Javanese Public Administration

Javanese Public Administration

Javanese Public Administration

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In the past, Javanese administrative practices regulated public affairs and set behavioral norms in a succession of the island's notable empires, including Sailendra Mataram, Majapahit, the Demak confederacy, and seventeenth-century Mataram. This tradition continued for nearly a millennium before succumbing first to colonial practices, and subsequently to global standardization. Today these administrative practices survive in modified form as dominant elements of Indonesia's public administration. In order to better understand what the Javanese public administration is like today, it is a good idea to study what it was like in the past as well.

Javanese Administration

Javanese administration can be characterized as authoritarian, self-sufficient, and law-abiding. Its authoritarian nature meant that stability of the realm was dependent upon the abilities of its whomever was in charge. Whether it was the raja, susuhunan, or sultan, he was somewhat of a semi-deified figure, and the administrative chain-of command led directly to him as master (gusti). All others, including the realm's highest officials, were his servants (kawula). The only exception was the royal family (sentana), whose more prominent members became the forerunners of an administrative system.

In theory, this was supposed to be a highly-centralized form of administration, but it's dark weakness was that it was very unstable. Without a delegation of authority, the officials could only act as occasional...
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