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Tan Malaka : biography

2 June 1897 - 21 February 1949

Tan Malaka (unknown – 21 February 1949) was a teacher, Indonesian philosopher, Indonesian independence revolutionary, ex-PKI leader, Murba Party founder, ex-agent of Eastern Bureau of the Comintern, ex-member of Tweede Kamer, El Debate freelance author, ex-clerk in Bayah, and an Indonesian national hero. He is also known as the Father of the Republic of Indonesia (Indonesian: Bapak Republik Indonesia) because of his book Towards to the Republic of Indonesia (Indonesian: Menuju Republik Indonesia, Dutch: Naar de Republiek Indonesia) which is published in 1924 as the first conceptual book about the idea of the Republic of Indonesia.



Early life

Tan Malaka's given name was Ibrahim, while Tan Malaka was a semi-aristocrat name he got from the maternal line. His full name was Ibrahim Gelar Datuk Sutan Malaka. His birthdate is uncertain, and his birthplace is now known as Nagari Pandan Gadang, Suliki, Limapuluh Koto, West Sumatra. His parents were HM. Rasad, an agricultural employee, and Rangkayo Sinah, a daughter of a respected person in the village. As a child Malaka studied religious knowledge and trained pencak silat. In 1908 Malaka attended Kweekschool (state teacher's school) at Fort de Kock. According to his teacher G. H. Horensma, Malaka, although sometimes disobedient, was an excellent student. At this school, Malaka enjoyed his Dutch language lessons, so Horensma suggested that he become a Dutch teacher. He also was a skilled soccer player. He graduated from that school in 1913. After graduating Malaka was offered a datuk title and a fiancée. However, he only accepted the title. He received the title after a traditional ceremony in 1913.

Education in the Netherlands

Although Malaka became a datuk, in October 1913 he left his village to study at Rijkskweekschool (government teacher education school), which was funded by engkus of his village. Arriving at the Netherlands, Malaka experienced shock culture, and until ther of 1915, he suffered pleuritis. During his study, his knowledge about revolution began increasing because he read de Fransche Revolutie, a book given to him upon his departure by Horensma. After the Russian Revolution of October 1917, Malaka increasingly became interested in communism and socialism, reading books by Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Vladimir Lenin. Friedrich Nietzsche was also one of his early political role models. During this time Malaka hated Dutch culture and was impressed by the German and American societies. He then signed up to be a German soldier; however, he was rejected because the German Army did not accept foreigners. There Malaka met Henk Sneevliet, one of the founders of Indische Sociaal-Democratische Vereeniging (ISDV, forerunner of Partai Komunis Indonesia or PKI). Malaka was also interested in Sociaal-Democratische Onderwijzers Vereeniging (Association of Democrat Social Teachers). In November 1919 Malaka graduated and received his diploma, hulpactie. According to his father, during that time they communicate via mystical means called tarékat.

Returning to the Dutch East Indies


After graduating Malaka returned to his village. He soon accepted an offer by Dr. C. W. Janssen to teach the children of tea plantation coolies at Sanembah, Tanjung Morawa, Deli, East Sumatra. Malaka went there in December 1919; he began teaching the children Malay in January 1920. In addition to teaching he also produced subversive propaganda for the coolies, known as Deli Spoor. During this period he learned of the deterioration of the indigenous people that had occurred. He also made a contact with ISDV and wrote some works for the press. One of his earliest works was "Land of Paupers", which tells about the striking differences in wealth between capitalists and workers; it was included in Het Vrije Woord's March 1920 issue. Malaka also wrote about the suffering of the coolies in the Sumatera Post. In the Volksraad's 1920 election he was a leftist party candidate. He decided to resign on 23 February 1921.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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