donderdag 1 juni 2017

A criminal or a victim? Pius Rasi Wangge of Flores.

The latest issue of BKI, the journal of Indonesian and Caribbean Studies (in full Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde uitgegeven door het Koninklijk Instituut..) has an interesting article by Steve Farram ( 2017, vol 173:23-52) on the reasons why West or Indonesian Timor was integrated in an independent Indonesia in the period 1945-1950, while Portuguese Timor received support from Australia and first of all from the USA to retain it status as a colony. The major reason was that the USA wanted to use the harbour of the Azores Islands during Worldwar II and made the promise not to disturb the colonial relations of Portugal in Africa and Asia. Anyway: Portugal lost the colonies after 1975!
Part of the article is also about the court cases against two Indonesian for 'war crimes' during the Japanese period, 1942-5. One of these was about Pius Rasi Wangge. He was the son of a village head in Central Flores. Born about 1890 he was  in 1909 the guide to the first Catholic missionary visiting the  region from Sikka. In 1914 he was nominated in the new position of raja for a region of five villages, a colonal creation, also to curb the influence of Islam. This duty expanded to the great territory of Lio where he was raja with some 50 kapitan under him. The Dutch officials found him efficient but also somewhat irregular with taxes and talked about 'extortion'. A native raja is different from a colonial official. This 'irregularity' became so serious that in the late 1930s he was condemned by the Resident of Kupang and expelled to that town for ten years. He was also accused of some killings and practices that now would be called corruption.
It is clear that he prevented the growth of Islam in his region and made Lio a truly 'Catholic' territory, although his methods were not always applauded.

I could not find pictures for Raja Pius and so above is a picture of Don Lorenzo of Larantuka (who died in exile in Yogyakarta and Raja Don Thomas of Sikka, the last to bear this dignity until he died in 1954.
While reading the life story of Raja Pius again (most of it is in the second volume of Catholics in Indonesia, 107-9), I wondered whether it was a wise and just verdict: was he only the subect of death sentence only for his support to the Japanese  since 1942 (after he was condemned by the Dutch to a simple exile in 1941): was he really a criminal or was it is 1946-7 also a frustrated Dutch government anxious to get its colonial power back and made Raja Pius a victim of the last colonial war? I must look to the documents in the National Archives in the Hague.

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