Category Archives: History

ASEAN Occupational Safety and Health Network foundation

The ASEAN Occupational Safety and Health Network (ASEAN-OSHNET) and its predecessors have a long history, extending back to the 1980s. It is a network of 10 ASEAN countries’ government OSH institutions, OSH departments of the ministries of labour (MOL), or respective bodies or institutions in the jurisdiction of the MOL.

Its origin can be traced from the ILO Programme for the Improvement of Working Conditions and Environment (PIACT) in 1976.

An ILO seminar, held in 1984 for the ASEAN countries, recommended the establishment of a regional centre to collect and disseminate information in ASEAN, and to manage research and training for the improvement of working conditions and environments.

The idea to develop a project network for improving working conditions was agreed by the First ASEAN Labour Technical Working Group Meeting, held in October 1984 in Manila, and the proposal was approved by the Fifth ASEAN Labour Ministers’ Meeting, held in Manila at the same time.

In 1995, the ASEAN Secretariat obtained United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funding to conduct a feasibility study on the establishment of an ASEAN training centre and network for the improvement of working conditions and environments.

Offshore inspection by management team onboard of a self-propelled unloading barge in reclamation project in Indonesia.

Establishment and development

Feasibility study was conducted in 1996, and a workshop to review the results was convened in Manila in October of the same year, attended by the head of the Philippine National OSH Centre and national experts from seven ASEAN countries. They agreed upon the following recommendations:

  1. To establish ASEAN-OSHNET among the national OSH institutions in ASEAN
  2. To form an ASEAN-OSHNET Coordinating Board, comprising the heads of the national OSH centres or their equivalents – which report directly to the ASEAN Subcommittee on Labour Affairs (ASCLA) – to oversee the operation of ASEAN-OSHNET, and the planning and implementation of its Plan of Action.
  3. That the ASEAN-OSHNET Coordinating Board will meet once a year, and its immediate task will be to establish the secretariat of the network.
  4. That ASEAN-OSHNET be considered a flagship project of the ASEAN Economic Charter
  5. To include six projects in the Proposed Four-Year Plan of Action.

The development history of ASEAN-OSHNET can be divided into four stages:

  1. Foundation – establishment of the network, defining the mission and objectives, building infrastructure, and agreeing on division of work (2000 – 2005).
  2. Policy, and substantive capacity development – earning official recognition by the ALMM, focusing on programme areas, content and methods, training capabilities, and learning networking practices (2006 – 2010).
  3. Revitalizing – evaluating the achievements, identifying strengths and challenges, showing results, raising the OSH profile, and expanding scope and coverage (2011-2015).
  4. Integration, regional and global – combining objectives from several policy dimensions for the overall development of work life within the framework of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) vision 2025, and the ALM labour ministers’ Work Plan 2016 – 2020, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals in collaboration with the Plus Three and global partners, ILO, ISSA, the IALI, and ICOH.

Indonesia’s leading role

From the beginning, the development of the network has been continuous and progressive. After 15 years of activity ASEAN-OSHNET is well established, active, and productive. An extensive report, Turning Visions into Action, was published in 2015 for the 15th anniversary of the network,
and it documented full achievement of the objectives set in the foundation meetings.

Indonesia ministry of manpower held the 20th ASEAN Coordinating Board Meeting (CBM), which is held annually by rotating hosts among Southeast Asian countries, in Yogyakarta in 2019.

Speaking at the opening meeting, Directorate General of Labor Supervision and Occupational Safety and Health secretary Budi Hartawan said the meeting aims to collect and disseminate information, research and training to improve the environment and working conditions in ASEAN.”

It was the third time Indonesia had become host and chairman of the CBM, after 2000 and 2010.

Status and constitution

The foundation of the ASEAN-OSHNET is based on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the members’ OSH administrations from the year 2000.

Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam have formally recognized the ASEAN-OSHNET as an important instrument for the development of ASEAN OSH policies and practices in the region, and have delegated key tasks in the implementation of the ASEAN Labour Ministers’ Meeting (ALMM) OSH strategy.

In 2006, OSH was added as the sixth priority area for ASEAN. The ASEAN Labour Ministers’ Meeting (ALMM) has formally recognized ASEAN-OSHNET as an instrument for the ASEAN OSH policy implementation, such as in 2017 when they adopted a Statement on Improvement of Occupational Safety and Health for Sustainable Economic Growth.

