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City of Heidelberg / Press Release
Apr 08, 2024

Observer / What Media Says
Apr 05, 2024

Abdul Muis


Abdul Muis (also spelt Abdoel Moeis; 3 July 1883 – 17 June 1959), was an Indonesian writer, journalist and nationalist. He argued tirelessly for Indonesia’s independence from the Netherlands.

Born in Sungai Puar in West Sumatra in 1886 to a leading member of the Minangkabau, Muis received a western education and studied medicine in Jakarta for three years before being forced to pull out due to ill health. Muis first found employment in the civil service, before switching to journalism and becoming involved in nationalist publications such as Kaoem Moeda, a paper he co-founded in 1912. He became known for his inflammatory articles, which were highly critical of Dutch involvement in Indonesia. For example, essays published in De Express, a Dutch language newspaper, were highly critical of Dutch attitudes towards Indonesians. During the First World War he was active in the movement for greater autonomy for the Indies, and was a member of a delegation of the Comité Indië Weerbaar (Committee for the Defence of the Indies).

From the late 1920s Muis shifted his focus from politics to creative writing, and in 1927 he initiated correspondence with the state-owned publishing house Balai Pustaka. In his first novel, Salah Asuhan (Wrong Upbringing), published in 1928, Muis depicted the problem of racial and social discrimination in the tragic story of Hanafi and Corrie. The Western-oriented Hanafi and the feisty, liberated Corrie represent the conflict pre-independent Indonesia faced in choosing either to adhere to traditional values, or to adopt Western notions of modernity. The novel has been described as one of the most famous of his works as well as among the most popular works of modern Indonesian fiction. The novel was one of several Indonesian classics to be included in the Indonesian Cultural Heritage Series published by Balai Pustaka in 2009 and, in 2010, an English translation (Never the Twain) was also published by the Lontar Foundation as part of the Foundation’s Modern Indonesia Series. Muis also published three other major novels, among them Pertemuan Jodoh (The Destined Marriage Partners), published in 1932, and four novels in Indonesian translation.

He spent the latter part of his life in Bandung, and was involved in the establishment of the Bandung Institute of Technology. After Independence he foundedPersatuan Perjuangan Priangan, the focus of which was the development of West Java and the Sundanese.

Died in Bandung in 1959. In the same year, he was recognized by President Sukarno as Indonesia’s first national hero.

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