IN Malang, around the end of February 1947, the Central Indonesian National Committee (KNIP) – acting as the de facto parliament of the unrecognized Republic against the Dutch colonialists – was in session.

Amidst the height of national revolutionary fervor and various disappointments, the meeting was intense, with every group unwilling to yield on their strategies to face the Dutch.

Someone, sitting in the corner of the room, appeared irritated and bored, stretching his legs as if to rest after sitting for hours. He stood up and approached someone else sitting in another corner, suggesting a brief exit.

Both, feeling the same fatigue, agreed and stepped out into the drizzling night, eventually stopping at a small roadside stall. Illuminated by a “sentir” oil lamp, now probably obsolete, they enjoyed hot coffee and fried bananas.

The person who was invited out was of Arab descent, born in Surabaya, a city known for its straightforwardness and openness. This openness might have facilitated their friendship.

In Yogyakarta, around the end of 1959, a former member of the Constitutional Assembly – dissolved months earlier by President Sukarno – was walking to meet a friend on a bright morning. Suddenly, a car nearly ran him over, stopping abruptly. Prepared to unleash his native Surabayan temper, he refrained upon recognizing the driver.

It was his old friend who had invited him for coffee and fried bananas in Malang about twelve years earlier. After a brief conversation, the driver, known as Dorodjatun in his childhood, reminded him to attend all future gatherings despite no longer holding any official position, emphasizing their friendship.

Somewhere in the 1960s, at a reception welcoming the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Baswedan was looking for someone to talk to when someone slapped his back hard enough to spill his drink. About to retaliate, Baswedan turned and recognized the person – Dorodjatun, laughing heartily.

You might have guessed by now that Dorodjatun was crowned in March 1940 as Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX, a Javanese king who, if he had wished, could have destroyed the Republic of Indonesia. Instead, he devoted his resources and influence to support the republic’s struggle.

Abdurrasyid Baswedan, the founder of the PAI, similarly chose to support Indonesian independence. He disbanded his own party, believing that wherever Arab descendants are born, they should devote their loyalty and patriotism, supporting independence to the utmost. Baswedan often faced opposition for his views, symbolically adopting Javanese attire to demonstrate his commitment to Indonesian nationalism.

Both Baswedan and Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX were united by a strong, unequivocal idea of sovereignty and self-determination, free from subjugation, domination, or hegemony by another country. Despite different backgrounds, they were bonded by the idea of uniting and serving their nation.

Their story reflects that people of different origins can come together for a common cause. Baswedan and Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX exemplify “Social Justice for All Indonesian People,” serving not for personal gain but for the welfare of the people who long for prosperity.

* Weko Kuncara, a laborer living in Gresik


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here