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The Southern Moluccas


The Repoeblik Maloekoe Selatan

The Government in Exile

Maluku Province




Back to Indonesia




Two days after the capitulation of Japan the independent republic of Indonesia was proclaimed. In the new political constellation the Dutch and the Indonesians agreed that decolonisation would be the only possibility to solve conflicts between the Indonesian nationalists and the former colonizer. The Indonesians opted for a unitarian state and the Dutch for a new federal state. As a part of a future federal state the Negara Indonesia Timur (Oost-Indonesië) was established in 1946 in Denpasar. On 27 December 1949 the sovereignty of the former colony was transferred to the Republik Indonesia Serikat (United States of Indonesia)

In March 1950 the existence of the Negara Indonesia Timur was threatened more and more. After an insurrection under the leadership of the former KNIL captain Andi Azis, which was put down by the Jakarta government, the Negara Indonesia Timur was dissolved some days later without any significant resistance. On 15 August 1959 the R.I.S. was dissolved itself  and replaced by the Republic of Indonesia of 1945.

The federal state of East Indonesia, has, in spite of its short existence, been able to adopt several national symbols.

Present Maluku Province is a continuation of former Ambon Residency and was for a short time a part of the Negara Indonesia Timur.


The Southern Moluccas



In the 16th century Portuguese traders settled in the Southern Moluccas, in particular on Ambon. They were chased away  by the traders of the V.O.C. in early 17th century. Ambon was ruled then by a sultan who had to take refuge for the Dutch in 1658. Like many other Muslim rulers the seal of this last sultan showed a malaysian inscription in arab lettering which was printed with lamp soot on paper. [1]


Afterwards the territory firmly remained in the possession of the V.O.C. which, amongst others, established a fortress on Ambon called Fort Victoria. The facade of the entrance of this fortress is decorated with the emblem of the V.O.C., the coat of arms of the Republic, the cypher of the V.O.C. and the coats of arms of Amsterdam, Zeeland, Dordrecht, Rotterdam, Hoorn and Enkhuizen (the chambers of the V.O.C.).

Fort Nieuw Victoria in Ambon, 1775


Seal of Durch Rule, 1828


Arms: The Dutch achievement of 1816





A coat of arms for the community of Amboina was adopted about 1930, executing the “Ordonnantie van 7 september 1928 (Stbl. N° 394)” laying down rules for the granting of arms to the Public Communities in the Netherlands’ Indies. [2] In the lower half of the arms is a picture of Fort Victoria, in the upper half is the ship of the seal of the Company. The shield is crowned with a crown of a count and supported by two lions borrowed from the achievement of the Netherlands.  The motto “DOOR DE EEUWEN TROUW” means: True Throughout the Centuries. [3]


The Repoeblik Maloekoe Selatan


At the events between 1945 and 1950 the Moluccans always took the side of the Dutch with whom they had had strong relations for centuries. They actually agitated against the Indonesian nationalists. Soon after the establishment of the federal state of Indonesia Timur separatism was propagated within Moluccan circles. These however ware not taken into account in the negotiations between the Dutch and the Indonesians. Immediately after the dissolution of the Negara Indonesia Timur the chairman of the South Moluccas Council, Manuhutu, proclaimed the Repoeblik Maloekoe Selatan (Republic of the South Moluccas) at a public meeting in the evening of 24 April 1950, referring to the right of self-determination guaranteed at the Rondetafel Conferentie. The territory in mind consisted of the former Ambon Residency south of 2° 3’ S.L.

The new state was conquered by the Republic of Indonesia in October and on 30 November 1950 the fall of the city of Ambon fell, implying the end of the RMS. The South Moluccan Army had retired to Ceram even before 3 November and some weeks later the government had followed. Not long after, the Indonesian Army controlled the main part of the Moluccas. In particular on Ceram a vain guerilla warfare was fought against Indonesia.

Many South Moluccan soldiers, referring to their KNIL employment, were transported to the Netherlands where they were encamped, anticipating a possible South Moluccan independence.


Arms, Flag and Seal of the Republic of the South Moluccas


On 28 April 1950, four days after the proclamation of the republic, a commission headed by M.A. Telepta was appointed, which should make the designs of the symbols of the new republic. It was established that in any case the flag should have the color red in it, because on all Moluccan islands and in particular on Nusa Ina,  this color was supposed to be the color of the origin of life. Also, red is the color of the kain-bérang, clothes often worn on Ceram.

