If you often pass the center city area of Jakarta, you must be familiar with the name of Muhammad Husni Thamrin, or known as M.H. Thamrin. This Betawi figure is one of Indonesia’s independence fighters. The main boulevard of Jakarta is named after him.
M.H. Thamrin was a Betawi son who was born and lived in the area of Sawah Besar, central Jakarta. He was born on 16 February 1894. His friends called him Mat Seni. Abbreviating people’s name is common to the Betawi people. Mat stands for Muhammad while Seni is taken from Husni. His father was a Wedana, an assistant to the Regent who oversaw several sub-district heads.
As the son of Wedana, M.H. Thamrin had the opportunity to go to high school. Every time he came home from school, he always passed through slum villages. His desire was to improve the fate of the local people. During school, M.H. Thamrin was already interested in politics. He often gathered with young people from various associations who later fought for national independence.
At the age of 25, M.H. Thamrin became a member of the Gemeenteraad Batavia or the Betawi Township Council. This was where he struggled for the lives of local people. He built schools for people, health facilities, installed street lighting, and built canals to prevent flooding from the Ciliwung River.
In 1923, M.H.Thamrin founded the Collections of the Betawi. For the success, M.H. Thamrin was appointed as deputy mayor of Batavia. Then, he became a member of the Volksraad or the People’s Advisory Council. When he was a member of the Volksraad, his struggle was not only for Betawi people, but for Indonesia. M.H. Thamrin died on 11 January 1941.