The Palembang Darussalam sultanate in South Sumatra plans to convert the Kuto Besak Fort (BKB) into a palace in order to restore the now derelict landmark to its former glory.
“We will rebuild the Palembang Darussalam sultanate’s palace, which was previously occupied by the Dutch and later by the Indonesian Military [TNI] after independence,” said Palembang Darussalam Sultan Iskandar Mahmud Badaruddin III.
Currently, the historic remnant of the Palembang Darussalam sultanate belongs to the Army and serves as the AK Gani Hospital and Regional Military Nursing Academy. The Army has owned the BKB since Indonesian independence was declared on Aug. 17, 1945. The fort was a center of freedom fighter activity during the Dutch colonial period.
The Islamic sultanate of Palembang Darussalam ruled Palembang since 1666. Now, the sultanate is
led by Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin III, who only holds a largely ceremonial position.
The BKB was designated as a cultural heritage site through a Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry decree and protected under Law No. 5/2004, which stipulated its ownership could no longer be transferred or hereditarily owned by the traditional community.
“The Palembang Darussalam Sultanate does not own the BKB hereditarily because it was once taken over by the Dutch,” said the secretary of the South Sumatra chapter of the Indonesian Historical Community, KMS AR Panji. During the takeover, Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II was exiled to Ternate, Maluku, so the ownership of the BKB was severed.
However, according to Panji, the ownership and management of the BKB could likely be handed over to the sultanate as long as the heirs of the Palembang Darussalam ruler and the Palembang municipality were on equal terms.
When asked for confirmation, the Sriwijaya Military Command II said it was willing to relinquish the BKB if the government wanted them to return it to the sultanate and relocate the Army hospital and
“In principle, we accept the government’s decision as long as the sultanate goes through the legal means to take over the fort,” said Sriwijaya Military Command II spokesman Col. ARM Jauhari Agus. According to procedure, the sultanate must seek approval from the Defense Ministry and the Finance Ministry.
Separately, South Sumatra Tourism and Culture Agency head Toni Panggarbesi said he warmly welcomed the proposed reconstruction of the BKB and planned to offer a tender for the project next year.
Officials from the sultanate met with the South Sumatra provincial administration and legislature to propose their plan.
“The government greatly supports the plan and we hope that in 2013 there is a decision on the ownership status of the BKB,” Toni said.