The King of the Netherlands today apologized to Indonesia for the excessive violence committed by Dutch military personnel in the years following the Japanese occupation. It is a first step in the right direction, but no more than that.

In his speech, the king forgot to mention that in 1949 the Netherlands transferred the backpay debt to its own military and official personnel over 3.5 years of the Japanese occupation to Indonesia. So-called: a debt transfer has never taken place. The Republic of Indonesia has been used in this respect as a lightning rod for a capital debt obligation.

In 1966 it was agreed that the Indonesian government would pay 686 million Guilders to compensate families who fled from Indonesia and from Dutch New Guinea between 1958 and 1962 for the loss of their possessions. However, the State accounted for the lion’s share of these reparations: only a fraction of the money was legally earmarked for the victims themselves.

What President Jokowi probably also does not know is what happened during the negotiations on the payment of the amount that Thailand paid to take over the Burma-Thailand Railway built by Allied and Indigenous Forced Laborers. The compensation of more than 1.2 million Guilders for looted railway equipment from Java had to be paid to the Indonesian Government in 1952 because it is the legal successor of the colony. The money was not transferred to ‘Jakarta’, but to the Dutch government. After which every trace of a transaction is missing from Indonesia.

And there are more open files, including the money that Indonesian, Moluccan and Chinese victims of forced prostitution have earned, but never received because the money was deposited with the two Japanese war banks to finance the war machine. And after the war was confiscated by order of the Dutch government without the young women having seen a cent of it.

SHORT CONCLUSION: in its relentless colonial modus operandi to settle outstanding bills, the Dutch State has disadvantaged its own former colony as much as all displaced families who have fled to the Netherlands. Including all protected Indonesian families, whose fathers worked for the Dutch intelligence services.