ASEAN-OSHNET can demonstrate high productivity and impact at the level of policy support for the prevention and management of occupational hazards, accidents, and diseases. This has been done through the implementation of the network’s own, OSH strategies, development of strategic planning and national OSH programmes, development of OSH framework and infrastructures, development of research, information, human resources, and their competence through training, and guidelines and methods for good practices in OSH and in inspection.

Read also: BMIS integrated management system of ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015, OHSAS 18001:2007 certifications, audit assistance by ASPI

Provision of occupational safety for BMIS workers at a jetty construction in Bintan, Indonesia


House museum stores thousands of antiques in Kemang

Panorama ruang keluarga
The living room at the Museum di Tengah Kebun

The former house of a lone businessman with a lifetime passion in hunting scattered Indonesian artefacts at auction houses abroad to be preserved as an object of study for later generations store thousands of collection of all sizes at literally every corner of what is now a museum in south Jakarta.

Brick-walled from dense district in Kemang, 80% of the total area of Museum di Tengah Kebun is dedicated for open space, whereas the twenty percent resides a single storey house with large openings to get the best of the surronding nature. On daylight, doors facing the inner garden would open to create an enormous opening at the living room, allowing plenty of light and air. The size of opening which similarly takes the entire size of the wall is also found in the bathroom, large enough to fit the capacity of the living room. The progressive plan is shortlived. It is now permanently shielded with nets to fend of mosquitos.

Apart from its size, the house museum exhibits mundane design with gable roof, as is popularly applied in tropical countries to better regulate the temperature and wash out dense rainwater.

Panorama dining room
Dining room at the Museum di Tengah Kebun which still serves its original function for the owner.

Named Museum di Tengah Kebun, or Museum in the Garden, this tropical style house retains a status as a residence and a public museum, which gives an example of the possibility of coexistence between the two, although unpractical as it may seem. But the founder has an overarching dream of his own. It is not noble because his act can be much triggered by insatiable need to own things. There are stories such as buying an object worth a luxury sedan, or obtaining a Hindu artefact in exchange for building a school in a remote village where artefacts are treated as stepping stones or washboard. But when the owner decided to let the public enter his private home for regular basis, it does not sound so selfish anymore.

It is unique in that the museum retains all of its original features of the house. The dining room, for instance, remains to serve its function, rather than redesigned to optimize viewing gallery, as is the common case for conserved and recreated historical buildings. Guest room and the living room exude the genuine feeling to welcome guests and to have a relaxing family time, respectively.

Likewise, the interior decoration accentuates typical home, just with a whole lot more stuff.

The home owner and founder of Museum di Tengah Kebun Mr. Sjahrial Djalil

In comparison with European patronage to turn lavish residences as museum such as Museum Van Loon in Amsterdam, or Netherlands’ national museum Huis Doorn, house-turn-museum is not new in this 70 years old republic.

The former residence of art patron Toety Heraty Roosseno since 1969 opened for public in 1993 as a museum. It frequently holds temporary art exhibition in what is now called Galeri 6 Cemara in Menteng, the upscale area of central Jakarta.

In 1962 Indonesian painter Affandi built his home in Sleman to serve as a museum a decade later.

The international painter Don Antonio Blanco settled in Ubud, Bali and has ever since opened a museum where visitors can see many of his works.

At a different extreme, a case of an ordinary villager Sriyanto in Yogyakarta turning his obliterated house into Museum Sisa Hartaku after Merapi volcanic eruption suggests Indonesians endeavor to preserve memory, even at grass root level.

Much older houses such as Rumah Tjong A Fie in Medan and House of Sampoerna in Surabaya has opened for public to learn the history of successful business ventures by Chinese immigrants in the then Netherlands East Indies, although perhaps it was made so without the consent of the deceased owners.

Museum di Tengah Kebun certainly gets the consent of the owner, a retired advertising business mogul Sjahrial Djalil, a protege of the so-called Indonesian forefather of advertising Mr. Nuradi. Widely known for his slogan for Piaggio “lebih baik naik vespa“, Mr. Djalil started working for Mr. Nuradi in Intervista in 1965.

Six years later he founded Adforce, which later became JWT Adforce, the Indonesian branch of JWT global advertising company, a subsidiary of WPP Group.

It was supposedly in this wealthy period that Mr. Djalil frequently made house invitations to Indonesian elites of late administration. In 1997 Adforce was bought and merged with JWT advertising, which led him to retirement.

