Indonesia did not exist as yet during the Palaeocene period (70 million
years BC), the Eocene period (30 million years BC). the Oligacene period
(25 million years BC) and the Miocene period (12 million years BC). It
is believed that Indonesia must have existed during the Pleistocene period
(4 million years BC) when it was linked with the present Asian mainland.
It was during this period that the Homonids made their first appearance
and Java Man inhabited the part of the world now called Indonesia.
Java Man, named Pithecanthropus Erectus by Eugence Dubois who found
the fossils on the island of Java, must have been the first inhabitant
When the sea level rose as the result of melting Ice north of Europe
and the American continent, many islands emerged. Including the Indonesian
archipelago. It was also during this period (3000- 500 BC) that Indonesia
was inhabited by Sub-Mongoloid migrants from Asia who later inter-married
with the indigenous people. Later still (1000 BC) inter-marriage occurred
with Indo-Arian migrants from the south-Asian sub-continent of India.
The first Indian migrants came primarily from Gujarat in South- east
India during the first Christian era.
The Caka period in Indonesia witnessed the introduction of the Sanskrit
language and the Pallawa script by the Indian Prince Aji Caka (78 AD).
The Devanagari script of the Sanskrit language was also used, as shown
in ancient stone and copper inscriptions (paracasthles) which have been
unearthed. The language and script were adapted and called the Kawi language
and included words and phrases derived from Javanese.
Early trade relations were established between South India and Indonesia.
Sumatra was then named Swarna Dwipa of "the island of gold," Java was called
Java Dwipa or "the rice island," and a Hindu kingdom of Crivijaya in Sumatra
and Nalanda in South India were not confined to religious and cultural
exchanges. They later developed diplomatic relations, and even covered
a wide range of trade.
The influx of Indian settlers continued during the period from the first
to the seventh century AD. Peacefully and gradually the Hindu religion
spread throughout the archipelago. It was adopted by all layers of the
people of Java, but limited to the upper classes on the other islands.
THE PERIOD OF HINDU KINGDOMS
Many well-organized kingdoms with a high degree of civilization were
ruled by indigenous kings who had adopted the Hindu or Buddhist religion.
This explains why this period in history is called the Period of Hindu
Kingdoms. It lasted from ancient times to the 16th Century AD. Because
the culture and civilization, which emanated from the Hindu and Buddhist
religions, were syncretized with the local cultural elements, the period
was also referred to as the Hindu-Indonesian period.
Indian culture and customs were introduced, such as the system of government
in a monarchy, the ancestry system, the organization of military troops,
literature, music and dances, architecture, religious practices and rituals,
and even the division of laborers into castes or varnas. The Hindu literary
works known as Vedas and the "Mahabharata" and "Ramayana" epics were also
introduced through the wayang. or shadow-play performance, which is still
very popular in many parts of present day Indonesia.
The first Indian Buddhists arrived in Indonesia between the Ist and
2nd Centuries AD. They brought with them Buddhism in its two sects. Hinayana
and Mahayana. The latter became more advanced in the 8"' Century AD.
In 144 AD a Chinese Buddhist saint. Fa Hsien. was caught in a storm
and landed in Java-Dwipa, or Java Island, where he stayed for five months.
The northern part of the island was then ruled by an Indonesian Hindu King
named Kudungga. Kutai, on the island of Borneo, was successively ruled
by the Hindu kings Devawarman, Aswawarman and Mulawarman.
When the Greek explorer and geographer. Ptolemy of Alexandria, wrote
on Indonesia, he named either the island of Java or Sumatra "abadiou".
His chronicles described Java as a country with a good system of government
and advanced agriculture, navigation and astronomy. There was even mention
of the "batik" printing process of cloth that the people already knew.
They a-l.so made metalware. used the metric system and printed coins.
Chinese chronicles of 132 AD described the existence of diplomatic relations
between Java-Dwipa and China. Around 502 AD Chinese annals mentioned the
existence of the Buddhist Kingdom, Kanto Lirn in South Sumatra, presumably
in the neighborhood of presentday Palembang. It was ruled by king Gautama
Subhadra. and later by his son Pyrawarman of Vinyawarman who established
diplomatic relations with China. Because of a spelling or pronunciation
difficulty. what the Chinese called "Kanto Li" was probably Crivijaya,
a mighty Buddhist kingdom. On his way to India, the Chinese Buddhist pilgrim.
