Aug 162019

On this date in 1945, Indonesia formally declared its independence from Japan, and, by extension, from the Netherlands (although not a fait accompli at the time). Sukarno read the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence (Proklamasi Kemerdekaan Indonesia) at 10:00 in the morning of Friday, 17th August 1945. The wording and declaration of the proclamation had to balance the interests of conflicting internal Indonesian and Japanese interests at the time. The declaration marked the start of the diplomatic and armed resistance of the Indonesian National Revolution, fighting against the forces of the Netherlands and pro-Dutch civilians, until the latter officially acknowledged Indonesia’s independence in 1949.


Indonesia was under colonial rule by the Dutch in some parts for 300 years. Resistance to Dutch rule was met with imprisonment and exile. The fight for independence in the 20th century included Mohammad Hatta and Sukarno, who established the Indonesian National Party in 1927, which advocated for independence from the Dutch. The invasion of Indonesia by the Japanese during the Second World War added a new dynamic to the fight for independence. The Japanese defeated the Dutch in 1942 and moved into Indonesia. There were uprisings against Japanese rule as there had been against the Dutch, because farmers and other workers were exploited by the Japanese. Furthermore the Japanese had tried to limit Islam. Nonetheless, during the war Sukarno delivered speeches saying he believed independence could be achieved with the assistance of Japan. Hatta also worked with the Japanese. Sjahrir, another figure in the nationalist movement, focused on establishing an underground support network. Many educated youths influenced by Sjahrir in Jakarta and Bandung started establishing underground support networks for plans of Indonesian independence following Japan’s defeat.

The end of the war on August 15th further expedited the process for independence. Youth leaders supported by Sjahrir hoped for a declaration of independence separate from the Japanese, which initially was not supported by Hatta and Sukarno. However with the assistance of a high ranking Japanese military officer Tadashi Maeda, the declaration of independence was drafted.

The draft was prepared only a few hours before its reading on the night of 16th August 1945,[36] by Sukarno, Hatta, and Soebardjo, at the house of rear-admiral Tadashi Maeda, 1 Miyako-dōri (都通り). The house which is located in Jakarta is now the Formulation of Proclamation Text Museum situated at Jl. Imam Bonjol No. 1. Aside from the three Indonesian leaders and Admiral Maeda, three Japanese agents were also present at the drafting: Tomegoro Yoshizumi (of the Navy Communications Office Kaigun Bukanfu (海軍武官府)); Shigetada Nishijima and Shunkichiro Miyoshi (of the Imperial Japanese Army). The original Indonesian Declaration of Independence was typed by Sayuti Melik. Maeda himself was sleeping in his room upstairs. He was agreeable to the idea of Indonesia’s independence, and had lent his house for the drafting of the declaration. Marshal Terauchi, the highest-ranking Japanese leader in South East Asia and son of former Prime Minister Terauchi Masatake, was however against Indonesia’s independence.

While the formal preparation of the declaration, and the official independence itself for that matter, had been carefully planned a few months earlier, the actual declaration date was brought forward almost inadvertently as a consequence of the Japanese unconditional surrender to the Allies on 15th August 1945. The wording of the proclamation had been discussed at length and had to balance both conflicting internal Indonesian and Japanese interests. Sukarno drafted the final proclamation which balanced the interests of both the members of the youth movement and the Japanese. The term ‘TRANSFER OF POWER’ was used in Indonesian to satisfy Japanese interests to appear that it was an administrative transfer of power, although the term used ‘pemindahan kekuasaan’ could be perceived to mean political power. The wording ‘BY CAREFUL MEANS’ related to preventing conflict with members of the youth movement. The wording ‘IN THE SHORTEST POSSIBLE TIME’ was used to meet the needs of all Indonesians for independence.






Initially the proclamation was to be announced at Djakarta central square, but the military had been sent to monitor the area, so the venue was changed to Sukarno’s house at Pegangsaan Timur 56. The declaration of independence passed without a hitch. The proclamation was prevented from being broadcast on the radio to the outside world by Yamamoto and Nishimura from the Japanese military, and was also initially prevented from being reported in the newspapers. However Shigetada Nishijima and Tadashi Maeda enabled the proclamation to be dispersed via telephone and telegraph. The proclamation at 56, Jalan Pegangsaan Timur, Jakarta, was heard throughout the country because the text was secretly broadcast by Indonesian radio personnel using the transmitters of the Jakarta Broadcasting Station (ジャカルタ放送局 Jakaruta Hōsōkyoku).

The Domei news agency was used to send the text of the proclamation to reach Bandung and Jogjakarta. Members of the youth movement in Bandung facilitated broadcasts of the proclamation in Indonesian and English from radio Bandung. Furthermore the local radio system was connected with the Central Telegraph Office and it broadcast the proclamation overseas. Moreover Sukarno’s speech that he gave on the day of the proclamation was not fully published. During his speech he discussed the continued need for the independence of Indonesia from Dutch as well as Japanese rule.

I have been a fan of Indonesian (primarily Javanese) cooking for decades.  If you search this site you will find recipes for my favorites, including soto ayam and nasi goreng.  To ring the changes, here is a video of making Pia Pia, shrimp fritters that are common village and street food.


