Over the past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole Tong Tong Fair debacle. Like many, I am very shocked that the event has been cancelled this year and has since been granted the status of suspension.

Curious as I am, I have done more research into the Tong Tong Fair, I have gone through hundreds of documents, and have made countless phone calls.

“Don’t do it!” My girlfriend said when I indicated that I was devoting a post to this. “Soon no Indo organisation wants to work with you anymore”

But, I am and will remain an Indo. Stubborn to the bone. And I stand for my community.

In this piece I put the ties in line with you. These are supported by source citations/numbered images.

I try to share as much information as possible succinctly and in Jip and Janneke language (easy to understand language), so that it is clear to everyone.

Grab a Bintang or Kopi Tubruk, sit on your pantat.. This is going to take a while.

TONG TONG FAIR

The Tong Tong Fair, formerly Pasar Malam Besar, is an Eurasian or Indo European festival. It is still popularly called a Pasar Malam. The board of Tong Tong Fair Foundation consists of: Siem Boon (chairman), Esther Tak (secretary), Digna van Boetzelaer and Coos Versteeg. The board members, in their own words, receive no compensation for their work.

Source https://stichtingtongtong.nl/tong-tong-fair/

The Tong Tong Fair is, as it were, split in half. For example, there is a foundation; Tong Tong Foundation, it has a cultural ANBI status.

In addition, there is a BV; Pasar Malam Besar B.V (commercial company).

TONG TONG FOUNDATION

With the Tong Tong Foundation, grants and donations are collected. The Foundation, according to its own words, is responsible for the programming of the Tong Tong Festival. The foundation indicates that it does not have any permanent staff. Source:https://stichtingtongtong.nl/tong-tong-fair/)

Given that the Foundation has a Cultural ANBI status, there are tax benefits; the Foundation has a VAT exemption. An ANBI does not pay inheritance tax or gift tax for inheritances and gifts that the institution uses for the public interest. If an ANBI makes donations itself in the public interest, then the recipient does not have to pay a gift tax. An ANBI is eligible for energy tax refund. Volunteers may be eligible for compensation.

Source :

belastingdienst.nl

PASAR MALAM BESAR BV

Through the Pasar Malam Besar BV (commercial company), the entrance fee and the stand rental are received. The Tong Tong Fair indicates that it has always been a not-for-profit. According to their own words, the proceeds from the entrance and stand rental are used to make the cultural program possible: a form of internal subsidy.

Source :

https://stichtingtongtong.nl/tong-tong-fair/)

On the website you can read the following; “The Tong Tong Festival is realized for about 95% without project grants.
The fact that the Tong Tong Festival receives virtually no grants has to do with the character of the festival. In the past, Indo
or Eurasian culture was considered an uninteresting hybrid. Nowadays, the stock exchange activities and/or entrance tax are often found to be difficult.

 

There is nothing wrong with this construction. It‘s allowed. In addition, this one has “Internal subsidization” a number of fine tax benefits; donations are deductible from the profit (max. €100,000). Since Tong Tong Foundation has a Cultural ANBI status, you can increase the deduction of the profit by 50% (maximum €2,500).

In that regard, the Tong Tong Fair has its operations in good order and they know how to use tax benefits in a smart way.

Year 2020

Due to all the corona problems a disaster year for many, the Tong Tong Fair was also cancelled that year. Companies fall over in a row..

But thanks to State Secretary Paul Blokhuis, the Tong Tong Fair belongs not to that list.

State Secretary Paul Blokhuis (Public Health, Welfare and Sport, VWS) will make an additional €20.4 million available that year. Of this, €19.7 million is available incidentally (one-time) and €0.7 million structurally. He calls the project plan “Collective recognition of the Indo Community in the Netherlands – an extra impulse”

Source : https://open.overheid.nl/documenten/ronl-ele04d37-49c0-4152-9ef4-34e77cc5ede3/pdf)

The extra money that is made available is divided over 4 years.

An amount of €1.4 million will be released in 2020. Blokhuis decides that the amount will be used for the reinforcement of Sophiahof and the preservation of the Tong Tong Fair.

It is unclear how this money is distributed among the parties. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an answer to this in the dents of the web.

I also made phone calls in vain. Tong Tong Fair is unreachable because of the situation, no one was available at Sophiahof. Mr. P. van Litsenburg (policy officer VWS) gave

 

Just back to that gigantic amount of €1.4 million. Blokhuis indicates that the money is being made available to make the Tong Tong Fair future-proof. This means that the money does not go to Tong Tong Foundation. It goes to the Pasar Malam Besar BV. You know, the commercial company that doesn’t have to be accountable.

In addition, the Pasar Malam Besar BV. receives another €100,000 grants 

from the municipality of The Hague.

Source: Grants Register The Hague

Tong Tong Foundation will also receive a subsidy from the municipality in 2020. The amount granted is €12,500, ultimately an amount of €4,140 is determined. This is also the last year that the Foundation applies for a grant. In the following years, the Tong Tong Fair will submit their grant applications through the Pasar Malam Besar B.V. Perhaps because this is more tax-efficient?

State Secretary Blokhuis decides to distribute the remaining €18.3 million for the collection recognition over the years 2021 – 2024.

It is not clear where this money went, Mr P. van Litsenburg (policy worker VWS) indicates that he will also answer this question via e-mail at a later date.

Year 2021

Unfortunately, no Tong Tong Fair will take place in 2021, corona is also the culprit this year. Fortunately, the municipality of The Hague granted Pasar Malam Besar BV another amount of €100,000. The amount will later be set at €50,000 Source: Grant Register The Hague.

