A book launch for Indonesia's founding father Bung Hatta's Complete Works, published by LP3S. (Photo courtesy of Kemendikbud)

Complete Works of Founding Father Bung Hatta Finally See Official Release

NOVEMBER 15, 2018

Jakarta. A new compendium of writings by one of Indonesia's founding fathers, Mohammad Hatta or Bung Hatta, was officially released this week. Simply called "Karya Lengkap Bung Hatta" ("The Complete Works of Bung Hatta"), the series in its entirety will comprise 10 books filled with around 800 articles taken from the great statesman’s books, newspaper articles, lectures, speeches, essays, papers and letters written between 1918 and 1979.

The series is released by academic publisher LP3S (Research, Education and Information Agency on Economic and Social Affairs), best known for publishing "Catatan Harian Seorang Demonstran" ("Diary of an Activist"), the personal diaries of the late student activist icon Soe Hok Gie.

Hatta was born in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra, in 1902 and spent most of his childhood there.

Later on, he became known as Bung ("Bro") Hatta and with his friend Soekarno, the first president of Indonesia, declared Indonesian independence in 1945.

Hatta was also a passionate writer. He reportedly started writing seriously at the age of 16.

By the end of his life – Hatta died at age 77 in 1980, the polyglot had written more than 800 works in Indonesian, Dutch, French and English.

His most famous books are "Politik, Kebangsaan, dan Ekonomi" ("Politics, Nationalism and the Economy") and his memoir "Untuk Negeriku" ("For My Country").

Education Minister Muhadjir Effendy said at the series launch in South Jakarta on Tuesday (12/11) that "[Hatta's] works had everything, from science to economy, religion, nationalism, culture and philosophy.”

He said Hatta was especially in his element as a writer when he described "his first-hand experiences fighting for Indonesian independence, both when he was a student in the Netherlands and when he was exiled to remote areas of the archipelago by the Dutch colonial government."

Hatta studied in the Netherlands from 1922 to 1932, when he was the president of the Perhimpunan Indonesia (Indonesian Union), a progressive, nationalist political group whose members were made up mostly of Indonesian students .

Upon his return to what was then the Dutch East Indies, he was arrested for his political activities by the colonial government and sent to the infamous concentration camp of Boven-Digoel in West New Guinea.

In 1935, Hatta was removed from Boven-Digoel and exiled to remote Banda Neira, the original "Spice Island" in Maluku, where he remained until the Japanese invaded Dutch East Indies during the Second World War.

Tuesday's book launch was part of a series of programmed events to let the public know more about Hatta through his own writings.

There will also be seminars, book discussions and talk shows held in universities across Indonesia.

A Long Time Coming

Collecting Hatta's complete oeuvre was not an easy job. The LP3ES editorial team said in a press release it took them almost 23 years to publish the series.

They published the first book in the series in 1998 and so far have released five more volumes. The final four volumes will be published next year.

“It takes a lot of time to collect all his writings and all the information about when he wrote them and why. The last four volumes are still being edited," the publishing company said.