I Tsing, visited Crivijaya in 671 AD to study the Sanskrit language. He
returned 18 years later, in 689 AD Crivijaya was then the center of Buddhist
learning and had many well-known philosophy scholars like Sakyakirti. Dharmapala
The kingdom had diplomatic relations with the south Indian kingdom of
Nalanda. The Crivijaya mission built a school on its premises where Indians
could learn the art of molding bronze statues and broaden their knowledge
of the Buddhist philosophy. With the spread of Buddhism, Crivijaya's influence
reached out to many other parts of the archipelago.
Another known Buddhist kingdom was Cailendra in Central Java. It was
ruled by the kings of Cailendra Dynasty.
During their rule (750-850 AD) the famous Buddhist temple,
Borobudur, was built. In 772 AD other Buddhist temple were also built.
They include the Mendut, Kalasan and Pawon temples. All of these
temples are now preserved as tourist objects near the city of Yogyakarta.
The Cailendra kingdom was also known for its commercial and naval power,
and its flourishing arts and culture. A guide to learn singing, known as
the Chandra Cha-ana, was first written in 778 AD.
The Prambanan temple, which was dedicated to Lord Civa, was started
in 856 AD and completed in 900 AD by King Daksa. Earlier Civa temples were
built in 675 AD on the Dieng mountain range, southwest of Medang Kamolan,
the capital of the Mataram Kingdom.
In West Java were the kingdoms of Galuh, Kanoman, Kuningan and Pajajaran.
The latter was founded by King Purana with Pakuan as its capital. It replaced
the kingdom of Galuh. The kingdoms of Tarurna Negara, Kawali and Parahyangan
Sunda came later.
At the end of the 10th Century (911-1007 AD) the powerful kingdom of
Singasari emerged in East Java under King Dharmawangsa. He codified laws
and translated into Javanese the "Mahabharata" epic and its basic philosophy,
as exposed in the Bhisma Parva scripture. He also ordered the 12 translations
of the Hindu holy book, the Bhagavat Gita.
Meanwhile, the island of Bali was also ruled by King Airlangga, known
as a wise and strong ruler. He had water-works built along the Brantas
River that are still in use today. Before his death in 971 AD he divided
his kingdom into the kingdoms of Janggala and Daha or Kediri. These were
to be ruled by his two sons.
King Jayabaya of Kediri 1135-1157 wrote a book in which he foretold
the downfall of Indonesia. Subsequently, so he wrote, the country would
be ruled by a white race, to be followed by a yellow race. His prediction
turned out to be Dutch colonial rule and the Japanese occupation of the
country during World War. However, Jayabaya also predicted that Indonesia
would ultimately regain her independence. During the golden period of the
Kediri Kingdom many other literary works were produced, including the Javanese
version of the Mahabharata by Mpu (saint) Sedah and his brother Mpu Panuluh.
This work was published in 1 157.
The kingdoms of East Java were later slieceeded by the Majapahit Kinudorn.
tirst ruled by l'rinre Wijava who vvas also known as King Kartarajasa.
Under King llayain Wuriik tlie Majapahit Empire became the most powerlul
kingdom in the history of Indonesia. It had dependencies in territories
beyond the borders of the present archipelago, such as Champa in North
Vietnam. Kampnchea.and the Philippines (1331-1364). King llayam Wuruk.
with his able premier Gajah Mada. succeeded in gradually uniting the whole
archipelago under the name of Dwipantara.
During this golden period of Majapahit many literary works were produced.
Among them was "Negara Kertagama." by the famous author l'rapancha (1335-1380).
Parts of the book described the diplomatic and economic ties between Majapahit
and numerous Southeast Asian countries including Myanmar. Thailand. Tonkin.
Annam. Kampuchea and even India and China. Other works in Kawi. the old
Javanese language, were "Pararaton." "Arjuna Wiwaha." "Ramayana." and "Sarasa
Muschaya." These works were later translated into modern European languages
for educational purposes.
