Some major buildings that are found along Jakarta’s Thamrin Street are the central bank (Bank Indonesia), Department of Religion, Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu), the embassies of Japan, France, United Kingdom, and Germany, Plaza Indonesia shopping mall, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Hotel Indonesia Kempinski, Grand Indonesia shopping mall, the Deutsche Bank tower, and many more. In other words, it is a very high class area in one of the most expensive parts of Jakarta (hence one of the most expensive parts of Indonesia).

Few, however, know who the street was named after. In fact, a while ago an Indonesian child was asked on television “do you know who Mohammad Husni Thamrin was?” The child replied “yes, it is a street”. This seemingly illustrates that the street has become more famous than the actual person it was named after (at least, among the younger generations of Indonesians).

The street is actually named after Mohammad Husni Thamrin (often abbreviated as MH Thamrin), an Indonesian political thinker and national hero, who was born on 16 February 1894 in Batavia (present-day Jakarta) – in the Sawah Besar village - during the Dutch colonial days (Dutch East Indies). And besides having streets (and buildings or institutions) named after him, Thamrin’s face is also depicted in the 2016 series of the IDR 2,000 Indonesian rupiah banknotes.

In this new series, we want to present one Indonesian “national hero” each month and explain his/her contributions to Indonesia, while also putting his/her acts in political, economic and social context (in other words: a small history lesson).


This articles discusses:

the background of MH Thamrin
the social context of Batavia in the early 20th century
the Dutch Ethical Policy and the rise of Indonesian nationalism
MH Thamrin's role in the development of Indonesian nationalism

Read the full article in the January 2019 edition of our monthly research report. This report is scheduled to be released in early February 2019. You can purchase the report by sending an email to or a WhatsApp message to the following number: +62(0)8788.410.6944