Interview: Hamid Al-Gadri

Interviewed by Cynthia Myntti

Yemen Update 34(1994):14-19,44

Mr. Hamid Algadri (born near Surabaya, East Java in 1912), lawyer, one of the leaders of Indonesia’s revolutionary movement, former member of Parliament, and a prominent senior member of the Arab community in Indonesia, spoke to Cynthia Myntti (CM) in Jakarta in March and April 1993.

CM: Pak Hamid, before we discuss your own personal story, it might be helpful for our readers to hear about the Arab community in Indonesia. Approximately how many Indonesians of Arab descent are there in Indonesia today?

HA: The last Dutch census before the Japanese invaded Indonesia in 1942 counted 50,000 Arab Indonesians. Since Indonesia became independent, no information has been collected on their numbers. However, if we assume no in- or out-migration of Arabs and a natural growth rate similar to the rest of Indonesia, I calculate that there should be approximately 200,000 Indonesians of Arab descent here today.

CM: Which places in the Arab world are they from? When did they come? Why?

HA: This depends on the period we are speaking about. Arab traders came from the Red Sea and Persian Gulf to the Indonesian archipelago via the silk route(Persia-India-Burma-Malaya, and China) even before Islam.

After the advent of Islam, and particularly during the Abbasid period in Baghdad, traders and Muslim preachers from what is now Iraq and the Gulf States came to the archipelago. The traders dealt mainly in spices, which they shipped from the Indonesian archipelago to the Persian Gulf harbors, and from there sent by caravan to other parts of the Middle East and the Mediterranean for points in Europe.

Some Hadramis came to Indonesia by sailing ships in the 18th century. The Sultan of Pontianak in Borneo, from the Algadri family, and the influential Albashayban family of Cirebonon the north coast of Java, arrived during this period.

The next great wave of immigration occured after the completion of the Suez Canal in 1869. The Hadramaut at that time was very poor. The people there soon heard that many economic opportunities existed in the British colonies of the East --India and Malaya-- and in Indonesia too. Hadramis boarded the steamships stopping in Aden and began their journey eastward.

CM: In which towns did they settle in the archipelago?

HA: When the Portuguese arrived in the archipelago in the middle of the 16th century they found on the north coast of Java many small states ruled by Arab descendants. This has been documented by Professor LWC Van Den Berg in his important historical text Le Hadramout et les Colonies Arabes dans l'ArchipelIndien, which was published in Batavia (Jakarta) in 1886.

The Portuguese, who had been fighting the Moors (Muslims) in Spain, soon learned that conquering the Indonesian Archipelago meant fighting their old enemy here! Sharif Hidayatullah, an Arab descendant and governor of the Muslim Kingdom of Demak in the late 15th and early 16th century, rid the entire north coast of Java, from Banten in the west to Banyuwangi in the east, from the Portuguese.

During the migrations of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Arabs from the Hadramaut settled in Palembang in South Sumatera, and the coastal towns of Jakarta, Cirebon, Pekalongan, Semarang, Tuban, Gresik, Surabaya, Pasuruan, Bondowoso, and Banyuwangi in Java.

Many Hadrami families also settled at that time in Malaya and Singapore. A former Mufti of Johore (now in Malaysia) was Salim Alatas, and there are still many Assagafs, Alkafsand Aljufris in Singapore.

CM: How did they earn their livelihoods?

HA: Throughout the centuries, the Arab settlers combined trade and religious work. But one needs to understand trade in the context of European powers battling for control of the valuable raw materials coming from this part of the world. For example, spices were extremely important for the Arab traders in the early period. The Muslim Kingdom of Demak, for example, controlled the trade from the spice islands in what is now Eastern Indonesia, along Sumatera and then through the Straits of Malacca to the Indian Ocean and points west. In fact, when the Dutch arrived in Java in 1602, they wanted to get the Portuguese out of the archipelago once and for all, and then wrest control of the spice trade from Demak. By 1640, after a battle with the Demak forces in what is now Jakarta, the Dutch controlled key points on the route and Demak's decline began.

The Arabs, many of whom were descendants of the Prophet, were seen as holy men and authoritative in religious matters by the local population. Some Arab descendants are, to this day, revered as saints. For example, Habib Karamat Almukhdar, considered a saint in East Java in 1920-30 drew large crowds to his sermons. In modern Indonesia, Arab descendants continue the tradition of their forefathers in religious education. For example, the Rector of Sharif Hidayatullah Islamic University outside Jakartais of Arab origin.