THE PERIOD OF ISLAMIC KINGDOMS
Moslem merchants from Gujarat and Persia began visiting Indonesia in
the 13th Century and established trade links between this country and India
and Persia. Along with trade, they propagated Islam among the Indonesian
people, particularly along the coastal areas of Java. like Demak. At a
later stage they even influenced and converted Hindu kings to Islam, the
first being the Sultan of Demak. This Moslem Sultan later spread Islam
westwards to Cirebon and Banten. and eastward along the northern coast
of Java to the kingdom of Gresik. In the end. he brought the downfall of
the powerful kingdom of Majapahit (1293-1520).
After the fall of Majapahit. Islam spread further east to where the
sultanates of Bone and Goa in Sulawesi were established. Also under the
influence of Islam, were the sultanates of Ternate and Tidore in Maluku.
From North ot Java. the religion spread to Banjarmasin in Borneo and
further west to Sumatra, where Palembang. Minangkabau (West Sumatra). Pasai
and Perlak were converted.
Meanwhile, descendants of the Majapahit aristocracy, religious scholars
and Hindu Ksatrivas retreated through the East Java peninsula of Blambangan
to the island of Bali and Lornbok. In a later period. however, the eastern
part of Lornbok was converted to Islam. which entered the island from the
southern Sulawesi city of Makassar. now named Ujungpandang.
The capital of the West Java Kingdom of Pajajaran was Sunda Kelapa (1300
AD). It was located in the present capital city ofindonesia. Jakarta. In
1527 Sunda Kelapa was conquered by Falatehan, an Islamic troop commander
of the sultanate of Demak. After his conquest the city was renamed Jaya
Karta, meaning "the great city," this was the origin of the present name.
Jakarta. Falatehan also defeated the Portuguese, who had also tried to
seize the city.
THE PORTUGUESE IN INDONESIA
In their search for spices, the Portuguese arrived in Indonesia in
1511. after their conquest of the Islamic kingdom of Malacca on the Malay
Peninsula. They were followed by the Spaniards. Both began to propagate
Christianity and were most successful in Minahasa and Maluku. also known
as the Moluccas.
The Sultan of Aceh in Sumatra, the Sultan of Demak in Java and the Sultan
of Ternate in the Maluku islands joined forces in trying to ward off the
Portuguese. At that time the power and sovereignty of Ternate sultanate
was recognized by more than 72 islands, including the island of Timor.
In 1570. the Portuguese succeeded in killing the Sultan of Ternate. Khairun.
However, his successor. Sultan Baabullah. besieged the Portuguese fortress
at Ternate. Baabullah then allied himself with the Dutch to further confront
the Portuguese and Spaniards.
In 1651 the Dutch invaded Kupang in Western Timor. Despite the Dutch
presence in Timor, the formal and precise definition ofthe territories
controlled by the two colonial powers did not take place until more than
200 years after the Dutch conquest of Kupang. It was only on 20 April 1859.
the Dutch concluded a treaty with Portugal to divide Timor into their respective
control : The Dutch occupied the Western part and Portugal the eastern
part of the island. From that time Portugal could secure a full control
over East Timor until it left the region in 1975.
THE BEGINNING OF DUTCH COLONIALISM
Meanwhile, the Dutch had started their quest for Indonesian spices
to sell on the European market at big profit. For the purpose of more efficient
and better organized merchant trade they established the Dutch East India
Company (VOC) in 1602. To protect the merchant fleet from frequent pirate
attacks on the high seas, Dutch warships were ordered to accompany it.
After the nationalization of the VOC in 1799. the Dutch Government had
a firm grip on the vital territories of'the country. People in those territories
were forced to surrender their agricultural produce to the Dutch merchants.
Meanwhile, the Hindu Kingdom of Mataram converted to Islam and was ruled
by the Muslim, Sultan Agung Hanyokrokusumo. He developed the political
power of the state and was a keen patron of the arts and culture. In 1633
he introduced the Islamic Javanese calendar Sultan Agung was a fierce enemy
of the Dutch. In 1629 he sent his troops to attack Batavia, but they were
repulsed by the troops of Governor General Jan Pieterszoon Coen.
