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Tan Malaka (unknown – 21 February 1949) was a teacher, Indonesian

philosopher, PKI leader, and an Indonesian national hero.

Contents [hide]
1 Biography
1.1 Early life
1.2 Education in the Netherlands
1.3 Returning to the Dutch East Indies
1.3.1 Teaching
1.3.2 Briefly Joining Partai Komunis Indonesia
1.4 Exile
1.5 Partai Republik Indonesia, Persatuan Perdjuangan,
later life, and death
2 Thought
2.1 Marxism and religion
2.2 Politics
2.3 Sociology
2.4 Education
3 Legacy
4 Bibliography
5 Notes
6 References

Early life[edit]
Tan Malaka's given name was Ibrahim, while Tan Malaka was a semi-
aristocrat name he got from the maternal line.[1] His full name was
Ibrahim Gelar Datuk Sutan Malaka. His birthdate is uncertain,[b] 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.[2] As a child Malaka studied religious knowledge and trained
pencak silat.[3] 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.[4]
At this school, Malaka enjoyed his Dutch language lessons, so
Horensma suggested that he become a Dutch teacher.[5] He also was a
skilled soccer player.[4] He graduated from that school in 1913. After
graduating Malaka was offered a datuk title and a fiancée. However, he
only accepted the title.[5] He received the title after a traditional
ceremony in 1913.[6]
Education in the Netherlands[edit]
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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10] There Malaka met Henk Sneevliet,
one of the founders of Indische Sociaal-Democratische Vereeniging
(ISDV, forerunner of Partai Komunis Indonesia or PKI).[1] Malaka was
also interested in Sociaal-Democratische Onderwijzers Vereeniging
(Association of Democrat Social Teachers).[11] In November 1919
Malaka graduated and received his diploma, hulpactie.[c][12] According
to his father, during that time they communicate via mystical means
called tarékat.[13]
Returning to the Dutch East Indies[edit]
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.[12][14] Malaka went
there in December 1919; he began teaching the children Malay in
January 1920.[15][16] In addition to teaching he also produced
subversive propaganda for the coolies, known as Deli Spoor.[14] During
this period he learned of the deterioration of the indigenous people that
had occurred.[15] He also made a contact with ISDV and wrote some
works for the press.[1] 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.[17]
Malaka also wrote about the suffering of the coolies in the Sumatera
Post.[14] In the Volksraad's 1920 election he was a leftist party
candidate.[18] He decided to resign on 23 February 1921.[15]
Briefly Joining Partai Komunis Indonesia[edit]
Malaka chose Java island as the starting point of his struggle,
considering that there were many figure who had the same views as
him.[15] He first arrived in Batavia when his old teacher, Horensma,
offered him a job as a teacher; however, Malaka rejected it. Malaka told
that he wanted to establish a school, and Horensma accepted the
reason and supported him.[19] Malaka arrived at Yogyakarta in early
March 1921.[15] He stayed at a house belonging to Sutopo, a former
leader of Budi Utomo. There he wrote a proposal about grammar
school.[19] He participated in Sarekat Islam's 5th congress and met
H.O.S. Tjokroaminoto, Agus Salim, Darsono, and Semaun.[15][19] The
congress discussed the topic of double membership. Agus Salim and
Abdul Muis forbade it, while Semaun and Darsono were PKI
members.[19] Malaka offered a solution that excluded PKI because both
organizations had the same vision; however, the prohibition was applied
in the end.[20] Sarekat Islam was splitted as a result, forming SI Putih
(White SI), led by Tjokroaminoto, and SI Merah (Red SI), led by
Semaun and based in Semarang.[21] After the congress Malaka was
asked by Semaun to go to Semarang to join PKI. He went to Semarang
and then accepted it.[22] Arriving in Semarang, Malaka became sick. A
month later, he had returned to health and participated in a meeting with
fellows SI Semarang members. The meeting concluded that a rival to
government schools was needed. The school opened to enrollment on
the day after the meeting. The school, named Sekolah Sarekat Islam
(which was later better known as Sekolah Tan Malaka, and spread to
Bandung and Ternate), was officially opened on 21 June 1921.[22][23]
As a guidebook for the schools, Malaka wrote SI Semarang dan
Onderwijs.[16][24] In June 1921 Malaka became the chairman of Serikat
Pegawai Pertjitakan (Printing Workers Association) and served as the
vice chairman and treasurer of Serikat Pegawai Pelikan Hindia (SPPH
or Indies Oils Workers Association).[18] Between May and August his
first book, Sovjet atau Parlemen? (Soviet or Parliament?), was