From the 19th century onwards, many Arabs traded in batik textiles. It's interesting to note that Arab batik traders collaborated in establishing the Sarekat Islam. Formed in1911, it promoted Indonesian commercial enterprise and, in particular, sought to protect the local textile market that was being undermined by the Dutch and their importation of textiles from Holland. A number of leading Arab activists played key roles in the Sarekat Islam: Hassan Binsmit, Alim Algadri, Al-Aydrus, and Bajuneid.

Arab Indonesians also traded in horses. My grandfather was among them. The horses were purchased wild from Indonesia’s eastern islands and sold to Javanese, usually in auctions. Once a family became wealthy from trading, they often moved into real estate.

CM: Is it true that Arab women did not migrate? Was there intermarriage, then, with the local population? Did Arab men marry women of all ethnic groups?

HA: That is correct, Arab women did not migrate. Arab men married local women wherever they were, Javanese in Central Java, Sundanese in West Java, Sumatrans in Sumatera etc. Most wives were Muslim, although Arab men even married Chinese women. The Arab men, particularly those descended from the Prophet, were very eligible bridegrooms!

Thus, the pure Arab immigrants or ulaytis took local wives. Their children became muwallads through their Indonesian mothers.

CM: The Dutch ruled the Indonesian archipelago from 1602, as you have mentioned, until 1949. What did the colonial rule mean for the Arab community here?

HA: As I have mentioned, Arab traders and preachers intermarried with the local Muslim population. Their piety accorded them much respect with the local people, and as a result of this status, they married the daughters of the local aristocracy. Over time, they were considered native, or pribumi, and themselves sometimes even became the local sultans. For example, the Sultan of Pontianak in Borneo was an Algadri, and the Sultan of Siak in Sumatera was from the Binshahab family. In the Dutch colonial system, the highest administrative position that could be held by a local person was that of the bupati; he was an official just under the Dutch provincial governor. Several of the bupatis of Central Java in the 1700s were Arab descendants from the Albustom and Albasyaiban families.

But the Dutch felt threatened by the Arabs from the beginning. They arrived in Indonesia with many of the same sentiments that led the Crusades: a hatred for the Muslim "infidels". Although they were Protestant and the Portuguese before them were Catholic, their policy toward the Muslims was the same.

Through the centuries the Dutch engaged in the old "divide and rule" tactic. They first divided the peoples of the archipelago into two groups, Muslim and Christian. The Arabs were grouped with the other Muslim subjects, and had the same rights as they. During this period, as I have mentioned, some Arab descendants became local political leaders and even sultans.

The Dutch continued to worry about the Arab community. By the mid-19th century, feeling threatened by the Arabs’ political role, the Dutch passed the infamous law IS163, which categorized the Arabs as a minority like the Chinese. Thus according to the new classification, one had the European settlers, indigenous pribumis, and Vreemde Oosterlingen or "foreign Asians."

Don't forget that it is these same people(the Dutch) who designed the system of apartheid in South Africa. Their policy from this time in the archipelago was called Wijkenstelsel in Dutch, and it established a ghetto-like system. Arabs could only live in certain parts of the city. They needed a passport to leave their quarter, and the men had to wear clothes to identify themselves as Arab. By World War I all public places(cinemas, trains, etc) were divided into three compartments: European, pribumi, and "foreign Asians". Of the other "foreign Asians", the Indians were insignificant and the Chinese were very large and economically powerful. The Dutch clearly saw the integration of the Arabs as a political rather than economic threat in their colony.

Many of the Arab descendents were, in fact, against Dutch rule. Abdurrachman Azzahir led the Aceh war against the Dutch in north Sumatera at the end of the 19th century. The Arab community of Batavia (now Jakarta) was the first supporter of the Pan Islam movement. This movement, led by the Ottoman sultan, was opposed to all European empires. A number of the Jakarta residents wrote anti-Dutch articles in Turkish newspapers at that time. The Dutch tried to fight back by paying a well-known 'alim of Arab descent to make fatwas against the Pan Islamic and anti-Dutchmovements.

