Republik Maluku Selatan - South Moluccas

The note under "South Moluccas" in the Scott Standard Postage Stamp Catalogue states, "It appears that the stamps of the so-called republic of South Moluccas were privately issued and had no postal use. Accordingly, they are not recognized as postage stamps." However, this cinderella issue does reflect the political instability in Indonesia in the period following the second world war.


In its discussion of South Moluccas as a stamp issuing entity, Linn's notes that, "During 1950, the South Moluccas revolted against the Indonesian central government and overprinted 17 Dutch Indies and Indonesian stamps 'Republik Maluku Selatan.' These stamps were apparently placed into local use. The main island, Amboina, was occupied by Indonesian troops in November 1950, although Moluccan resistance continued in the outer islands until 1955. During 1951-54, a long series of South Moluccan issues was marketed in the United States, but there is no evidence that these were ever actually used in the areas under Moluccan control. Some 35,000 South Moluccans emigrated to the Netherlands, and among this group nationalist sentiments still run high."

In "Legacies of the authoritarian past: Religious violence in Indonesia's Moluccan Islands," an article in Pacific Affairs, Jacques Bertrand attributes separatist tendencies in the South Moluccas to the strong ties the region had to the Dutch colonial administration:

When the Indonesian republic declared its independence in 1945, many Ambonese Christians resisted, as they feared inclusion in a new country with a Muslim majority. The new republic fought the Dutch for four years when they returned to regain possession of their colony after the Japanese defeat in 1945. An interim settlement led to the creation of a federation of independent states, many of which were partially or completely under Dutch control. When the Dutch conceded their defeat and left Indonesia, the republic returned to a unitary view of the state and dissolved the federation by political and military means. Bolstered by some support among the Christian Ambonese community, disgruntled officers of the former Dutch colonial army declared the independence of the South Moluccan Republic (Republik Maluku Selatan - RMS). The Republic of Indonesia rejected this new state, especially since some Christian Ambonese had participated in the nationalist struggle against the Dutch and supported the republic. The Indonesian National Army (Tentara Nasional Indonesia - TNI) therefore was sent to the island to quell the resistance.

As a result of the RMS incident, the position of the Ambonese in the republic remained ambiguous. Some nationalist Christian Ambonese played important roles under the regime of President Sukarno as Cabinet members and prominent leaders of the Protestant Party of Indonesia. Yet, after being the centre of the Dutch East Indies, Ambon and Maluku became remote areas of the archipelago.


Despite the defeat of the separatist forces, their dream of autonomy is documented in the many stamp collections containing the colourful propaganda stamps of "Republik Maluku Selatan" which according to Ken Conoley, in Stamps, their Lure and Lore were sold by the American agents of a rebel government, to raise money to pay the soldiers fighting under a former Dutch soldier, Captain Westerling. The stamps, printed in Austria, were sold in the philatelic market (135-136).

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