serialized in PKI's journal Soeara Ra'jat; his other works, including
articles, were published in the journal and PKI's newspaper Sinar
Hindia.[25] In June he was one of the leaders of Revolutionaire
Vakcentrale.[26] In August that year he was elected to the editorial
board of SPPH's journal Soeara Tambang.[18] Malaka then replaced
Semaun, who left the Dutch East Indies in October, as the chairman of
PKI after a congress on 24–25 December 1921 in Semarang. Whilst
Semaun was more cautious, Malaka was more radical.[22][26] Malaka
also maintained a good relationship with Sarekat Islam.[16] The Dutch
East Indies' government felt threatened and was worried about it.[22]
The government arrested Malaka on 13 February 1922 in Bandung
when he visited the branch school. He was first exiled to Kupang;
however, he wanted to be exiled to the Netherlands. He then left the
Dutch East Indies in March and arrived there on 1 May.[d][22][26][27]
There Malaka joined Communist Party of the Netherlands (CPH) and
was appointed as the third candidate of the party for Tweede Kamer at
the 1922 elections for the Estates-General of the Netherlands.[16][28][26]
He was the first subject of the Dutch East Indies ever to run for office in
the Netherlands. He did not expect to actually be elected because,
under the system of proportional representation in use, his third position
on the ticket made his election highly unlikely. His stated goal in running
instead was to gain a platform to speak about Dutch actions in
Indonesia, and to work to persuade the CPH to support Indonesian
independence. Although he did not win a seat, he received
unexpectedly strong support.[29] Before the counting of votes was
finished he went to Germany.[30] In Berlin he met Darsono, Indonesian
communist who was related to West European Bureau of the
Comintern, and might meet M.N. Roy. Malaka then continued to
Moscow and arrived in October 1922 to participate in the Executive
Committee of the Communists International.[31] At the Fourth World
Congress in Moscow, 1922, Malaka wanted communism and Pan-
Islamism could be cooperating; however, his propsal was
rejected.[28][32] In January 1923 Malaka and Semaun were appointed
correspondents of Die Rote Gewerkschafts-Internationale.[31] In the first
half of that year he also wrote for journal of Indonesian and Dutch labor
movements.[33] He also became an agent of Eastern Bureau of the
Comintern as he reported ECCI plenum in June 1923.[28][34] Malaka
went to Canton and arrived there in December 1923.[34] He edited an
English journal The Dawn for an organization of transport workers of the
Pacific.[34][32] In August 1924 Malaka requested to government of the
Dutch East Indies to allow him going home due to illness. The
government accepted it, but with burdensome terms; so Malaka didn't
return home. In December 1924 PKI began to fall because it was
suppressed by the government. As a respond Malaka wrote Naar de
Republiek Indonesia (Towards the Republic of Indonesia), which was
published in Canton in April 1925.[34] It explains situation of the world,
from the Netherlands, which suffered economic crisis, the Dutch East
Indies, which had opportunities to do a revolution by nationalist
movements and PKI, to his prediction between United States and Japan
who "settle with the sword which of them is the more powerful in the
In July 1925 Tan Malaka moved to Manila, Philippines because the
environment was similar to Indonesia. Malaka then arrived in Manila on
20 July. There he became a correspondent of nationalist newspaper El
Debate, edited by Francisco Varona. Publication of Malaka's works
such as second edition of Naar de Republiek Indonesia (December
1925) and Semangat Moeda (Young Spirit; 1926) might be helped by
Varona. There Malaka also met Mariano de los Santos, José Abad
Santos, and Crisanto Evangelista.[36][37]
In Indonesia, PKI decided to do a revolt within six months from the
meeting, which was held around Christmas 1925. The government
knew this and exiled some of party leaders. Alimin then, in February
1926, went to Manila to request approval from Malaka.[36] Malaka
eventually rejected it and stated that the condition of the party was still
weak and had no power yet to do a revolution.[28][36] He described in
his autobiography his frustration with an inability to find information
about events in Indonesia from his place in the Philippines, and his lack
of influence with the PKI's leadership. As Comintern representative for
Southeast Asia, Tan Malaka argued that he had authority to reject the
PKI's plan, an assertion which was denied by some former PKI
members in retrospect.[37] Malaka sent Alimin to Singapore to convey
his views and ordered him to organize impromptu meeting between the
leaders. Having no progress, Malaka went to Singapore to meet Alimin.
