Sunday, June 24, 2007

Karl Marx's works now in Indonesian language

Despite some of the negative images of Indonesia in Malaysia, its intellecual life has always been fascinating to me since the first day I was taught Modern Indonesian Politics by the late Professor Herb Feith in the mid-1980s in Australia's Monash University. One of its striking features is that many of the works of the world's great thinkers and writers are available in Bahasa Indonesia editions.

In that republic which houses the largest number of Muslims within a single nation-state on earth, almost all the scriptures of the world's great religions, including Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism are available in their Indonesian-language editions. So are, among many other great books, Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species as well as Karen Amstrong's A History of God and The Battle for God.

The latest contribution to the already rich stock of translated works in the Indonesian language is undoubtedly Volume III of Karl Marx's Capital which has been published by Hasta Mitra in Jakarta

The 996-page Kapital (Buku III) - Proses Produksi Kapitalis Secara Menyeluruh, was translated by Oey Hay Djoen, a veteran of the 1945-1949 anti-colonial or national liberation armed struggle against Dutch colonialism, a Member of Parliament during the Sukarno era and a political prisoner or tapol (tahanan politik) under Suharto's regime. Oey Hay Djoen also translated Volume I and Volume II of Capital as well as other major works of Marx and Engels like Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 (Naskhah-Naskhah Ekonomi Dan Filasafat 1844), The Poverty of Philosophy (Kemiskinan Filasafat) and The Holy Family (Keluarga Suci), etc.

Kapital (Buku III) - Proses Produksi Kapitalis Secara Menyeluruh is dedicated in part by translator Oey Hay Djoen to his cherished friend and comrade for sixty years, Eng Ming Ching (left) who is now more well known as Suriani Abdullah in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. Oey honours Suriani in his dedication as "my role model and inspiration".

According to Suriani, they first met in 1947 in Indonesia when she was invited to tour the liberated areas in the former Dutch colony such as Jakarta, Jogjakarta, Madiun, Pasuruan, Lumajang, Probolinggo and Jember.

Suriani said: " It was (Oey) Hay Djoen and also (Siauw) Giok Tjhan (then Minister for Minorities Affairs of the Suharto-Hatta Revolutionary Government) who brought me around various parts of Java, like Madiun where I delivered a lecture in English to the university students there on MPAJA's 44-month guerrilla war against the fascist occupation of Malaya ".

Suriani, who joined the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) in Ipoh in 1940, was herself an armed partisan of the MPAJA in Perak. She was once captured and tortured by the Japanese for about six months.

After June 1948, they lost contact with one another for the next 53 years until 2001.

The first email in Bahasa Indonesia sent by Oey to Suriani reads:

" Betapa gembira dan bahagia hati ini, menerima sepucuk surat dari seorang kawan yang sudah lebih setengah abad (tepatnya 53 tahun) dicari-cari, dinantikan khabar beritanya, diingat dan disimpan dengan penuh kehangatan di lubuk hati. Dalam keadaan apa pun, senang susah, di kancah perjuangan mahupun di dalam kesedihan, keterpurukan sampai pun di tempat pembuangan. Ingatan ku akan Kawan Ming Ching masih sangat tajam. Satu hal yang ingin dan ku anggap penting diberitakan pada Kawan Ming Ching adalah, bahawa anak ku yang perempuan ini, telah ku berikan nama Ming Ching."

According to Suriani, ever since they had re-established contact in 2001, Oey has been sending her his new works of translation, including Buku I and Buku II of Karl Marx's Kapital.

"In return, I sent him my Malay-language translation of The Communist Manifesto and Left-wing Communism : an Infantile Disorder," Suriani said.

" Hay Djoen's intellectual endeavours have made very valuable contribution to the enrichment of the treasure of Marxist literature in both the Indonesian and Malay languages, " Suriani told Clare Street.

Suriani's own first love for Bahasa Melayu, which has now branched out into Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia, can be traced back to 1945 - 1947 when she sought the tutorial assistance from an Indonesian communist Sutan Jenain @ Ma Ali, who was then active in Malaya, to help her to upgrade the proficiency of the language used by millions of rakyat jelata in their everyday lives in the region.

Her autobiography Setengah Abad Perjuangan - Memoir Suriani Abdullah was, as a matter of fact, first written and published in Bahasa Melayu which is also now termed Bahasa Malaysia.

Suriani's Malay memoirs now out in Mandarin

Communist Eng Ming Ching memoirs out now


Blogger Monsterball said...

In spite of being the world's most populous Muslim nation, Indonesia has made no attempt to equate race and religion.
For the simple fact that there are many Indonesian Malays who are Christians and Animists. And also many Indonesian Chinese who only speak Bahasa Indonesia.
So having the scriptures of all religions in BI is not an issue. I remember the first time years ago when I heard a Christian sermon on satellite TV in Bahasa Indonesia. Took some getting used that allowed by the Indonesian authorities ? Of course it is.

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