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Merah, Patjar. Tan Malaka (1894-1949) was an Indonesian patriot and political activist. He appeared in at least five Celebrity Pulp dime novels in Sumatra from 1938 to at least 1940, beginning with Spionnage-Dienst (1938), written by “Matu Mona,” the pseudonym of Indonesian author Hasbullah Parinduri (Raden Soebrata).

The dime novels portray Malaka as “Patjar Merah,” or the “Scarlet Pimpernel,” a Superhuman wandering vigilante who supports the native Indonesians against both the White Peril Dutch colonizers and against Indonesian Stalinists. Merah uses his ilmu gaib (magical abilities), especially mesmerism and disguise, for good and to fight evil. Merah is active around Southeast Asia, and is known by different names in Thailand, China, and Palestine, where he helps the Palestinians against the British. Merah leads an organization similar to the Pimpernel’s League of the Scarlet Pimpernel, but no textual link or reference to the Orczy character or novels is ever provided.

* I'm including the Patjar Merah dime novels in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because of their historical importance. Patjar Merah was a significant political activist during the 1930s and 1940s, albeit one who the colonial Dutch disliked. The Patjar Merah Celebrity Pulp dime novels would have functioned as both entertainment and encouragement for Indonesian nationalists and as useful propaganda to be shown to those Indonesians not yet wholeheartedly embracing the Indonesian nationalist cause. As such, the Merah dime novels would have been both entertainment and political agitprop--a role few pulps or dime novels anywhere ever played. 

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