Portal:Indonesia/Selected biography

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Indonesia portal selected biographies

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Biography 1

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Maria Ulfah Santoso (1911–88) was an Indonesian women's rights activist and politician. The daughter of a politician, she became interested in women's rights after seeing numerous injustices in her youth. She graduated with a degree in law from Leiden University in 1933; while in the Netherlands she also became involved in the Indonesian nationalist movement. Upon returning to the Dutch East Indies, Santoso began teaching and working towards marriage reform. She was a member of the Committee for Preparatory Work for Indonesian Independence, and later became the Social Minister. Chosen for the cabinet post in part for her emancipatory activities, Santoso paved the way for other female cabinet members. After her term, she continued to work with the government in various capacities. (Read more...)

Biography 2

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Isodorus "Isidore" van Kinsbergen (1821–1905) was a Dutch-Flemish engraver who took the first archaeological and cultural photographs of Java during the Dutch East Indies period in the nineteenth century. The photographs he produced during his visit to the colony in 1851 ranged in subject from antiquities and landscapes to portraits, court-photography, model studies and nudes. His monograph was published in black and white with a coloured quire of nearly 400 photographs. His photograph of Borobudur (pictured) was the first picture of the monument, that showed the results of the first restoration circa 1873. (Read more...)

Biography 3 Pong Tiku (1846–1909) was a Torajan leader and guerrilla fighter who operated in southern Sulawesi, part of modern-day Indonesia. The son of the lord of Pangala', after Tiku captured the neighbouring kingdom Baruppu' he became its leader. By exploiting the coffee trade and allying with the lowlands Buginese, Tiku was able to compile large amounts of wealth, land, and power. When the Dutch colonials, based in Java, invaded Sulawesi in the early 1900s, Tiku and his soldiers utilised fortresses to withstand and launch attacks. Captured in October 1906, in January 1907 he escaped and remained at large until June. He was executed several days later. Since his death, Tiku has been used as a symbol of Torajan resistance. Long commemorated in Sulawesi, he was officially declared a National Hero of Indonesia in 2002. (Read more...)

Biography 4

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Albertus Soegijapranata (1896–1963) was the Apostolic Vicar of Semarang, and later its archbishop. He was also the first native Indonesian bishop and known for his pro-nationalistic stance, often expressed as "100% Catholic, 100% Indonesian". He was born in Surakarta, Dutch East Indies and moved to Yogyakarta when still young. Around 1909 he joined Xaverius College in Muntilan, where he became interested in Catholicism. He was in 1910. He decided to be a priest and was ordained in 1931. In 1934 he was given his own parish in Bintaran. In 1940 Soegijapranata was consecrated as the vicar apostolic of the newly established Apostolic Vicariate of Semarang. As apostolic vicar, Soegijapranata promoted nationalism and worked to get internatinal recognition for the newly independent Indonesia. He was elevated to archbishop in 1961 and, after his death, made a national hero. (Read more...)

Biography 5

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Anggun Cipta Sasmi (born 1974) is an Indonesian and French-naturalised singer-songwriter. Born in Jakarta, she recorded a children's album at age nine, and in 1986 released her first rock-influenced studio album, Dunia Aku Punya. She followed it with a series of singles and three more studio albums, establishing her as one of the most prominent Indonesian rock stars of the early 1990s. Anggun left Indonesia in 1994 to pursue an international career. She released her first international album, Snow on the Sahara in 1997. This album spawned her international signature hit "Snow on the Sahara", which reached number one in several countries. Anggun is the first Indonesian artist to break into the European and American record charts, and she has received a number of accolades for her achievements. She has also been involved in numerous environmental and humanitarian works. (Read more...)

