Abdurrahman Baswedan

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Abdurrahman Baswedan
عبد الرحمن باسويدان
AR Baswedan.jpeg
2nd Deputy Minister of Information Indonesia
In office
2 October 1946 – 3 July 1947
Prime MinisterSutan Sjahrir
Preceded byAli Sastroamidjojo
Succeeded byPosition removed
Personal details
Born(1908-09-11)11 September 1908
Netherlands Ampel, Soerabaja, Dutch East Indies
Died16 March 1986(1986-03-16) (aged 77)
Indonesia Jakarta, Indonesia
Resting placeTaman Kusir Cemetery
Spouse(s)Sjaichun (1948-1950)
Barkah Ganis (1950-1986)
RelationsAnies Baswedan (grandson)
Novel Baswedan (grandson)

AR Baswedan (Arabic: عبد الرحمن باسويدانʿAbd ar-Raḥman bā swaydān; born in Ampel, Surabaya, East Java, 11 September 1908 – died in Jakarta, 16 March 1986) is the popular name of Abdurrahman Baswedan, a nationalist, journalist, Indonesian freedom fighter, diplomat, and writer. During his political life, AR Baswedan was involved in the Investigating Committee for Preparatory Work for Independence (BPUPK), served as Deputy Minister of Information of the Third Sjahrir Cabinet, was a member of the Central Indonesian National Committee Working Group (Badan Pekerja Komite Nasional Indonesia Pusat, BP KNIP), a member of Parliament, and also a member of the Indonesian Constitutional Assembly. AR Baswedan was one of Indonesia's first diplomats who successfully gained de jure and de facto international recognition for the Republic of Indonesia (from Egypt).[1] He was awarded the title of National Hero of Indonesia in 2018.[2]

Independence Fighter[edit]

AR Baswedan was a rebel of his age. In August 1934, Semarang based daily newspaper “Matahari” published his provocative article on Indonesians of Arab descent, calling them to unite in supporting Indonesia's independence. AR Baswedan himself was of Arab descent, but he spoke with a strong East Javanese accent. He called for people of Arab descent living in Indonesia –as himself- to adhere to the principle: "di mana saya lahir, di situlah tanah airku." (When I was born is my motherland) His picture on the article conveyed the message strongly as he was wearing a blangkon (Javanese traditional hat).[citation needed]

On 4 October 1934, after the publication of the controversial article, he gathered ethnic Arabs in Semarang. In the gathering, they declared the Arab Descent Indonesian Youth Pledge, which proclaimed Indonesia as their motherland, and their commitment to support the fight for Indonesia's independence. In repercussion to the congress, the Indonesian Arab Party (Partai Arab Indonesia, PAI) was established and AR Baswedan was elected as its chairman. This signalled his entrance to politics. To focus on the political struggle, he left his well-paid job at the Matahari daily newspaper (120 gulden –worth 24 quintal of rice). "For the struggle,".[3]


Baswedan was a tough journalist who worked not for money. His decision to leave Matahari was not the only display of his commitment. He moved from the Sin Tit Po Newspaper which paid him 75 gulden to dr. Soetomo's Soeara Oemoem which only able to pay him 10-15 gulden. For his exemplary character, Soebagio IN put him in the list of 111 Indonesia's national press pioneers.[4]

As a patriot-journalist, Baswedan wrote actively. He was widely known as a writer, poet, and artist. His speech attracted many and he was also an expert in drama art. Apart from Bahasa Indonesia, he mastered Arabic, English, and Dutch. Some of his published books are Debat Sekeliling PAI (Debates Surrounding the Indonesian Arab Party, 1939), Sumpah Pemuda Indonesia Keturunan Arab (Youth Pledge of Arab Indonesians, 1934), and Rumah Tangga Rasulullah (The Prophet's Household, 1940). He also wrote a five-stage drama story titled Menuju Masyarakat Baru (Toward a New Society). Other than his own publications, his ideas and visions were published by the secretary general of PAI, Salim Maskati.


His struggle continued in the new Republic. Together with Haji Agus Salim (Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs), Rasyidi (Secretary General of the Ministry of Religious Affairs), Mohammad Natsir and St. Pamuncak, AR Baswedan departed to Arab countries as Indonesia's first diplomatic delegation. The delegation gained historical success with Egypt becoming one of the first countries to give de facto and de jure recognition to the fledgling Republic. This diplomatic success, after long negotiation in the Arab League, was soon followed by recognition by other countries.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

Baswedan was an Arab Indonesian, a Muwallad of Hadhrami descent from a non-Sayyid family. He received his early education at Madrasah Al-Khairiyah near Ampel Mosque in Surabaya,[1] later continued his education under Sheikh Ahmad Surkati at the al-Irshad school in Batavia. Not finishing his studies at al-Irshad, he went back to Surabaya to be close with his father and studied with Sayyid Ahmad bin Hashim at the Hadhramaut School in Surabaya, where pro-sayyid practices such as taqbil was maintained. He became active at al-Irshad in Surabaya in the late 1920s, but resigned from his executive position of its Youth wing in June 1930 [5]

