Home > 90th Commemoration, Analysis > From The Original to Renewed Plan for the 90th Commemoration

From The Original to Renewed Plan for the 90th Commemoration


I feel like I have to reveal what I had in mind for the original plan of the commemoration. However, I had to revise it some way for the reason of practicality. For that, I ‘might’ put the original one  out from the whole scheme now. I said ‘might’ because I am still opened for any possibility that it could be realized. Later on, I had to widen the revised idea because the new development related to financing.

So the focus is on Radio Malabar. Something is supposed to take place at 05th May 2013. I know the choice for the date could be arguable. RM had been in the process of development in 1917, but not until 1923 it was widely known to public. As of that 05th May, it was when Governor General Dirk Fork officially open this facility. That’s it. I took the momentum of the official opening as the starting date for initial RM state of being.

556307_3550916701107_987092211_nIt took sometime afterwards that public communication service was opened in RM. I should look for more detail on this, but that was the moment when the phrase “Hallo Bandung” started to gain special meaning for Dutch people. They were far away from home and it had been so long for them. RM was the one and only mean of communication that they could hear the real voice of their significant others some 20.000 Km away in other continent. So “Hallo Bandung” had an emotional meaning.

I don’t know if any Dutch people who could now still feel that way with the phrase, or at least know that the words once existed and of some meanings. At least, one real evidence for this was a song sung by Willy Derby, entitled “Hallo Bandoeng” :

Hallo! Bandoeng!
‘t Oude moedertje zat bevend
Op het telegraafkantoor
Vriend’lijk sprak de ambt’naar
Juffrouw, aanstonds geeft Bandoeng gehoor
Trillend op haar stramme benen
Greep zij naar de microfoon
En toen hoorde zij, o wonder
Zacht de stem van hare zoon

Hallo! Bandoeng!
Ja moeder hier ben ik!
Dag liefste jongen,zegt zij met een snik
Hallo, hallo!
Hoe gaat het oude vrouw?
Dan zegt ze alleen:
Ik verlang zo erg naar jou!

Jongenlief, vraagt ze,hoe gaat het Met je kleine bruine vrouw?
Best hoor, zegt hij,en we spreken
Elke dag hier over jou
En m’n kleuters zeggen ’s avonds
Voor het slapen gaan een gebedHow
Voor hun onbekende opoe
Met een kus op jouw portret

Wacht eens, moeder, zegt hij lachend
‘k Bracht mijn jongste zoontje mee
Even later hoort ze duidelijk
Opoe lief, tabeh, tabeh!
Maar dan wordt het haar te machtig
Zachtjes fluistert ze:
O Heer Dank dat ‘k dat heb mogen horen…
En dan valt ze wenend neer

Hallo! Bandoeng!
Ja moeder hier ben ik!
Ze antwoordt niet.
Hij hoort alleen ‘n snik
Hallo! Hallo!…klinkt over verre zee
Zij is niet meer en het kindje roept: Tabeh

Note: an audio version only can be found here.
A youtube video of the song is here.

kootwijkMy idea was: how if we simulate a radio transmission right from the ruin of Radio Malabar, in the same band / frequency, to Radio Kootwijk in Netherland at 05th May 2013 ? As I have written before, it was a bad day for de Groot because the transmitter (or transceiver ??) didn’t work. Now, how if we transmit the voice of “Hallo Kootwijk” and “ Hallo Bandoeng” at that day and try not to fail ? This is not a mockery. For me this is more like, if we could travel back through time, we would tell de Groot that the future thanks for what he did and that here we have reached this stage of evolution that communication to all over the world is not a problem anymore. He was an important part of the World’s Radio History that human being should note. We are now in a much better time with the technology and that 90 years has really made a huge difference!

However, in the end, it sounds like too much of a romantic idea :) My discussion with some amateur radio members and others in emails have opened up my eyes that it is just too good to be true :

    1. The band of communication de Groot used at that time is called Low Frequency. It is the band of communication that is covered in the radio bandplan in Netherland, but not here in Indonesia. One told me that for special purpose, we could propose for usage to the government, but everybody knows it is not going to be as easy as snapping fingers.

    2. Even if we are licensed to use the band, communication is not going to be easy. As the band is out of the plan, it goes without saying that it would only hard to find anybody who owns a communication radio capable of transmitting in the band! OK, we could turn to the community of radio amateur who have this ‘creed’ to building a radio from scratch (called homebrewing). I also have contacted some people in that community. Their response leads to number 3 :

    3. Even with today’s technology, we would need a huge electric power to generate oscilator in that specific band and it is just not practical. An amateur radio facebook friend, Mr. Daryono, promised me that he’ll do his best to find information whether communication in Low Frequency could be carried out in low power (something called QRP). He took it as a challenge, at least in terms of knowledge.

    4. The antenna. Anything huge in size back then might be thought of something to do with technological achievement in that day. However, it’s not true entirely. De Groot had a reason that he had to build ‘berg antenna’ ranging from the top of the mountain down to the slope to the Radio Malabar building with 2 Km of cables. It was supposed to be like that! Now would it be efficient to try to communicate to Netherland involving all this essential demanding part ?

    5. Propagation. Communicating in Low Frequency is not something we could do anytime in a day, even a year. I don’t know much about this, but ionospherical and other factors in the sky would influence the success of radio contact.

So, given all of those obstacles, I personally think that the idea of simulation might not be a good choice, at least for now. Instead, we could just take the essence of the moment, and it’s a “Radio Contact” and that radio contact could be in any band / frequency. To the best of my knowledge, it is in High Frequency (HF): something that might be casual thing to do for some amateur radio members with their DX rigs.

OK, if anything should matter, amateur radio member could still do the DX in a more meaningful way. Say, how if the communication takes place not in the usual QTH station of an amateur, but out there, right from around the ruin of Radio Malabar, and the same way with the other part in the actual place of Radio Kootwijk building (which is said to be still very much intact) ? As with the communication itself, yes it’s going to be the exchange of “Hallo Kootwijk”, “Hallo Bandung”, etc, … but it could be planned in such a way that it conforms to the ‘tradition’ of Amateur Radio: Be it Special Call, International Logging Contest, whatever… I am not sure which are doable, but it can be discussed. (this latter idea of QTH is only my personal thought and subject to change if circumstances don’t fit).

Such is my original plan, but now it has to change. Not in terms of the kind of activity, but rather, in scope. The commemoration is going to be financed by a company (at least one company for now) as part of it’s CSR program; a company that has a historical root with Radio Malabar. The main point for this is that the commemoration should not only gain international public awareness in a day, but also to facilitate long-term public learning about history. For that, one clear choice is to refine Radio Malabar as a tourist object. It’s a ‘refine’ because it’s already part of Gunung Puntang Area as a tourism destination, only that nothing specific is given to it until now that would highlight Radio Malabar as a central point of interest. As with the area of Gunung Puntang itself, it is a fact that almost all supporting infrastructure in the area have been degraded and in need for some serious repair, improvement, and maybe even rebuilding.

For that bigger scope, I know that there was the so-called ‘Festival Gunung Puntang 2009’. I have made contact, seen them, engaged in some discussions, even gone to Gunung Puntang together with them yesterday. I will share the story for the next entry of this blog.

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