Malaka then learned that Alimin and Muso traveled to Moscow to seek
for help to do a revolt. In Singapore, Malaka met Subakat, another PKI
leader, which also had same view with him. They decided to thwart
Muso and Alimin's plan. During this period Malaka wrote Massa Actie
(Mass Action).[36] It contains his view on Indonesian revolution and
nationalist movements.[38] In this book Malaka proposes Aslia, a social
federation between Southeast Asia countries and northern Australia.
This book was intended for helping his effort to reverse the direction of
PKI and gaining some cadres to his side.[39]
Partai Republik Indonesia, Persatuan Perdjuangan,
later life, and death[edit]
In December 1926 Malaka went to Bangkok. There he studied the
defeat of PKI. Malaka, along with Djamaludin Tamin and Subakat,
established Partai Republik Indonesia (PARI) in early June 1927,
distancing himself from the Comintern as well as, in the new party's
manifesto, criticizing the PKI. While PARI did have a small membership
inside the country, it never grew to be a large organization; however,
with the PKI gone underground, it was the only organization in the late
1920s that was publicly calling for immediate independence for
Indonesia.[e] Some of party cadres were Adam Malik, Chaerul Saleh,
Mohammad Yamin, and Iwa Kusumantri.[40][41] Malaka went back to
the Philippines in August 1927. The Dutch wanted to expel Malaka to
Digul concentration camp, and asked the authorities to arrest him. On
12 August 1927, Malaka was arrested on charges entering illegally the
Philippines territory. Dr. San Jose Abad helped him in the court;
however, Malaka just accepted the verdict that he will be deported to
Amoy, China. In Amoy, he was waited by the Dutch, but he managed to
escape by jumping from the ship, and stayed in Sionching village.
Malaka then traveled to Shanghai in the end of 1929.[42] Poeze writes
that Malaka might meet Alimin there in August 1931, and made an
agreement with him that Malaka would be working again for the
Comintern.[43] Malaka moved Shanghai in September 1932 after the
attack made by the Japanese forces, and decided to go to India,
disguised as a Chinese-Filipino and using an alias. When he was in
Hong Kong in early October 1932, he was arrested by British officials
from Singapore, and was detained for several months. He hoped to
have a chance to argue his case under British law, and possibly seek
asylum in the United Kingdom, but after several months of interrogation
and being moved between the "European" and the "Chinese" sections
of the jail, it was decided that he would simply be exiled from Hong
Kong without charges. He was then deported again to Amoy.[44][45]
When Japan invaded and occupied Shanghai in September 1932, Tan
Malaka fled south to Hong Kong, disguised as a Chinese-Filipino and
using an alias. Almost immediately upon his arrival, however, he was
arrested by British authorities, and imprisoned for several months. He
hoped to have a chance to argue his case under British law, and
possibly seek asylum in the United Kingdom, but after several months
of interrogation and being moved between the "European" and the
"Chinese" sections of the jail, it was decided that he would simply be
exiled from Hong Kong without charges.
Malaka was waited by the Dutch again, and escaped once again.
Malaka then traveled to Iwe village, south of China. There he was
treated a traditional Chinese medicine for his illness. After his health
improved in the beginning of year 1936 he traveled back to Amoy and
formed a school named Foreign Language School.[46] Abidin Kusno
argues that this stay in Shanghai was an important period in shaping
Tan Malaka's later actions during the Indonesian revolution of the late
1940s; the port city was nominally under Chinese sovereignty but was
dominated first by European nations with trading concessions in the
city, and then by Japan after its September 1932 invasion. The
oppression of the Chinese he saw under both of these powers, Kusno
argues, contributed to his uncompromising position against
collaboration with the Japanese or negotiation with the Dutch in the
1940s, when many prominent Indonesian nationalists were adopting a
more conciliatory stance.[47]
In August 1937 he went to Singapore and faked his identity as a
Chinese; there he became a teacher. After the Dutch surrendered to
Japanese he returned to Indonesia via Penang. He then sailed to
Sumatra. In mid-1942 he arrived in Jakarta. He stayed for around a year
in the southern border of Jakarta; there he wrote his work Madilog. After
he felt he had to have a job, he applied for a job to Social Welfare
Agency. He was soon sent to a coal mine in Bayah, southern coast of
West Java.[46]
After the proclamation of the independence of Indonesia, he began to
meet his generation people and the younger generation. He also started
to use his real name after 20 years using a lot of aliases. He then
traveled to several places in Java. He saw Surabaya people fighting
against the British army in November. He realized the differences of
struggling between the people in some places and the leaders in
Jakarta. He thought the leaders were too weak in negotiation with the
Dutch.[46] Tan Malaka's solution to this perceived disconnect was to
found the Persatuan Perjuangan (Struggle Front, or United Action), a
coalition of about 140 smaller groups, but notably not including the PKI.
