On 17 August the MuSeaum in Sydney - aka the Australian National Maritime Museum - will organize a ceremony to commemorate Independence day of the Republic of Indonesia. Next to the presentations Ivens' short documentary film Indonesia Calling will be screened. In June prime-minister Mark Rutte of The Netherlands finally - after almost eight decades (!) - 'fully and without any reservation' acknowledged 17 August 1945 as the independence day of Indonesia.
For the complete programme of the event:
The initiative was taken by Anthony Liem (1943, Semarang), who for many years is organizing and promoting activities about Ivens'film Indonesia Calling and its impact on Australia and the relationship between Australia, Indonesia and The Netherlands. For instance the travelling exhibition 'Black Armada' was one of the results of it, shown at venues in Sydney, Yogayakarta, Jakarta, Surabaya, Makassar, Den Pasra Bali and Cowra. During these exhibitions Indonesia Calling was shown.
Anthony Liem at the Joris Ivens Archives, with a table full of documents about Indonesia Calling, 24 July 2023, studyroom Regional Archives Nijmegen.
Anthony Liem visited the Joris Ivens Archive in July and told about his background. He is married to Helen Wong, the daughter of Kenneth Frederick Wong. 'Fred' may have funded or co-funded Indonesia Calling with some 1.000 Australian pounds, which, at that time was enough to buy two houses. In the Joris Ivens Archives Anthony Liem found a letter of Joris Ivens to the distributor of the documentary film in the USA, Tom Brandon, in which a loan of 500 pounds is mentioned. Next to this funding Fred Wong supported with other means the strike of seamen from various nations to prevent Dutch ships leaving Australian harbours in a attempt to safeguard the recently declared independence of Indonesia. Being a greengrocer himself he gave food and beverage to striking harbour workers and assisted in organizing manifestations. In respect of Fred Wong's loan in Indonesia Calling at the end of the film, when, during a ralley of seamen from Indonesia, India, China and Australia gathered for a demonstration, one can see the money notes. At that time Fred Wong was head of the Madam Sun Yet Sen Appeal for China Committee (founded by the Chinese Youth League) and acted as the banker of the Chinese Seamen's Union, which supported the clandestine film production.
Fred died 'accidentally' in a drowning accident at a 'secret' Australian/ Dutch aircraft base in Victoria.
Fred Wong was born into a market gardening family on 14 October, 1906, at Cobar, NSW Australia. As a boy he was sent back to his father’s village in Zhongshan County, Guangtung Province, in the final years of the Manchu Dynasty to receive a traditional Chinese education. At the age of 15, he married Quan Wong Chong in Canton and returned to Australia. With the assistance of family and friends the Wongs established a greengrocery in Leichhardt, a working class inner Sydney suburb.
See for his biography:
Arthur Locke Chang delivered a speech during one of the ralleys of the striking harbour workers in Sydney, November 1945.
'Merdeka!' he shouted at the end of Indonesia Calling. It was the only sequence of the low-budget film recorded with synchronic sound.
Duing this ralley the money notes of Fred Wongs loan can be seen.
70 years later: Arthur Locke shaking hands with the Embassador of Indonesia in Australia, during the opening event of the Black Armada exhibition
at the MuSeaum (National Maritime Museum of Australia) in Sydney, last August. At the background: Anthony Liem. 31 August 2015.
Anthony Liem initiated the Black Armada travelling exhibition, 2015.