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Department of PARIRIMBON INVESTASI
超自然投資部門(白皮書)
April 18th, 2019Type: Art Production
Author: Ismal Muntaha, 鄭文琦 (translator), 符芳俊 (proofreader) Editor: Rikey Tenn
Quote From: 群島資料庫Nusantara Archive
Note: “Paririmbon Investasi” project speculates the supernatural dimension of Taiwanese investment behavior through varied approaches, which is an important part in the daily lives of the people. In the 2nd of Nusantara Archive, Ismal Muntaha is interested in adding a supernatural burden to the investors; extending the investment process with a variety of ethical practices, linking various cultural aspects that exist around the area of investment as a consideration of the investment perspective. This guidebook for those who invest in Jatiwangi, will be compiled in a collective manner through a series of workshops in Taiwan / Indonesia involving various kinds of participants: artists, curators, researchers, businessmen, farmers and of course fengshui masters and astrologers. It is designed as a companion to the official investment guidebook, collaborating with Indonesia Economic And Trade Office in Taipei to distribute this Paririmbon.

In the foreword of Frequently Asked Questions On Investment, the chairman of Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board (Badan Koordinasi Penanaman Modal or BKPM) claimed that the Indonesian economy continues to offer vast potential, thanks to the country’s sustainable economic growth, its political stability, large youth population, and the growing middle class, as well as abundant natural resources. He also stated that investment has a large multiplier effect in boosting economic growth, it creates jobs and transforms the current consumption-based economy to an economy driven by production.

Thomas Lembong, Chairman of BKPM (Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board); 2019

On a humid afternoon, in a flat land called Jatiwangi, I gave these remarks some thoughts while observing a group of men sitting on their motorbikes, waiting for the workers to get off work from the Taiwanese-own shoe factory. And on a separate instance, on an overcast morning last January, while I was on a high speed train enroute from Taipei to Taichung city, I was reminded by the same statement as I saw a pair of Indonesian workers shared a set of earphones and listened to songs while holding hands. On reflection, the impact of investment on economic growth in Jatiwangi — I’m haqul yaqin that the growth is undeniable. At least, you can feel it through several changes in our everyday life. During paydays, the queue at the ATM can be several meters long, it takes close to an hour to deposit fifty thousand rupiah. There is also an increase in number of food stalls of cuisine from around the region in the new factories for the workers, not to mention the rise in house rental that could fetch three million rupiah for ten rooms each month, followed by the growth in the number of launderettes, applications for motorcycle loan, smartphone kiosks, and even love stories.

If the economic growth is a transformation process of abandoning the old to celebrate the new, then believe me the Jatiwangi economy is on the rise, because the tile factories as old industries that have existed since the colonial era are now slowly being abandoned and the people are embracing the imminent new waves of new investment. If the rate of economic growth can be measured by the rise in land prices and yet still in short supply, I have to stop my daydreaming about the the chairman’s remark, because what was said has now been materialised; both large and small-scale investments have now became part of the everyday life of the residents in Jatiwangi.

 

Let Me Tell You The History

Ismal Muntaha, Chariman of Paririmbon Investasi, 2019

Foreign investment is not uncommon in Jatiwangi, whether it is being realized or not; it has long been embedded within the structure of Jatiwangi socio-economy. When the Dutch East Indies launched its first wave investment of private sugar companies during in the late 19th century, a large sugar factory was built in Jatiwangi. Paddy fields were transformed into sugar cane plantations and workers were mobilized from different part of the Indonesian archipelago, which made Jatiwangi part of the first liberalization period in Indonesia and directly connected with the global sugar market.

In the early 20th century, in the strong presence of sugar industry, a different industry was introduced through local initiative – the roof tile making factories. They having been making tiles by using the same soil that was used for sugarcane and rice plantation. I suppose this is the Jatiwangi residents’ response to the sugar imperialism. Historically, the colonial sugar industry during the liberalization period gave birth to a rather lopsided investor/worker relationship, it was worse than the forced cultivation period, during which the colonial government applied a double-standard economic system (dualism). Anthropologist Clifford Geertz stated in the Agricultural Involution that this system allows local farmers to produce the best export quality produce, while the domestic sector such as family unit agriculture, home industry, and domestic were suppressed hence making these small businesses difficult to progress. When the export sector expanded due to the increased prices of world commodity, the domestic sector gradually weakened. Land and labor are no longer used to cultivate rice and other produce, but to cultivate sugarcane, coffee, and other trade crops. This is an effort to subdue the locals’ economic condition while producing world-class sugar products for the benefit of the investors. Geertz also noted that this export sector was governed by administrative capitalism, a system in which the capital holders – the Dutch investors – regulated sales prices and wages, controlled expenses, and even dominated the production process.