After a few months of discussion, the coalition was formally founded at
a congress in Surakarta (Solo) in mid-January 1946. It adopted a
"Minimum Program", which declared that only complete independence
was acceptable, that government must obey the wishes of the people,
and that foreign-owned plantations and industry should be
nationalized.[48] The Persatuan Perjuangan had widespread popular
support, as well as support in the republican army, where General
Sudirman was a strong supporter of the coalition Tan Malaka was
organizing. In February 1946 the organization forced the temporary
resignation of Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir, a proponent of negotiation
with the Dutch, and Sukarno consulted with Tan Malaka to seek his
support. However, Tan Malaka was apparently unable to bridge political
divisions within his coalition to transform it into actual political control,
and Syahrir returned to lead Sukarno's cabinet.[49][50]
Upon his release, he spent late 1948 in Yogyakarta, working to form a
new political party, called the Partai Murba (Proletarian Party), but was
unable to repeat his previous success at attracting a popular following.
When the Dutch captured the national government in December 1948,
he fled the city for rural East Java, where he hoped he would be
protected by anti-republican guerrilla forces. He established his head
quarter in Blimbing, a village surrounded by rice fields. He connected
himself to major Sabarudin, leader of the Battalion 38. In Malaka's
opinion Sabarudin's was the only armed group that was really fighting
the Dutch. Sabarudin however was in conflict with all other armed
groups. On 17 February, the TNI leaders in East Java decided that
Sabarudin and his companions were to be captured and convicted
following military law. On the 19th they captured Tan Malaka in
Blimbing. On 20 February the infamous Dutch Korps Speciale Troepen
(KST) happened to start the so-called 'operation Tiger' from the East
Javanese town of Nganjuk. They advanced quickly and brutally. Poeze
describes in detail how the TNI soldiers fled into the mountains and how
Tan Malaka, already injured, walked into a TNI-post and was promptly
executed on 21 February 1949. No report was made and Malaka was
buried in the woods.[51] Malaka was shot to death at foothills of Mount
Wilis, Selopanggung, Kediri Regency after an arrest and detention in
Patje village. According to Poeze, the shoot was ordered by Second
Lieutenant Sukotjo of Sikatan battalion, Brawijaya division.[52]

Marxism and religion[edit]
Tan Malaka argued strongly that communism and Islam were
compatible, and that, in Indonesia, revolution should be built upon both.
Thus he was a strong supporter of the PKI's continued alliance with
Sarekat Islam, and was troubled when, while he was in exile, the PKI
broke away from SI. On an international scale, Tan Malaka also saw
Islam as holding the potential for unifying the working classes in vast
parts of North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia against
imperialism and capitalism. This position put him in opposition to many
European Communists and the leadership of Comintern, who saw
religious belief as a hindrance to a proletarian revolution and a tool of
the ruling class.[31]
Malaka described Nietzsche's, Rousseau's, and Marx-Engels' thoughts
as thesis, antithesis, and synthesis respectively; while Wilhelm–
Hindenburg–Stinnes', Danton–Robespierre–Marat's, and the
Bolsheviks' thoughts as genesis, negation, and the negation of negation
According to Harry A. Poeze, Malaka assumed that the colonial
government used the educational system to produce educated
indigenous people who would repress their own people. Malaka
founded Sekolah Sarekat Islam to rival the government schools.[54]
Syaifudin writes that Malaka had 4 different methods of teaching: dialog,
jembatan keledai, critical discussion, and sociodrama.[55] In dialog
method, Malaka used two-way communication while teaching.[56]
During his time teaching in Deli, he encouraged students to criticize
their teacher, or the Dutchman, who was often wrong. In the SI school,
he entrust students who received higher grades to teach students with
lower grades.[57] Jembatan keledai was inspired by al-Ghazali; in
addition to memorizing knowledge, the students were instructed to
understand and apply it to their daily lives.[58] Syaifudin writes that it is
the opposite of bank style concept, and that it is similar to contextual
teaching and learning.[59] On critical discussion, Malaka not only
verbally gave a problem to the students, but attempted to expose the
problem directly.[60] This method is similar to the problem-posing
method of Paulo Freire.[61] The fourth method, sociodrama, aims to
make the students understand social problems and resolve them
through role playing, and to provide entertainment to amuse the
students after studying.[62]

Indonesian historians describe Malaka as a "communist, nationalist,
national communist, Trotskyist, Japanese agent, idealist, Muslim leader,
and Minangkabau chauvinist".[63]
Tan Malaka's best-known written work is his autobiography, Dari
Pendjara ke Pendjara. He wrote the three-volume work by hand while
imprisoned by the republican Sukarno government in 1947 and 1948.
