.Google Scholar

30 De Rede van de President,” Onze Stem, XXVIII (Oct. 8, 1951), 78.Google Scholar

31 For economic indices relating to this period, see The Java Bank (De Javasche Bank), Report for the Financial Year 1951–1952 (Djakarta, 1952), p. 75.Google Scholar

32 This author is indebted for this point to Kraak, De Repatriering, p. 101.

33 Elucidation to Act No. 7–1930 (Annex to Gazette 1950, No. 37), p. 28.

34 R. Djerman Prawirawinata, Menudjti Kesatuan Bangsa (n.p., 1950), p. 33.

35 Indo-Europese Minderheid,” Onze Stem, XXVII (July 15, 1950), 2.Google Scholar

36 See “Nota van de Indo Nationale Partij,” mimeo., Nov. 3, 1951 and J. P. Snel's article “Staatsburgerschap,” De Javabode, Oct. 22, 1951.

37 Hoe staat het met het ‘Blijvers’ Onderwijs?,” Onze Stem, XXVII (Aug. 15, 1950), 1.Google Scholar

38 The number of officials involved was considerable. E. P. M. Tervooren in Statenopvolging en de Financiële Verplichtingen van Indonesië ('s-Gravenhage, 1957), pp. 269–270, mentions 7,000 officials holding permanent, 5,000 temporary, and another 3,000 “short term” appointments.

39 Kraak, De Repatriëring, pp. 94–100. The Neth. Parliament amended the 1950 Guaranty Law on Dec. 21, 1951, to extend its protection to former colonial officials in Indonesian employment after the December 27th terminal date. It also broadened the “residency requirement” by extending its guarantees to cover those officials who opted for Indonesian citizenship. It is difficult to evaluate the effect of this lastminute measure.

40 “Regulations concerning the Land Fighting Forces in Indonesia under Netherlands Command after the Transfer of Sovereignty,” especially Articles 4, and 25–46 in UN Doc. S/1417/Add. 1, Appendix XVI.

41 Information received from H. C. Bajetto, Chief of the Directorate of Transitional Matters (Indonesia) of the Neth. Min. of For. Affairs.

42 In Dec. 1952, Dr. E. Allard, attached to the University of Indonesia, was asked to make a sociological study of the Eurasian minority in Indonesia. She selected for her study a town in West Java (Bogor), a town in Central Java (Salatiga), and the Minahasa region of North Celebes. Allard found the social conditions of the Eurasians in the Minahasa “greatly different” from those in Java. She attributed this to the fact that both Minahasans and Eurasians “embraced the same religion and had the same family customs.” In addition, there were marriage ties between prominent Minahasa families and Eurasians. The absence of Dutch schools and the presence of only a very few native Dutch in the Minahasa was also favorable to option for Indonesian citizenship (Laporan Sementara tentang Bagian Kedua Penjelidikan Dilapangan atas Susunan Kemasjarakatan Orang-orang Indo-Eropah di Indonesia,” Bahasa dan Budaja, III, 5 (June 1955), 31, 40.Google Scholar

43 The Berita-Negara Republik Indonesia Serikat (until Aug. n, 1950, No. 56), the Berita-Negara Republic Indonesia, and the Nederlandse Staatscourant, One other group—which will not be considered at this point—the “Netherlands Subjects of Foreign Origin, non-Netherlanders” (for example, Germans living in Indonesia), included a number of Eurasians. This group automatically acquired Indonesian citizenship, if born in Indonesia or resident there, with the right of rejection. Depending on their action they could acquire either their original or Dutch nationality. Van Marie informed this author that of approximately 4,000 adults in this group only about 300 did not repudiate Indonesian citizenship.

44 See, for example, Minister of Justice I. Samkalden's statement in Handelingen van de Tweede Kamer der Staten-Generaal, 1958–59, II, 2205.

45 The average family size of the several thousand Indonesian citizens of Eurasian descent who have applied for visas to the Netherlands since 1951 falls below four. Allard's findings in Bogor, Salatiga and the Minahasa likewise point to a figure lower than that used by Dutch authorities.

46 Bahasa dan Budaja, III, 4 (April 1955), 12.

47 The Dutch Gazette identifies widows, widowers, divorcés and divorcées. Unfortunately these distinctions are not found in the Indonesian Gazette, since Indonesians do not customarily subcategorize evermarried men, while the same word (djanda) is used for both widow and divorcée. In this discussion, “widows” will include divorcées. The sex of the optants could be determined in almost every case from the Dutch given names.

48 The writer acknowledges a great debt to A. van Marie of the Institute for the Tropics, Amsterdam, for his freely given assistance and valuable suggestions. Acknowledgment is due Mmes. J. Minnigh and P. Brinkman for coding and punching the data for over 13,500 optants, and to Harlan Voss of the Department of Sociology, University of Hawaii, for assistance in interpreting the data.

49 The figures in the tables and elsewhere constitute a preliminary tabulation of the optant data. Slight discrepancies in the totals sometimes occur.

50 The heads of all Catholic and most Protestant orphanages opted en masse in behalf of their wards.

51 This estimate is based on data from the 1930 census (Volkstelling, VI). On the assumption that the number of Eurasians born abroad was negligible, the total number of Indonesia-born “Europeans” was taken as the starting point. From this figure were subtracted the number of individuals who fell out-side the ethnic meaning of the term “European,” namely, 5,000 indigenous and Chinese women married to Dutch citizens, and 8,893 indigenous Indonesians and 2,296 others of non-European foreign descent who had been assimilated to the legal status of “European.” The resultant figure (153,657) still included Indonesia-born persons of unmixed Dutch ancestry, whose number, although it cannot be satisfactorily estimated, probably fell in the 14–24,000 range. The total size of the Eurasian group in 1930, therefore, probably lay between 130,000 and 140,000, or 54–58 per cent of the total “European” group of 240,000. Van Marie has estimated the size of the total “European” population in 1942 at 300,000 (Indonesië, V, 1951–52, 106). Applying the proportion indicated by the 1930 data, we arrive at the estimate for 1942 of 170,000 Eurasians.

52 An example from one issue of the Indonesian Gazette may suffice to illustrate this point. Albert Gerrit Scholte is listed in Dajtar-Kewarganegaraan No. 296 (BNRJ, 1959, No. 68) as having opted at Ambon on April 15, 1955. The same issue of the BNRI lists one other person as having opted on July 19, 1952, and 6 others as having opted at various times throughout 1957. At least 25 persons were listed twice in the Indonesian Gazette. In addition, one person was found who opted in one town and a few days later in a neighboring town. One other person registered his option for both Dutch and Indonesian authorities and had the satisfaction of seeing his name listed in both the Dutch and the Indonesian Gazettes.

53 The number of options per day quadrupled between Dec. 8 and Dec. 10.

54 As of Aug. 1957, the various schools of the Foundation of Netherlands Education in Indonesia enrolled approximately 1,100 children who were Indonesian citizens of Dutch descent. Stichting voor Nederlands Onderwijs in Indonesië, Jaarverslag 1957 ('s-Gravenhage, 1958), Appendix I.

55 Handelingen Tweede Kamer, 1959–60, II, IV, p. 2145.

56 The small size of the Dutch “spijtoptanten quota” (2,000 persons per annum), and the risk and difficulties in Indonesia both in requesting a Dutch visa and an Indonesian exit-permit, make the number of visa requests an unreliable barometer of the number of spijtoptanten at heart.

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