The Dutch colonialism in Indonesia was noted as the long period of colonialism ever. It had occurred for 350 years. Dutch in Indonesia is inseparable from the success of Portuguese and Spanish in finding the source of spices in the archipelago. Before coming to Indonesia, Dutch merchants usually buy spices in Lisbon (the Portuguese capital). At that time the Dutch were still under Spanish colonial rule. Beginning in 1585, the Dutch no longer took spices from Lisbon. The Portuguese at the time were ruled by Spain. Here is the history of Dutch colonialism in Indonesia began.
Just like other European nations, the Netherlands did not miss to make the voyages to get the treasures that can be brought back to their country. The Dutch expedition to Indonesia was started when Cournelis de Houtman and Pieter Keyzer sent by Dutch merchants to Lisbon, Portugal was seeking information on the existence of “spice islands” Indonesia.
After getting information, they were back to Netherlands. The decision made that Banten was the best place to buy spices. In 1594 they founded a company called Compagnie van Verre (remote company). Finally, on April 2, 1595, they went to Banten to find spices with four ships named Amsterdam, Hollandia, Mauritius and Duyfken.
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- Dutch trading in Indonesia
Cournelis de Houtman troops finally arrived in Banten on June 27, 1596. They landed with 249 men of the crews. At the first, they received a warm welcome from the local community. However, due to Dutch’s bad attitude and rude manner in monopolizing Indonesian trade, the locals Banten assisted by the Portuguese expelled them to go out from Indonesia.
Two years later, the Dutch tried to come back to Banten with the new leader, Jacob van Neck. The Dutch merchants were welcomed by the local people of Banten because Jacob van Neck had learned from the mistakes of Corneulis de Houtman. The Dutch came back to Indonesia with their original intention to trade spices. However, after gaining huge profits, the Dutch began to show their arrogance again. They began to monopolize the trade of Banten.
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- The establishment of VOC
On 20 March 1602, the Dutch established an organization or trading company called Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) in the Asian region. It was based on the proposal of Olden Berneveldt. The VOC headquarters was located in Batavia (Jakarta) and chaired by Francois Wittert under the authority of Dutch empire to run the wheels of commerce in the Asian region.
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- The purpose of VOC
Actually, Dutch had some tricky purposes of establishing VOC. They decided to form VOC by 3 purposes: mastering the kingdoms in Indonesia as well the ports and trade routes, making a trade monopoly, and dominating trade competition with other European countries. Those purposes off course really made Indonesia felt disadvantaged.
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- The Enforcement of VOC
The trade monopoly by the VOC was carried out by force and violent toward the local spice producers. The VOC even threatened the locals who produce spices. If the locals dared to trade with other countries of Netherlands, they would kill them.
The slavery system began to be implemented after the Dutch felt successful to carry out trade monopoly and brought much profit. The Dutch even commanded the slaves and workers of VOC to produce spices and grains as what Dutch requested. Because of the cruelty of Dutch through VOC, they even fought against to the Kingdoms in Indonesia such as Mataram and Banten.
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- The end of VOC
After 1799, the VOC went bankrupt. on among VOC employees
- The corruption among VOC employees
- Employees who were not competent in trading monopolies
- Debt caused by war against the Indonesian nation and other countries.
- The VOC suffered much defeat in the war.
- Many VOC warriors killed in battle.
- The failure of tax system for VOC
These were the reasons for the dissolution of the VOC that marked the end of the Dutch trade monopoly through the VOC.
- The colonialism under Daendels’ authority
The end of VOC was not the end of Dutch’s effort to colonize Indonesia. The Dutch appointed Sir Herman William Daendels as Governor for Indonesia. He was commissioned by the Dutch king to regulate Indonesia, preserving Indonesia from the British royal offensive and regulating the welfare. Under the leading of Daendels, Dutch even do much more cruel actions which didn’t care about humanity. Here are some followings actions.
The Dutch under Daendels authorization built a highway from Anyer to Panarukan, by establishing a system of forced labor / corvee work for the people of Indonesia. It was famous with kerja Rodi which meant the Indonesians local people worked continuously under pressure without any foods, wage, and the proper of rest time. Some of the workers even died or murdered while building the highway. However, because of getting caught in violating the Law that regulates the sale of state-owned land Illegally, Daendels was withdrawn from his post.
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- The colonialism in Jansen’s Era
After Daendels’ quit from Indonesia, Dutch resent a new leader. He was Jansens. In the time of Jansens’ authorization, Dutch rule in Indonesia was already very faded. By the British government, this was used to attack Dutch rule. Moreover, with Jansens was typically weak and had incompetent attitude. Finally, the Dutch were forced to surrender to the British, and signed the Treaty of Tuntang Capitulation in 1811. Since then, Indonesia had been taken over by the British government.
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- The Dutch colonialism under Vand Bosch
The British power in Indonesia was not long lasting, as the Vienna Congress stated that the British had to return Indonesia territory back to the Dutch government. Then, the Dutch officially began to recolonize Indonesia starting on 16 August 1816.
After 1830, the Dutch under the new leadership of Van Den Bosch applied the forced cultivation system (cuulturstelsel) to the Indonesian people. It was a part of a plan to strengthen the Dutch economy. This system forced farmers to cultivate plantation products that were in demand by world markets, such as tea, coffee, and others. The farmers were requested to sell the plantation products cheaply to the Dutch. Then this colonialism gained a great deal of profit from exports to the outside.
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- The Ethical Policy and Indonesian Nationalism
In 1901, the Dutch implemented a system called ethical politics (Ethische Politiek) which recognized that the Dutch have a debt to the people of Indonesia. The purpose of enacting this ethical policy is to raise the standard of living of local people. The ways such as direct state intervention in economic, promotion with irrigation slogans, education, and emigration are applied. However, this system did not provide any significant success.
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- The End of the Colonialism
Finally, the strength of all Indonesians grew step by step. They started to fight against the Dutch colonialism through diplomacy and war. By established some Indonesian unity for fighting independence, they could grow up the system. Some of national organizations were created such as Muhammadiyah, PNI, Gerakan Pemuda, and many others. World War II also became one of the factors of the collapse of Dutch power in Indonesia. Here was the end of the Dutch colonization in Indonesia.
Finally, Indonesia today could claim its independence for more than 62 years. No matter what, history was just a history. Many lessons could be taken from the history. However, as the next generation of Indonesia, you should fight for the independence in different ways. Being productive, creative, and innovative, and competitive toward other nations are the sample of the ways.