Biography 6

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Amir Hamzah (1911–46) was an Indonesian poet and National Hero of Indonesia. Born into nobility in Langkat, Sumatra, Amir studied in both native- and European-operated schools. He began writing poetry whilst studying in Java, where he fell in love with one of his classmates, Ilik Sundari. His first poems were published in March 1932, and later that he worked together with Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana and Armijn Pane to establish the literary magazine Poedjangga Baroe, which published nearly all of his subsequent works. He was recalled to Langkat in 1937 and married to the sultan's daughter, despite not loving her. For the last years of his life Amir served as a prince of the court, and after Indonesia proclaimed its independence in August 1945, Amir was selected as the nascent nation's representative in Langkat, only to be killed the following year in a social revolution. Amir's oeuvre includes fifty original poems and eighteen pieces of lyrical prose, much of it found in two original poetry collections, Nyanyi Sunyi (1937) and Buah Rindu (1941). Themes vary, but mostly center on a sense of loss and longing, with inspirations found in Islam, traditional Malay literature, and Amir's lost love. (Read more...)

Biography 7

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Kekal is a heavy metal band formed in 1995 in Jakarta, Indonesia. Kekal was one of the first heavy metal bands from Indonesia to make international inroads and one of the few extreme metal bands from Southeast Asia to ever make more than a minimal impression on the global scene. The band underwent some shifts in lineup in its early years, but emerged with a consistent lineup of three key-members, guitarist/vocalist Jeff Arwadi, bassist Azhar Levi Sianturi, and guitarist Leo Setiawan. Frequently labeled as black metal, progressive metal, and avant-garde metal, Kekal plays a very diverse style of extreme metal and hard rock, incorporating many other music genres such as ambient, electronic, jazz fusion, and progressive rock. The band has released eight full length studio albums, as well as numerous other works. As of 2009, all key members have officially left Kekal, but continue to contribute material. (Read more...)

Biography 8

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Suharto (1921–2008) was the second President of Indonesia, having held the office for 32 years from 1967 following Sukarno's removal until his resignation in 1998.

Suharto rose to the rank of Major General following Indonesian independence. An attempted coup on 30 September 1965 was countered by Suharto-led troops and was blamed on the Indonesian Communist Party. The army subsequently led an anti-communist purge, and Suharto wrested power from Indonesia's founding president, Sukarno. He was appointed acting president in 1967 and President the following year. Support for Suharto's presidency eroded following the 1997–98 Asian financial crisis. He was forced to resign from the presidency in May 1998 and he died in 2008. (Read more...)

Biography 9 Zubir Said (1907–87) was a Singaporean composer originally from the Minangkabau Highlands of Indonesia who composed the national anthem of Singapore, "Majulah Singapura". A primary-school classmate taught him how to make and play a flute, and in middle school, he learned to play the guitar and drums from fellow students and the keroncong group he was involved in. In 1928 at the age of 21, Zubir went to Singapore to make a living as a musician. There he worked as a score arranger and songwriter for Cathay-Keris Film Productions for 12 years, composing numerous songs for the company's Malay films. He is believed to have written about 1,500 songs, with fewer than 10 per cent of them ever recorded. (Read more...)

Biography 10 Soedjatmoko (1922–89) was an Indonesian intellectual and diplomat. Born to a noble family in Sawahlunto, West Sumatra, he first studied medicine, but was expelled by the Japanese in 1943 for his political activities. In 1947 Soedjatmoko was deployed to Lake Success, New York, to represent the newly-formed Indonesia at the United Nations. Afterwards, Soedjatmoko attempted to study at Harvard's Littauer Center for Public Administration but quit. By 1952 he had returned to Indonesia and become involved in the socialist movement. As President Sukarno's government became more authoritarian Soedjatmoko began to criticise the government. To avoid censorship, he left the country. In 1968, having returned to working for the government, he became Indonesia's ambassador to the US. In 1978 Soedjatmoko received the Ramon Magsaysay Award for International Understanding, and in 1980 he was chosen as rector of the United Nations University in Tokyo. (Read more...)