After the seizure of Ambon in the Moluccas in 1605 and Banda Island
in 1623, the Dutch secured the trade monopoly of the spice islands. A policy
of ruthless exploitation by "divide and rule" tactics was carried out.
In this way indigenous inter-island trade, like that between Makassar,
Aceh, Mataram and Banten, as well as overseas trade, was gradually paralyzed.
Indonesia was reduced to an agricultural country to supply European markets.
At the same time, the Dutch adopted a so-called open-door policy toward
the Chinese in order that they could serve as middlemen in their trade
Sultan Hasanuddin of Goa waged a war against the Dutch in 1666. But
was defeated and Goa became a vassal state of the VOC under the treaty
of Bunggaya of 1667. Prince Trunojoyo of Madura also fought the Dutch.
He was defeated and killed in 1680.
To reinforce their spice monopoly in the Moluccas, the Dutch undertook
their notorious Hongi expeditions, whereby they burned down the clove gardens
of the people in an effort to eliminate overproduction, which brought down
the prices of cloves on the European markets. In these outrageous expeditions
countless atrocities were committed against people who defended their crops.
In 1740 the Dutch suppressed a rebellion in Jakarta that was sparked
by dissatisfied Chinese, who were later joined by Indonesians. Ten thousand
Chinese were massacred.
The Kingdom of Mataram began to see its downfall after it was divided
by the VOC into the Principalities of Yogyakarta and Surakarta. However,
mismanagement and corruption forced the VOC into bankruptcy and on December
31, 1799, all its territories in Indonesia were taken over by the Dutch
Administration in Batavia.
BRITISH TEMPORARY RULE
In 1814 the British came to Indonesia and built Fort York in Bengkulu
on the west coast of Sumatra. It was later renamed Fort Mariborough.
During the Napoleonic wars in Europe when Holland was occupied by France,
Indonesia fell under the rule of the British East India Company (1811-1816).
Sir Thomas Stanford Raffles was appointed Lieutenant Governor General of
Java and dependencies. He was subordinated to the Governor General in Bengal,
Raffles introduced partial self-government and abolished the slave trade.
In those days slaves were captured and traded by foreigners. He also introduced
the land-tenure system, replacing the hated Dutch forced-agricultural system,
whereby crops were grown and surrendered to the Government. Borobudur and
other temples were restored and research conducted. Raffles wrote his famous
book, 'The History of Java," in which he described Java's high civilization
During the British stay in Sumatra (1814-1825), William Marsden wrote
a similar book on the history of Sumatra, which was published in 1889.
After the fall of Napoleon, and the end of the French occupation of
Holland the British and Dutch signed a convention in London on August 13,
1814, in which it was agreed that Dutch colonial possessions dating from
1803 onwards should be returned to the Dutch Administration in Batavia.
Thus, the Indonesian archipelago was recovered from the British in 1815.
RETURN OF DUTCH RULE
Soon the Dutch intensified their colonial rule. But this only sparked
widespread revolts to seize freedom. These revolts, however, were suppressed
one after the other.
To mention only a few: Thomas Matulessy, alias Pattimura, staged a revolt
against the Dutch in the Moluccas (1816-1818). Prince Diponegoro of Mataram
led the Java War from 1825 until 1830. Again, it was a fierce struggle
for freedom. Tuanku Imam Bonjol led the Padri War in West Sumatra, while
Teuku Umar headed the Aceh War in North Sumatra (1873-1903). King Sisingamangaraja
of the Bataks revolved against the Dutch in 1907. An attempt by the Dutch
troops to occupy Bali in 1908 was repelled by King Udayana. Revolts were
also erupting in Goa, South Sulawesi, and in South Kalimantan.
When all these regional wars of independence failed, Indonesian nationalists
began thinking of a more-organized struggle against Dutch colonialism.
The move began with the founding of Boedi Oetomo, literally meaning "noble
conduct." on May 20, 1908. This organization of Indonesian intellectuals
was initially set up for educational purposes but later turned into politics.