Later, in the 1930's, the Dutch again triedto make the local pribumi elites anti-Arab by creating a stereotypeof the Arabs as moneylenders. The tactic was typically anti-Semitic,with Arabs being cast in the role occupied by the Jews in Holland,Russia, and the rest of Europe. The Arabs fought back by taking a strong stand against money lending. One of the leaders of the Arab community at that time, Hoesin Bafagih, wrote a play called "Fatima” about the Arab hatred of usury. The play was performed in the major cities of Java and was very popular with the general public.

Initially Dutch propaganda against Arabs had a negative effect on their relations with local pribumi elites. Arabs were not allowed to join the early nationalist activities. As a response, a group of us formed the Indonesian Arab Party (PAI). We declared ourselves as Indonesian, not Arab, citizens, and at one with the local nationalists in our opposition to Dutch colonial policy.

CM: In the 19th and 20th centuries, was there much movement back and forth between Southeast Asia and the Arab world?

HA: Yes, many Arab immigrants were still arriving. In fact, I believe that the Dutch were selective in who they allowed in those days. They feared the ulama, so blocked their immigration. On the other hand, they actively encouraged usurers and other bad people to come to Indonesia. The Dutch wanted to create a bad image of the Arabs.

Some did go home too. But usually it was only the wealthy who returned to the Hadramaut, since it was so expensive to return. The villages in the Hadramaut always expected their kin from Indonesia to bring lavish gifts and this required considerable wealth.

For example, my wife's grandfather Abu Bakr Alatas, who was born in the Hadramaut but came as a child to Java, returned to the Hadramaut just before World War II. When the war broke out, Abu Bakr could not return to Indonesia, so he stayed in the Hadramaut and took a Hadrami wife. It was this wife who bore Haidar, Yemen's current prime minister. After the war, Abu Bakr returned to Indonesia and died here.

If they could afford it, first generation immigrants, called ulaytis, would send their sons to school in the Hadramaut to, as they said, make them a "man" (rijal).

CM: Did the Arab community here send remittances back home to the Arab world?

HA: Yes, of course remittances were sent back to the Hadramaut, which was so poor in comparison to Java. Usually an agent or wakala was used, since the post was nonexistent or unreliable at that time. The recipients of the remittances used the money for daily subsistence.

When persons left Java to return to the Hadramaut, they used to pack considerable amounts of food to take with them, even conserved durian, because they thought these foods would be welcomed by their kin in the Hadramaut.

It was difficult to send remittances during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia (1942-1945) and following independence in South Yemen in 1967. These periods must have been difficult for the Hadrami families who had become accustomed to support from their wealthy Indonesian relatives.

CM: When South Yemen became independent from the British in 1967 and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen was established, were the connections between Indonesia and Yemen affected?

HA: Indonesia, remember, had just passed through the traumatic events of 1965 and the communist coup. The fear of communism made many Indonesians of Hadrami descent afraid to have any contact with their families in the Hadramaut. They were also reluctant to have contact with the Consul General of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen, which was opened in Jakarta in the mid-1970s. (There was no North Yemeni embassy in Jakarta at that time.) As recently as 1988, I gave a lecture on the Indonesians of Arab descent at the Consulate, and after that time things were more relaxed.

The newly unified Republic of Yemen opened an embassy in Jakarta in 1992, and relations between our two countries are friendly. Haidar al-Attas, the Prime Minister of Yemen, was here in fact for the Non-Aligned Movement Summit last September.

CM: The Kenyan-Hadrami anthropologist Abdalla Bujra has written about the divisions of the Southeast Asian Arab community into the Alawi (sayyid) and Irshadi (qabili) strata. Could you please explain?

HA: Yes, the Hadrami community of Indonesia was divided into these two groups, the Alawi (sayyid) and non-Alawi(al-Irshad, i.e. qabili and others).

Colonialism added a new dynamic to the conflict since the Dutch were thrilled to "divide and rule", and any force that would compromise the moral and political power of the Alawi Ulama was welcomed by them.

The basic disagreement between the Alawi and non-Alawi was over marriage rules. For example, could a sharifa marry a non-Alawi? Many conservatives thought that sharifas should only marry sayyids.

Ironically, many liberal interpretations of religion and marriage rules came from Alawis. In about 1912, a leading Alawi, Abdullah Alwi Alatas contributed 50,000 guilders for the founding of the Al-Irshad reform movement. (In those days, 5guilders could purchase 100 kg of rice). Alatas invited Ahmad Soerkati, a leading reformer of Islam in Mecca (he was a Sudanese) to Jakarta to teach his reforms. Soerkati was a follower of Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Ridha of Al-Manar, Egyptian liberal thinkers whose views paralleled much of the anti-stratification sentiment then present in the Hadramaut. In time, Soerkati became the leader of the Al-Irshad movement.

