Yogyakarta is a complicated place to outsiders, and publisher Alistair Speirs is certainly aware of that, but he had the great fortune to be introduced to HRH Prince Wironegoro, who is the husband of the Crown Princess GKR Mangkubumi, eldest daughter of Sri Sultan Hamengku Bawono X, and very much an insider. After a personal (and fascinating) tour of the palace, Prince Wironegoro agreed to help us understand the current situation in the Special Area of Yogyakarta, also commonly known as Jogja or DIY, through a series of questions. Here are his clear and informative answers.
AGS: Please explain the role of The Palace and the Royal Family in the life of the Special Province of Jogjakarta
KPHW: The entire Royal Family plays their specific roles in social and cultural tasks. Apart from serving as King, Ngarso Dalem Sri Sultan Hamengku Bawono ka 10, also serves as Governor of DIY. GKR Hemas, The Queen, has been serving as a member of the Regional Representative Council (DPD) which is positioned in Jakarta, acting as the special liaison to connect the government of DIY, and the central government. GKR Mangkubumi serves as chairman of the Kwarda Pramuka DIY, deputy Kwarnas in the Central Management, chairman of the DIY Chamber of Commerce and many others. As myself, KPH Wironegoro, apart from serving as Pengageng Parentah Hageng Keraton Jogja, manages the 3000 palace employees, I am also the chairman of the Indonesian Association of Fisherman in Yogyakarta, and also the patron for Yayasan Seni Nusantara and Yayasan Edukasi Anak Nusantara.
AGS: How does the Sultan balance his two roles as the Head of the Royal Household and the Governor of the Province?
KPHW: As the King of Yogyakarta Kingdom, Ngarso Dalem Sri Sultan Hamengku Bawono ka 10 , responsible to preserve the tradition and culture within the wall of the palace, He oversees 4 districts Gunung Kidul, Bantul, Kulonprogo and Sleman, and Yogyakarta city. Its role is divided to focus on making the palace a cultural centre. As Governor, he carries out duties related to regional government and also works with the central and foreign governments.
That the Sultan of Yogyakarta simultaneously holds the positions of Governor and Monarch has become a defining feature of Yogyakarta’s special status. His dual status reflects the competing influences of modern and traditional values on the institutional arrangement in Yogyakarta. On the one hand, the position of Governor provides the Sultan with the formal power to command the government apparatus based on modern and legally binding regulations stated in the Regional Government Law. On the other hand, his position as the traditional ruler of the enduring Yogyakarta Sultanate equips him with the cultural legitimacy to connect with local people based on traditional Javanese values. Despite the distinctive bases for legitimacy, however, the two positions of Governor and Sultan are so closely intertwined that it is often difficult to distinguish in which capacity the sultan acts in a given situation. According to Ngarso Dalem Sri Sultan Hamengku Bawono ka 10 himself, he is the Sultan when he is in the palace and the Governor when he is outside the palace.
AGS: Please explain your role in The Palace and Royal Household. What are you doing to improve and enhance the operations of the palace?
KPHW: As the Pengageng Parentah Ageng, my main duty is managing 3000 palace courtiers. They are divided into two groups, the Punokawan who work in the Yogyakarta Palace. Some small numbers of Punokawan work outside Java, for example, the caretaker of Pangeran Diponegoro’s grave. The other group called Kaprajans. They consist of government employees, policemen and retirees who want to dedicate their lives to the palace. Both groups have to attend Pawiyatan, special training to introduce the culture of Yogyakarta.
AGS: How do you characterise the relationship between DIY and the Republic of Indonesia? It was the first Centre of Government in independent Indonesia. How is it perceived now?
KPHW: Yogyakarta’s support was essential in the Indonesian struggle for independence during the Indonesian National Revolution (1945-1949). The city of Yogyakarta became the capital of The Indonesian Republic from 1946 to 1948 after the fall of Jakarta to the Dutch. President Sukarno was sworn as the President of Republik Indonesia Serikat on Desember 17, 1949 in Sitihinggil Kraton Yogyakarta.
Later the Dutch also invaded Yogyakarta, causing the Republic’s capital to be transferred once again, to Bukit Tinggi in West Sumatera on 19 December 1948. The General Offensive of 1 March 1949 resulted in an Indonesian political and strategic victory against the Dutch and the withdrawal of Dutch forces from Yogyakarta. On 29 June 1949 Yogyakarta was completely cleared of Dutch forces, under pressure from the United Nations. Because of its significant contribution to the survival of the Indonesian Republic, Yogyakarta was given autonomy as a “special district”, making it the only region headed by a recognised monarchy in Indonesia.
In August 2012, the Indonesian parliament passed a law that confirmed the status of the province of Yogyakarta as a so-called Special Region. This status had been in place since Indonesian independence, however, decentralization policies introduced after the fall of Suharto in 1998 raised questions about its legal foundations. The 2012 law appoints the traditional ruler of the former Sultanate of Yogyakarta, Sultan Hamengkubuwono, as governor of the region without the need for an election. This regulation makes Yogyakarta the only province in contemporary Indonesia whose governor is not freely elected by the people. The law, therefore, formalized a unique hybrid system of government for Yogyakarta in which elements of democratic rule are combined with features of a traditional monarchy.
AGS: Yogyakarta is the centre of Javanese Culture but do you think enough is done to promote the lucrative cultural tourism business?
