Mohammad Hatta : biography
Mohammad Hatta is often remembered as Bung Hatta ('Bung' is an affectionate title used to address colleagues, popular in the early 1900s and is still used by Indonesians).
Struggle against Dutch colonial rule
Hatta returned home to an Indonesia whose nationalist momentum had been slowed down by the arrest and imprisonment of Sukarno. By the time Hatta had returned, most of the members of Sukarno's PNI had joined the Indonesian Party (Partindo) and more radical PNI members, together with the Dutch-educated Sutan Syahrir had banded together to form the New PNI. Although the initials were the same, the PNI in this case stood for the Indonesian National Education, indicating that it would focus on cadre training. In August 1932, after returning from the Netherlands, Hatta became the Chairman of the New PNI.
In December 1932, Sukarno was finally released from prison and the attention now turned to which party Sukarno would choose. Sukarno, who had wanted one united front to gain Indonesia's independence was uncertain, thinking that in choosing one over the other, he would encourage division. In this, he was criticized by Hatta, who was more pragmatic about differences, in this case the conflict between Partindo's radical and mass party approach versus the New PNI's moderate and cadre party approach. Sukarno insisted on negotiations to unify Partindo and New PNI but after failing, chose to join Partindo.
Between 1932 and 1933, Hatta wrote articles on politics and economics for the New PNI's newspaper Daulat Rakyat (The People's Authority). These articles were aimed at training new cadres for Indonesia's leadership.
Hatta seemed to be extremely critical of Sukarno at this point in time. In August 1933, with Sukarno once again arrested and facing trial, he wrote an article called "Sukarno Is Arrested". This was followed by articles entitled "The Tragedy of Sukarno" (November 1933) and "The Stance of a Leader" (December 1933).
The Dutch Colonial Government gave Sukarno a harsh punishment, exiling him to Ende on the island of Flores in December 1933. With Sukarno in exile, the Dutch Colonial Government now turned their eyes to the New PNI and its leadership. In February 1934, they made their move and arrested its leaders from its Jakarta branch (which included Hatta) and its Bandung branch. For a year they were jailed at prisons in Cipinang and Glodok, with Hatta spending his time in Glodok. During his time in prison, Hatta wrote a book entitled "The Economical Crisis and Capitalism".
In January 1935, it was decided that Hatta and his fellow New PNI leaders (including Syahrir) would be exiled to Boven Digoel in Papua. When Hatta arrived there, he was told by the local authorities that he had two options. The first option was to work for the Dutch Colonial Government as a civil servant for 40 cents a day with the hope of returning from exile, and the second option was being an exile, receiving food but having no hope of returning from exile. Hatta commented if he had decided to take a job as a civil servant in Jakarta, he would have earned a lot of money and knowing that, there was no need to go to Boven Digoel to be paid cheaply. In saying this, Hatta chose the second option.
During his exile, Hatta continued to write articles, this time for the Newspaper Pemandangan (The Scenery). He earned enough money from that to make ends meet at Boven Digoel and to support his colleagues who had financial troubles. Hatta also used his books (which filled 16 chests when they were packed to leave Jakarta) to give his colleagues lessons on economics, history, and philosophy. Later on these lessons would be made into books entitled "An Introduction on the Way to Knowledge" and "The Nature of Greek Thought" (four volumes).
In January 1936, Hatta and Syahrir were transferred to Bandaneira in Maluku. There they joined more nationalists such as Iwa Kusumasumantri and Dr. Cipto Mangunkusumo. Hatta and Syahrir were given more freedom and were able to interact with the locals. Hatta and Syahrir also gave lessons to the local children, teaching them about politics and history. Hatta adopted a local boy, Des Alwi, as his son while living in Bandaneira. Alwi would become a prominent Indonesian historian and diplomat.
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