The division was more complex than simply conservative Alawis versus reform-minded non-Alawis associated with the Al-Irshad. First- generation immigrants, the ulaytis, tended to side with the conservatives, whereas the younger generation of themuwallad in general sided with the reformists no matter where their family stood in the system of stratification.

The young muwallads who had been educated in local madrassahs could read Arabic, and maintained active contacts with writers and publishers in Cairo, especially from the journal al-Manar. It was this group that formed the Indonesian Arab Party(PAI) in 1934. The founder of the PAI was Abdurrachman Baswedan, anon-Alawi. The Party's Central Board was composed of people from all strata. The new organization formally abolished the system of stratification. The title "Sayyid" could no longer be used as a term of address, and, in accordance with the custom of the Indonesian nationalist movement at that time, Arab descendants should call each other "brother".

CM: Do these social divisions exist today?

HA: Yes, but their importance is fading. The Alawi organization Rabita al-Alawiyya and the mainly non-Alawi group al-Irshad still exist. People still talk when an Alawi family marries their daughter, a sharifa, to a non-Alawi, but even this tension point is becoming less important. The Al-Irshad have been very active in founding and running schools, and they run a hospital in Surabaya.

CM: What is the basis of Arab identity in Indonesia today?

HA: It certainly is one's silsila orpatrilineal descent. But remember that most of the Arab families have been in Indonesia for many generations, and there was considerable intermarriage. We are proud of our Arab descent, but we are also very much Indonesian. We see absolutely no conflict between our Arab descent and our Indonesian citizenship.

CM: Do you have cultural practices (marriage patterns or rituals, other ceremonies, food, lifestyle) that are specifically Arab?

HA: We tend to follow the customs of where we live, to take on the local color. Until recently, especially among the ulaytis, families would have the male-only walima at the time of the writing of the marriage contract (akad nikah). But even this is fading, and our wedding parties tend to be like the local ones.

CM: Tell us a bit about the Indonesians of Arab decent today.

HA: The situation is different in 1993 than it was in the early part of this century and the early period of revolutionary struggle. The Indonesians of Arab descent have distanced themselves from small trade. A number are wealthy businesspeople, or involved in real estate. Since independence, Arab descendants have educated their children in modern (secular) schools and many are now professionals such as lawyers or doctors. In the newly named government there are three ministers of Arab descent: Ali Alatas, Foreign Minister; Saleh Affif, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs; and Mari'e Muhammad, Minister of Finance.

CM: Let's now hear a bit about your own very interesting life. You were born in Pasuruan, near Surabaya, East Java in 1912. Why was your family there?

HA: My paternal grandfather Alim Algadri was born in Surat on the west coast of India in about 1860. He was of Arab origin, like many others there, but his mother tongue was Urdu. He came to East Java in about 1880 and began trading in horses. When he became wealthy from this trade, he invested in real estate in Pasuruan and Surabaya. The Dutch called him (and my father Muhammad after him) "Kapitein der Arabieren" or head of the Arab community, in Pasuruan because of his influence in the community. My maternal grandfather was a Muslim Indian whose family had settled in Surabaya. He was the head of the Indian community there.

CM: What was the ethnic composition of your home town? Were there many other Arab families?

HA: Pasuruan, like neighboring Surabaya, had many Arab families of all strata. It also had a small Indian community and very large Chinese community.

CM: What language did you speak at home?

HA: Bahasa Melayu or Malay. We spoke some Javanese with our servants and learned Dutch at school. We learned a little Arabic from private lessons, but didn't really speak it.

CM: Your grandfather and father wanted you to have a modern education. What was your experience in the colonial schools?

HA: The elementary school I went to was mainly for Europeans, but some Chinese and children of Javanese aristocrats were there too. Initially I was not allowed to enter the school because I was an Arab. My grandfather protested strongly and threatened to give back his Dutch medals. The Dutch authorities reconsidered their decision, and let me in. No other Arab families were allowed to send their children to the Dutch schools. Many also chose not to send their children to what they thought were the Christian schools of the Dutch.