The other colors should have to be blue, white and green, the green symbolizing the islands of the archipelago, the blue the sea and the white peace. [4]

On 4 May the Commission Telepta reported its conclusions, probably in Ambon Nieuws, being the more or less official periodical of the South Moluccan Government. [5] On dinsdagmorgen  9 mei 1950 had op het plein tegenover het Regeringsgebouw in Kota Ambon de officiële ontplooiing plaats van de nationale vlag. Ten aanschouwe van duizenden Zuidmolukkers werd de vlag 5 minuten voor 10.00 uur door twee padvinders opgevouwen naar buiten gebracht, gevolgd door president Manuhutu en de volledige regering. Om 10.00 u. precies ging de vlag voor het eerst de hoogte in.” [6]

(on Tuesday morning 9 May 1950 the official hoisting of the National Flag took place on the square before the House of Government in Kota Ambon. In the presence of thousands of South Moluccans the folded  flag was brought in the open at 5 minutes to 10.00 o’clock by two scouts, followed by president Manuhutu and all members of government. At 10.00 o’clock sharp the flag was hoisted for the first time).

The flag consisted of three breadths  blue, white and green an a red triangle at the mast-end charged with a circle of seven five-pointed stars, symbolizing the main islands of the South Moluccas: Buru, Ceram, Ambon, Wetar, the Tanimbar-Islands, the Kei-Islands and the Aroe-Islands. [7]

The achievement of the republic consisted of a shield of the colors of the flag, placed on the breast of a pigeon, wings spread. Behind the pigeon is a panoply consisting of two axes, two spears and two arrows. In his claws he has a scroll with the motto MENA MOERIA between two times seven stars. On a colored picture the pigeon is greenish and has red head-feathers, the scroll is red with golden lettering and white stars. [8] The achievement is surrounded by a circle charged with the words REPOEBLIK MALOEKOE SELATAN, separated by five-pointed stars. The achievement is said to have been also on the banner of state (labarum) but no picture has been preserved.


The seal of state consisted of a cypher of the letters RMS surrounded by a garland of leaves and the words repoeblik  maloekoe  selatan

The war-cry Mena Moeria literally means “Ahead - Back” and can be translated with “One for All, All for One” or  “All Hands on Deck”. The saying originates from navigation and dates from the time that the Moluccans sailed the archipelago with proa’s.






The Government in Exile


Two days after the proclamation of the R.M.S, on 27 April 1950, the R.M.S. government appointed the moluccan physician Karel Nikilujuw the general representatative of the R.M.S. abroad. For his office Nikilujuw established the official journal of the political representation in the Netherlands called “Bureau Zuid-Molukken”.

Almost at the same time with the flag of the R.M.S. in Indonesia, an other flag came into use in the Netherlands. It is inspired by a design for a flag from the thirties of the 20th century. [9] Probably it was made after a provisional design sent to Nikijuluw shortly after the proclamation of the R.M.S. [10]. It is red with three vertical stripes blue-white and green at the mast-end in the proportions of 1:1:1:6. In the existing documentation about flag and arms of the R.M.S. this flag is considered to be the flag hoisted in Kota Ambon on 9 May 1950, but in that case the flag with the three breadths and the triangle would become inexplicable. In any case this is the flag usually used by the R.M.S. movement in the Netherlands. This flag can best be considered to be the “war ensign” of the R.M.S..

Together with this flag a version of the achievement is used with the flag with the triangle on the breast of a white pigeon with a bundle of arrows and a Moluccan shield in its claws. The motto reads:  mena muria, 25.4.1950, republik  maluku  selatan.

A seal for the polical representation was fixed in July 1950. On it is an achievement consisting of a shield with a spear (salawaku) a chopping knife (parang) and an arrow in saltire. It is supported by a white pigeon (pombo) with an olive-branch in its beak. [11] The pigeon is surrounded by a garland. In chief of the seal is the name of the republic: REPOEBLIK MALOEKOE-SELATAN and in base the war-cry MENA MOERIA. On a more recent version the pigeon is within the legend  REPUBLIK MALUKU SELATAN and seven stars. It is not known who was the designer of this seal but probably it was created by Karel Nikijuluw.