These large scale plantations were usually owned by families who lived in small cluster, in lavish tropical bungalows close to the sugarcane factories. The operation of these factories are usually manned by the local farmers who did not only provide the land, but also doubled as manual labor to clear the land, dig holes, sow the seed, cultivate and transport the crop. The sugar factory in Jatiwangi managed land area measuring thousands of hectares which was originally paddy fields. It was run by a family known as the Juragan Besar (The Big Boss), made up of G.M.W Zuur himself and his 11 children – who were mostly born in Jatiwangi.

The introduction of the giant high-tech sugar companies in the middle of the paddy fields does guarantee the welfare of the locals. The forces of capitalism increasingly seep into the heart of the village life. As a result, this colonial political economy, even though was colored by various ethical political policies, laid the foundation for land privatization in Indonesia which directly influenced the history of wage laborers. This agrarian tension is still palpable today.

Planting Sugar Cane in Jatiwangi, circa 1940

However, this effort did not last long. The Great Depression in 1930, caused a dramatic decline in the global economy due to the fall of the international monetary system. The volume of international trade plummeted, followed by the cessation of investment and the drop in stocks value in the Wall Street which subsequently wrecked the economies of industrialized and developing nations. Four years after, the Dutch East Indies export revenue dropped by 70%.

The Zuur Family had to gradually pack their suitcase and move back to their home country. In 1940, the Netherland was occupied Germany and the Dutch East Indies became a colonial administration without its homebase. However the roof tile factories managed to keep it growth in in Jatiwangi and it slowly became a promising local industry, especially after the independence. By then, Indonesia entered into a new phase, a period of to pursue to become an independent nation, alongside with other Southeast Asian countries.

After the World War II, the nationalization of foreign companies became part of the decolonization process. During this process, the Indonesians were busy taking over the administration, bureaucracy and political power sectors. However, the modern roles in the economic sector were filled by the Overseas Chinese who were regarded as a separate class with the know-how in the economy due to the three-tier racial segregation imposed by the Dutch administration. As Indonesia entered into the New Order development period, it opened its doors to foreign investments. Due to the policy introduced by the Dutch, the overseas Chinese became the most involved community in this economic sector, and by so they also benefited the most from it. In 1970, a Taiwanese construction company obtained a toll road construction project in Surabaya and Sumatra, followed by a industrial park development as a result of cooperation between the Indonesian overseas Chinese and Taiwanese investors. When the New Order government founded the first Indonesian chamber of commerce in Taipei in 1970, the economic relationship with Taiwan grew stronger.

 

New Era of Jatiwangi

The developmental ideology of the New Order had a major impact on the economic structure of Jatiwangi. The Public Housing Credit Policy in REPELITA II introduced by the New Order boosted the demand for Jatiwangi-made roof tiles. The roof tile industrial landscape became a widespread phenomenon, which later gave birth to a new class of wealthy businessmen. The tile businessmen who were successful did not come from the feudal class who ruled the land during the colonial period; like Pak Haji Aspin, the founder of the most modern and biggest roof tile factory in Jatiwangi and Abadi Genteng, who was previously was a tofu seller. This new class of wealthy businessmen came from a working class background or domestic traders.

The roof tile industry reached a golden age in the late 1980s until the late 1990s. Externally this period was marked by the expansion of the Jatiwangi roof tile market, even to an export level. One of the export destination countries was Brunei Darussalam, where the Abadi Genteng Factory was the main supplier for the entire monarchical development program led by Sultan Hashanah Bolqiah. Whereby domestically, this period opened up new social landscapes in Jatiwangi; brokering ‘dynasty’, thuggery, gambling on cockfighting game with prize money sometimes worth hundreds of millions rupiah, purchase of latest luxury car model and other various local-style hedonism. But interestingly, during the golden period of the roof tile industry, there was almost no investment from outside of Jatiwangi. Except for the Abadi Genteng Factory, which established a merger with Terreal, a multinational tile company from France albeit it did not last long. The bustling social-economical phenomenon brought-forth by the roof tile industry is nothing compared to colonial sugar industry.