I felt very alone, and remember well the pain of not being accepted by the other pupils. At that time, the Pan Islam movement insisted that Muslim men wear a tarbush. So I wore a tarbush to school. The other pupils made fun of me, playing football with my tarbush. This really was the beginning of myanti-Dutch feelings.

By the time I was in junior high school(MULO in Dutch) I no longer felt alone. I joined the Young Muslim Association. We had seminars on religious topics, and paid a monthly contribution. The organization was headquartered in Jakarta and had branches all over the country. It was inspired by the progressive Muslim thinkers Muhammad Abduh and Rashid Rida, with Haji Agus Salimits Indonesian spiritual leader. The movement favored reason(ijtihad) as opposed to unquestioning faith (taqlid) in matters of religious doctrine.

For high school I went to Yogyakarta in Central Java to study in the school for western languages. After my experience in elementary and junior high schools, I was ready to fight with my Dutch teachers. But I found them willing to debate and very interested in Islam. In fact, certain progressive Dutch teachers I had at that time had a profound influence on me. And I could see that not all Dutch were bad people.

I later studied law at the Dutch Faculty in Jakarta.

CM: What inspired your nationalism?

HA: Even though my grandfather and father were decorated by the Dutch and wanted me to have a modern education, they were anti-western and, what one might call "pro-Asian." I can remember my grandfather saying that "there is hope for us if the Japanese can beat the Russians!" ( He was referring to the Russo-Japanese War in 1905).

As a young man, I started reading anti-colonial books and this influenced me. One in particular, Max Havelaar, by the Dutch author Douwes Dekker shows the Dutch in a very bad light, as coffee traders cheating local people. I memorized parts of it! And like other nationalists at that time, I was also very influenced by progressive European literature on imperialism and the economic domination of poorer countries by more powerful countries.

CM: Please tell us about the Partai Arab Indonesia and its founding in Semarang on October 4, 1934.

HA: I should say first that we were a Union(Persatuan) rather than a Party (Partai) to start. As I mentioned previously, we, the young generation, were against the system of stratification that had divided the Arab community up 'til that time. Calling ourselves a Union really meant a union of Alawis and non-Alawis. We abolished titles and said we would call each other brother. Persons of all strata joined in.

Also remember that the Dutch had created anti-Arab sentiment among the local nationalists. In the early1930s, being treated by Dutch law as "foreign Asians", we were not allowed to join pribumi political parties. So we formed our own.

In Semarang we declared that our fatherland was Indonesia, and that our culture and language were Indonesian. This oath of loyalty was a very important statement of identification with the revolutionary struggle. We were not foreigners, as the Dutch had tried to make us. And our subsequent activities really proved that we were a clear nationalist voice in the struggle for independence from the Dutch.

Sukarno, Hatta, and other nationalist leaders were in favor of the PAI. They said, "We know you by your behavior."

CM: Where were you when the Japanese invaded in 1942? And what do you remember of the occupation?

HA: I was a law student in Jakarta, and I remember seeing Dutch and Japanese soldiers fighting in the center of the city. Initially the Indonesian people were thrilled with the arrival of the Japanese, who promised that "we will make you free." But soon, the reality of their occupation became clear. They banned all political parties, forbade the use of our national anthem, and closed all Dutch schools. They confiscated all iron goods and our basic food, rice, for their war. We were starving! They promised our women jobs and then put them in brothels. And they forcibly recruited many thousands of workers under the "Romusha" system to help build their grand road from Burma to China, to be the link in the Japanese controlled "Great Asia." Those three years under the Japanese were as bad as 350 years of Dutch rule.

CM: Indonesia proclaimed its independence in 1945 immediately following the end of World War II and the defeat of the Japanese. What were you doing during this period?

HA: Following the Proclamation of Independence in 1945, Sukarno was named President and Sutan Syahrir Prime Minister. Political parties were re-established. Now Indonesians of Arab descent could belong to any party, so there was no need any more for the PAI. I joined Syahrir's social democrat party, the Partai Sosialis Indonesia (PSI), and became active in the new parliament.

Meanwhile, remember that the Dutch had regained control of much of Indonesia, but had also begun negotiations with the newly declared Republican government. In 1947I was Secretary to the Minister of Information. In that capacity I helped run the Radio Republik Indonesia, which tried to counteract Dutch propaganda. The Dutch came to think of me as a great terrorist. At one particularly tense period, they came to arrest me in the middle of the night. Thirty soldiers surrounded my house. They found me in my sarong holding my eldest daughter, Atika, a baby, not holding grenades as they suspected.

