If you look back the history of Indonesia, we will often hear the name, “Ir. Soekarno.” He is a prominent figure and the first president of Indonesia whose story is never far from the colonizer. Because of his struggle against Dutch colonialists, he was exiled several times from the center of Indonesian government to the remote areas. Pesanggrahan Menumbing is one of the places that witnesses the seclusion of Ir. Soekarno.
Pesanggrahan Menumbing is located at the top of Mount Menumbing in Mentok City, West Bangka Regency, Bangka Belitung Islands, Indonesia. Not many foreign tourists or even Indonesian citizens themselves know that Bangka Island has cities that store many stories and historical places. Being about 15 km far from the city center with the uphill located at the top of the mountain makes this place quite alienated from the ears of Indonesian people. Since the road through the hill is quite difficult to reach with only one direction, visitors must coordinate with security guards to wait for another car to reach the place and we can pass the road afterwards.
I know this historic place from my mother who was born in the city of Mentok. The atmosphere was so quietly breezed and clean as we walked along the path by car to the top where Pesanggrahan Menumbing is located. One the side of the four-kilometer-long road, we can see lush green trees. About 15 minutes later, we arrived at Pesanggrahan which looks like a fortress-shaped house surrounded by beautiful gardens.
Pesanggrahan Menumbing was first built by the Dutch government as the recess location for the head of tin administrative in Mentok. When the Dutch military aggression succeeded in seizing the city of Yogyakarta, the captured nation leaders were then exiled to Mentok, Bangka Barat. The proclaimed heroes who were exiled to this place were divided into three groups. The number of Indonesian leaders who were exiled in Pesanggrahan Menumbing was seven and separated with Ir. Soekarno or called Bung Karno (first president of Indonesia). Bung Karno and one other important figure, Moh. Hatta or called Bung Hatta (the first vice-president of Indonesia) were exiled in a different group. Bung Karno’s separation with Bung Hatta was deliberate so that the two figures did not meet, because Dutch did not want any more movements after they were separated. Thoughts of the two figures when met would result in things that would harm Dutch.There are several guards around the area. Although tourists do not pay any charges to see the seclusion house of Ir. Soekarno, there is a voluntary donation box to support maintenance costs. During the sightseeing, we were accompanied by a guard named Mr. Tejo who had served for a long time in Pesanggrahan Menumbing. Mr. Tejo shared a little flashback of history behind Pesanggrahan Menumbing.
Mr. Tejo revealed that Bung Karno had been stayed in Pesanggrahan Menumbing exile only for six months. Dutch Colonial then moved Bung Karno to Pesanggrahan Ranggam under Menumbing Hill for reasons of safety and environmental conditions that are considered less good for health. Dutch alienated or captured the Indonesian leaders to Bangka, especially in Mentok, because Dutch considered that people of Bangka in Mentok to be less resistant to the Dutch side with a lack of political understanding. But Dutch miscalculated. People of Mentok did not remain silent with the arrival of the Indonesian leaders. With the help of Kemas Zainal Abidin as head of West Bangka regional government, Bung Karno succeeded to go to Tanjung Kalian Lighthouse. In the lighthouse, Bung Karno gave a speech to raise the spirit of Indonesian people who greeted with excitement.
While listening to the story presented by Mr. Tejo, I also started down the room one by one. There are various furniture used by exiled warriors. According to Mr. Tejo, most of the furniture is still original, except for the wood part which has been decayed was replaced by the guards. In the corners of the room are displayed large ceramic jars that beautify the room.
When I entered the middle room, I was immediately faced with a room that looked like a conference room with great photographs of the fighters hanging around the room. On the left side of the room, there is a Ford De Luxe Car on display with a BN.10 plate which, according to Bung Karno’s history, he used a similar car with a different plate number BN.96.
After, I went into a room where Bung Karno used to work by writing manuscripts. Here we can find various articles and letters by Ir. Soekarno including his love letters to his wife and the famous poem of Moh’s. Hatta on the importance of Bangka Island for Indonesian independence.
In this room, there was a work table that looks old but sturdy with a chair whose function is not as good as the table. I entered the bedroom next. There were only two single beds, mirror, and some cabinets, all of which were very simple. Historically, the room was more often used by Bung Hatta than Bung Karno who does not have a special room in Pesanggrahan Menumbing.
After I circled the entire room, I went out to climb up the stairs to the top of the fortress of Pesanggrahan Menumbing. Going to the top of the fortress, visitors may not use footwear. The fortress is made of stone and consists of two levels. At the highest level, there is an Indonesia national flag and a view that directly leads to the city of Mentok. The air was so clean and fresh when I stood on top of it. Because it has a good scenery, this fort became the main attraction for many tourists to take pictures.
When it was almost late, we hurried to go back to downtown Mentok to avoid a small road which is steep enough on the way going back home. If you are foreign tourists or citizens of Indonesia who are not familiar with the locations in Bangka, I suggest you to go to this location with local residents to avoid dangerous things that are not desirable related to the rules that sound quite unfamiliar. Apart from that, Pesanggrahan Menumbing is one of the historic locations that maintains its authenticity and very interesting to visit!
By Pricilia Angela, ASEAN correspondent from Indonesia