The white pigeon symbolizes peace but on Ambon it is a favourable sign at military expeditions. A legend narrates that a well-known historical person, Captain Jonker, changed himself and his wife into  pigeons which flew back from Jacatra to the Moluccas. The pigeon for that reason is a favourable sign of a safe return home.

The achievement with the pombo is also on medals printed in 1955 at the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the proclamation of the  republic. The medal is worn pending from a ribbon in the Moluccan colors: red with blue-white and green bordures. [12]     

This achievement is also on the cap badges of the K.P.K., the paramilitary service of the Badan Persatuan of president Ir. Manusama. On these badges it is on the stylized “W” which is also the background of the cap badges of the Dutch Army. The soldiers of the after the execution of President Soumokil in 1966 temporarily acting counter-president Izaak Tamaela, used a cap badge with the pombo surrounded by a garland.



Medal with the arms of july 1950



Cap Badge of the R.M.S. Army



Cap badge of the R.M.S. Army

This was worn on the cap of General J. Tamaela


Coat of Arms of the Presidential Guard, 2010

Present Maluku Province


Coat of arms of Maluku Province  [13]


The coat of arms of Maluku Province (Daerah Propinsi Maluku) has the shape of a moluccan shield, pierced at the upper part by a spear [14]. The shield is white and charged with a moluccan proa, on a blue sea with nine waves at the horizon and five waves in the sea, rising therefrom three green mountains. On the base of the shield there is a chain of eight shackles on a black background.

In this coat of arms the proa is the successor of the ship of the V.O.C. occurring in the arms of the community of Ambon. The three mountains symbolize Maluku Utara, Maluku Tengah en Maluku Tenggara (North-, Central- and S.E. Moluccas).

The shield is surrounded by a golden leaf of a coconut-palm of 17 pieces and a green leaf of a sago-palm of 45 pieces. Palm leaves and chain make the date of 17 August 1945, the date of the proclamation of the Republic of Indonesia.

On the crossing of the leavesis is a white ribbon with the motto SIWA LIMA in black lettering. This motto refers to the “ancient philosophical principles of the Moluccan people” [15]

The achievement is on a red disc, placed on a green backshield.

The colours of the achievement are also those of the flag of the R.M.S.


ð See illustration in the head of this essay









The provinces of Maluku and Northern Maluku are nowadays overseen by Kodam XVI Pattimura.




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 © Hubert de Vries 2006.07.14  Updated 2010.10.03; 2011.03.07; 2018.06.28    




[1].) Seal with a legend in malay in arab lettering on: Letter from the exiled ruler of Ambon, Kimelaha Salahak Abdul Kadir ibn Syahbuddin, 1658, Brit. Lib. IOR Original Correspondence E/3/25, f 252r.. Uit:  Surat Emas, 1991 n° 3.

[2] ) In the following twelve years of  Dutch Rule, coats of arms were granted mainly to the capitals of the provinces of which Amboina was one. Only two provinces on Java were granted arms in the time of Dutch Rule. After the war Dutch rules could be used. The European jheraldic styling was however abandoned soon.

[3]) Rühl, Dirk: Nederlandsch-Indische Gemeentewapens. Geschiedenis. Legenden en Besluiten. 1933.

[4] ) In this way the Dutch colors red, white and blue together with the color green which is the color of the federal states of the Republik Indonesia Serikat are united in this flag.

[5] ) A copy of „Ambon Nieuws” alias „Berita Ambon” of 4 mei 1950 cannot be found in Dutch libraries or - collections

[6] ) Penonton, Bung (= Gerhard Knot): De Zuidmolukse Republiek. Schets voor een beschrijving van de nieuwste geschiedenis van het zuidmolukse volk. Buijten en Schipperheyn. Amsterdam, 1977. I.h.b. H. 4: Symbolen van de RMS. pp. 241-244. Of this ceremony  a photography has been preserved on which the flag is in the hands of one of the scouts. A whithe patch can be seen. A short movie of the hoisting of the flag in the  Moluks Historisch Museum in Utrecht stops halfway the flag-pole.

