Agus, Sumpah Pemuda Museum Security (Photo: Wulandari)

Having worked at the museum since 2004, the guard shares the old building's mysteries and meaning.

Retno Wulandari   02 November 2016 17:00 - The Sumpah Pemuda Museum in Kramat Raya, Central Jakarta, was busy on October 27, just a day before the nation commemorates the pledge of unity declared by Indonesia's youth in 1928. Hundreds of kindergarten and primary school students were visiting the premises, making it an unusual day for Agus, one of the museum's security guard. But amidst the rush of activities, he took the time to sit down with me where we talked briefly about his job and what the Youth Pledge means to him.

This is a busy morning. Is it always like this?

Not really. On regular days, this museum sees fewer visitors. But tomorrow [October 28] is the commemoration of the Indonesian Youth Pledge Day, so we’re kind of overwhelmed with hundreds of visitors at a time.

Did they have to book ahead to visit?

We invited them free of charge, actually. A few weeks before the commemoration, we’ve sent invitations to kindergartens and primary schools all over Jakarta to come. To escalate the spirit of Youth Pledge Day, we’re holding an exhibition contributed to national hero Doctor Moewardi. So we invited these students to see the exhibition as an effort to educate them about patriotism.

Has the museum always held exhibitions like this?

No, this is the first time over past years. We used to hold a ceremony [with invited participants] and hold festive events to commemorate the Youth Pledge Day, but due to financial issues, we had to put an end to that tradition. Hopefully next year we can go back to having the ceremony once again.

So, you’ve been working here for quite a long time. How did you start?

Yes, since 2004. I started as an honorary employee, but thank God after several years I was finally appointed as a permanent employee. I was a security guard in an insurance company, but for personal reasons, I had to leave my job there. I'm lucky to be here actually.

Do you have any unforgettable experiences while working at the museum?

I have many. But the most unforgettable moments are when I have to be on duty alone. This building is guarded for 24 hours, and in my early days as a security guard, I used to be alone. I’ve seen things — weird things — actually in the many nights I've guarded the place. And I’ve heard sounds; maybe the sounds of an old building. Strange, but I’m kind of used to it. It's not just me, my colleagues have experienced these ghost-related occurences. That’s kind of ordinary in old buildings, you know, even the original ceramic tiles in this house are still intact. Thankfully, my days of patrolling alone at night are over. We now stand guard in a group of two or three. I think things are getting better here.

That sounds good. For you, what’s the meaning of the Youth Pledge?

The pledge has very deep meanings. For me, Youth Pledge is a mirror reflecting the spirit of heroism and patriotism of Indonesian youth in the past. Despite the different era and circumstances, characters of Indonesian youth in the past and in present times are sharply different. The Youth Pledge shouldn’t be taken just as a mere slogan.


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