Bung Tomo Biography – Friends of Gramed, do you know this hero? His name is indeed very popular among the people, especially Surabaya, as well as heroes from other areas, such as Thomas Matulessy, Ki Hadjar Dewantara, Prince Diponegoro, Prince Antasari, and Tuanku Imam Bonjol.
Sutomo or better known as the people’s nickname as Bung Tomo is a hero who is known for his role in the Battle of November 10, 1945. At that time, the people of Surabaya fought against the Dutch who piggybacked the Netherlands Indies Civil Administration (NICA).
Sutomo was able to inflame the spirit of the fighters to defend Indonesia’s independence. His figure is attached as a patriot who always dares to fight against the invaders. He fought on the path of agitation and propaganda.
His speech succeeded in inflaming the enthusiasm of the youth and students to work hard on the battlefield in Surabaya. He also played a role in the disarmament of the Japanese, then sent most of the weapons to Jakarta.
To get to know this figure more clearly, let’s look together at a brief explanation of Bung Tomo’s biography below.
Bung Tomo Family History
Bung Tomo was born in Kampung Blauran, Surabaya on October 3, 1920 with the name Sutomo. He is the eldest of six siblings. His younger siblings are respectively named Sulastri, Suntari, Gatot Suprapto, Subastuti, and Hartini.
His father’s name was Kartawan Tjiptowidjojo, a middle-class aristocrat who had worked as a government employee, private company staff, tax office assistant, and employee of a Dutch import-export company. Kartawan claimed to have blood ties with several followers of Prince Diponegoro who were buried in Malang.
Sutomo’s mother was named Subastita, a woman of mixed blood from Central Java, Sundanese and Madurese, the daughter of a local distributor of Singer sewing machines in the Surabaya area, who before moving to Surabaya had been a municipal police officer and a member of Sarekat Islam (SI).
Sutomo married Sulistina, a former nurse for the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) on 19 June 1947. This couple was blessed with four children, each named Titing Sulistami (born 29 June 1948), Bambang Sulistomo (born 22 April 1950), Sri Sulistami (born 16 August 1951), and Ratna Sulistami (born 12 November 1958).
Career in Bung Tomo’s Life
1. Youth Career
- Members of the Class I Indonesian Scout Movement (the first for East Java, while the second for all of Indonesia);
- Secretary of the Greater Indonesia Party (Parindra) Branch Branch in Tembok Duku, Surabaya circa 1937;
- Freelance journalist for the Soeara Oemoem Daily in Surabaya in 1937;
- Editor of the People’s Defenders Weekly in Surabaya in 1938;
- Chairman of the Indonesia Raya Youth play group in Surabaya in 1939;
- Journalist and corner writer for the Daily Express in Surabaya in 1939;
- Assistant correspondent for Poestaka Timoer Jogjakarta Magazine for Surabaya under the care of Anjar Asmara in 1940;
- Deputy editor-in-chief of the Indonesian language section of the Domei News Agency for all of East Java in Surabaya in 1942–1945;
- The chief editor of the Antara News Agency in Surabaya in 1945.
2. Career during the Physical Revolution Period 1945–1949
- General Chairman of the Indonesian People’s Rebel Front (BPRI) from 12 October 1945–June 1947 (merged into the Indonesian National Armed Forces);
- Member of the Advisory Board of the Commander in Chief General Sudirman;
- Chairman of the Arms Production Coordinating Board throughout Java and Madura;
- Appointed by President Soekarno as a top member of the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI), together with General Sudirman, Lieutenant General Oerip Soemohardjo, Commodore Soerjadarma, and Admiral Nazir. He was given the rank of Major General of the Indonesian Army with the task of coordinating the army, navy and air force in the field of information and war equipment;
- Member of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Indonesia;
- The Chairman of the Army Committee in charge of the field of railroads and intercity buses, with the task of coordinating all land transportation equipment in the territory of the Republic of Indonesia (RI) and directly responsible to the Commander in Chief of the TNI;
- Made the first RI military call-in announcement broadcast.
The Central Role of Bung Tomo
The central role of Bung Tomo’s struggle in the Battle of 10 November 1945 began with the arrival of the British and the Dutch on 25 October 1945. The troops who were members of the Rehabilitation of Allied Prisoners of War and Internees (RAPWI) were part of the Allied forces that won the Greater East Asia War over Japan.
