Iliyas Karim, the Forgotten First Indonesian Flag RaiserBERITAJAKARTA.COM — 5/20/2010 5:58:07 PM
The gratefulness of Indonesia’s independence cannot be separated from nation’s heroes struggle. At this national Awakening Day which has been commemorated every 20th May, we can commemorate heroes’ services to Indonesia Independence Day as well. One of the heroes is Iliyas Karim (82), the forgotten one.
On his old age, Iliyas Karim lives in his simple house beside rail road in Kalibata, South Jakarta. He lives with his third wife.
Karim was a brave hero. He was an Indonesia flag raiser on Indonesia Independence Day August 17, 1945 at President Soekarno’s house on Jl Pegangsaan Timur 56 Cikini, Central Jakarta.
Karim has still remembered the history and saved the document about his involvement. Karim raised Indonesian flag together with the late Sudanco Singgih. The picture showed that Karim and Singgih stood near Soekarno, Hatta, Fatmawati and Rahmi Hatta. Karim was 17 years old. He wear shirt and shorts.
The man who was born in Padang, December 31, 1927 moved to Jakarta in 1936 because his father was promoted as demang (head of sub-district) in Matraman, East Jakarta. “I did not know why, but my father was caught by the Japans and shot in Tegal, Central Java. I was an orphan,” said Karim, Wednesday (5/19).
At that time, Karim heard about the People’s Security Body (BKR) recruitment. He applied it. because of his braveness, together with Sudanco Singgih he was pointed as the first Indonesian flag raiser made by Mrs. Fatmawati.
In 1946 Karim with Siliwangi troops fought against the Netherlands in Bojong Kokosan, Sukabumi, West Java. “I fought against the Netherlands for the people,” said the man who has got his pension in 1979.
But until now, Karim has lived in modesty. His eyes were labeled because of his eyes stroke. His doctor suggested him to label his eyes so that the eyes won’t be closed.
“In fact I can see clearly but I need plaster to keep my eyes open,” he explained.
He told history about his life on his old age. After retired in Colonel Lieutenant, Karim and his family lived in a dormitory for Siliwangi troops, in Banteng square Central Jakarta. There were other 49 veterans. In 1982, the dormitory was demolished without any compensation.
After that, together with his family, Karim rented a house for two years before living in a small house beside rail track in Kalibata. When he saw a waste land in Kalibata, he asked for permission to Head of PJKA (PT KAI) Kalibata train station, Samaludin. He wanted to build a house there. He got the permission. His house was built in 1984. Other veterans also built houses there. “But now they move. Some of them are now in Kalibata Heroes Cemetery,” he said.
Karim has hoped to live forever on his house. But it seems only a dream because in 2008 he got a letter to move from his small house. “I fought the Netherlands for Indonesian people but now officials enjoy the Independence Day. I cannot believe I have to be dismissed for two times,” he sadly said.
Father of 14 children said, he does not know where to go although his daughter living in Germany asked him to move with his wife to Germany. Karim cannot do a thing because he considers that the land is not his land.
He cannot afford to buy land and house. Karim and Darinis, his third wife could only live modesty with Rp 1.5 million of pension money. He got his first pension money as much as Rp 500 thousand.
Although he lived modest, but he still has social spirit. Since 1995, Karim has been promoted as general chairman of Indonesia Siliwangi troops Foundation located on Jl Proklamasi. The foundation donates orphans across the city, Lampung and Bandung.