Mohammad Husni Thamrin

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Mohammad Husni Thamrin
Mohammad Husni Thamrin.jpg
Portrait of Thamrin
Born16 February 1894
Died11 January 1941(1941-01-11) (aged 46)
Senen, Batavia, Dutch East Indies
Resting placeKaret Bivak Cemetery, Jakarta
Years active1919–1940
AwardsNational Hero of Indonesia

Mohammad Husni Thamrin (16 February 1894 – 11 January 1941) was an Indonesian political thinker and National Hero.


Thamrin was born in Weltevreden, Batavia (modern day Jakarta), Dutch East Indies, on 16 February 1894.[1] His father, Thamrin Mohd. Tabri, was the son of an English businessman who owned hotel Ort in Batavia. However, Tabri did not carry an English last name because he was raised by his Javanese uncle and adopted his uncle’s name. Thamrin was therefore born into a neo-priyayi class and in 1906, his father became district head (wedana) under Governor General Johan Cornelis van der Wijck.[2] After graduating from Koning Willem III Gymnasium,[1] Thamrin took several government jobs before working for the shipping company Koninklijke Paketvaart-Maatschappij.[3]

In 1919, Thamrin was elected a member of the Jakarta City Council. He later became deputy mayor. In 1927 he was elected to the Volksraad; he soon formed the National Fraction (Fraksi Nasional) to unite ten groups of Indonesian nationalists under one flag[3] and counteract the reactionary Fatherlands Club (Vaderlandsche Club). Along with Dr. Soetomo, Parindra's chair, Thamrin believed that independence could be achieved through cooperation with the Dutch colonial government.[4]

As a Volksraad member, Thamrin and Kusumom Utoyo went to eastern Sumatra to look into working conditions at plantations there. Disgusted by what they found, upon his return Thamrin gave a speech condemning the plantation owners.[3] He criticised the legalised gambling and corporal punishments given for minor offences.[5] In 1935 he was a founding member of the Grand Indonesia Party (Partai Indonesia Raya, or Parindra).[3]

After the death of Dr. Soetomo in 1938, Thamrin became deputy chair of Parindra. In at a meeting of the Volksraad in 1939, Thamrin proposed that the Dutch terms Nederlands Indie, Nederlands Indisch and Inlander (Dutch Indies, Dutch Indian, and Dutch Indians) be replaced with the nationalist terms Indonesia, Indonesisch, and Indonesier (Indonesia, Indonesian, and Indonesians). Although this received majority support in the Volksraad, the Dutch government vetoed the motion. After his request, the colonial government kept him under surveillance.[3] By 1940, his proposal for the use of the term Indonesian had begun to receive consideration, much to Thamrin's perplexity.[6]

In May 1939, Thamrin spearheaded an effort to unite eight nationalist organisations, including Parindra, in the Indonesian Political Federation (Gaboengan Politiek Indonesia, or GAPI). The group had four main goals: Indonesian self-determination, national unity, a democratically elected party answering to the Indonesian people, and solidarity between Indonesians and the Dutch to combat fascism.[7]

On 6 January 1941, Thamrin was put under house arrest under suspicion of aiding the advancing Japanese forces;[3] he had previously maintained warm relations with Japanese residents of the Indies.[8] Already ill, he died five days after his arrest.[3] He was buried in Karet Bivak Cemetery, Central Jakarta.[9]


He was declared a National Hero of Indonesia in 1964.[10]

Thamrin has several objects named after him, including Jalan M.H. Thamrin, a thoroughfare in Central Jakarta,[3] and Mohammad Husni Thamrin School for the Gifted, a school in East Jakarta for students with an IQ of more than 120.[11] His old home on Kenari street in Senen, Central Jakarta, is now a museum dedicated to his life.[12] Two statues of Thamrin have been erected in Jakarta: a bust near the National Monument and a full-body statue in front of the Thamrin Museum.[13]

He is also depicted in the 2016 series of the Rp 2,000 Indonesian rupiah banknotes.

Thamrin MRT station, a station of Jakarta MRT located in Jalan M.H. Thamrin, is also named after him. The station, which would be a transit station between North–South Line and East–West Line, is currently under construction.


  • Ajisaka, Arya; Damayanti, Dewi (2010). Mengenal Pahlawan Indonesia [Knowing Indonesian Heroes] (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Kawan Pustaka. ISBN 978-979-757-430-7.
  • Elson, Robert Edward (2008). The Idea of Indonesia : a History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-87648-3.
  • "Even after you die you have to follow rules". The Jakarta Post. 5 September 2009. Retrieved 9 October 2011.
  • "Gedung Muhammad Husni Thamrin / Gedung Kenari" [Muhammad Husni Thamrin Building / Kenari Building] (in Indonesian). Jakarta City Government. Archived from the original on 17 April 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  • "Husni Thamrin, Patung" [Husni Thamrin, Statue]. Encyclopedia of Jakarta (in Indonesian). Jakarta City Government. Archived from the original on 17 April 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  • Kahin, George McTurnan (1952). Nationalism and Revolution in Indonesia. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. OCLC 406170.
  • "Mohammad Hoesni Thamrin". Encyclopedia of Jakarta (in Indonesian). Jakarta City Government. Archived from the original on 17 April 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  • Sabarini, Prodita (14 March 2009). "Prestigious high school for gifted kids to open". The Jakarta Post. Archived from the original on 17 April 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  • Soedarmanto, J. B. (2007). Jejak-Jejak Pahlawan: Perekat Kesatuan Bangsa Indonesia. Jakarta: Grasindo. ISBN 978-979-759-716-0.