The aim of RAPWI is to assist in the rehabilitation of prisoners of war and the presence of internees in disarming the Japanese army. The Allied troops had previously landed in Jakarta on September 15, 1945 or less than a month after the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence was declared by Soekarno-Hatta on August 17, 1945.
The arrival of Allied troops to Surabaya made the city’s atmosphere tense. Friction began to occur with youths and fighters who were determined to defend Indonesia’s independence, including the incident where the Dutch flag was torn at the Yamato Hotel on September 19, 1945.
The incident sparked further polemic. On October 27, 1945, British troops began to occupy government buildings in Surabaya, resulting in a series of conflicts that lasted several days.
On October 29, 1945, President Soekarno came to Surabaya to stop the fighting. Bung Karno’s presence resulted in a ceasefire agreement between the Allies and the fighters in Surabaya on October 30, 1945.
However, it turned out that an incident occurred on the same day and killed the commander of the Allied forces in East Java, namely Brigadier General Aubertin Mallaby. Mallaby’s position was replaced by Major General Robert Mansergh of the British 5th Division Commander.
On 9 November 1945, Mansergh issued an ultimatum to the people of Surabaya. The contents of the ultimatum include:
- All Indonesian leaders in Surabaya must report themselves;
- All weapons owned by the Indonesians in Surabaya must be handed over to the British;
- Indonesian leaders in Surabaya must be willing to sign a statement of unconditional surrender.
However, the warning was not welcomed by the fighters and all walks of life. The next day, November 10, 1945 at 06.00 WIB, no one from the Indonesian side came to surrender.
This of course sparked anger from the Allies, who then bombarded Surabaya. The great war was unavoidable, known as the Battle of November 10, 1945. The city of Surabaya was bombarded by the combined British and Dutch forces. There were also casualties.
However, the battle is remembered as a symbol of the resistance of the Indonesian people against the occupying foreign troops. This event is the date on which Heroes’ Day is celebrated every November 10.
The Battle of Surabaya which took place from late October to late November 1945 is undoubtedly one of the major battles in modern Indonesian history. The battle involved a combination of the People’s Security Army (TKR) and people’s militias on one side and British and Gurkha troops on the other.
One of the important elements behind the persistence of the fighters and the people of Surabaya in surviving is their strong enthusiasm and belief in defending Indonesia’s independence. It is formed by those who are able to invite and mobilize the masses.
The role of the leaders of the people’s struggle in Surabaya can be seen through their very persuasive speeches to mobilize the masses. From the Indonesian government in Surabaya, there were Resident Sudirman and Governor Surio, while from the center of society emerged a central figure, namely a former journalist named Soetomo, who is familiarly called Bung Tomo.
Many people believe that the Battle of 10 November 1945 is an icon of the revolution for Indonesian independence, while Bung Tomo is an icon of the Battle of 10 November 1945.
“Allah is the Greatest! Independent!” are the closing words of his speech that are still often remembered by people.
Indonesian youths working at Japanese radio stationed in Surabaya took over the radio facility shortly after independence was proclaimed. One of the groups that participated was the Leaders of the Indonesian People’s Rebellion (PPRI), led by Bung Tomo.
PPRI intends to broadcast “toontoetan we, the people of Indonesia, especially the initiative to implement the Peace of Indonesia, which is currently being disturbed by NICA and its accomplice”. PPRI has a “revolutie-zender” (revolution transmitter) called Radio Rebellion.
PPRI also asked for support from the international community. To reach a foreign audience, PPRI asked Indonesians who could speak foreign languages to register as PPRI members.
Radio broadcasts of the Bung Tomo Rebellion reached beyond Indonesia, including Thailand and Australia. These broadcasts succeeded in encouraging the international community to put pressure on the Dutch and the British to relax their attacks, and even brought various forms of assistance to the people of Surabaya.
Youth and students were one of Bung Tomo’s main targets. When the battle for Surabaya broke out, he asked the youths of Surabaya not to leave the city. He also asked for additional troops for Surabaya.
His request was answered because not long ago the TKR headquarters in Yogyakarta sent a commander and more than twenty cadets to help the fighters in Surabaya.
Bung Tomo Rebellion Radio also asked for medical support for the victims of the Surabaya battle. This call in the air was greeted by other Republican sympathizers in the form of hundreds of nurses who came voluntarily and a number of doctors. Likewise, when the publisher asked to be supplied with food, in a short time food aid came.