Year 2022

We can finally go to the Tong Tong Fair again! The Pasar Malam Besar B.V. receives a grant of €75,000 from the municipality of The Hague. Source: Grant Register The Hague.

A number of projects that take place at the Tong Tong Fair are also supported by the Mondriaan Fund and Fund 1818.

Source: Stichtingtongtong.nl

Via the Pasar Malam Besar B.V. the entrance fee and the stand rental will be finalized. A day ticket costs €15 this year, according to the organization there are a total of 70,000 visitors. Count out your profits!

Despite the fact that there are fewer exhibitors, this is also nicely cashed by Pasar Malam Besar BV. Especially the Food exhibitors (restaurants) at the event are not surprised by a bill that can amount to around €30,000.

Years 2023

As every year, the Pasar Malam Besar BV submits another grant application to the municipality of The Hague. However, the application is remarkable this year. The organisation submits the application based on a 5-day event. It is expected that 38,000 paid visitors will come to the event.

The Pasar Malam Besar BV requests a subsidy of €100,000 for this.

The municipality makes their assessment public on this.

Read here:

https://denhaag.raadsinformatie.nl/document/12182080/1/RIS31401

Appendix 2 review Large-scale Public Events 2023)

Page 27 + 28.

During the assessment, it is now known that the Tong Tong Fair moved to September and the organisation wants to bet on 7 days.

The council does not respond mildly this year. After looking at the budget, they believe that there is a positive balance and the organizational and agency costs are on the substantial side. In addition, the event should be more or less self-sufficient due to own income from entrance fees and stand rental, and should need no or less grants.

The municipality decides that the application will be granted with a (lower) contribution of €40,000

Please note, this amount has been committed to a 7-day event. Why the organisation eventually decided to organise an 11-day event with this grant is not known.

I do not know whether other subsidies have been received through the Tong Tong Foundation.

Year 2024

In several press releases, the organisation indicates that it is pleased that the 11-day event will take place at the Malieveld in May.

It is also announced that this may be the last time and the event will look for a different location.

In December 2023, the municipality of The Hague will decide that a grant of €50,000 will be released for the Pasar Malam Besar. This is available for the 64th edition of the event.

Source: Grant Register The Hague.

The Tong Tong Fair indicates that many exhibitors will participate in the event and a nice program will come.

Due to the size of the event, exhibitors buy their (large) stock on time and the stand rent is neatly paid to the
Pasar Malam Besar BV. As mentioned earlier, these are thousands of Euros.

As every year, visitors are also urged to buy their tickets online.

However, it is remarkable that there is still no program online for a short time before the event starts in comparison to previous years.

CANCELLED

On May 2, 2024, just 22 days before the event starts, the bomb explodes. Through a statement on the website and social media, the Tong Tong Fair announces that the event for this year has been cancelled. Reason for this?Financially difficult times

Exhibitors receive an email with the message that the Tong Tong Fair has been cancelled for financial reasons.

A number of Food Standholders are immediately informed through this email message that the organisation has requested a postponement of payment. Non-food exhibitors will not receive this additional message.

Like the rest of the Netherlands, they only hear a few days later that the organisation has requested a deferral of payment.

Conversations with exhibitors show that they have been severely seized.

The stand money of thousands of Euros is gone, huge amounts have been spent on stock, loss of turnover, airline tickets, hotels, etc. This puts a number of exhibitors and their families in serious trouble.

On social media, the opinions of the public are well divided. It is urged to start crowdfund actions, others want an investigation into the board. Even The Hague politics makes itself heard.

Lotte van Basten Batenburg, group chairman of the VVD in the Hague City Council, wants a debate to come soon. Because: “The Tong Tong Fair belongs to and in The Hague” she says on X (formerly Twitter).

Richard de Mos, group chairman of Hart for The Hague, not only asks for the help of politicians: “In this case, I call on everyone from the Hague business community to contact me to save the Tong Tong Fair together.”

Alderman Saskia Bruines (D66, Culture) says in a first response to Omroep West that she regrets the blow.
“The Tong Tong Fair is a beloved event with a long history in our city,”
says the councillor. The news that the 64th edition will not take place is sad news. Especially for the Indian community. But also for the organisation and all visitors who appreciate this event so much. Still, the councillor still keeps the door open for next editions. “We like to think along about opportunities for the future,” says Bruines.

In the meantime, De Mos, with the support of D66 and VVD, has requested a debate.

MY GOAL WITH THIS PIECE..

I am currently noticing a lot of unrest in my Indo environment. There are questions that no one can answer at the moment.

It seemed important to me to make a list of a number of facts. This shows that the Tong Tong Fair has raked in quite a few subsidies through the Pasar Malam Besar BV.

They can’t be blamed for that. However, is it a justified question of what has happened to the money all these years?

-What about the distribution of €1.4 million subsidy ? Year 2020

– How much money then went to the Tong Tong fair, and why is

Did this go to their BV instead of the foundation?

– Why did the municipality of The Hague gave so much grants in the Pasar Malam Besar BV. ?

– Why was the plug only pulled out 22 days before the event started?

– There was still a lot of cash through stand rental and online ticket sales. Didn’t the organisation know before that it was an expiring case?

– Why does The Hague politics necessarily want EVEN MORE money to be pumped into the event? After all, the municipality also indicated that the organisation really has to be on its own two feet.

– When will these questions be answered?

In my previous post on social media I already mention that a number of people will blame me for wanting to bring out the bottom stone.

I don’t care. I will always be committed to the Indo Community and my Pasar colleagues. No Soedah Laat Maar…

Maxime – Indo’s Be Like