It was inspired by Japan's victory over Russia in 1901, which also gave
impetus to nationalist movements in many parts of Indonesia. The founder
of Boedi Oetomo was Dr. Soetomo who was, at the time, a student of STOVIA,
an institution to train Indonesian medical officers. Dr. Soetomo was greatly
influenced by Dr. Wahidin Soedirohoesodo and supported by Gunawan and Suradji.
In 1912 Sarekat Dagang Islam, the Association of Moslem Merchants, was
formed by Haji Samanhudi and others. Its objective was at first to stimulate
and promote the interest of Indonesian business in the Dutch East Indies.
However, in 1912 this organization of middle class businessmen turned into
a political party and was renamed Sarekat Islam under the leadership of
H.O.S. Tjokroammoto. Haji Agoes Salim and others.
In 1912 a progressive Moslem organization, Muhammadiyah. was established
by K.H. Akhmad Dahlan in Yogyakarta for the purpose of social and economic
In December of the same year Partai Indonesia was founded by Douwes
Dekker. later named Setiabudi, with Dr. Tjipto Mangunkusumo and Ki Hajar
Dewantoro. The objective of the party was to strive for complete independence
of Indonesia. All three leaders of the party were exiled by the colonial
government in 1913.
In 1914 communism was introduced in the East Indies by three Dutch nationals-SneevIiet,
Baars and Brandsteder.
In May 1920 Sarikat Islam split into a right and a left wing, the latter
was to become the Partai Komunis Indonesia (PKI, the Indonesian Communist
Party) under the leadership of Semaun, Darsono, Alimin. Muso and others.
The Powerless People's Council
In 1916 Sarikat Islam held its first convention in Bandung and resolved
the demand for self-government for Indonesia in cooperation with the Dutch.
When Sarikat Islam demanded a share in the legislative power in the colony,
the Dutch responded by setting up the Volksraad in 1918 which was virtually
a powerless people's council with an advisory status.
Indonesian representatives on the council were indirectly elected through
regional councils, but some of the other members were appointed colonial
The Volksraad later developed into a semi-legislative assembly. Among
the members of this body were prominent nationalist leaders like Dr. Tjipto
Mangunkusurno, H.O.S. Tjokroaminoto, Abdul Muis, Dr. G.S.S.J. Ratulangi,
M.H. Thamrin, Wiwoho, Sutardjo Kartohadikusumo. Dr. Radjiman, and Soekardjo
Under the pressure of the social unrest in the Netherlands at the end
of World War I, the Dutch promised to grant self-government to Indonesians.
This was known as the "November promise." It was promise that was never
Besides the Volksraad, there was another body called Raad van Indie,
"the Council of the Indies," whose the members were appointed by the Government
Achmad Djajadiningrat and Sujono were among the very few Indonesian members
of this council.
In 1923 deteriorating economic conditions and increasing labo strikes
prompted the colonial government to put severe restriction on Indonesian
civil liberties and make amendments to the colonia laws and penal codes.
Freedom of assembly, speech and expressiol in writing was restricted.
Further Growth of Indonesian
Despite the political restrictions, on July 3, 1922 Ki Hajar Dewantoro
founded Taman Siswa, an organization to promote national education.
In 1924 the Indonesian Students Association, "Perhimpunan Mahasiswa
Indonesia," was formed by Drs. Mohammad Hatta, Dr. Sukiman and others.
This organization became a driving force of the nationalist movement to
The Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) staged revolts against the colonial
government in November 1926 in West Java, and in January 1927 in West Sumatra.
After their suppression the Government exiled many non-communist nationalist
leaders to Tanah Merah, which the Dutch called "Boven Digul" in Irian Jaya.
Dr. Tjipto Mangunkusurno was exiled to Bandaneira.
In February 1927 Mohammad Hatta, Achmad Soebardjo and other members
of Indonesia's Movements attended the first international convention of
the "League Against Imperialism and Colonial Oppression" in Brussels, together
with Jawaharlal Nehru and many other prominent nationalist leaders from
Asia and Africa.
In July 1927, Soekarno, Sartono and others formed the Indonesian Nationalist
Party (PNI), which adopted Bahasa Indonesia as the official language.
This party adopted a militant policy of noncooperation with the Government as the result of a fundamental
conflict of interest between Indonesian nationalism and Dutch colonialism.