[7] The flag is said to go back to a design published in Natuur en Samenleving in de Molukken. ca 1930

[8]) Possibly the  Red breasted fruit dove (Ptilinopus bellus – Columbae) is meant, living on New Guinea. It is also possible that a Moluccan version of the dove of the Republic Indonesia , Sang Radja Walik is meant (Also see my essay in Heraldisch Tijdschrift 7, 2000, pp. 58-63). A full-color picture of this achievement was on a table above the entrance of Kamp Lunetten (today in the Moluks Historisch Museum in Utrecht.) 

[9] ) Published in: Boelens, Germen: Natuur en Samenleving van de Molukken. Utrecht 2001.

[10] ) Nikijuluw, Karel J.V.: South Moluccas. In: The Flag Bulletin II, n° 1 (fall 1962). In thuis article also a description of the flag. Information:: Moluks Historisch Museum, Utrecht dd. 12.10.1995 which also provided the main illustrations

[11] ) Probably the Nutmeg Pigeon  (Ducula spilorrhoa – Columbae)

[12] ) For thius section I thank Henk Smeets of the  Moluks Historisch Museum, who provide me with documentation.

[13] ) http://www:malukuprov.go.id/subpage.asp?id=61 :


• Sebuah alat pembela diri melambangkan kesiap-siagaan, berbentuk 5 (lima) segi melambagkan lima dasar pokok negara “pancasila”

• Berukuran 5 : 3 dalam satu wadah yang bulat, melambangkan pancasila dan eka sila, adalah seluruh potensi Maluku.

pucuk kelapa

• Kelapa adalah hasil utama daerah maluku Utara melambangkan potensi kemakmuran.

• Jumlah pucuk kelapa 17 (tuju belas) buah melambangkan hari ke-17 dari bulan proklamasi

• Warna kuning melambangkan kejayaan


• Hasil yang khas dari Daerah Maluku Tenggara

• Jumlah Mutiara 8 (delapan) butir, melambangkan bulan ke-8 dari tahun proklamasi.

• Warna puttih melambangkan kemurnian

daun sagu

• Sagu adalah makanan pokok di Maluku melambangkan daya hidup (vitalitas).

• Jumlah daun sagu adalah 45 (empay puluh lima) melambangkan/menyatakan Tahun pro-klamasi.

• Warna hijau melambangkan kehidupan dan harapan.

pala  dan  cengkih

• Hasil utama Daerah Maluku Tengah melambangkan Daerah Maluku sebagai kepulauan rempah-rempah, kekayaannya dimasa lampau dan kemungkinan-kemungkinan dimasa depan.


• Melambangkan kemauan dan tekad untuk mempertahankan meningkatkan hidup.


• Daerah Maluku bergunung-gunung yang melambangkan 3 daerah Maluku Utara, Maluku Tengah, Maluku Tenggara yang dalam sejarah adalah satu.

• Gunung-gunung yang hijau melambangkan kekayaan hasil hutan yang berlimpah-limpah.


• Melambangkan infrastruktur utama dan kekayaan laut Maluku

• Gelombang melambangkan perjuangan.

• Gelombang berjumlah 9 (sembilan) melambangkan patasiwa dan 5 (lima) melambangkan patalkima sebagai dasar susunan kesatuan masyarakat Adat di Maluku.

• Warna biru melambangkan kesatiaan kepada Nusa dan bangsa.


• Melambangkan Pemerintahan yang didasarkan atas Persatuan dan Kekeluargaan menuju Kemakmuran.

• Warna putih melambangkan perjuangan hidup yang suci.

wada lambang yang berbentuk bulat

Berarti semen bundeling dari segala potensi dengan dasar merah sebagai tanda keberanian

warna dasar lambang hijau muda

Melambangkan masa yang gilang-gemilang

siwa-lima milik bersama

Atas dasar Siwa Lima, kira memupuk Persatuan dan Kesatuan untuk mencapai kesejahteraan bersama.

[14] ) The shield illustrated is a wooden dancing shield from Ambon. Coll. K.I.T. Amsterdam TM-nummer: 272-84  Date: before 1926,  48 Í 11cm.

[15] ) In  this siwa lima we recognize the  pantja sila, the five principles of the official Indonesian philosophy of  Soekarno.

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