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Si Pitung

DKI Jakarta - Indonesia

Pitung is a legendary figure and hero for Betawi people in Jakarta. He is believed to be a silat master yet
so pious and humble. With his skills, he fought for ordinary folks that were oppressed by the colonial
Dutch. He robbed those who became rich by being the colonial governments henchmen, and distributed
the loots to common people. He is known as the Robin Hood of Betawi.
Up to today, Betawi people believe that Si Pitung did live and fight for them, and that he was buried in
Marunda, North Jakarta. Here is a story of the legendary hero.
At an afternoon, Pak Piun was sitting around on the porch. He had just been working all day long at his
farm; that time he wished to relax with his family. Bu Pinah, his wife, sat on a bamboo bed while touching
her puffing belly. She was going to be a mother within days. Pak Piun smiled calmly, praying that his soonborn child be a useful child.
All of a sudden, one of his three children who surrounded Bu Pinah asked him.
Father, why did you let Babah Liems hatchet men took the crops you just harvested?
Pak Piun remained silent for a moment, then answered in a low voice.
Thats all right, Son. We still have some.
In truth, Pak Piun was mourning at heart. He did not expect his crops to be plundered. A commoner like
him could not have done anything about it anyway.
Rawabelong, his kampong, was part of Kebayoran Private Land. Liem Tjeng Soen became the landlord
after purchasing the land from the Dutch government on a condition that he would pay the tax.
In controlling the land, Babah Liem hired some strong men from the neighborhood. Their job was
collecting taxes from the people, who would not dare to fight a group of coldblooded men like them. The
people would only stay silent when they took their chicken, goats, crops, and everything else.
Several days later, Bu Pinah gave birth to a son. Pak Piun named his new-born child Pitung and called him
Si Pitung. Like other Betawi kids in general, Pitung was raised in his own family. He learned manners,
recited Quran, helped his father at the farm, picked coconuts, and collected grass for their goats.
Oftentimes, he voluntarily lent a hand to his neighbors.

Pitung observed Gods commands, prayed, and fasted and always talked politely. He had great respect for
his parents, too.
As he grew up, Pitung learned religion, silat, and other martial arts from Haji Naipin, an esteemed ulama
from Kampong Rawabelong. The boy showed he was an assiduous and loyal student, making him dear to
his master. To him, Haji Naipin passed on all of his skills with a hope that Pitung would be a useful man for
others in the future. Haji Naipin even taught him the pancasona ability that would make him invulnerable
to any weapon. Haji Naipin said to Pitung, This ability is for you to fight for the powerless against
injustice. Dont use your power to do bad things to others!
It was an honor for Pitung to be Haji Naipins dearest pupil, yet he stayed humble. Pitung treated others
kindly all the time. But he was, anyhow, a young man with a flaming passion. He had a relationship with
Aisyah, a pretty girl in the neighborhood, and promised her a marriage once they both came of age.
One day, Pitung saw with his own eyes the heartlessness of Babah Liems hatchet men. They came to a
mans house to plunder his chicken, goats, coconuts, and some crops from his rice barn. The young man
was irritated. He wanted to teach them a lesson. But his mother held him back.
Dont you do that, Tung! They have control over this place. Be patient, they will get a punishment
Obeying his mother, Pitung stood poised. On the other day, though, when he was stopping by a
neighboring kampong, again he saw Babah Liems men taking things from a mans house by force.
Pitung ran out of patience and came over to them.
Losers! shouted Pitung. Why taking things from this powerless man? Here, you have a real opponent to
One of the men turned his face to Pitung and smiled with disdain. Apparently he was the chief.
Boy, I am pretty sure you dont know us.
Sthuuew! Pitung spat onto the ground in anger. "Six big men harassing one guy? I dont need to ask
anyone to know you are losers.
The chief became furious. He attacked Pitung rampantly, thinking that the young man would be easy to
knock down. Surprisingly, Pitung managed to seize his arm and slam him hardly. With the man passed out,
the others hurried to surround Pitung. Very quickly, Pitung attacked them first. One by one, he hit them in
the face, making them faint or moan in pain. Those who were conscious rushed to carry their fellows away.
They ran off.
Be ready, young man! Well report this to our boss, they said.