In the same year, an all-Indonesia nationalist movement was organized
by Indonesian youth to replace earlier organizations, which had been based
on regionalism, such as "Young Java," "Young Sumatra" and "Young Ambon."
On October 28, 1928, delegates to Indonesian Youth Congress in Jakarta
pledged allegiance to "one country, one nation and one language, Indonesia."
Concerned about the growing national awareness of freedom, the colonial
authorities arrested the PNI leader, Soekarno, in December 1929. This touched
offwidespread protests by Indonesians.
In 1930 the world was in the grip of an economic and monetary crisis.
The severe impact of the crisis was felt in the Indies, a raw material
producing country. The colonial government responded with a strict balanced
budget policy that aggravated economic and social conditions.
Two other leaders of the PNI, Gatot Mangkupradja and Maskun Supriadinata,
were arrested and tried in court on charges of plotting against the Government.
Soekarno was released in September 1931 but exiled again in August 1933.
He remained in Dutch custody until the Japanese invasion in 1942.
In January 1931, Dr. Soetomo founded Persatuan Bangsa Indonesia, the
Indonesian Unity Party. Its objective was to improve the social status
of the Indonesian people.
In April of the same year, PNI was abandoned. A new party wa: formed
by Sartono, LLM and named Partai Indonesia, the Indonesial Party. Its basis
was nationalism, its line was independence.
Also in 1931, Sutan Syahrir formed Pendidikan Nasional Indone sia. Known
as the new PNI, it envisaged national education. Moham mad Hatta joined
In 1933 a mutiny broke out on the Dutch warship "De Zeven Provincien"
for which Indonesian nationalists were held responsible The following year
Sutan Syahrir and Mohammad Hatta and othe nationalist leaders were arrested
and banished until 1942.
In 1935, Soetomo merged Persatuan Bangsa Indonesia and Boed Oetomo to
form Partai Indonesia Raya (Parindra). Its fundamenta goal was the independence
of Great Indonesia.
In July 1936, Sutardjo submitted to the "Volksraad" a petition calling
for greater autonomy for Indonesia. This petition was flatly rejected
by the Dutch-dominated Council.
In 1937 Dr. A.K. Gani started the Indonesian People's Movement Gerakan
Rakyat Indonesia, which was based on the principles of na tionalism, social
independence and self-reliance.
In 1939 the All Indonesian Political Federation, GAPI, called fo the
establishment of a full-fledged Indonesian parliament. This de mand was
rejected by the Government in Holland in 1940.
GAPI also demanded an Indonesian military service for the purpose of
defending the country in times of war. Again, this was turned down, notwithstanding
the impending outbreak of World War II. At the time, there were widespread
movements for fundamental and progressive reforms in the colonies and dependencies
THE JAPANESE OCCUPATION
After their attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the Japanese forces moved
southwards to conquer several Southeast Asian countries ter Singapore had
fallen, they invaded the Dutch East Indies and colonial army surrendered
in March 1942.
Soekarno and Hatta were released from their detention. Japanese began
their propaganda campaign for what they called "Great East Asia Coprosperity".
But Indonesians soon realized that it was a camouflage for Japanese imperialism
in place of Dutch colonialism.
To further the cause of Indonesia's independence, Soekarno Hatta appeared
to cooperate with the Japanese authorities. In reality, however, Indonesian
nationalist leaders went underground and masterminded insurrections in
Blitar (East Java), Tasikmalaya and lndramayu (West Java), and in Sumatra
Under the pressure of the 4th Pacific war, where their supply lines
were interrupted, and the increasing of Indonesian insurrections, the Japanese
ultimately gave in to allow the red-and-white flag to fly as the Indonesian
national flag. Recognition of "Indonesia Raya" as the national anthem and
Bahasa Indonesia as the national language followed. Hence, the youth's
pledge of 1928 was fulfilled.
After persistent demands, the Japanese finally agreed to place the civil
administration of the country into Indonesian hands. This was a golden
opportunity for nationalist leaders to prepare for the proclamation of
THE BIRTH OF THE REPUBLIC
The Republic of Indonesia first saw light on August 17, 1945, when
its independence was proclaimed just days after the Japanese surrender
to the Allies. Pancasila became the ideological and philosophical basis
of the Republic, and on August 18, 1945 the Constitution was adopted as
the basic law of the country.
