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PHOHI and NIROM          Print Version/Afdruk Versie

Three hundred years of colonial rule in Indonesia and yet it seems that this period has barely left a trace of evidence on the country itself. During the disturbances surrounding Soeharto it was only CNN that occasionally made mention of "the former Dutch colony." But otherwise you heard little or nothing about it. What had happened, or what might have happened, in those days at far outposts in the East was illustrated by such television serials as "De Stille Kracht" (The Silent Power) and "In Naam Der Koningin" (In the Name of the Queen) and what happened during the police actions was recounted on the basis of eyewitness reports. But without a doubt little is known about the way the Dutch governed this enormous island empire during the colonial period and by which means.

The doctoral thesis "The Indonesian Radio Broadcasting System (Government policy and development 1923-1942)" of René Witte (1937), former general secretary of the VPRO (Dutch liberal protestant broadcasting corporation), is concerned naturally first of all with the development of the broadcasting system in what was then called the Dutch-Indies, and in particular during the ´30´s. But it follows that also the governmental relation between the mother country and the colonial empire is covered at great length. You can write a publication about the broadcasting corporations in Hilversum without paying extensive attention to the constitutional balance of power, but as soon as you are concerned with the Indonesian period, this can hardly be ignored. In cases of any significance you readily get involved with the governor-general (G.G.) or the Indonesian government (the Dutch administrative organization under the G.G.). Not that they over there could do whatever they pleased on their own. The central point of all governmental responsibility rested in The Hague, where on behalf of the government the secretary of Colonial Affairs kept an eye on the developments on the other side of the world. In the end, a touch of democracy was introduced by setting up a combined "Volksraad" (people's council) but because this was an advisory body, it could not withstand a comparison to a real parliament. René Witte addresses to great extent not only the governmental structure but also the social structure in order to make clear that the early stages of the radio in Indonesia can hardly be compared with the same process in Holland. The Hilversum broadcasting corporations, however, did try to infiltrate this development, but with varying success. In fact they finally lost the battle when the "Wereldomroep" (World Broadcasting Service) was founded after the war. Witte's study is fascinating and unique not only because it concerns the radio but also because it clarifies much about colonial history. To some readers his disserta facade of the NIROM building in Batavia after the renovation in 1938

Print Version/Afdruk Versie