The golden age of roof tiles industry ended when Southeast Asia was hit by the 1997 financial crisis. Only 120 out of the 600 roof tile factories set up during 1980s to 1990s survive. Currently, the ASEAN Economic Community introduces various types of new investments that allows the roof tile industry to be replaced with for instance textiles, garments, and other manufacturing industries that can create job replacement. However, the influx of large capitals expedited the process of privatization of land. Jatiwangi once again was subsumed into the wave of global investment. The state tries to take advantage of the inflow of foreign investment by introducing an investment reform policy that allows investors to get one-stop-services on investment licensing process as well as various tax incentives for investors.

 

Why Does It Matter And Why This Form?

History has shown us that investment is a form of structural operation controlled by the regime and people in power. This investment process is often deprived of socio-cultural contexts. Apart from citizenship matters, the involvement is always hierarchical and the residents are often exploited. From this investment enclave, is there any schism that we can intervene through a different narrative? And in what way?

Through experimenting with the spirit of intervention through artistic means, The Paririmbon Investasi Department has surveyed the alternative investment model prompted by these questions. At least up until now, I envisioned two forms of responses regarding the wave of investment in Jatiwangi, especially the investment from Taiwan. The first form is to put together an investment guidebook as a supplementary reference to the existing governmental investment guidebook. This book tries to speculate the spiritual dimensions of the Taiwanese and Indonesian people by various approaches such as: feng shui, astrology, klenik, rituals, prayers, etc. towards investment approach. The second form of response is to propose an alternative investment order similar to the governmental official manner. For this purpose, I assume the role of the Indonesian Economic Trade Office (KDEI) in Taipei to facilitate the process of alternative investments. Please allow me to elaborate.

 

Paririmbon Investasi Book

Wirid-Panen, A Harvest Ritual in Supranatural Farming; 2019

This investment guidebook will experiment with various cultural-spiritual approaches to affix a supernatural dimension to potential future investor. While engaging investment practices with ethical concerns, it also attempts to connect various cultural aspects surrounding the investment site to form a more comprehensive investment position. It targets major investors who invest directly through governmental channels. For that, we will work with IETO to distribute this book as supplementary reference to the existing governmental investment guidebook. It will be compiled collectively through a series of workshops in Taiwan and Indonesia by practitioners from various fields: artists, curators, researchers, businessmen, startupper, farmers, community leaders and of course feng shui masters and astrologists. The first draft content of this manual is as follows:

I. Foreword

Chairman of Paririmbon Investasi Department, Mr. Ismal Muntaha

Chief of Investment Department KDEI, Mr. Mohammad Firdaus

 

II. About Jatiwangi

This chapter features astrological chart reading of Jatiwangi, calculated based on the latitude and longitude. This astrological reading works as a guide for future investors. In addition, we will also discuss the socio-cultural contexts of Jatiwangi, and the active role Jatiwangi art Factory plays since the last decade. We also provide spiritual context or local myths about Jatiwangi as a reinforcement of cultural aspects when it comes to designing Jatiwangi socio-cultural landscape. For us, the local myths are part of intangible heritage, especially the existence of ancestral spirits, is one of the important contextual considerations in designing Jatiwangi.

 

III. How To Invest in Jatiwangi (FAQ)

This section contains guidelines on ethical concerns in Jatiwangi, particularly on how to form a sustainable relationships with local residents, by synergising the local and the Taiwanese’ spiritual practices. It will be composed as Q&A as follow:

a. How to build a factory in Jatiwangi?

To build a factory in Jatiwangi, investors are advised follow these several propositions. One of which is to produce shadow puppet show close to the future factory site, as an effort to establish dialogue with the your future neighbor. Secondly, the factory should be built according to feng shui readings which focuses on the the equilibrium between human and nature. Thirdly, the future investors are also advised to perform the “Ngajimatan Taneuh” ritual to seek blessings from the local ancestors who long inhabited this land. This is gesture to pay respect to the earliest inhabitants to avoid unforeseeable incident such as the mass spirit possession happened to workers from PT. Shinwo Mulia (Garment Factory) in Jatiwangi. [Video link: Kesurupan Massal di PT.Shinwoo Mulia – Jatiwangi (Majalengka)]

b. How to officiate your factory?

