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20 NATION NEW STRATTS TTMES FRtDAy, lULy 17, 2009 o memortes of Nadrah Nadrah, or
of Nadrah
Nadrah, or
Maria Bertha
By Sean Augustln
Aminah Mohammad. caused
(right) with
riots in Singapore, killing 18
people and injuring 200.
KEMAMAN: Eleven years
After her Dutch father was
have passed, but Rokayah
sof will never forget the phone
captured by the Japanese in
1942, Nadrah's mother gave
call from her father on the eve
Mohd Dahan,
on her last
of Hari
Raya to say that
her to Aminah without her
husband's lcrowledge. She
visit. (lnset)
Nadrah Maarof was at his
was preparing nqsi
was renamed Nadrah Maarof
and raised in Kemaman as a
A tearful
Rokayah Yusof.
minyak," sudthe 62-year-old.
After the court award,
time in many decades. She
"It was the most memorable
ple. But when word got round
her. We just didn't ask her
The last time she had seen
Nadrah became Maria Bertha
hugged everyone in the house.
and the sweetest Rava for me.
she wasinKemaman,
a crowd
her adopted aunt was about
Hertogh again
and was taken
"We were
so surprised
as she slept in my hoirse on the
46 years ago when she was 4
years old. And the onlymemo-
to Holland where she was
to see her, and even more sur-
second day ofRaya. Everyone
gathered outside herhotel and
she had to sneak out.
Rokayah learned of Nadrah's
death from her son in Kuantan,
raised in her father's religion.
She recenfly died at 72 years
of age from leukaemia at her
prised she could still speak
cried when she left the next
Rokayah said her grand-
who keeps in
touch with
ry she had was of being cra-
English and Malay fluently.
day," she said,
mother, Aminah, was badly
tographs of the soft-spoken
affected by the whole aflair.
Nadrah, or Maria Bertha
home in Huijberhen, southern
Aminah, who diedin 1976 of
Nadrah's granddaughter
throughthe Internet.
"Iwish I had gone to Holland
Hertogh, became a worldwide
cause celebre when a Singa-
pore court awarded custody of
She did have an Indonesian
"We talked until midnight.
And the next day, we were up
curly-haired Nadrah.
Nadrah, who called herself
to see her. She was such a nice
Recounting that one visit 11
m ak cik and, lov e d ke t up at and
old age, avoided people when
she returned from Singapore,
years ago, Rokayah said she
until the wee hours just catch-
and clammed up whenever
andjovial person.
"She will always
her to her biological parents
dropped everything and rush-
someone broughtup the story.
said Rokayah,
ed to herfather's house.
ingup. "Nadrah
told us about her
r end.ang, hadlocated the fam-
ily with the help of two Dutch
'T think
she was bitter.
that she planned tovis-
The verdict
taking her away
"We hugged and criedwhen
life in Holland and asked
Because of her fame.
though we will never really
Nadrah's children in Hol-
from her adoptive mother,
we saw each other for the first
a.bout the familyhere.
Nadrah shied away from peo-
know how badlv it,a.ffected
The heart-wrenching story of Maria Hertogh tfl.2 HUBERDINA Maxia Hertogh; or bet- \{hen Fatini met
The heart-wrenching story of Maria Hertogh
HUBERDINA Maxia Hertogh; or bet-
\{hen Fatini met him, he poured
han Gerardus \tVolkenfelt.
ter remembered as Nadrah, died last
his heart out. He revealed that he
met him, too, in Bergen op
week. Shewas 72.
For those who have never heard of
wrote to Nadrah long after she had
Zoom. But it was Vermuellen who
helped Fatini hace Nadrah and her
her. she was embroiled as a l4-vear-
' been mercilesslv taken awav from
him. But apparenfly none of the let-
children. Vermuellen had precious
old girl in one of the most contentious
material a,bout Nadrah, but he lost it
court cases the countrv had ever
Much to our surprise, he gave ev-
in alire in 1987.
lnoum. After the court detided, there
were demonshations that culminat-
erything to Fatini, including three
Nadrah was in the United States
where Nadrah's father and mother,
Adriamrs Petus Hertogh and Adeli-
personal files. (The letters were pub-
tying to earn a living with her part-
ed in the first race riots in Singapore
lished in the April issue).
ner Ben Pichel, leaving her children
thatkilled 18 people andinjured 173.
na, resided.