Following the provisions of the Constitution, the country is headed
by a President who is also the Chief Executive. He is assisted by a Vice-President
and a cabinet of ministers.
The sovereignty of the people rests with the People's Consultative Assembly
(MPR). Hence, the President is accountable to the MPR. The legislative
power is vested in the House of Representatives (DPR). Other institutions
of the state are the Supreme Court, the Supreme Advisory Council and the
Supreme Audit Board. Soekarno became the first President and Chief Executive,
and Mohammad Hatta, the first Vice-President of the Republic. On September
5, 1945 the first cabinet was formed.
The War of Independence
The infant republic was soon faced with military threats to its very
existence. British troops landed in Indonesia as a contingent of the Allied
Forces to disarm the Japanese. Dutch troops also seized this opportunity
to land in the country, but for a different purpose. namely, to regain
control of the former East Indies. At the beginning they were assisted
by British troops under General Christison, a fact later admitted by Lord
Louis Mountbatten. the Commander of the Allied Forces in Southeast Asia
based in Myanmar. In fact. the British troops were officially only assigned
to the task of repatriating Allied prisoners of war and internees.
On November 10, 1945, fierce fighting broke out between British troops
and Indonesian freedom fighters in which the British lost Brigadier Mallaby.
As a result, the British turned to an all-out combat from the sea. air
and land. The newly-recruited army of the Republic soon realized the superiority
of the British forces and withdrew from urban battles. They subsequently
formed guerrilla units and fought together with armed groups of the people.
Under the pretext of representing the Allied Forces, the Dutch sent
in more troops to attack Indonesian strongholds. Between 1945 and 1949
they undertook two military actions.
Diplomacy and Fighting
Meanwhile, on November II. 1945. Vice-President Hatta issued a manifesto
that outlined the basic policy of the new Republic. It was a policy of
good neighborhood and peace 22 with the rest of the world.
On November 14 of the same year. the newly-appointed Prime Minister.
Sutan Syahrir. introduced a parliamentary system, with party representation,
in the Republic.
On December 22. Sutan Syahrir announced Indonesia's acceptance of the
British proposal to disarm and confine to internment camps 25.000 Japanese
troops throughout the country. This task was successfully carried out by
TNI. the Indonesian National Army. Repatriation of the Japanese troops
began on April 28, 1946. Because fighting with the Dutch troops continued,
the seat of the Republican Government was moved from Jakarta to Yogyakarta
on January 4. 1946.
The Indonesian Question in the
The war in Indonesia posed a threat to international peace and security.
In the spirit of article 24 of the United Nations' Charter, the question
of Indonesia was officially brought before the Security Council by Jacob
Malik of the Soviet Unions. Soon afterwards, on February 10. 1946.
the first official meeting of Indonesian and Dutch representatives took
place under the chairmanship of Sir Archibald dark Kerr.
But the freedom fight continued and Dutch military aggressions met with
stiff resistance from Indonesian troops. The Indonesian Government conducted
a diplomatic offensive against the Dutch.
With the good offices of Lord Killearn of Great Britain, Indonesian
and Dutch representatives met at Linggarjati in West Java. The negotiations
resulted in the de facto recognition by the Dutch of Indonesia's sovereignty
over Java. Sumatra and Madura. The Linggarjati Agreement was initiated
on November 1946 and signed on March 25,1947.
But the agreement was a violation of Indonesia's independence proclamation
of August 17. 1945, which implied sovereignty over the whole territory
of the Republic. As such, it met with the widespread disapproval of the
people. Hence, guerrilla fighting continued, bringing heavy pressure on
In July 1947 the Dutch launched a military offensive to reinforce their
urban bases and to intensify their attacks on guerrilla strongholds. The
offensive was, however, put to end by the signing of the Renville Agreement
on January 17, 1948. The negotiation was initiated by India and Australia
and took place under the auspices of the UN Security Council.
It was during these critical moments that the Indonesian Communist Party
(PKI) stabbed the newly- proclaimed Republic of Indonesia in the back by
declaring the formation of the "Indonesian People's Republic" in Madiun,
East Java. Muso led an attempt to overthrow the Government, but this was
quickly stamped out and he was killed.
