In an effort to save the nation’s heritage from complete destruction, the government plans to immediately restore the four keraton, or palaces, in Cirebon — the Kasultanan Kasepuhan, Kanoman, Kacirebonan and Keprabonan palaces, which are all in various stages of ruin.
Kasepuhan Keraton ruler Sultan Sepuh IV Pangeran Raja Adipati (PRA) Arief Natadiningrat said on Wednesday that the central government, through the Office of the Coordinating People’s Welfare Minister, the National Development Planning Ministry and the National Planning Board (Bappenas), had approved the planned renovations.
At least Rp 70 billion (US$7.7 million) is needed to revamp the historical buildings. The restoration funds will be derived from the state budget and West Java’s provincial budget.
“The government has approved the proposed funding for the planned renovations. The national development planning minister and the head of Bappenas head came to meet us to look at the renovation site. We expect the restoration to commence early next year. The government is currently drawing up a construction blueprint,” said Arief.
Arief added that the project would involve several other ministries including the Education and Culture Ministry, Religious Affairs Ministry, Public Works Ministry and the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry.
“The involvement of the ministries will be coordinated by the Office of the Coordinating People’s Welfare Minister. The blueprint will be handed to the Education and Culture Ministry, which is expected to complete everything by August this year, so it can be followed up with budgetary arrangements,” said Arief.
Besides involving the central government, the restoration of the historic sites will also involve the West Java provincial administration.
“I have met with West Java Governor Ahmad Heryawan to discuss the planned restoration work. The governor has expressed his readiness to be involved in the project. He even said he would provide funds for the purpose,” said Arief.
Cultural observers warmly welcomed the planned restoration project. Cirebon Cultural Council head Ahmad Syubhanuddin Alwy said a large number of historic sites were in a dilapidated state.
“If there is no effort to rescue the buildings, I’m afraid they will disappear in time. We appreciate the government’s initiative to restore these historic buildings,” said Alwy.
According to him, the buildings are in such bad shape due to their age and a lack of upkeep.
“The old buildings, which have never been maintained, are eyesores. They look eerie and decayed. Many parts of the buildings have collapsed altogether due to old age,” said Alwy.
He expressed his fear that if the historic buildings and heritage sites were allowed to disappear, the history of Cirebon would disappear with them.
“Cirebon’s history will vanish together with the heritage sites. Concerted action must be taken to save the buildings, because besides being part of Cirebon’s history, they are also part of the wider history of Indonesia,” said Alwy.
Source: The Jakarta Post, Cirebon | The Archipelago | Fri, June 29 2012