Mohammad Husni Thamrin

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Mohammad Husni Thamrin
Mohammad Husni Thamrin 1961 Indonesia stamp.jpg
Portrait of Mohammad Husni Thamrin
Born 16 February 1894
Weltevreden, Batavia, Dutch East Indies
Died 11 January 1941(1941-01-11) (aged 46)
Senen, Batavia, Dutch East Indies
Resting place Karet Bivak Cemetery, Jakarta
Nationality Indonesian
Occupation Politician
Years active 1919–1940
Awards National 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, but had been raised by his Javanese uncle and had adopted his 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]


Thamrin has several objects named after him. MH Thamrin Street, a large street in Central Jakarta, is named after him.[3] Mohammad Husni Thamrin School for the Gifted, a school in East Jakarta for students with an IQ of more than 120, is named after him.[10] His old home on Kenari street in Senen, Central Jakarta, is now a museum dedicated to his life.[11] 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.[12]

He was declared a National Hero of Indonesia in 1964.[13]