KPHW: As a city blessed with its cultural richness, Yogyakarta enjoys a good response from domestic tourism visits. Not only students from 120 registered universities, but also from its neighbouring cities. Research on urban tourism became a topic of interest for the local economic development, especially in the Special Province of Yogyakarta which represent the “City of Culture-based Tourism”. Yogyakarta, with the Javanese culture and its distinctive charm, already became the second tourist interest destination after Bali.
Nowadays, Yogyakarta offers a new kind of tourism attraction called “Kampung Wisata”, a village scale in urban tourism. “Kampung Wisata” itself can help the economic growth through community development, and not only to support local identity but also as a form to build up networking global economies.
According to the Department of Tourism and Culture of Yogyakarta there are 12 tourist villages which are currently being developed, such as Dipowinatan, Cokrodiningratan, Purbayan, Pandeyan, Kadipaten, Sosromenduran, Tahunan, Patehan, Brontokusuman, Suryatmajan, Notoprajan and Prenggan. Those twelve tourist villages readiness divided into 3 groups: steady, growing and pioneering. Corresponding potential tourist villages in Yogyakarta are grouped into eight types: social, cultural, educational and cultural arts, crafts and history, culture and heritage, crafts and culinary, shopping and crafts, multi-culture, and echo tourism and heritage.
The development of tourism in Yogyakarta is shown in the vision of the contents, namely “Culture-Based Tourism”. The development of the tourist villages has good prospects according to the data of tourist visits to the social and cultural objects in Yogyakarta, the number of tourists who visited the objects is quite sufficient.
Urban tourism in Yogyakarta is still growing, and the development of tourist villages is also influenced by the trend of demand for different types of tourism, which is increasingly focused on getting to know the life and daily activities of a certain society. Tourist villages are more widely enjoyed by tourists who want to experience life in another country. The nature of the visit is only temporary, affected by curiosity to know the lives of Indonesians. The “live-in” concept or recreation that blends in within the community is supporting the tourism potential elements from the tourist attraction providers (supply). Some of its attractions are visiting the home –a family home- with a dress custom Java and entertainment coupled with the distinctive culinary arts and Javanese cuisine. This tour presents a kind of inner experience to the tourists to enjoy the routine of the chosen village and integrated themselves into daily life. For example, if there are people or communities who are holding a wedding ceremony, the tourists will also join the procession with Javanese clothing and will follow all the events in the wedding procession, the tourists can even take a part in it and help the actual procession instead of only witnessing.
And yet, I still strongly believe Yogyakarta needs to do more promotions to introduce Jogjakarta. The Central Government recently launched a program called Badan Otoritas Borobudur (BOB) that directly connect Yogyakarta and Borobudur in terms of tourism. More programs need to be done to promote Jogjakarta to foreign and local visitors.
AGS: You are actively involved in the securing of new investment in the province. How do you balance the interests of business, culture, history and nature?
KPHW: For the past years, I have done some part to encourage investment in Jogjakarta Special Region. The most important key message that I always explain to the potential investors that any investment that occurs in Jogjakarta Special Region has to follow the rules of eco, green, beneficial to the people and last but not least has to respect to Jogjakarta’s culture and traditions. The reasons being Jogja is a special region that does not have as many varieties of natural resources as any other regions in Indonesia. With its 3.7 million inhabitants, we – for example – need to have water treatment management. Thus as I mentioned previously any kind of investment must comply with those specific rules.
AGS: Are you optimistic about the future of Jogjakarta? How do you see the province in 20 years’ time?
KPHW: I am very optimistic about that. One of the parameters is that Jogjakarta Special Region is now served by two airports. The new airport, Yogyakarta International Airport is established on the coastal beach in the area of Kulonprogo. Not only beautiful, but YIA is also the only airport that can be landed by fully loaded A380s or 777s. Its location on the coastal beach has positioned this airport as the artsiest airport in Asia. Before the pandemic, several airlines (below 12 hours) have been approved to land here, but later postponed due to COVID 19. I’d like to see this as a blessing in disguise as now we can have more time to prepare for the people of Yogya to get the most benefits of this current achievement. In two years DIY will be also connected with Semarang, Solo and Cilacap, through toll roads, making Yogya as one of the most accessible cities in Indonesia. It is my responsibility as a member of the Royal Family to prepare the people of Jogja to benefit more from this current development.
List of Terms and References
• Ngarso Dalem Sri Sultan Hamengku Bawono ka 10 (Sri Sultan Hamengku Bawono X) King of Kingdom of Ngayogyokarto Hadiningrat and Governor of Yogyakarta Special Region (Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta)
• GKR Mangkubumi, Crown Princess, eldest daughter of Sri Sultan Hamengku Bawono X
• KPH Wironegoro-Pengageng (Officer) Parentah Hageng
• GKR Condrokirono-Pengageng Panitropuro
• GKR Maduretno-Pengageng Danartopuro / Finance Department
• KPH Purbodiningrat-Representative of DPRD DIY
• GKR Hayu-Pengageng Tepas (Office) Tondho Yekti
• KPH Notonegoro-Pengageng Tepas Kridomardowo
• GKR Bendoro-Pengageng Tepas Pariwisata (Tourism Board)
• KPH Yudonegoro-Government Officer, Government of Yogyakarta Special Region