Monday, February 1, 2010

The historical meaning of "Riau"

What is the meaning of Riau in history?

When you talk about "Riau" in history, it can means different place at difference time. You need to make sure what you mean. From the Johor Empire era until Today. Riau is the Riau Province; Riau Islands is the Riau Island Province, there is still specific what you mean....

- 1677-1683.'Riau', a referent to Sultan Ibrahim's ruling Melaka-derived dynasty.

- 1708-1716.'Riau', a referent to Sultan Abd al-Jalil's promotion from bendahara (treasurer; grand vizier) to Sultan.

- 1719-1722.'Riau', a referent to Raja Kecil's pretensions to the throne as the alleged descendant of Sultan Abd al-Jalil's Melaka dynasty.

- 1722-1787.'Riau', the coalition between the Bugis conquerors and the descendants.;of the bendahara dynasty.

- 1787-1795. Riau', a Dutch colony.

- 1795-18O4.'Riau', a territory defined by the rivalry between the Bugis and the bendahara dynasty.

- 1804-1819.The reinstatement of the Bugis in 'Riau' resulting in a geographical division of the kingdom into Bugis 'Riau', Malay Lingga and the temenggung's (territorial minister) Bulang.

- 1819-1824.The convergence of internal fission and external ambitions, resulting in the legal fragmentation of the sultanate and the rise of Singapore, first as a British colony, then as a nation state.

- 1824-1911.The break-up of the sultanate, a process that had begun with the territorial division of 'Riau' and Lingga in 1804.

- 191 l-1942.'Riau', a Dutch colony.

- 1942-1945.'Riau', a Japanese colony.

- 1945-1958.'Riau', a part of the province Sumatra Tengah (Central Sumatra).

- 1958-present. 'Riau', a province in the Republic of Indonesia.

- 2004- Now, :Riau:, a new Riau Islands Province. The Riau Islands were part of Riau Province until 2004, when they were made into a separate new province, Riau Islands Province.

So which Riau you are talking about?.....

Extract from "Continuity and Discontinuity in the Multiple Realities of Riau" by VIVffiNNE WEE AND CYNTHIA CHOU

One similarity shared by the different political realities from 1677-1804 is that they were all located along the Riau river. Until 1804, 'Riau' referred to settlements built on the river's banks. In 1804, when Sultan Mahmud III made the gift of Penyengat island to the Bugis, the name 'Riau' applied to a wider area from which the Bugis rulers could derive their revenue. Penyengat became their capital, and Bugis-governed 'Riau' included Pulau Tujuh to the east, Pulau Abang to the south, and Pangkil to the west. This was a clearly demarcated territory, differentiated from Bulang to the west, and Lingga to the south. Bulang was the fief of the temenggung's faction led by Engku Muda, the contender of the Bugis (Trocki 1979:4), while Lingga remained under the Sultan (AH Haji 1982:212). Thus, from 1804 to 1911, the name 'Riau' came to refer to an internal division of the kingdom in a political reality that was divided into three zones of domination - 'Riau' under the Bugis yamtuan muda (viceroy), Lingga under the Sultan, and Bulang under the temenggung.

The temenggung's dominion spanned from Karimun, Bum, Galang, Moro, Batam, Terong, Sugi, Bulang, Pekaka, Temiang, and Singapore to Johor (Trocki 1979:44). There are several noteworthy points about this list of places that formed the temenggung's dominion. First, to this day, the Galang people say that they are going to 'Riau' when they go to Tanjung Pinang, thereby indicating that they do not perceive Galang as a part of Riau. Given the historical pattern of political allegiance, it is easy to comprehend why they say this. Second, Batam, which is directly opposite Singapore, is now an important part of the Growth Triangle .............. Third, most significantly, Singapore, an island about the size of Batam, was just one of the many islands under the temenggung. This island is now a nation state that is legally equal in status to the nation state of Indonesia despite the huge disparity in geographical and demographic size. The historical irony that is often forgotten is that Singapore is geographically part of an archipelago comprising more than 3,000 islands. The current dominance of Singapore over the other islands is thus the result of particular processes of economic and political structuration. At present, Singapore is the linchpin of the Growth Triangle. Fourth, the 'Johor' mentioned in the list above refers to the Johor river where the capitals of the sultanate had been located. In 1823, Johor was not a separate state and Johor Baru was not yet built. The creation of 'Johor' as a separate state with demarcated boundaries was a subsequent event that occurred through a division of power between the English and the temenggung. At present, the name 'Johor' refers to a state within the nation state of Malaysia, that forms the northern part of the Growth Triangle.

The next significant event occurred in 1824 when the British and Dutch governments signed a treaty dividing Southeast Asia into their respective spheres of influence. The dividing line was the Main Strait flowing between Singapore and Batam. This was a cut right through the temenggung's dominion. The Dutch bestowed that part of the temenggung's dominion to the Bugis yamtuan muda (viceroy) instead. After a short civil war between the Bugis and the temenggung's, faction, which ended in October 1827, the yamtuan muda consolidated his control over the post- 1824 'Riau sphere' that had been expanded by the Dutch (Ali Haji 1982:252-55, 394). The western and southern extent of this 'Riau sphere' included Karimun, Bum, and Kundur in the west, and Pintu and Duyung in the south. The northern extent of the 'Riau sphere' was marked by the Main Strait. An eastern boundary was also instituted during Viceroy Raja Ali's reign (1845-1857). The result is a post-1824 'Riau sphere' bounded on four sides as a consequence to political action, rather than as the result of geographical circumstances.

Our informants are still conscious of the temenggung's dominion as a distinctive territory, which they refer to as daerah Bulang (Bulang area). They say that this is because his base was located on the two small islands of Bulang Lintang and Bulang Gebang. From this base, he ruled a large dominion that included Galang, Batam, Singapore and Johor. These sites are now politically separated into three nation states, namely, Indonesia,Singapore and Malaysia.


Now Riau Lingga Empire has divided not only in 3 countries; even the one in Indonesia has divided into 2 Provinces. In future you may called them Golden Triangle....

So, Riau is still as complicated as ancient time.....lah.

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