Indonesia Free: A Political Biography of Mohammad Hatta

Indonesia Free: A Political Biography of Mohammad Hatta

Indonesia Free: A Political Biography of Mohammad Hatta

Indonesia Free: A Political Biography of Mohammad Hatta

Excerpt

Generally speaking, biographies are only written for idolising a
hero. The more inferior the biography is, the greater will be the
idolisation of the great man the biography describes…. So far as I
am concerned, I am more likely to hear or read statements showing
my failures and my shame rather than praise and eulogy.

Mohammad Hatta, “On Character,”
in Portrait of a Patriot

Mohammad Hatta, the first Vice-President and joint proclaimer of the Republic of Indonesia, was a man who devoted almost his entire life to an ideal. From his early years until his death in 1980, the issue of Indonesian freedom overshadowed all other aspects of his life. Hatta’s biography depicts the dogged determination, courage, and optimism, required by an Indonesian leader if he were to confront a colonial power and win his country’s independence. His life history also portrays the disillusionment and frustration a leader experiences when his life-long democratic ideal is shattered and the new nation reverts to a type of government similar to the one he had dedicated his life to transforming.

Indonesian freedom meant more to Hatta than the attainment of national sovereignty; it also demanded an element of social reform. Freedom for Indonesia must also ensure the people’s participation in their country’s government. Independence must not bring to birth a nation in which the majority of the people would be powerless, as in the colonial period. Hatta’s concept of democratic government and social and economic betterment for the people he named kedaulatan rakyat, people’s sovereignty.

Hatta’s revolutionary activism began in West Sumatra in a society with . . .

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