The last meeting with Fatini took
Nadrah would have been largely
forgotten on both sides of the Johor
It was a difficult time for a Dutch
place onMarch 13, 1988. He diedthe
It was a tbugh life for her. Fatini
fa,mily in Japanese-occupied Java in
next day. The interview with Mansor
flew to the US with two of Nadrah's
Shaits had Dewan Mosyaraltat, a
1942. T?lre family insisted Aminah
took Nadrah but Hertogh changed
was publishedinthe March 1989 is-
daughters, Carolien and Marlies.
magazine published by Dewan Ba-
Maria Hertogh's story was covered
zue ofthemagazine.
worked odd jobs as janitor,
hasa dan Pustaka (DBP), notrevisited
the case.
his mind later when he was freed
by DBP in 1989
from the Japanese prison.
Fatini was able to trace manv ofthe
books nryitten about the case. one of
cook, domestic helper, whatever,
sending her money home for her chil:
I was the head of the Magazine Di-
He went looking
for Nadrah. She
My boss at the time, Shaari Abdul-
them the
largely forgotten Thngled
dren. She was livingwith Pichel in a
vision at DBP and its chief editor at
lah, who was the director of publish-
ing had rhis to say to me: "Go, what-
small town which Nadrah requested
not to be revealed.
It all started in July 1988 when the
editorial team discussed the possibil-
was discovered in Kemaman and
Hertogh initiated the custody battle.
Aminah was defended bv Ahmad
Wrl* The Story ofMaria Hertoghby
She went tbrough reponts in the
By then the Nadrah story had
Ibrahim and Sa,rdon Zubir.
The director-general, Datuk Ju-
Straits T\mes, Singapore Standqrd
reached fever pikh in Malaysia and
ity of "looking at the Nadrah issue
of all walks of life came out
andUtusan Melayu. She went to the
Singapore, and the Dutch media was
from anewperspective".
A young assistant editor of the
with a find to help the case. They
maat Mohd Nor, was extremely sup-
portive, in fact breaking some rules
Dutch archives in Bergen op Zoom.
largely negative reports
to allow us to pursue the matter.
She met Nadrah's
adopted sister
our interest in
magazine, Fatini Yaacob, was as-
sigred to the task.
They were voluminous reports on
the court case, the landmark decision
and the aftermath, but little was told
about Nadrah the girl, her adopted
On Aug 1, 1950 Nadrah was mar-
ried to Marnor Adabi. But the Appeal
Court overturned the ruling. The rest
aswe knowis history.
A publication by a statutory body
like DBP is not required to be inter-
esting or break any record in terms of
But it was Fatini's tireless enthusi-
asm that made the difrerence. She
and friends in Kemarnan, Tereng-
ganu. Fatini was able to meet Jo-
took many months going through
tavelled more than 150,000km to
hannes Gerrit Vermuellen, the man
who befriended Marsor and Nadrah
and who fied hard to "connect" both
She remembered her davs in Ke-
marnan fondly, going to school like
more than 100,000 documents, and
the other girls, reading the Quran
and playing fraditional games. And
nations for the story.
mother, her farnily and what hap-
I haced her movements in mv
A Dutch private TV station gave her
she remembered the lady who went
through hell when she was brought
pened to her after 1950.
newsstand sales. However, the four-
More than 37 years had passed
part series on Nadrah beginning in
notes to rea.ders every month. Luc(
too, was on her side. The man behind
a copy of a special documentary it
produced u;.1975 entitled The TIme
back to Holland, Aminah.
Nadrah is part of the Malay/Ivluslim
since Maria was "returned" to her bi-
ological parents and her marriage to
one Mansor Adabi_was annulled by
the court. It was a story that needed
to be told.
February 1989 sold 100,000 copies.
the centroversy, Mansor, was side-
created quite a commotion
iunong the reading public. A sta,r in
Iined as the Nadrahissue boiled.
But 38years later, he spoke to Fati-
Just Stood Sti//. The final touch to the
story was, of course, meeting and in-
psyche in this part
of the world. The
issue redefmed
their perception
terviewing Nadrah herself. It was al-
about religious conversions and race
the form of Fatini was born. She did
ni about Nadrah and how the short-
most an impossible task.
relations in more wavs than one. As
anotlrer investigative report on
Iived marriage had changed him.
Nadrah disappeared into oblivion.
for me, Fatini (now ldtin) and the De-
Nadrah was born to Dutch
Sharnsiah Fakeh, the. former Malay
Mansor was no ordinary person. He
There were unconlirmed reports
wan Masyaraftot editorial team,
in Java, adopted by Aminah Mo-
hamad and broughtup inKemaman,
communist, but nothing surpassed
the followingfor the Nadrah series.
was the son of writer and nationalist
Nadrah impacted our professional
A. Kadir Ada,bi. He was the editor
that she visited her adopted fa;nrily in
Terengganu a few times. There were
Terengganu. Aminah was a business-
It was a pleasant surprise for us at
the Malayan Law Journal in the
stories in 1976 about her allegedly
woman who frequented Bandung
tryingto hllhersecond husband, Jo-