Once the proposed rituals have been carried out, there are several other procedures to follow before officiating the newly built factory. One of which is to offer “Nasi Tumpeng” (rice cooked with turmeric) to the local residents, followed by a praying ritual and traditional dances for the ancestors.

c. Other ritual involved

This section contains information on other rituals required to ensure a smooth business operation; for instance, to plant 15 Jati trees on every lunar cycle or the 15th day of the lunar calendar.

 

IV. Investment sector based on the principle of Wu Xing

Wu Xing or the Five Elements one of the underlying fundamental philosophies practiced by the Chinese as a way to understand the relationship between human, nature and the cosmos. Based on these concepts, we will organise a focus workshop with experts in Taiwan to draft an investment practice.

V. The Do and Don’t when it comes to investing in Jatiwangi

In this chapter we will cover what we should and should not do when it comes to investing in Jatiwangi based on two approaches; zodiac reading of prospective investors and the traditional local belief systems. For instance, the local Jatiwangi tradition, including Sundanese and Javanese, we are accustomed with the concept of “Pamali” – which means once a taboo is committed, it will bring mishap to the person. One of the examples is not to cut an old tree when you are building factory, unless you make a vow to plant new tree; or not to build factory near graveyard, and etc.

VI. Tips on avoiding misfortune

Bad thing sometimes could happen beyond rational reasoning. This section will provide tips on how to minimize these mishaps. For instance, do not mobilize employees to another city without staging a shadow puppet show ritual, etc.

 

Investment Package

Paririmbon Investasi works as an investment agency to help conceptualize and facilitate alternative investment plan. This department will invite Taiwanese contemporary art community stakeholders including collectors, museums, galleries, art organizations/ institutions, art collectives, curators and artists to invest in Jatiwangi. Unlike conventional business model experienced by the local residents in Jatiwangi, their position will shift from being laborers to business partners. This is a profit-sharing alternative investment plan, depending on the investment package and based the amount of investment.

Capital-intensive government related foreign investment often involve high-tech hardware. However, our investment package focuses on striking a balance between business investment and local socio-historical concerns, as a way to create a larger sense of ownership within the local community. Another form of investment is without capital investment, or more accurately, a form of knowledge exchange. For instance, artist can participate in the investment plan by giving his/her time, labour, expertise or ideas in developing a more imaginative business model. This arrangement is akin to an artist residency program; the difference here is that the artists will get a portion of profit from the investment.

The following are some of the investment packages we offer:

Wirid Panen, A Harvest Ritual in Supranatural Farming; 2019

1. Supranatural Farming

This is an agribusiness system based on kinship and organic-supernatural ideology, in which each process involves rituals and fueled by compassion. Despite the ongoing land ownership dispute with the Indonesian Air Force, this 1400 square meter land area is managed collectively for the local residents to perform rituals. To be involved in this agribusiness model, you will also be supporting the claim of the people of Kampung Wates to the land of Wates.

2. Soil Modular

This environmentally friendly brick is made from soil and a mixture of rice waste without being fired. This can be produced by home makers in villages during breaks between farming activities.

3. Jatiwangi Roof Tiles Museum

Jatiwangi Roof Tiles Museum is a site to learn about the struggle of Jatiwangi soil. This museum collaborates with roof tiles workers and factory owners to collect and record data and facts related to roof tiles culture to ultimately establish a more humane approach with the use of land in Jatiwangi.

4. Saung Ciranggon

Saung Ciranggon is a community restaurant run by the residents from Kampung Wates. Its menu are based on local recipe and prepared with locally-grown ingredients. In a sense, it is a community restaurant where every family contribute to the menu design and share the profit generated from the restaurant operation.

5. Earth Housing Project

This is a residential housing project managed collectively by a village and supervised by the soil architect bureau. This business handles the construction of environmentally friendly homes with rammed earth technique, in which the house is built solely by using soil and only 1% of cement.

6. Choose your way to invest and to engage Jatiwangi residents as partners rather than employers

We hope that this guidebook will provide you with an insight on investing in Jatiwangi. We are aware that some area in this guide needs fine tuning, it will be updated through a series of ongoing discussions and workshops. We sincerely hope that you would consider our proposition and to become our investment partner as an art practitioner. Paririmbon Investasi Department looks forward to working with you in the near future.

Jatiwangi, March 2019

Chairman of Paririmbon Investasi

Ismal Muntaha

Footnote
[1] We have conducted two sessions of black rice planting workshop. Black rice is believed to have medicinal value for heart disease and cancer.