The downfall of the Dutch-language press in Indonesia 1950-1957

Alitalia Jeanny, Achmad Sunjayadi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


After the Independence of Indonesia on August 17, 1945, the Dutch-language press re-published in Indonesia. Some newspapers were the newspapers that had published before the Japanese occupation. The situation changed on December 1, 1957, when Soedibjo, the Indonesian Minister of Information announced a nationwide 'General Strike Day' followed by the prohibition of all Dutch-language newspapers, magazines, and films in Indonesia, including all Dutch publication from the Netherlands. This chapter discusses the situation of the Dutch-language press before and after the minister's announcement. This study is can contribute the historiography of the press in Indonesia's decolonization period, a topic of which there are only few studies. This issue is also very worthy of attention because the Dutch language had a special place among Indonesian elites who made and issued policies. The method used in this chapter is historical methods consisting of heuristics, source criticism, interpretation, and historiography. We use the primary source of Dutch-language newspapers published in main cities Indonesia (Java Bode, Het Nieuwsblad voor Sumatra, De Preangerbode, De Vrije Press) and in the Netherlands (Algemeen Handelsblad, De Volkskrant, De Telegraaf, De Tijd, Het Vrije Volk, Nieuwsblad van Noorden, De Waarheid, Gereformeerd Gezinsblad). Another primary source that is used is the inventory of the Antara news agency, a collection of the National Archives in Jakarta. The collection is important because since December 1, 1957, Dutch-language newspapers in Indonesia has been banned from publishing. Therefore, situation in the aftermath of the ban can be obtained from Antara. The results show that before the announcement on December 1, 1957, there had been several cases of press offenses made by the editors of Dutch-language newspapers whose sanction ranged from prison to expulsion to the Netherlands. Among these cases, some are rooted in political issues, especially anti-Dutch sentiment due to the West Irian dispute. After the announcement on December 1, 1957, Dutch newspapers were banned, Dutch newspaper editors were expelled to the Netherlands, and director and publishing company employees were dismissed. We argue that the development of the Dutchlanguage press began to fade in the mid-1950s and gradually disappeared after the announcement on 1 December 1957. A political factor related to West Irian prolonged anti-Dutch sentiment, which was embodied in the prohibition of Dutch-language publications, and this factor was the driving factor of the disappearance of Dutchlanguage press in Indonesia.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOn Language, Education, Politics, and Identity
Subtitle of host publicationA Cross-Linguistics Perspective
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages12
ISBN (Print)9781536193374
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2021


  • Anti-Dutch sentiment
  • Decolonization in Indonesia
  • Press prohibition in Indonesia
  • The Dutch-language press in Indonesia


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