He founded the museum under the management of a foundation Museum di Tengah Kebun, whose members consisting of muslim intellectual and the former chairman of Islamic organisation Muhammadiyah Ahmad Syafii Maarif, economist Faisal Basri who independently ran for 2011 Jakarta gubernatorial election, and lecturer Imam Prasodjo. Before stroke aftermath rendered him disabled, Mr. Djalil led the tour himself around the house.

In a frail enthusiasm, Mr. Djalil still welcomed new generation of visitors on a wheelchair before he took another rest in his bedroom despite having the visitors allowed to walk in as the house tour continues.

All those years of travelling the world and frequenting auctions had accumulated his collection of antiques and artefacts.

Nonetheless, in his bedrest he unassumingly watches through the window and hear beyond the wall, and through the open air in the garden, people interaction in his grand design: giving it all to the later generation to experience and learn about history he restlessly collected piece by piece.

To see more pictures of Museum di Tengah Kebun, visit think archipelago Flickr account

Panorama kebun
A perfectly tended garden at Museum di Tengah Kebun with a Ganesha statue, god of wisdom and learning in Hindu mythology, placed beside gazebo.

Perang Dunia I dan penutupan kawasan prostitusi New Orleans

Live jazz band at New Orleans museum of art. Photography by Bart Everson.
Live jazz band at New Orleans museum of art. Photography by Bart Everson.

Satu jenis musik vernakular yang berakar dari Eropa dan dipadukan dengan Afrika dikenal publik Amerika Serikat pada tahun 1868 menggunakan gitar, trombon, piano, terompet, dan saksofon. Perpaduan aliran musik blues, ragtime dan musik Eropa, terutama musik band, merupakan bentuk awal musik jazz yang berkembang lintas jaman hingga ke bentuknya yang terdapat sekitar tahun 1915-1917.

Para musisi jazz New Orleans tampil di bar, tempat perjudian, dan prostitusi yang di masa itu tumbuh subur. Tidak mengherankan bila penontonnya tidak terlalu memperhatikan permainan mereka. Tidak ada yang menilai cara bermusik mereka di saat para tamu lebih terpikat dengan dorongan hedonisme.

Akibatnya kawasan lampu merah bernama Storyville ini menciptakan sebuah ekosistem unik yang menyuburkan kreativitas pemusik di mana mereka memiliki kebebasan lebih untuk tampil secara eksperimental, banyak di antaranya yang menampilkan karya kontemporer, tidak pernah ada di mana pun sebelumnya.

Pada tahun 1917, meski mendapat tentangan dari pemerintah kota setempat untuk menutup Storyville yang sebenarnya sudah diperuntukkan guna mengendalikan dampak buruk prostitusi dan alkohol di New Orleans, atas permintaan militer AS pemerintah pusat menutup kawasan tersebut.

Selain berjarak cukup dekat dengan sebuah pangkalan militer di kota itu, penyebab utama penutupan adalah fokus Amerika Serikat yang sedang bersiap memasuki Perang Dunia I dengan tujuan mobilisasi ke Perancis. Menurut petinggi militer, selain membekali dan melindungi para pasukannya dengan seragam tempur yang memadai, negara bertanggung jawab pula melindungi mereka dengan jubah moral dan intelektualitas.

Jazz New Orleans

Pada masa itu, kaum kulit hitam di New Orleans memainkan musik yang memiliki corak khas sehingga disebut jazz New Orleans. Iramanya sempat dikaitkan dengan makna negatif. Selain dari kata jazz yang mengarah pada makna seksual, para musisi memainkan jazz di tengah kalangan buruh dan pekerja harian di tempat prostitusi yang sedang booming di sana.

Reputasi ini membuat orang Indonesia awam masa kini yang beranggapan bahwa jazz musik kelas atas hanya pantas didengar di bar, hotel, panggung berAC sungguh terlihat ironis dalam ketidaktahuannya.

New Orleans juga sempat disebut sebagai rumah bagi para penikmat jazz di Amerika. Popularitas ini turut disumbangkan oleh faktor terciptanya lingkungan yang kondusif untuk interaksi antar etnis, yaitu mulai datangnya pemusik kulit putih ke Storyville yang awalnya didominasi oleh pemusik kulit hitam. Penonton mereka pun makin kerap berbaur di lingkungan tersebut.

Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet dan Jelly Roll Morton adalah sebagian dari musisi jazz yang lahir di New Orleans. Louis Armstrong pindah ke Chicago setelah penutupan daerah prostitusi di New Orleans. Ia adalah satu dari gerombolan musisi yang menelusuri Sungai Mississippi ke arah utara hingga Detroit. Di tahun 1920-an jazz telah berkembang pesat di New York, Chicago dan Memphis.

