Febrian A. Ruddyard, general director of multilateral cooperation at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, hands over the Unesco World Heritage site certificate to Hilmar Farid, the general director of cultural affairs at the Education and Culture Ministry, in Jakarta on Sept.16. (JG Photo/Nur Yasmin)
'Tempo Doeloe' Coal Mine Declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco
BY :NUR YASMIN
SEPTEMBER 22, 2019
Jakarta. A historic coal mine in Ombilin Sawahlunto, West Sumatra, that dates back to "Tempo Doeloe" times during the Dutch colonial era, was declared a world heritage site by Unesco in July.
"This is a big achievement for our country. It has been a long journey since 2001 [when we applied for the status] and it was finally approved this year. The Education and Culture Ministry has worked really hard [to achieve this]," Febrian A. Ruddyard, the general director of multilateral cooperation at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, said on Sept. 16.
He said the bestowal of the status is a victory for cultural diplomacy, helping to elevate Indonesia's image in the international stage and show off the country's long and unique history.
Hilmar Farid, the general director of cultural affairs at the Education and Culture Ministry, said the ministry will be working closely with the West Sumatra regional government and the owner of the Bukit Asam mining site to manage it.
"This achievement should raise public awareness of the importance of maintaining our cultural heritage. We are thinking of producing a film about the coal mine next year so people will talk more about it," Hilmar said.
He said the site will be protected and a council will be assembled to manage it according to regulations.
The ministry also revealed a plan to nominate the Kebun Raya Bogor botanical gardens next as a Unesco world heritage site.
"Kebun Raya Bogor is another historic site with a large collection of Indonesian flora that was started 200 years ago," Hilmar said.
Education expert Arief Rachman said the Ombilin Sawahlunto coal mine should be managed as a place where students can learn and appreciate its history.
"Let's not turn it into another 'museum.' Students are turned off by that term. But it has to be educative, I think a book about the site would be perfect for students," Arief said.
The coal mine fulfilled all the criteria to become a Unesco world heritage site, but was singled out for highlighting the transfer of technology between Europeans and their colonies in the 19th century.
The site is a repository of historical knowledge in mining engineering and local mining industry. You could see what industrialization was like at the end of the 19th century from its railway construction, underground train tunnels or mechanical coal sorting.
The coal mine at its heyday took up an area of 7,300 hectares, enough space for a company town and residential areas for over 7,000 residents.
Indonesia now has nine world heritage sites in total, including the Borobudur Temple and the Prambanan Temple in Central Java and the Ombilin Sawahlunto coal mine in West Sumatra.