Jun 102013



The Mock Turtle

Haigha and Hatta

Haigha and Hatta

Today is Mad Hatter day in Britain (but not in the U.S. – where it is October 6th).  The day is celebrated on the date 10/6 because in John Tenniel’s illustration of the Hatter at the tea party at the March Hare’s house in Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (see pic), the Hatter is wearing a topper with a note in the band saying “In this Style 10/6” which meant 10 shillings and sixpence (or half a guinea) in old currency. In British notation of day/month, 10/6 is June 10th, whereas in the U.S. system of month/day it is October 6th. The day is meant to be filled with scatterbrained activities and ideas.  In the chapter “A Mad Tea-Party,” the conversation involves riddles that have no answer, highly personal remarks, and generally nonsensical banter, giving us the lead on how to celebrate the day ourselves.

I find two points of interest that sometimes escape readers of this chapter of Alice. First, the Hatter is never referred to as “the Mad Hatter” in the text – only “the Hatter.” Second, both the Hatter and the March Hare are mad (as the Cheshire Cat warns Alice ahead of time). This generally connects with two common Victorian similes: “as mad as a hatter” and “as mad as a March hare.” One speculation about the former is that in the nineteenth century, mercury was used in the process of making felt for hats, and so hatters (and mill workers) were exposed to high levels of mercury vapor in their factories and workshops leading to mercury poisoning which caused neurological damage.  Hares were said to be mad in March because of their crazy antics during mating season, such as boxing one another and randomly jumping vertically in the air. Mating season begins in the month of March. Versions of this idiomatic saying date to 1500. Just to complete the trio of tea drinkers that Alice comes across, the Dormouse is perpetually asleep in reference to the expression “as sleepy as a dormouse” presumably referring to their times of hibernation.

The March Hare and the Hatter make a brief appearance in the sequel Through the Looking-Glass, renamed Haigha and Hatta (see pic), working as the White King’s messengers.  As the king explains:

“I must have TWO, you know—to come and go. One to come, and one to go.”

Tenniel’s illustration shows Hatta still in his 10/6 topper sipping a cup of tea with the Hare looking on.

It’s way too obvious to give you a recipe that has something to do with tea time, and besides I already went on about tea time in a previous post (Louisa Lawson and The Dawn Club).  Instead I am going to focus on another of Carroll’s beloved characters; the Mock Turtle.  What makes the character of the Mock Turtle amusing may be missed by modern readers.  In Tenniel’s illustration (see pic) he has the body of a turtle and the head, feet, and tail of a cow.  In nineteenth century England, particularly in the Victorian era, turtle soup was a hallmark of fine dining and opulence among the elite.  It was typically on the menu at ceremonial dinners such as the Lord Mayor’s banquet in London.  People who could not afford real turtle meat could make mock turtle soup in imitation of the real thing.  To substitute for turtle meat, recipes called for the head, feet, and tail of a cow, because the fat and bones produced a gelatinous broth similar to turtle soup, and the fatty portions of the meat mimicked turtle meat – hence the Mock Turtle’s head, feet, and tail.

I doubt anyone reading this post is likely to run out and buy an ox head to make the soup, so I am going to fall back on my Victorian stalwart , Isabella Beeton, for her recipe.  It is perfectly serviceable if you are up for it.  I did make it once many years ago, and it was good – although it made an awful lot of soup, and you need an awfully big pot. The recipe is quite precious. A tammy (or tamis) is a large round sieve shaped like a drum.  Note that she advises the addition of mushrooms “when obtainable.” In Victorian times they were gathered wild because they were not grown commercially.  And, oh yes, have a jolly time removing the brains.  For them you need her recipe for brains on toast points (which my mum made for Saturday tea time once in a while when I was a boy).


172. INGREDIENTS.—1/2 a calf’s head, 1/4 lb. of butter, 1/4 lb. of lean ham, 2 tablespoonfuls of minced parsley, a little minced lemon thyme, sweet marjoram, basil, 2 onions, a few chopped mushrooms (when obtainable), 2 shallots, 2 tablespoonfuls of flour, 1/4 bottle of Madeira or sherry, force-meat balls, cayenne, salt and mace to taste, the juice of 1 lemon and 1 Seville orange, 1 dessert-spoonful of pounded sugar, 3 quarts of best stock, No. 104.

Mode.—Scald the head with the skin on, remove the brain, tie the head up in a cloth, and let it boil for 1 hour. Then take the meat from the bones, cut it into small square pieces, and throw them into cold water. Now take the meat, put it into a stewpan, and cover with stock; let it boil gently for an hour, or rather more, if not quite tender, and set it on one side. Melt the butter in another stewpan, and add the ham, cut small, with the herbs, parsley, onions, shallots, mushrooms, and nearly a pint of stock; let these simmer slowly for 2 hours, and then dredge in as much flour as will dry up the butter. Fill up with the remainder of the stock, add the wine, let it stew gently for 10 minutes, rub it through a tammy, and put it to the calf’s head; season with cayenne, and, if required, a little salt; add the juice of the orange and lemon; and when liked, 1/4 teaspoonful of pounded mace, and the sugar. Put in the force-meat balls, simmer 5 minutes, and serve very hot.

Time.—4-1/2 hours. Average cost, 3s. 6d. per quart, or 2s. 6d. without wine or force-meat balls.

Seasonable in winter.

Sufficient for 10 persons.

Note.—The bones of the head should be well stewed in the liquor it was first boiled in, and will make good white stock, flavoured with vegetables, etc.