QUOTE (QuK @ Apr 7 2006, 08:34 PM)
Thank you. I read this on a Ternate royalty lineage page in Bhs Indonesia, but obviously it was wrong.
Here's an English version I found of a similar story, but a little different.
"The position of the sultan remains one of significant influence, both politically and in the religious and cultural fields. Most recently, he attracted considerable odium for intervening in the Christian-Muslim riots and ethnic disturbances of 1999. He had tried to protect a minority ethnic group, most of whom followed Protestant faiths. The government exiled him in September 2000."
Your source is wrong, because the sultan of Ternate was interviewed by foreign journalist in his palace in Ternate as early as 2001, and he was a vice-gubernutorial candidate for North Maluku in 2002.
Traditional ruler has answer for Malukus' ills - more tradition
On a historic tropical island, a man who speaks fluent English and sports a well-groomed goatee beard lives in a palace, waited on by courtiers who always keep their heads lower than his.
For Mudaffar Sjah, the 48th Sultan of Ternate, such quaint anachronisms may hold something of deep value to Indonesia which past regimes have neglected. Tradition.
Peace is suddenly the rage in Maluku. Jakarta recently persuaded Christians and Muslims to end three years of civil war. The question on everyone's minds now is whether it will last? Sipping lychee juice on the back terrace of his 200-year-old palace, the sultan says a revival of tradition is needed. Maluku's traditions included unusually close ties between its Muslim and Christian communities and, in the northern islands, a neo-feudal structure, which past regimes in Jakarta tried to dismantle. Reviving this will naturally mean a bigger role for him.
''What we have to do is we have to create our tradition again. We hope about 50 years from now that all this new generation has one perception about what is the best for us here,'' he said, holding out a warning of new violence. ''It might happen again if we are not careful about our tradition.''
Mr Mudaffar holds a title that stretches back to 1257. In that year the ruler of Ternate, then the main centre of Maluku's legendary spice trade, adopted the Islam brought to his island by Arab traders and with it the Islamic title ''sultan''.
The Ternate sultanate is one of four that once controlled the waters of North Maluku. To the south lie the islands of Tidore and Bacan, each with their own sultans. Historically there also was a sultan of Jailolo, on nearby Halmahera, and according to Mr Mudaffar, a new sultan recently has been appointed to that post.
Half a century ago, a newly independent and left-leaning Indonesia took away the powers of the sultans, along with those of most of the archipelago's traditional leaders. Only one exception was made, in Java. The Sultan of Yogyakarta had supported the independence movement and allowed his city to become its interim capital. The city remains a ''special region'' with its sultan as governor.
Now the Sultan of Ternate wants some of his authority back. Once a national legislator with the formerly ruling Golkar party, he talks of passing a law to give traditional leaders such as him the right to be consulted on important issues.
On a visit to Halmahera, part of his sultanate's traditional domain, people walked for hours from the forest just to set eyes on him, he relates. They still look up to their sultan, he says. They need him. But Ternate today is a troubled island, where churches are charred shells filled with refugees and Osama bin Laden is a pin-up star. While his supporters still adore and revere him, not all the island's people are so keen to see a greater role for its nominal ruler.
In the island's south, Mr Mudaffar is a wanted man. Some swear to kill him if he dares to enter this area. They blame him for whipping up the fighting that gripped North Maluku in 1999 and 2000.
Southern Ternate was the headquarters of the ''white forces'' - the main Muslim jihad, or holy war, forces - who were pitted against the ''yellow forces'', the traditional army of the sultan. His soldiers were determined that their man must become the first governor of the new province of North Maluku.
This is where tradition becomes complicated. The sultan is a Muslim, but a moderate in religious terms. Today, many of his supporters in Halmahera are Christians. Christian leaders speak warmly of him and some Christians quietly pray for his conversion. A few of his supporters are still animist.
But in the south of his own island, his traditional authority does not mean much any more. The Ternate language is not widely understood there and the people's roots lie elsewhere. They say his people regard them as second-class citizens. Although many were born in Ternate, the southerners' roots generally lie in the islands to the south. Many originate from the island of Makian, which was evacuated in the 1970s due to volcanic activity. Their views on Islam are more hardline than the sultan's.
There are few Christians in these areas. The Makian people also are highly influential in the regional government.
The southerners want to know why in 1999 the sultan's traditional army, supposedly only a ceremonial force for show, took over the town and burned their houses. At that time his supporters told them in no uncertain terms that the sultan, a former speaker of the regional legislature, should be the first governor of the new province.
North Maluku was formed in 1999, ostensibly to stop the ethnic violence of Ambon spreading north. Instead, it added fuel to the fire.
Does tradition have a role in the modern Indonesia? The sultan himself says that not all traditions are good. Arby Samad, local representative of the hardline Islamic Defenders Front, suggests that the sultan may just be suffering from pique.
Across a narrow strait to the south lies Tidore, Ternate's traditional rival. One of its past sultans is a national hero for having fought the Dutch. No Sultan of Ternate has ever been declared a national hero. They worked closely with the Dutch and are regarded by some as collaborators.
The Ternate sultanate is as famous historically as Yogyakarta's, but while in 1999 its sultan, Hamengku Buwono X, was being touted as a possible president of the whole sprawling archipelago, Mr Mudaffar was struggling just to win the governorship of his province.
Chris McCall is a Jakarta-based journalist
Copyright © 2001. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.