Indonesia: Politics and World Heritage

Indonesian Heritage Trust

The celebration of World Heritage Day on the 18th of April 2013 is one of the top activities marking  two decades of the Indonesian heritage preservation movement. ”Heritage for Welfare” is the theme for the year of Indonesian Heritage Year 2013. This event will be celebrated simultaneously by many heritage partners across the country.

Untitled1Jaringan Pelestarian Majapahit (Majapahit Heritage Network), Badan Pelestarian Pusaka Indonesia (Indonesian Heritage Trust) and ICOMOS Indonesia- in co-operation with five ministries of the Republic of Indonesia, (Coordinating Ministry of People Welfare, Ministry of Culture and Education, Ministry of Tourism and Economy Creative, Ministry of Forestry, and Ministry of Public Works) will organise the main World Heritage Day celebrations at Majapahit sites in Trowulan, East Java on 17-18 April 2013.

Significance and challenges at Trowulan:

Believed by historians to be the capital of the ancient Majapahit Empire; many people believe that Trowulan is a sacred site- not only to Hindus and Buddhists, but also for Muslims and Kejawen or Jawi people. Nowadays, many communities that are involved in Trowulan are still based on religious beliefs, but also of art and culture. The institutions that are responsible for conservation efforts at this site are Balai Pelestarian Cagar Budaya Jawa Timur (East Java Heritage Conservation Agency) and Majapahit Museum. Both of which are government agencies.

There are many challenges to the preservation of Trowulan:

•Prolonged neglect
•Lack of coordination between stakeholders.
•Limited awareness of stakeholders in conservation efforts. Especially in the case of brick factories around this site.
•Inconsistencies of plans or programs launched by the government in the past. Because of this many people in Trowulan feel pessimistic if not skeptical about newer comprehensive plans and programs.
•Physical degradation. Due to many structures being buried under ground, there are potential risks from natural disasters such as flooding.
•Physical destruction by brick factories around the site, installment of new houses and roads, to illegal renovation without the assistance or permission from Badan Pelestarian Cagar Budaya Jawa Timur.
•Lack of financial resources provided by the government for conservation efforts, such as limited funding for the heritage site control officer.
•The overall area of Majapahit capital city is not yet defined as a National Heritage Site. There are several temples and areas defined as heritage sites, but many other structures such as canals, are not included.
•The most recent archaeological development plan was developed 1986. This masterplan is hopelessly out of date.
•Most of the sites are not accesible to disabled people.

(Concerned by Trowulan’s historic significance and current suffering condition, BPPI Indonesian Heritage Trust) is raising the public awareness of this site through World Heritage Year 2013. This momentum is expected to encourage commitment from institutions such as the Ministry of Culture and Education to confirm its status as cultural heritage and for the Ministry for People Welfare to endorse the area to UNESCO as a World Heritage Site to help secure it for the future. 


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