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Many of the major roads in Indonesian cities and towns are named after Indonesian revolutionary heroes and the main thoroughfare through Jakarta, Jalan MH Thamrin, is no different.

Unlike many Indonesian revolutionary heroes, however, Thamrin was not a former general and wasn’t even in the military. Rather, he was a politician who believed that Indonesia’s independence could be achieved through cooperation with the Dutch colonial government.

Although this didn’t turn out to be the case, Thamrin’s ideas were influential and he was one of the first to propose that the Dutch terms Nederlands Indie, Nederland Indische and Inlander (Dutch Indies, Dutch Indian, and Dutch Indians) be replaced with the nationalist terms Indonesia, Indonesisch, and Indonesier (Indonesia, Indonesian, and Indonesians).

As a member of Volksraad (the Dutch People’s Council), Thamrin and others went to Sumatra to look into the working conditions at the plantations there and was disgusted by what he saw. Quite what he would make of the current conditions in Indonesia is anyone’s guess but I doubt he’d be impressed.

There are several statues near Indonesia’s National Monument (Monas) honouring this national hero.

One in Merdeka Square itself:

MH Thamrin statue, Jakarta

And another more substantial statue on Jalan Thamarin, by the roundabout:

Thamrin statue in Jakarta





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