Indonesian National Hero Receives Recognition from Netherland

One of the most prominent Indonesian national heroes, Mohammad Hatta, received recognition for his peaceful and democratic commitment in fighting for independence by a university located in Netherland, a nation that once colonized Indonesia.

Erasmus University Rotterdam, where the freedom fighter went to study for 11 years until 1932, named its international student dormitory building after Hatta to honor his ideology, Erasmus’s professor Willlem M. Lamberts van Bueren stated here on Saturday.

“The move was aimed to reflect the changing perception about Hatta by the current Dutch generation. We are deeply impressed by his ideals and democratic commitment in fighting Indonesia’s independence, and only now we understand what he was doing,” reiterated van Beuren while visiting Hatta’s house to announce the university’s decision.

The Dutch East Indies administration in Indonesia’s colonial era saw Hatta as a recidivist who wanted to overthrow the legitimate government. To curb Hatta’s influence on the independence movement, the East Indies authorities then exiled him to several locations, including Digul and Banda.

Even as a student at the Erasmus University, later known as Rotterdam School of Commerce, Hatta was detained by the Dutch authorities without trial for six months because of his activities.

When finally taken for trial in The Hague, Hatta delivered a famous speech titled “Indonesia Vrij” or Free Indonesia. He explained that his nation and the Dutch administration could not cooperate with each other because the two are not equal partners, one is a colony and the other is a colonizer.

This unequivocal stance against colonialization was what set Hatta apart from several other national figures who sought independence through cooperation with the Dutch East Indies authorities. It was also the reason behind the hostile treatment he received during the colonial rule.

But as stressed by van Beuren in Jakarta, there is a growing change in perception in Holland about Indonesia’s first vice president.

“This appreciation for Hatta’s struggle is the main reason for Erasmus University naming its dormitory building after him,” he pointed out.

Meutia Hatta, the freedom fighter’s daughter stated that she was “grateful” and hoped to visit the building named after Hatta in the near future.

Meanwhile, Sri Edi Swasono, Meutia’s husband and also a prominent economy critic, remarked that more than a decade of education in Erasmus University laid the groundwork for Hatta to draft Indonesia’s constitution.

“Hatta deliberately chose to study international law and economy to set Indonesia in the right path after independence,” Sri Edi retierated.

In the economic field, Hatta proposed an alternative model to capitalism and communism practices, known as “koperasi” or cooperative. While in the field of international relations, he was the architect of the main principle of Indonesian foreign policy, which is “politik luar negeri bebas aktif” or independent and active foreign policy.

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