The opium salemba factory: A dilemma between economic benefits and political missions (1900-1930)

Umi Humaeroh, Bondan Kanumoyoso

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


Drugs are one of the most obvious problems in Indonesia. Deputy for Community Empowerment of the National Narcotics Agency of the Republic of Indonesia (BNN: Badan Narkotika Nasional), Dunan Ismail Isja, said that in the 172-nation conference results in Vienna some time ago provided facts about 800 New Psychoactive Substance (NPS) in the world and 71 types of drugs had entered Indonesia (BNN: 2018). However, the Indonesian people themselves have had experience with drugs long before Indonesian independence. The entering of Opium to the Dutch East Indies was inseparable from Dutch intervention. During the VOC period, opium was monopolized by the VOC through opium societeit. Then, the societeit was changed to opium directie. When the VOC was taken by the Dutch East Indies Colonial Government, opium directie turned into opiumpacht. Then, at the beginning of the twentieth century, opiumpacht was changed to opiumregie. Under the opiumregie, opium production and distribution was centered in Batavia. In the success of the Opiumregie policy, the Dutch East Indies Colonial Government built an opium factory in Batavia. One of the opium factories established in Batavia was the opium factory located in Weltevreden. At present, the factory is located on Salemba and it is part of the University of Indonesia Institute of Economic Management. The establishment of the factory brought various reactions and responses from every level of society and government. This research uses historical method which includes four stages, namely heuristic, criticism, interpretation, and historiography. This research provides a new discussion about the relationship between economics and political interests associated with the establishment of the opium factory in Batavia. The discussion is focus on the opium factory in Salemba along with the economic and political interests surrounding it. The Dutch response to the Salemba opium factory was to accept the existence of the factory with the assumption that the factory was an embodiment of ethical politics, and the Dutch did not want to be considered accepting and supporting the existence of the factory because of the huge profits it gained. Thus, the establishment of the Salemba opium factory brought a dilemma for the Dutch East Indies Government, namely between prioritizing the economic benefits and the ethical political mission it carried out.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDissecting History and Problematizing the Past in Indonesia
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781536193992
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Batavia community
  • Ethical policy
  • Opium factory
  • Regie opium
  • Salemba


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