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Meeting Javanese People in Bangkok
By: Ahmad Cholis Hamzah*
Javanese people are the majority ethnic group in Indonesia; and therefore no wonder that many of Javanese people are found anywhere in Indonesian archipelago. For long time, public also know very well that Javanese community are also found in Peninsular Malaysia, and they have been in Malaysia since early times. Javanese migration to this country occurred during Dutch colonial era. They are concentrated in Perak, Johor, Selangor in Kedah, even in Kuala Lumpur. Javanese community is also found in Suriname in South America. In Singapore, approximately 50% -60% of its Malay population have some degree of Javanese ancestry.
However, not everyone in Indonesia is aware of Javanese presence in Thailand.
A reporter of detik.com – a widely read e-news portal last month (February 2013) was one of Indonesian journalists that joined a program called Media Familiarization to Thailand. They visited “Kampong Java” in the middle of Bangkok city. He was amazed when a Thai Javanese named Slamet Dariyat (= Slamet is a common Javanese name for man) greeted him and said (in Javanese language) “I am a real Thai, my father from Kendal (Central Java)”. He welcomed Indonesian journalists at the veranda of a Mosque at Sathorn area of Bangkok. My friend who the area told me that we can go to Sathorn area by BTS of Bangkok Mass Transit System to Surasak for a single trip; and the city of Javanese descent people in Bangkok is near Surasak Station.
There are approximately 3,000 Javanese people in this area and most of them are second, the third and fourth generation; and most of them are Muslims. They reside at a plot of land granted by Thai Kingdom.
These Javanese people originally came to Thailand following the visit of King Chulalongkorn to Java in 1896; at that time the Majesty King asked helps from Javanese Kings to send skilled carpenter and carvers from Java to build new Kingdom buildings. His Majesty provided residences for them. Detik.com journalist reported that there has been no clear information as to why they did not return to Indonesia. However, some people say that they preferred to stay in Thailand due to Colonial era in Indonesia.
Irfan Dahlan, a son of Kiai Haji Ahmad Dahlan – the founding father of Muhammadiyah (the second largest Muslim organization in Indonesia) in 1924 was in Pakistan to study but could not return to Indonesia, and finally decided to stay in Thailand instead and he joined with other Javanese descents to stay at Kampong Java in Bangkok. He once went to Java when Soekarno the first President of Indonesia awarded National Hero medals to his parents. Marifah Dahlan daughter of Irfan Dahlan – who also lives at Kampong Java, told Indonesian journalists that she and her families keep communicating with her families at Kauman Yogyakarta (her grandfather established Muhammadiyah at Kauman neighborhood – a Muslim neighborhood near the palace of King of Yogyakarta).
Most Thai Indonesian descents speak Thai language as they are now Thai citizens. However, they still preserve the value of Javanese and Muslim culture in Thailand.
So, it is an amazing story isn’t it? and by knowing it we are more aware that we are in ASEAN community are not only neighbours, but we are relatives.
*) Alumni of University of London, U.K, Universitas Airlangga Surabaya and a lecturer at PERBANAS (Banking College) in Surabaya, Indonesia.
TENTANG AKHYARI HANANTO
I began my career in the banking industry in 1997, and stayed approx 6 years in it. This industry boost his knowledge about the economic condition in Indonesia, both macro and micro, and how to unders ... Lihat Profil Lengkap