In those days we could identify two separate Dutch policies. One favored a negotiated settlement. Holland had just suffered through World War II, and many people there felt it was time to leave Indonesia and grant it its independence. The other policy, favored by the military and European residents in Java, wanted to attack the Republican forces and hold on to the colony. In this period a number of us were involved simultaneously in political negotiations with the civilian Dutch but subjected to recurring arrest and exile by the Dutch military authorities.

CM: Eventually, you participated in the final talks on independence.

HA: Yes, Sukarno appointed me as an advisor to the Indonesian delegation to the Round Table Conference in the Hague in 1949. There were actually two delegations, the Republican Delegation headed by Vice-President Hatta, of which I was a part, and the Delegation of the "Sub-States" still occupied by the Dutch. The Sub-States included the Eastern Islands of Indonesia. The other Hamid Algadri, then Sultan of Pontianak, headed the Delegation of the “Sub-States." After much negotiation, in December 1949 we agreed to the Transfer of Sovereignty to the new Indonesian state. It was the greatest moment of my life.

CM: The 1950s are known as the period of parliamentary democracy in Indonesia. What were you doing in this period?

HA: I was very involved with the PSI, as a member of the Central Bureau. I participated in the first appointed parliament of 1950, and was elected as a member in the elections of1955. Our party believed in multiparty democracy, strongly supported the idea of human rights that was then declared in the United Nations, and favored a planned economy of mixed public and private sectors. In 1958, as Chairman of the Social Democratic faction, I presented a speech to the constituent assembly advocating human rights entitled "The Struggle of Man Against Nature and his Fellowmen through the Centuries."

It is worth mentioning here that Arab Indonesians joined all parties, from the Islamic Masjumi, to the Nationalists, Socialists, and even the Communists.

CM: You also had connections with two Arab states fighting for their independence in the 1950s. Please tell us more about this, and the honors they have recently given you.

HA: In 1952 Habib Bourguiba and Tayeb Salimof the Neo Destour Party of Tunisia came to Indonesia to ask our new republic for help against the French. Later, in 1956, two young Algerians, Lakhdhar Brahimi and Muhammad Benyahya, came requesting similar help. At that time I was Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Indonesian parliament. Parliament gave me official responsibility to help both groups, and I eventually became Secretary General of the Algerian and Tunisian Aid Committee. The Tunisians and the Algerians wanted moral support from our political parties and material support for their struggle. Materially, we helped them by providing an office, car, and monthly allowance for their representatives in Jakarta, and by arranging that some of our foreign exchange from rubber sales be sent to them. We also sent an experienced guerilla fighter, General Suwarto, to Algeria.

My wife, children and I became like family to these young men, Lakhdhar Brahimi in particular. Perhaps it was because I was of Arab descent myself. But first and foremost, I wanted to help these countries in their struggle against colonialism in the same way I had done for my own country Indonesia.

For my work in support of their struggle, I was awarded in 1957 the Nishan Iftighar by the Kingdom of Tunisia and later in 1992 awarded the Wism Jumhuria from the Republic of Tunisia. I was several times invited as a government guest to Algeria with my wife Zena, and in 1992 also awarded the Masaf al-Istihaqaq al-Watani. All three awards are the highest awards of those countries.

CM: Sukarno dissolved the constituent assembly in 1959. That must have been a great blow to the aspirations of many democrats at the time. What did you do?

HA: A number of my closest associates were arrested, including Sutan Syahrir. Those who weren't arrested continued to meet and follow the situation. Sukarno didn't believe in democracy but in some mixture of nationalist, religious and communist ideologies (NASAKOM). Meanwhile the communists were growing in power. Fearing their protector Sukarno was about to die, they staged a pre-emptive coup. They hadn't liked us social democrats, and I feared for my life during the coup. It was a difficult time.

CM: What are your present activities?

HA: I am now Executive Director of a social fund-raising organization, Yayasan Dana Bantuan, which helps more than 40 social organizations, such as those helping people of old age. I am also writing. I have finished two books already: Dutch Policy Against Islam and the Arab Descendants, and The Joys and Sorrows of the Revolution. I am now trying to finish my memoirs, consisting of two or three volumes. This interview covers a small part of what I have written in my first book.

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