Biography 11


General Sudirman (1916–50) was the military commander of Indonesian forces during the country's fight for independence from the Dutch in the 1940s. Born in Rembang, Central Java, he studied at the Dutch Native School in Purwokerto, and then at a Muhammadiyah teacher training college in Surakarta. He worked as a teacher at the Muhammadiyah school in Cilacap. During the Japanese occupation of Indonesia during World War II, Sudirman trained to become a battalion commander in PETA, the "homeland defense" army promoted by the Japanese. On 12 November 1945 he was elected Commander-in-chief of the Army, a position he held until his death. During much of the next five years he was sick with tuberculosis, but led several guerrilla actions against the Dutch. He led the resistance to the Dutch attack on Yogyakarta, then the Republic of Indonesia's headquarters, in December 1948. (Read more...)

Biography 12

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Chrismansyah Rahadi (1949-2007; grave pictured), better known as Chrisye, was a Chinese-Indonesian singer and songwriter. Born in Jakarta, he became interested in music as a teenager. After joining a band in the 1960s and playing in New York, in 1976 he and the band worked on a collaboration with Guruh Sukarnoputra. The success of this album led to Chrisye being approached for two projects: the song "Lilin-Lilin Kecil" and the album Badai Pasti Berlalu. Both projects were highly successful, and as a result Chrisye was signed to Musica Studios. With them, he released nineteen studio albums before his death of lung cancer. Chrisye was known as a stiff stage performer but widely-praised for his vocal abilities. Rolling Stone Indonesia listed five of his albums and four of his songs as among the best in Indonesian music history; the magazine selected Chrisye as the third-best Indonesian musical artist of all time. His albums were mostly successful, and almost all were certified silver or higher. (Read more...)

Biography 13

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Christine Hakim (born 1956) is an Indonesian actress and film producer. Born in Jambi and raised in Yogyakarta, she was discovered by Teguh Karya and starred in his 1973 movie Cinta Pertama together with Slamet Rahardjo. She won a Citra Award at the Indonesian Film Festival, the country's equivalent to the Academy Awards, for the role. She continued acting, including a role as the Acehnese guerrilla Cut Nyak Dhien in the film of the same name, which won the 1989 Cannes Film Festival award for Best International Film. Hakim made her first film as a producer in 1998, with Garin Nugroho's Daun di Atas Bantal; she has since produced several other films. In her personal life she is an activist for education and autism; in 2008 she was selected as a goodwill ambassador to UNESCO, focusing on educational issues. During her career Hakim has won numerous awards, including six Citra Awards and a lifetime achievement award at the Cinemanila International Film Festival. (Read more...)

Biography 14 Sjumandjaja (1934–85) was a critically acclaimed Indonesian film director, screenwriter, and actor. Born in Batavia, he became interested in film while in high school. In 1959, he received a scholarship to study at the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography in Moscow; he was the first Indonesian to attend the Institute and the first non-Russian to graduate with honours. Five years after returning to Indonesia, in 1971 Sjumandjaja made his feature film debut with Lewat Tengah Malam. While continuing to direct, in 1973 he established the production company Matari Film; the company produced most of his later films. A heavy drinker since he was a teenager, Sjumandjaja suffered from health issues from the mid-1970s until his death. Known for his romantic themes and social realist style, Sjumandjaja was influenced by post-Stalinist Russian cinema. During his career he won five Citra Awards – the Indonesian equivalent to an Academy Award – and was respected as a director who valued creativity over commercialism. One of his children, Djenar Maesa Ayu, is also a Citra Award-winning director. (Read more...)

Biography 15

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Marco Kartodikromo (1890–1932) was an Indonesian journalist and writer with Communist leanings. He first found employment with the national railway. After quitting over discrimination, in 1911 he made his way to Bandung and began working as a journalist; during the rest of his career he moved to several cities, including Surakarta and Semarang. In Surakarta he wrote scathing criticisms of the Dutch colonial government, for which he was imprisoned. He began writing fiction with an anti-colonial message during his time as a correspondent in the Netherlands. Involved with the Communist Party of Indonesia, Kartodikromo was exiled to Boven-Digoel prison camp in Papua after a failed rebellion in 1926, where he died of malaria. Kartodikromo was an early member of the Indonesian social realist movement and experimented with Malay language at a time when the state publishing house Balai Pustaka was attempting to standardise it. The Dutch considered him "crazy", while the leftist literary critic Bakri Siregar described Kartodikromo as the first truly Indonesian writer. (Read more...)

