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Formation of colonial government in Indonesia

Oktober 25, 2015 | History

History, Formation of colonial government in Indonesia – In the end of the 18th century (1700s), VOC’s condition worsened not only because of the resistances occurring in different parts of Indonesia but also corruption within VOC itself, which put the organization in a great debt. Consequently, the Dutch government liquidated and took over the responsibilities of VOC on 1 January 1800, including its debts and territories. This puts Nusantara directly under the control of Holland.

In 1808 Holland was captured by France, so the control of Indonesia was also taken over by France under Governor Willem daendels. To defend Java from attacks by Britain, which was an ally of Holland, Daendels ordered the construction of a 1000 km long road linking Anyer in Banten and Panarukan in East Java.

The purpose of the construction was to increase troop mobility to anticipate British attacks. Besides, Daendels also built arms and ammunition factories as well as a naval base in Ujung Kulon.

Daendels ordered the construction of a 1000 km long road linking Anyer in Banten and Panarukan in East Java

In the government sector, Daendels changed the system of government from a traditional one into a European style. According to this new system, the aristocrats in Java who had used to have authority over land and people and therefore were able to collect taxes from them were not allowed anymore to have control over the people, so they might not collect taxes from them.

Instead of collecting taxes, the aristocrats were given a salary by the colonial government in return of the accomplishment of their duty to order the people to grow crops which sold well in the world market.

Java was divided into nine prefectures. Each prefecture was led by a ‘resident’ or prefect who was a European, and each prefect headed several reagents. The regents who received salary from the colonial government and were not allowed to collect taxes in their regions were appointed government employee, so they had to obey the government’s orders.

The position of the regents was endangered and their authority declined in the eyes of the people. Meanwhile, the authority of the kings was still recognized, though their territories were reduced and they had to obey the colonial government regulations.

Nevertheless, Daendels attempt to change the system of government was not successful. The failure was not only due to the disappoiment of the regents and other aristocrats but also the lack of capable people who carry out Daendels’ orders.

Besides implementing a new system of government. Daendels also issued a regulation which allowed private parties, especially Europeans, to own state lands that used to be the property of the regents and other aristocrats.

According to the regulation, the landowner also owned the people who lived on it. As a result, many people have treated badly by land owners. This regulation was made by Daendels because he needed a lot of fund to build a strong defense against attacks from British ships that were supported by Dutch ships.

However, Dandels’s defense finally collapsed, forcing him to leave Java. Daendels reigned in Indonesia from 1808 to 1811. Indonesia, especially Java, was then put under the control of Britain from 1811 to 1816. After that, it was handed back to Holland. So the Dutch colonial government in Indonesia started again.

Read also: People’s life Indonesia in European colonial time

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