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Jakarta Post

Sutan Sjahrir: Teacher of the nation

  • Matheos Viktor Messakh

    THE JAKARTA POST

JAKARTA   /   Tue, March 10 2009   /  12:20 pm

The leaders: Sjahrir (left) is pictured with Sukarno (center) and Mohammad Hatta. It has been said that if Indonesia had paid greater attention to the wisdom and lessons of its first prime minister, it might have avoided decades of authoritarian rule and human rights abuses. A closer look at Sutan Sjahrir’s life and thoughts, and at the testimonies of those around him, reveals that Sjahrir was more than the first prime minister of Indonesia — he was a defender of humanity and rationality. Sjahrir is many things in this nation’s history — a national hero, founder of the Socialist Party of Indonesia, the first prime minister — but perhaps his greatest contribution to the nation lay not in the titles conferred or the positions held, but in his thinking about nationalism and humanism. Only two months after Indonesia gained independence, Sjahrir felt the imp...