Tan, The Hero that Time Forgot

The stories of Soekarno, Moh. Hatta, and other heroes are often written about by the media. But there is one hero that is not as well known. There is one hero whose name is famous but whose story is not told so often. This hero is Tan Malaka. The hero that time forgot.

A while ago I visited Tan Malaka’s house in Pandam Gadang, Lima Puluh Kota Regency. 90 minutes from Payakumbuh, I saw the Minangkabau architecture of his house appearing in the rice fields. I met two mens who were taking coconuts from the front yard. They were not the housekeepers, but neighbors who lived not far from the house. With their permission, I entered the house where Tan Malaka lived for 18 years.

My first impression was fear. The house had no lighting and had been left empty for a long, long time. No one had taken care of the house and it was run down, old, and isolated. However, my interest in the man, Tan Malaka, and his story, was far, far greater than any fear I could feel.

When researching his life, I found out that Tan Malaka had been through so much. He was the leader of the Indonesian Communist Party’s mobile brigade in 1920. He was a proud nationalist who always fought for the laborers, the common people, the people who worked the land. Tan Malaka continued this fight until his persecution by the Dutch forced him to leave the country he loved and escape overseas. While there, Tan Malaka met and trained with other communists. The name of Tan Malaka spread to other countries and he became known in places like China and Thailand. It is not known if Tan Malaka actually joined the Communist Party. As a Muslim he rejected Communism but he believed in socialism and the rights of the people.

When his return to Indonesia, Tan Malaka went into hiding but continued his fight for the people even though he was hunted by the Dutch and the Russians. He was caught and jailed by the Dutch, and then in 1948 he was convicted of leading the Communist rebellion. And now it was the Indonesian Army that was hunting him. Just as he was leaving the jail he was shot by Second Lieutenant Soekotjo from Sikatan Battalion. But Tan Malaka was a scapegoat. He was blamed for something that was not his fault. His name had been put forward as the so he would take the blame for leading the rebellion. There were people who felt threatened by Tan Malaka.

Tan Malaka was held in such high regard that Soekarno said that Tan Malaka should be President if Soekarno ever was caught by the Dutch. Tan Malaka was a Revolution father who gave the name of the “Republic of Indonesia” to this country. From his story, we know that he is the hero who was almost forgotten by history. Years later, Tan Malaka was proven clean from the case of the Madiun communist rebellion in 1948 and was named a National Hero.

It was such an honor for me to be in his house. Even though the place was run down and most of his possessions were missing, I felt a connection with the hero, Tan Malaka. I hope that one day you can visit the Museum and House of Tan Malaka and pay your respects at his grave nearby.

In Tan Malaka’s words, “Remember, that from the grave my voice will be louder than on earth

3 Responses to "Tan, The Hero that Time Forgot"

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