Kini sangat langka ditemukan bentuk rumah bordil di kawasan prostitusi bersejarah Storyville. Namun New Orleans Jazz Festival sudah menjadi agenda rutin positif yang mampu mengundang musisi terkenal dari seluruh penjuru negeri.

Basin St. Down the Line New Orleans. George Francois Mugnier. 1909. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
Basin St. Down the Line New Orleans. George Francois Mugnier. 1909. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Kuntskring Paleis

Suzie Wong Bar at Kuntskring Paleis, Jakarta

Ever since it underwent major interior makeover a couple of years ago, the restaurant, which is housed in a conserved building in Menteng – the Dutch remainings of urban housing complex with ecological concept arguably the maiden project of its time in Asia – quickly became one of the most celebrated culinary experience in town.

dscn7534Taking advantage of the characteristics of the vicinity is an apparent for the restaurant owner, the Tugu Group, to boost its existence in the culinary map.

But it is the mixture of elements inside that mainly draws the visitors both and the majority knowledge-thirst audience.

The preserved facade of what used to be a Dutch cultural center, now turned to an establishment.  

The 20th century new indies style cultural center by Netherlands-Indies architect and painter Pieter Adriaan Jacobus Mooyen opened in 1914 by the patronage called Fine Arts Circle whose initiatives brought exhibitions, musical show, and art lectures.

Now serving as an establishment, not only exhibiting souvenirs of colonial times, Kuntskring Paleis interior is decorated with the product of acculturation in early centuries, the epic Mahabarata.

A giant statue of Arjuna in the hall, for instance, forms an inseparable ornament to the wall across the hall.

Hence it entails the presence of Pandawa, consisting of five siblings in Indian mythology: Yudistira, Bima, Arjuna, Nakula and Sadewa.

If there is a time and place of historical value in Jakarta that can spur appetite, Kuntskring Paleis might just be the best in delivering such implosive effect.

In close vicinity, the management operates a number of restaurants that share similar aesthetics, notedly Dapur Babah Elite, Lara Djonggrang, Shanghai Blue 1920 and Samarra.

Socio-historical approach in contemporary art

Bandung Contemporary Art Award #04
Lokale Hulptroepen (Legiun Lokal KNIL), painted with charcoal on pine wood by Maharani Mancanagara in Bandung Contemporary Art Award #04, Lawangwangi Creative Space, Bandung.

Just as the recent criticism on Indonesia’s fine art by some high profiles inside the art council itself underscores the lack of relevant social criticism, the more localised contemporary art bienalle in Bandung this year presents a more savvy view which involves a socio-cultural approach, a tendency to revisit interweaving human history with its conspicious butterfly effect we have seen today.

The fourth BaCAA situated in an art “hideout” on the upper Dago, opened since 2009 as a patron for contemporary exhibition by local artists, nonetheless is making an implosion to an updated textbook version of the local art scene, in that several young artists made a unanimous call for a contemporary exhibition that creates a distinction in the thinking of the past, in contrast of the relentless if not laborious effort to the public and the new generation artists themselves to find a tiny standpoint in the spinning universe they are trying to keep up with.

Globalisation turns out to be a push-factor that leads people into becoming lost in making perspective, not to mention the bigoted art commercialisation. The subtlety of what appears to be an inward art critisicm is implied in the dozens of A4 jumbled prints sticked to the front wall of Lawangwangi Creative Space, one of them is a derivated copy of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s drawing, American’s second to none global icon of pop artist besides Andy Warhol, whose idea is about distancing what is continuously mentioned as a modern art and the established old artworks.

What strikes most is the artist’s opinion about what constitutes a contemporary art instead of the hopeless attempt of late to make oneself considered an artist through quirky aesthetics and subjective vision of sophistication. He believes the answer is a profound understanding of the root. Hence, the search of simplicity as inquired in Marcus Aurelius first principles of each particular thing, “What is it in itself?” Perhaps this too leaves the title of his work Belum Ada Judul.

“You Promised Me Mars Colonies Instead I Got Facebook” by Nurrahmat Widyasena, who gets honorary mention in BaCAA #04, Lawangwangi Creative Space, Bandung.

