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Molly Bondan (1912–1990)

from Canberra Times

Serving and former Indonesian Government ministers were among those who paid their last respects to an Australian woman who played an active role in Indonesia's independence struggle 40 years ago.

Molly Bondan died in a Jakarta hospital on Saturday, aged 77, after suffering from cancer for two years. Her funeral was held yesterday.

The death of Ms Bondan, who was described in the leading Indonesian daily newspaper Kompas as a symbol of Indonesian-Australian friendship, recalled the role of Australian sympathisers in the Indonesian fight for independence from the Dutch at the end of World War II.

Born in New Zealand, she moved to Sydney with her parents when she was seven. In the early 1940s she was a founding member of the Australia-Indonesia Association, later joining the Indonesian Independence Central Committee, through which she met her husband, Mohammad Bondan, an independence fighter exiled to Australia by Dutch colonial authorities.

In 1947 she travelled to Indonesia to work as a broadcaster and translator for Indonesian radio.

She was also a speech writer and translator for Indonesia's founding leader, President Sukarno, and subsequently worked for the information and foreign ministers until retiring in 1968.

Until last year, she continued working for the Government, translating the annual presidential budget and Independence Day speeches.

"During the independence war, she was regarded as Sukarno's English voice," according to the Australian Ambassador in Jakarta, Philip Flood.

Among those who paid their respects at her Jakarta home on the weekend were former foreign minister Ruslan Abdulgani. He said, "We regarded her as one of us during the independence struggle."

As well as her government work, she published books on Indonesian arts and culture. Her final work, a book about her husband's life, is due to be published this year.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Bondan, Molly (1912–1990)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 20 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Warner, Mary Alithea

9 January, 1912
Auckland, New Zealand


6 January, 1990 (aged 77)
Jakarta, Indonesia

Cause of Death

cancer (not specified)

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Key Organisations