Biography 16 Dian David Michael Jacobs (born 1977), commonly referred to as David Jacobs, is an Indonesian athlete who competes in table tennis, currently Class 10 Paralympic table tennis. Born in Ujung Pandang (now Makassar), Indonesia, he took up table tennis at the age of ten and rose quickly through national tournaments, receiving much of his training in the national capital of Jakarta, although other training was obtained in Beijing. By 2000 he training to play internationally, and in 2001 he won his first gold medal, at the SEATTA Games in Singapore. Since 2010 he has competed in Paralympic table tennis, having spent most of his career competing against athletes with full functionality. He competed for Indonesia in the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London, winning a bronze medal. (Read more...)

Biography 17 Soeprapto (1894–1964) was the fourth Prosecutor General of Indonesia. Born in Trenggalek, East Java, Soeprapto studied law in Batavia, finding work in the legal system soon after graduating in 1920. After transferring often, in the early 1940s he had reached Pekalongan and become the head of the court for native Indonesians. Escaping Pekalongan during Operation Product with the help of a prisoner he had just sentenced, Soeprapto made his way to Yogyakarta and began to work as a prosecutor. When the government moved to Jakarta in 1950, Soeprapto went with it. In January 1951, he was selected to be Prosecutor General of Indonesia, serving until 1 April 1959. As prosecutor general, Soeprapto was noted for trying state ministers and generals despite them outranking him. He was declared "Father of the Prosecutor's Office" on 22 July 1967, with a bust of him erected outside the Prosecutor General's Office. (Read more...)

Biography 18

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Alfred Russel Wallace (1823–1913) was a British naturalist, explorer, geographer, anthropologist and biologist known for independently proposing a theory of evolution due to natural selection. Wallace did extensive fieldwork in the Malay Archipelago 1854 to 1862. In the area he identified the Wallace Line that divides the Indonesia into two distinct parts, one in which animals closely related to those of Australia are common, and one in which the species are largely of Asian origin. He was considered the 19th century's leading expert on the geographical distribution of animal species and is sometimes called the "father of biogeography". Wallace was also a prolific author who wrote on both scientific and social issues; his account of his adventures and observations during his explorations in Indonesia and Malaysia, The Malay Archipelago, was one of the most popular and influential journals of scientific exploration published during the 19th century. (Read more...)

Biography 19

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Ucu Agustin (born 1976) is an Indonesian journalist, writer, and documentary filmmaker. Educated in an Islamic boarding school in Jakarta, Ucu became interested in journalism after realising that there were many prostitutes from her hometown of Sukabumi. Beginning in the print media, she moved to making documentaries after she saw a lack of opportunities for human interest pieces in newspapers. One of her first documentaries, Death in Jakarta, was produced with the help of funds from the Jakarta International Film Festival. Other documentaries include Ragat'e Anak and Konspirasi Hening. She has also written several children's books and short stories. Ucu has been described as "one of Indonesia’s top documentary filmmakers" and often deals with social issues in her work. Ragat'e Anak was screened at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2009. (Read more...)

Biography 20

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Fakih Usman (1904–68) was an Indonesian Islamic leader and politician with the Masyumi Party. Born to a merchant and his wife in Gresik, Dutch East Indies, in 1925 he became involved with the modernist Islamic organisation Muhammadiyah, rising quickly through the leadership. When numerous Islamic organisations formed the Indonesian Islamic Assembly in 1940, Fakih became its treasurer. He continued to be involved in these Islamic groups and politics during the Japanese occupation and ensuing national revolution. During his two periods as minister of religious affairs he oversaw educational and institutional reform. He served as deputy chairman of Muhammadiyah under multiple leaders before being chosen as chairman of Muhammadiyah several days before his death. (Read more...)