The work alternates between theoretical chapters describing Tan
Malaka's political beliefs and philosophy and more conventional
autobiographical chapters that discuss various phases of his life.
Volume three has an especially loose narrative structure, containing
commentary on Marxist historiography, his positions on the ongoing
fight with the Netherlands over Indonesia's independence, and reprints
of sections of key documents related to the struggle. Dari Pendjara ke
Pendjara is one of a very small number of autobiographies set in
colonial Indonesia.[64] The translated book, From Jail to Jail (1991),
attracted the English speaking labor movement's attention.[65]

• Parlemen atau Soviet - Parliamentary or Soviet (1920)
• SI Semarang dan Onderwijs - SI Semarang and Education (1921)
• Dasar Pendidikan - Basic of Education (1921)
• Tunduk Pada Kekuasaan Tapi Tidak Tunduk Pada Kebenaran - On
the Subject of Power, But Not in Truth (1922)
• Naar de Republiek Indonesia (Menuju Republik Indonesia) -
Towards of the Republic of Indonesia (1924)
• Semangat Muda - Spirit of Youth (1925)
• Massa Actie - Mass Action (1926)
• Local Actie dan National Actie (1926)
• Pari en Nasionalisten - Pari and Nationalism (1927)
• Pari dan PKI - Pari and PKI (1927)
• Pari International (1927)
• Manifesto Bangkok (1927)
• Aslia Bergabung - Aslia Merge (1943)
• Muslihat - Deception (1945)
• Rencana Ekonomi Berjuang - Struggling Economic Plans (1945)
• Politik - Politics (1945)
• Manifesto Jakarta (1945)
• Thesis (1946)
• Pidato Purwokerto - Purwokerto Speech (1946)
• Pidato Solo - Solo Speech (1946)
• Madilog - Materialism, Dialectics, and Logic (1948)
• Islam dalam Tinjauan Madilog - Islam in Madilog Views (1948)
• Gerpolek (Gerakan Politik Ekonomi) - Political Economy Movement
• Pidato Kediri - Kediri Speech (1948)
• Pandangan Hidup - Views of Life (1948)
• Kuhandel di Kaliurang - I'm Holding in Kaliurang (1948)
• Proklamasi 17-8-45, Isi dan Pelaksanaanya - 17-8-45 Proclamation,
Contents and Implementation (1948)
• Dari Pendjara ke Pendjara - From Jail To Jail (1970)
a. Jump up 
 ^ Syaifudin (2012, p. 63) writes that Tan Malaka used 23
aliases. Malaka used Elias Fuentes, Esahislau Rivera, and Alisio
Rivera in the Philippines. While in Singapore he used Hasan Gozali.
Ossorio was used when he was in Shanghai. Tan Min Sion when he
was in Burma. While in Hong Kong he used 13 different names, one of
them was Ong Song Lee. In other part of China he used Cheung Kun
Tat and Howard Lee. While in Indonesia he used Dasuki, Ramli
Hussein, and Ilyas Husein.
b. Jump up 
 ^ Tamin (1965, p. 3) says that Malaka's birthday was 2 June
1896, and Jarvis (1987, p. 41) writes it is around 1896. According to
Suwarto (2006, p. 29), it is 14 October 1897, while Poeze (2008, p. xv)
states that Malaka was born around 1894.
c. Jump up 
 ^ Actually Malaka wanted hoofdacte, which was a higher
diploma than hulpactie. However, his poor health meant that he could
only achieve hulpactie.
d. Jump up 
 ^ Jarvis (1987, p. 43) writes that the date was 24 March, while
Syaifudin (2012, p. 192) states it was 10 March.
Jump up 
 ^ Jarvis (1987, p. 47) writes that it was on 1 June, while Syaifudin
(2012, p. 61) cites it was on 2 June.

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