As a child, he and his muwallad friends used to tease the Totok Arabs (Wulaytis) in the street. In Baswedan's view, the social distance between Wulayti and Muwallad groups was a result of differing conditions of their respective places of birth.[5]

AR Baswedan married to Sjaichun. In 1948, Sjaichun died in Surakarta of malaria. In 1950, AR Baswedan married to Barkah Ganis, a prominent women activist. The wedding took place in the house of KH Ahmad Dahlan in Yogyakarta. Muhammad Natsir was acting as the legal guardian (wali). AR Baswedan had 11 children and 45 grandchildren.[citation needed] His grandson Anies Baswedan was elected governor of Jakarta in 2017.

In February 1986, AR Baswedan finished his draft for his autobiography in Jakarta. Two weeks later, his health condition deteriorated. On 16 March 1986, AR Baswedan died and was laid to rest in Tanah Kusir Cemetery. He was one of a number of Indonesian National Heroes (pahlawan nasional) who declined to be buried in the national Heroes' Cemetery in Kalibata.[citation needed]

One of AR Baswedan's legacies was his book collection of more than 5000 books. As his will, the front room of his house in Yogyakarta was converted into a public library with his book collection in various languages (Arab, Dutch, English, Indonesia) were on display, arranged well with a modern catalogue. General public, particularly students, can easily access these books.[4]

Throughout his life, AR Baswedan was actively engaging the youth. Some youth figures known to be close with him were Ahmad Wahib, Anhar Gonggong, Emha Ainun Najib, Gunawan Mohamad, Lukman Hakiem (PPP), Syu’bah Asa, Taufiq Effendi, WS Rendra, and most of the young activists during the 1960s to 1980s.[4]

AR Baswedan was a humble fighter who never thought about material gains. Until his last days, AR Baswedan did not even own a house. He and his family were living in a borrowed house in Taman Yuwono complex in Yogyakarta, a complex which was lent by Haji Bilal for the freedom fighters when Yogyakarta was Indonesia's capital. His car was a gift from his friend Adam Malik (when he was Vice President) for his 72nd birthday.[4]


  • (in English) Huub De Jonge, Abdul Rahman Baswedan and the Emancipation of the Hadramis in Indonesia, Asian Journal of Social Science, Volume 32, Number 3, 2004, pp. 373–400(28)
  • (in Indonesian) Alwi Shahab, Sumpah Pemuda Arab, republika.co.id, 16 September 2007.
  • (in English) Howard Dick, Surabaya the City of Work, a socioeconomic History 1900-2000, Center for International Studies, Ohio University, 2002.
  • (in Indonesian) Suratmin, Abdurrahman Baswedan; Karya dan Pengabdiannya, Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan, Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan, Direktorat Sejarah dan Nilai Tradisional Proyek Inventarisasi dan Dokumentasi Sejarah Nasional Jakarta, 1989, hal 49-50.
  • (in Indonesian) Apa dan Siapa; Abdur Rahman Baswedan, Pusat Data dan Analisa Tempo, www.pdat.co.id.
  • (in Indonesian) Alwi Shahab, Partai Arab Indonesia, republika.co.id, 6 Januari 2002.
  • (in Indonesian) Awal Sejarah Besar Itu dalam Profil Jama’ah Shalahuddin UGM, www.js.ugm.ac.id.
  • (in Indonesian) Lihat catatan pendahuluan Djohan Effendi dalam buku Pergolakan Pemikiran Islam, Catatan Harian Ahmad Wahib yang diterbitkan Pustaka LP3ES, Jakarta, cetakan keenam, Februari 2003.
  • (in Indonesian) AR Baswedan Dalam Pergerakan Nasional
  • (in Indonesian) Sumpah Pemuda Arab
  • (in Indonesian) Aljazair Anugerahkan Medali kepada 13 Tokoh RI

External links[edit]

In September 2008, numerous newspapers and magazines in Indonesia published series of articles about the life and struggle of AR Baswedan as a commemoration of his 100th birthday. Beside national media, these articles also published by tens of local newspaper across the country. These are some of the articles that are accessible via web:


  1. ^ a b "Pejabat Kabinet" (in Indonesian). Archived from the original on 2 November 2014. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  2. ^ "President awards title of national hero to six figures". Antara News. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  3. ^ Shahab, Alwi (2004). Saudagar Baghdad dari Betawi. Republika. ISBN 978-9793210308.
  4. ^ a b c d "Kegigihan dan Kesederhanaan Wamen AR Baswedan". Merdeka Daily. 6 June 2012. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  5. ^ a b Mobini-Kesheh, Natalie (1999). The Hadrami Awakening: Community and Identity in the Netherlands East Indies, 1900-1942 (illustrated, reprint ed.). SEAP Publications. p. 132. ISBN 978-0877277279. Retrieved 1 September 2014.