Our founder Dr. Rodney Westerlaken and chairperson, Mr. Shandy Wijaya, were invited by the Dutch embassy in Jakarta to attend a meeting with Mrs. Gonçalves-Ho Kang You, the head of the Dutch commission, on the return of cultural heritage. In the meeting, we represented the King of Klungkung and other stakeholders and expressed our grief over the commission's advice.
We have conveyed the following points:
The report indicates that the advice to the Minister is to make explicit agreements concerning colonial cultural goods that belong to a specific community. However, the state of Indonesia (1945 or 1949) did not exist when the Klungkung objects (1908) were captured.
In our view, the report falls seriously short on this point. One should be aware that concerning the Klungkung collection, we are not talking about a community, but about a Kingdom, with now a King, which fell in 1908 by Dutch intervention and was reinstated in 1929 by Dutch intervention.
The Netherlands classifies objects as museum objects based on the fact that the objects are part of a museum collection. But are these museum objects? What are museum objects? You do not describe this in your report. Bali is seen as a 'living culture', a culture in which objects, even if they return to Klungkung after 112 years, are part of a culture and will be used in rituals and ceremonies. It should not be to the Netherlands to pass judgment on this. In our opinion, the judgment of whether or not it concerns a museum object rests in the hands of the rightful owner, in the case of the Klungkung collection belonging to the King and the Royal family.
Mrs. Gonçalves-Ho Kang You conveyed she understands the sensitivity. Still, she also conveys that the law does not always bring justice and that she believes that the Dutch cannot make decisions after return. We have expressed our wish for diplomacy and further thought for the sake of justice.