Tan Malaka, National hero, author of a book on the Indonesian nation

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Tan Malaka. (Photo: Wikipedia)

IO – A national Indonesian hero and freedom fighter, born in June: Tan Malaka. 

Tan Malaka was born on June 2, 1897 in Nagari Pandam Ganang, Gunuang Omeh, West Sumatra. From his childhood, the child named Sutan Ibrahim, titled Datuk Sutan Malaka, was fond of pencak silat and pursued religious studies. 

Tan Malaka spent his teenage years at Kweekschool, a state teacher’s school in Fort de Kock. In 1913, Tan was selected to continue his education at the Rijkskweekschool or government teacher education school in the Netherlands. 

During his studies, Tan Malaka increasingly came to understand and appreciate the meaning of “revolution”. He became increasingly interested in studying socialism and communism, reading deeply the works of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin. 

After completing college, Tan Malaka returned to the countryside, and taught coolies at the Sanembah tea plantation, North Sumatra. While teaching, he became increasingly aware of the suffering experienced by the native people in Sumatra. 

Tan Malaka wrote the work “Land of the Poor” in the March 1920 edition of Het Vrije Woord which tells the difference between capitalists and workers. Tan Malaka also joined the Indische Social Democratische Vereegniging (ISDV) which became the forerunner of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). 

He also wrote a book entitled Naar de Republiek Indonesia which contains the concept of the Indonesian nation and the struggle for independence of the Dutch East Indies from colonialism. For this reason, he is called the Father of the Republic of Indonesia. 

Tan Malaka composed an analysis of the international political conditions between Japan and America that eventually gave rise to the Pacific War. The analysis was proven 16 years after the book was printed. 

Other works written by Tan Malaka include Mass Actions, From Prison to Prison, The Jakarta Manifesto, The Struggling Economic Plan, Purwokerto Speeches, and Gerpolek: Guerrilla, Politics, Economics. 

He was a fugitive from the Netherlands authorities. Therefore, his existence was very mysterious. He was also known to often disguise himself to hide his identity. 

In 1946, Tan Malaka, who had attempted a coup d’etat, was arrested and sent to prison for 2 years. After his release, he formed the People’s Congress or Murba Party on November 7, 1948. The party adheres to the foundations of anti-fascism, anti-imperialism, and anti-capitalism. 

Then, he formed a Defender of the Proclamation guerilla force to fight the Dutch. Unfortunately, Tan Malaka’s action did not get any support from the military. 

In February 1949, Tan Malaka and his followers were arrested in Kediri, East Java. Quoting from Kumparan, several sources said that he was executed with gunfire. Tan Malaka was buried in Selopanggung, Kediri. 

According to Wikipedia, Tan Malaka was executed by Suradi Tekebek, a man assigned by Second Lieutenant Soekotjo of the Sikatan Battalion, Brawijaya Division. 

Tan Malaka was honored with the title of National Hero based on Presidential Decree No. 53, signed by President Soekarno on March 28, 1963. (rp)