2007 - Dennis De Witt

Dennis De Witt, History of the Dutch in Malaysia.
Net als in 2005 werd ook de prijs van 2007  uitgereikt in de Beresteynzaal van het Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie. Dankzij de bemiddeling van de heer dr. B. Lever, directeur van Centraal Bureau voor Genealogie, was het mogelijk de winnaar  Dennis De Witt uit Maleisië over te laten komen voor de uitreiking, in aanwezigheid van de ambassadrice van Maleisië.
Het juryrapport:

Nederlandse Aanmoedigingsprijs voor Genealogie voor het jaar 2006/2007

In 2001 Dennis De Witt met the prime minister of Malacca. He introduced himself as an Eurasian of Dutch descent. The minister did not know how to react and stated: ‘than you will be the last one’. This remark makes immediately clear what the importance is of the ‘History of the Dutch in Malaysia’, the book that was awarded with the ‘Nederlandse Aanmoedigingsprijs voor Genealogie 2006-2007’ [in English: the Dutch Encouragement Prize for Genealogy]. There are, estimated to be about 2000 persons in Malacca who are of Dutch origin. A group of people which is almost forgotten.

A few years ago a revolution started! In 2002 a start was made with a Malaysian-Dutch Descending Project. And De Witt wrote his ‘History of the Dutch in Malaysia’ in 2007. In this book he treats all the aspects of the Dutch culture in Malacca. First, the rise of the Republic of Allied Dutch during the Revolution is described and – following that – the foundation of the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (in English: the ‘Dutch East India Company’). The VOC  settled in Malacca after the Portuguese were chased away and made treaties with the local authorities. They became part of the local struggle for power. De Witt describes the history of the VOC from the first contacts in 1606, the victory over the Portuguese in 1641 and the bankruptcy in 1795. Then the English conquered Malacca. They stayed there till 1818, when the Dutch got in charge again. Later that year the ties with the Netherlands were cut through definitely.

In Malacca lots of traces can be found of this Dutch period: in fortresses, in churches, on cemeteries. De Witt treats them one by one and talks about how they came into being. He shows by way of maps and pictures where these monuments are and what they look like. But also other cultural remains get their turns, such as nutrition, parties and language. An important part of the book is the survey of VOC-servants and the contributions they gave to the history of Malacca. And De Witt gives ideas for genealogical research and an overview of the main sources. He makes clear that there is a renewed interest for the Dutch culture with a survey of some family¬gatherings of people descending from VOC-servants and the foundation of the Malaysian Dutch Descending Project mentioned earlier.

In brief:  De Witt’s book gives a clear survey of the history and today, broadly describing the remains of the Dutch culture in Malacca. Hopefully it will open the eyes of the current inhabitants of Malacca to the Dutch contribution to their culture. De Witt’s initiative to put them on the map of Malacca again, deserves encouragement. Therefore, the jury has decided to award him with the ‘Nederlandse Aanmoedigingsprijs voor Genealogie’ for the years 2006-2007.