The (purposely) forgotten hero reintroduced

17 Aug

His name is Ibrahim Datuk Tan Malaka and a small book he wrote in 1920s about the independence for Indonesia sparked the revolutionary mindsets on many youngs to fight for freedom of the nation. The youngs include the forefathers Sukarno and M. Hatta.

He spent all his life to gain the independence for the nation but was excluded from being part of it at the crucial moments leading to the proclamation of the Declaration for Independence on August 17, 1945.

Although being prisoned and under constant runaway, he escaped the colonial governments — the Dutch, the British, the Japanese — only to be killed by the hand of his own kind — by the very first government of this newly independent nation.

For years, his name has been mentioned in the history books as the bad guy who organized a coup on Sukarno’s government, while Sukarno and he were once friends who shared the dream of freedom.

Differences in political views from his peers have sent him to tragic moments of his life — he was at the wrong time and wrong place with wrong audience.

Sukarno’s way of compromise might be right for Indonesia for that moment. Nonetheless, Tan Malaka’s role as the idea generator and master cheerleader in the road to independence have to be rewarded and his name should be carved in the history book.

Until today, it has been difficult to know the truth about our past in the history book. Indonesians often find themselves caught off guard when they read materials produced overseas on Indonesia’s past because they were so different and seem to be more possible to happen.

This nation should learn to accept history as it is, with every strenghts and flaws of each respected people and heroes, so that we can eventually understand ourselves and, learning from our own successes and mistakes, find our own way forward.


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