Several days afterwards, Pitung was widely talked in Kebayoran. But he did not feel proud of it. In fact, he
tried to avoid answering questions about the fight.
One day, Pak Piun asked his son to sell two goats to Tanah Abang Market. Pitung took the animals to the
market right away. Without him realizing, two scary men were following him. Pitung sold the goats quickly
and put the money in his pocket. On his way home, he stopped by a small mosque. It was a hot day
indeed. Pitung wanted to take a rest for a while. He took off his clothes and got in a nearby river. The
stalkers moved closer quietly and took the money from Pitungs clothes.
Pitung did not realize that until he got home. Angrily, he walked back to Tanah Abang Market to find the
thieves. When he did, they were hanging around with some people in a tavern at the time.
Pitung came to them and said, Give me back my money.
The people were surprised, then burst into laughter.
One of them said, You can take your money for sure. But you have to be one of us.
I cannot think of myself becoming a filthy thief, said Pitung rudely.
Offended by Pitungs word, they set on Pitung all at once. But their opponent this time was the man who
beat up six Babah Liems men all by himself. One by one they got hit by Pitung.
Since that day, Si Pitung decided to dedicate his ability to help the weak. He could not stand seeing their
misery, being oppressed by landlords and the colonial government. Some hatchet men he once trounced
turned into his fellows. He gathered them and formed a group of bandits. Together, they robbed rich
people houses and distributed the loot for the poor and helpless.
Pitungs name had been a talk among the people. The landlords and rich people who took advantage of
their own people by siding with the Dutch were very much concerned. They reported the problem to the
colonial government.
The Dutch office in Batavia commanded their staff to capture Si Pitung right away. Schout Heyne, the
kontrolir[1] of Kebayoran district, ordered his personnel to find out where the fugitive was. He offered a
big amount of money for anyone telling him Si Pitungs whereabouts.
Knowing he was sought by so many people, Pitung moved from one place to another, down to Marunda. In
that time, he continuously ransacked from rich peoples houses, tyrant local rulers, and landlords. He gave
what he took to the people in need, to those suffering from colonialism.
But one day, Pitung and his gang got set up by the police. That time they were breaking in into a district
heads house. The police seized the house while Pitung was inside. He surrendered to the police to let his
friends run away. He was soon confined at Grogol.

Nonetheless, it did not take long for him to plot an escape. One night, he got out of his prison through the
roof, sending whole jail into a sudden panic.
Where is Pitung, boys? they asked Pitungs cellmate.
I dont know. He just disappeared, answered the prisoner.
The escape of their most dangerous enemy caused concerns for the Dutch and local rulers. Schout Heyne
ordered his men to arrest Pak Piun and Haji Naipin. He tortured the two old men to tell him where Pitung
was. They did not speak a word and were sent to jail at Grogol.
Pitung did not slack his action until he heard his father and master were in the polices hand. He sent a
message to the Dutch that he would give in if they released the old men. Schout Heyne agreed.
On the given day, they took Haji Naipin to a court. Pak Piun had been released free before. On the court, a
troop of policemen pointed guns at Haji Naipin. Not long after, Pitung showed up. He was alone. When
Schout Heyne asked him to surrender, Pitung requested that his master be let go first.
Haji Naipin was freed. Pitung came forward to Schout Heyne. The policemen now turned their guns to
Finally, Pitung, said Schout Heyne arrogantly.
Yes. But, trust me, I will run away again. I won't refrain from my action no matter how many of you guys
are, answered Pitung with a smile.
Pitung irritated Schout Heyne. The kontrolir was running amok. He took a few steps back quickly and told
his men to ready their weapons. Haji Naipin, who was still there, was tying to stop them. The policemen
fired their guns somehow. There, on the ground, Pitung fell down covered with blood.
Pitung was buried several days later. Hundreds of people came to the funeral of their hero and prayed for
him. They would always remember Si Pitung, their defender and protector.
A couple of months later, Schout Heyne was fired for having gunned down a man who did not resist when
being captured.
Although in the end, Si Pitung gets killed by Dutchs bullets, he dies as a hero and is always remembered
by the people that way. This story conveys a message that a person who dares to stand up for justice and
truth will bring goodness for himself and others. A coward like Scout Heyne will do anything to quiet his
opponents but somehow he gets what he deserves.

The life of Si Pitung develops to be a folklore story in some different versions. Besides told in books and
magazines, the story has also been made into popular films, such as Titisan Si Pitung (1989, directed by
Tommy Burnama) and Pitung 3: Pembalasan Si Pitung Jiih (1977, directed by Nawi Ismail).
In 1982, the Provincial Government of DKI Jakarta bought a house at Jakarta Coast, Marunda, that was
believed to be Si Pitungs house. However, Jakarta Post (10/23/1999) declares that the house actually
belonged to Syafiudin, one of Si Pitungs victims. This somehow proves that Si Pitung is always
considered a model to follow by the people.