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"Freedom or Death"

After the notable story of Dith Pran, Asia's Perfect Ten brings you the force behind the Indonesian independence, Bung Tomo!

Born on October 3, 1920, Bung Tomo or Sutomo is well-known for his major participation in the Indonesian Revolution against the Netherlands. He was one of the responsible minds in the Battle of Surabaya when the British attacked the city in October and November 1945.

Bung Tomo was born in Kampung Blauran, Surabaya to Kartawan Tjiptowidjojo, who was then a clerk and an unknown mother of Javanese, Sundanese and Madurese descent. His family was economically challenged so he was forced to stop schooling at the age of twelve during the Great Depression. At seventeen, he joined the Indonesian Scouting Organization as the second Pramuka Garuda, a rank achieved by only three Indonesians before the Japanese occupation during World War II.

In 1944, Sutomo was chosen as the member of the Japanese-sponsored Gerakan Rakyat Baru (New People's Movement). During the early stages of the Indonesian National Revolution he played a central role when Surabaya came under British attack. Although the city was lost to the Dutch's European allies, the battle served to galvanise Indonesian and international opinion in support of the independence cause. Sutomo spurred thousands of Indonesians to action with his distinctive, emotional speaking-style of his radio broadcasts. His "clear, burning eyes, that penetrating, slightly nasal voice, or that hair-raising oratorical style that second only to Sukarno's in its emotional power".

"Hey Britain, as long as the wild ox, the youth of Indonesia, still have red blood that can make a white cloth red and white... as long as that we will not surrender. Friends, fellow fighters... especially the youth of Indonesia, we will fight on, will will expel the colonialists from our Indonesian land that we love... Long have we suffered, been exploited, trampled on. Now is the time for us to seize our independence. Our slogan: FREEDOM OR DEATH. GOD IS GREAT... GOD IS GREAT... GOD IS GREAT.. FREEDOM!"

-Sutomo's radio speech, November 9, 1945

His relationship with President Sukarno soured after Bung Tomo offended the president by asking about personal matters. Post 1950s, Sutomo emerged again as a national figure during the 1965 turbulent period. Initially, he supported Suharto to replace the left-leaning Sukarno government, but later opposed aspects of the New Order regime. On April 11, 1978, he was detained by the government for his outspoken criticism of corruption and abuses of power; upon his release five years later, however, Sutomo continued to loudly voice his criticisms. He said that he did not want to be buried in the Heroes' Cemetery because it was full of "fairweather heroes" who had lacked the courage to defend the nation at times of crisis, but when peace came appeared in public to glorify their achievements.

Bung Tomo, a true noble Southeast Asian!

photo and informations courtesy of wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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