Bung Tomo succeeded in persuading the masses because he understood how to get the people of Surabaya to participate in the battle. His egalitarian attitude or “leadership without hierarchy”, typical Surabaya rhetoric, and his call for takbir were able to capture the aspirations and enthusiasm of the masses, especially youth, Islamic groups and the grassroots.
It is not surprising that in the Battle of November 10, 1945 it was also known as jihad fi sabilillah . The fighting spirit of the Indonesian people has soared with the existence of Bung Tomo’s fatwa.
His speeches often open with the musical tune “Tiger Shark”. This may be aimed at attracting Surabaya’s educated youth who are familiar with Western pop culture.
Besides the cry of “freedom”, the closing of his speech was takbir. This shows that he views the war as having a spiritual meaning, a medium to attract the attention of Muslims throughout East Java.
Bung Tomo “was not a religious fanatic”, but at the same time “thought Islam was very important”. He is not a soldier who carries weapons to fight the enemy. However, his biggest contribution to Indonesia during the battle in Surabaya was seen more as a propagandist in his radio studio, compared to fighting on the street.
Between 1950–1956, Bung Tomo was included in the Cabinet of Prime Minister Burhanuddin Harahap as Minister of State for Former Armed Forces/Veterans, concurrently Minister of Social Affairs (Ad Interim).
Bung Tomo later became a member of the Constituent Assembly representing the Indonesian People’s Party since 1956. He became the people’s representative until the body was disbanded by Sukarno by Presidential Decree 1959.
Sutomo strongly protested Soekarno’s policies, including taking him to court, even though he ultimately lost. As a result, he slowly withdrew from the world of politics and government.
At the beginning of the New Order, Bung Tomo re-emerged as a figure who initially supported Suharto. However, since the early 1970s, he began to criticize Suharto’s programs, including one of the projects to build the Taman Mini Indonesia Indah. As a result, he was arrested and imprisoned for a year on 11 April 1978 on charges of subversive acts.
After getting out of prison, Bung Tomo seemed no longer interested in being vocal with the government and chose to use time with his family to educate his five children.
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National Hero title
On October 7, 1981, Bung Tomo died in Padang Arafah while performing the pilgrimage. Unlike the tradition of burying pilgrims who died in the holy land, Bung Tomo’s body was brought back to Indonesia.
In accordance with his will, Bung Tomo was not buried at the Heroes Cemetery like other figures, but at the Ngagel Public Cemetery in Surabaya.
Bung Tomo’s name was then officially confirmed as a national hero at the commemoration of Heroes’ Day in 2008 at the Merdeka Palace. At that time, it was his wife who directly received the decree number 041/T/Year 2008 submitted by the President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Giving the title of national hero to Bung Tomo, as well as ending the prolonged polemic that had arisen at that time. This appointment was based on pressure from various parties, including GP Ansor and the DPR’s Golkar Party faction.
The proposal to give Bung Tomo the title of national hero was once submitted to the government, but did not receive approval. However, Bung Tomo’s extended family on the other hand also never had a problem with this title.
The Minister of Communication and Informatics (Menkominfo), Mohammad Nuh, explained that there are several procedures that must be passed before a fighting figure gets the title of national hero. Among these procedures were proposed by a group of people to the provincial government, the proposals were then forwarded to the Ministry of Social Affairs.
After arriving at the Ministry of Social Affairs, the proposal is submitted to the team giving the award for national services to be followed up. If deemed fit and according to the requirements, the character will get the title of national hero.
Apart from that, the president on the other hand also has the prerogative to give a title to someone who is considered to have contributed to the nation and state. However, everything still has to go through the procedures and mechanisms that apply.
Well, that’s a brief explanation of Bung Tomo’s Life History and Struggle . Appreciating the services of heroes, like Bung Tomo, is not only by remembering and thanking them in their hearts, but also by emulating their attitudes and actions.
Sinaumed’s can visit sinaumedia’s book collection at www.sinaumedia.com to get references about other heroes, starting from their life background, education, and struggle history.
The following is a recommendation for sinaumedia books that Sinaumed’s can read to learn about the history of the Battle of November 10, 1945 so that they can fully understand it. Happy reading.
Author: Fandy Aprianto Rohman