KENTONGAN & SISKAMLING
(Indonesian Security System)
Indonesia has an interesting security system to protect communities during the nights. It is called “SISKAMLING,” an acronym for SIStem KeAManan LINGkungan—or, “Community Safety System” (Indonesians love acronyms!!!). A “Ronda” or “Pos Kamling” is the guard shack.
In some communities the night guard, which is either called a “penjaga” (a person who guards), or a “SATPAM” (an acronym… for “satuan pengamanan”) will strike a kentongan, or anything else that will give off a loud sound, which in turn will communicate to the community that all is well, or that there is a thief, or some other danger. In the area of north Bandung, Indonesia, where we lived for 10 months, the night guard would hit the metal light posts with a metal bar every night at 12:00 and 3:00 a.m., informing the community that all was well (it did make it hard to get a good night sleep!!!).
A “kentongan” (mentioned above) is a gong, often made out of bamboo or teak wood. The kentongan was initially used as an alarm for long-distance communications, morse code, or the call to prayer (in Muslim majority countries). The kentongans are typically 15” in diameter and are between 5.5’ to 6’ long.
The kentongan is normally a circular tube with holes or an opening carved into it to allow it to produce a loud sound when struck. It usually has a rod or bat hanging close by which can be used to strike the kentongan.
In housing developments the night guards are paid from the monthly community fee. In rural areas the men and older boys in the community will take turns guarding at nights.
Below is a video we made of a penjaga (night guard) in action, as we followed him around on his shift.