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System of Government

The administration system and pattern of the predecessors of Mempawah Sultanate, namely the Bangkule Sultankng Kingdom and Sidiniang Kingdom, were based on local traditions, i.e. the customary laws prevailing in Dayak society (Umberan, et. al., 1996-1997: 18). The traditional government system was closely related to rituals and supernatural belief that were inherent in the life of the Hindu kingdom. 

During the tenure of Panembahan Senggaok, the traditional government system was still preserved albeit Islam teachings have entered into the Kingdom’s life. The influence of Islam in Mempawah became stronger in the era of Opu Daeng Menambun who reigned since 1740 and was originally came from Luwu Bugis Sultanate that had been long enough an Islamic kingdom.

Opu Daeng Menambun’s government in Mempawah Sultanate combined old customary laws with the Muslim’s sharia. However, Islamic influence became stronger with the efforts of Sayid Habib Husein Alqadrie, the Muslim missionary (Yahya, 1999: 224).

Opu Daeng Menambun created a democratic government in Mempawah Sultanate. It is seen in the fact that there were various cross-ethnic figures who voluntarily and willingly supported the Sultanate, especially those of the Chinese and Dayak. This made it easier for Opu Daeng Menambon to run his administration.

The government system’s sovereignty was getting smaller after the arrival of the Dutch in about 1787. Although the Sultan at that time, Panembahan Adiwijaya Kusumajaya and later replaced by Sultan Muhammad Zainal Abidin, could fight back and even almost defeat the Dutch, which obtained backing from Syarif Kasim from Pontianak’s Kadriah Sultanate, Mempawah Sultanate finally fell in the grip of Dutch colonial. From then on until the arrival of the Japanese in 1942, the government system of Mempawah Sultanate was controlled by the Dutch in many aspects, from economy, defense, politic, to even internal matters. One concrete example was how the Dutch dictated the successions of Sultans.

After the Dutch’s defeat in the Pacific War, followed with the Japanese taking over Indonesian Archipelago from their hand, the government order and system of Mempawah Sultanate were changed again to meet the demand of the Japanese. During Japanese occupation (1942-1945), Mempawah was one of the 12 autonomous districts in West Kalimantan under the authority of a Japanese-formed institution called Borneo Minseibu Cokan (Lontaan, 1975: 259). Since late December 1942, Mempawah was under the authority of a Bun Kei Kai Ri Kan, a position equal to a wedana (head of a district) (www.kalbar.bps.go.id).

When the Japanese authority ended as Indonesia declared its independence in 17 August 1945, Mempawah Sultanate proclaimed integration with Indonesia and became an area in the administrative territory of the province of West Kalimantan. Mempawah Sultanate has not had political authority to run its government from then on, but the sultanate still practice some traditional rituals/ceremonies, for example Robo-robo, Naik Tojang, etc.

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