A revisit to the struggle for independence against centuries of Western colonisation, for instance, constructs a piece of work through the wall-mounted frames of ethnic-based freed slave group of Mardijkers who were unable to find the ground during the making of a new nation due to the established social and cultural distance from the indigineous people.

A community shaped by the Dutch’s policy at the dawn of colony era in Dutch East Indies, the Mardijkers, or literally the greats, whose word originates from the Sanskrit, posed in the daguerrotypes which hadn’t it preserved, their proof of existence will fall into oblivion. And so too the existence of the Maluku people the nationalists abhorred during the post-independence struggle, where they formed a considerable part of the Dutch KNIL forces in retaking the former colony by force, and failed due to vanishing international support in the wake World War 2.

The exodus of hundreds of thousands of Moluccans was a historical and political burden carried by the Netherlands in the modern history that Indonesians could not care less. For the alliance to the western invaders predisposed to the national sentiment. In addition to the two cases above,the hate-mongering political behavior against the enemy of the majority that resulted in an outcast also came to light with the social antagonism to the homosexuals, in its way revealing the name Khem Parasti Berman, the voice of LGBT whose role was almost unheard of in the post-reformation era.

Muhammad Vilhamy - Belum Ada Judul (BAJ). Mixed media on paper, plastic.
Belum Ada Judul (BAJ) by Muhammad Vilhamy, one of the three winners of BaCAA #04.

Talking about art commercialisation in Indonesia, In Kurasi dan Kuasa, Agung Hujatnikajennong argued that one of its major outcome is impoverishment (pemiskinan), in the practice of entirely submitting to the medium of painting to allow the exorbitant price tags. Therefore the independence of the modern world gives rise to new media, among the most feasible is photography, but done so without compromising the beauty of its essence, that is, history disclosure.

To unclassify information means that the intellectual society demonstrates a self-taught approach to comprehend the time and space around them as opposed to rootless visual aesthetics that often deliberately hid under the complex disguise of the overhyped word conceptualism. Just take a look at Guggenheim museum as the proponent symbol of contemporary art that has chain operations abroad. It suggests that globalisation, and the “mental internet”, as suggested by Iranian intellectual Daryush Shayegan, a Western-educated professor, is a major factor in shaping the uniformity in how the west-east continents perceives the present dynamics.

The recent tendency to focus on building the dialogue of civilisation, his famous rebuttal against Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilisation, is really taking place, for admittedly a good reason to nurture a peace era. But at the same time we are trapped in the energy-consuming endeavor for outward thinking, whereas we go farther backwards in perceiving who we really are. After all – without minisculing art’s nature as visual and auditory spectacles – the thought-provoking paradigm for the sake of self-assesment among the maturing society is an absolute necessity.

The old port


Sunda Kelapa

Sunda Kelapa Port is still functioning as it had been since seven hundred years ago. It now accommodates only the wooden Phinisi ships, due to the relocation of the main harbor to Tanjung Priok, which was built in 19th century to keep up with the Suez Canal-induced maritime trade increase.

It was this limitation that made the old port a relic of the past.

But the faces of the hopefuls and hopeless are intertwined on the decks of these typically archaic ship models.

Their wooden hulls left an impression that these ships are unable to stand the test of time, nor able to handle the burden with which the modernity carries.

sunda kelapaThe exasperation on the ship crews faces reflected the atmosphere at the old port of Sunda Kelapa.

The people and the ships have been overwhelmed by the manual work, even though the work load shows only a small fraction to that of the modern port activities.

Nevertheless, the old ways of seafaring and trade refuse to surrender to the surge of time in this north-end of Jakarta’s old section.


Sunda kelapa

House of Pitung


North Jakarta, aside from the heavy-loaded traffic to and fro the biggest sea port of Indonesia, there is a hidden cultural heritage. Rumah Si Pitung (House of Pitung) is a big residence that was once owned by the richest fish merchant in Marunda.

Pitung is considered as a local hero, the Betawi version of Robin Hood who lived during 1800s. Some people said this two-storey house was where Pitung hid during his escape from the Dutch troops since he and the host were friends. But others argued Pitung actually robbed the rich man.

The death of 28-year-old Pitung is also still a mystery, either by shot or mutilated after his hair being cut (it is believed you need to do this to kill a man who has magic, and yes, Pitung was an expert of martial art).

In 1972, Rumah si Pitung was bought by the local government and restored in 2010. Now people can still go up and down the stairs trying to relive Pitung’s life in each room of the stilt house. On weekends more visitors come to have a study trip or get invited to a party that was sometimes held there.