In violation of the Renville agreement, on December 19, 1948, the Dutch
launched their second military aggression. They invaded the Republic capital
of Yogyakarta, arrested President Soekarno, Vice President Mohammad Hatta
and other leaders, and detained them on the island of Bangka, off the east
coast of Sumatra. A caretaker Government, with headquarters in Bukittinggi,
West Sumatra, was set up under Syafruddin Prawiranegara.
On the initiative of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru of India, a meeting of
19 nations was convened in New Delhi that produced a resolution for submission
to the United Nations, pressing for total Dutch surrender of sovereignty
to the Republic of Indonesia by January 1, 1950. It also pressed for the
release of all Indonesian detainees and the return of territories seized
during the military actions. On January 28, 1949, the UN Security Council
adopted a resolution to establish a ceasefire, the release of Republican
leaders and their Yogyakarta.
The Dutch, however, were adamant and continued to occupy the city of
Yogyakarta by ignoring of the Republican Government and the National Army.
They deliberately issued a false statement to the world that the Government
and the army of the Republic of Indonesia no longer existed.
To prove that the Dutch claim was a mere fabrication. Lieutenant Colonel
Soeharto led an all-out attack on the Dutch troops in Yogyakarta on March
1, 1949, and occupied the city for several hours. This offensive is recorded
in Indonesia's history as "the first of March allout attack" to show to
the world at the time that the Republic and its military were not dead.
Consequently, on May 7, 1949, an agreement was signed by Mohammad Roem
of Indonesia and Van Rooyen of the Netherlands, to end hostilities, restore
the Republican Government in Yogyakarta, and to hold further negotiations
at a round table conference under the auspices of the United Nations.
World Recognition and Indonesia's
The Round Table conference was opened in the Hague on August 23, 1949,
under the auspices of the UN. It was concluded on November 2 with an agreement
that Holland was to recognize the sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia.
On December 27, 1949 the Dutch East Indies ceased to exist. It now became
the sovereign Federal Republic of Indonesia with a federal constitution.
The constitution, inter alla, provided for a parliamentary system in which
the cabinet was responsible to Parliament.The question of sovereignty over
Irian Jaya, formerly West New Guinea, was suspended for further negotiations
between Indonesia and the Netherlands. This issue remained a perpetual
source of conflict between the two countries for more than 13 years. On
September 28, 1950, Indonesia became a member of the United Nations.
The Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia On August 17, 1950 the
Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, as originally
proclaimed, was restored. However, the liberal
democratic system of government was retained whereby the cabinet would
be accountable to the House of Representatives. This was a source of political
instability with frequent changes in government. In the absence of a stable
government, it was utterly impossible for a newly-independent state to
embark on any development program.
With the return of the unitary state, the President once again assumed
the duties of Chief Executive and the Mandatary of the Provisional People's
Consultative Assembly. He is assisted by a VicePresident and a cabinet
of his own choosing. The Executive is not responsible to the House of Representatives.
Challenges to the Unitary State
The philosophy behind the Unitary State was that a pluralistic country
like Indonesia could only be independent and strong If It was firmly united
and integrated. This was obviously the answer to the Dutch colonial practice
of divide and rule. Hence, the national motto was "Bhinneka Tunggal lka"
as referred to earlier.
However, no sooner was the Unitary State re-established then it had
to face numerous armed rebellions. The Darul Islam rebels under Kartosuwiryo
terrorized the countryside of West Java in their move to establish an Islamic
State. It took years to stamp them out. Then there was the terrorist APRA
band of former Dutch army captain Turco Westerling, which claimed the lives
of thousands of innocent people.
Outside Java, demobilized ex-colonial army men who remained loyal to
the Dutch crown, staged a revolt and proclaimed what they called "the Republic
of South Maluku".
In South Sulawesi an ex-colonial army officer, Andi Aziz, also rebelled.
In Kalimantan lbnu Hadjar led another armed revolt. Sumatra could also
account for a number of separatist movements. And, to complete the list,
the Indonesian Communist Party again staged an abortive coup under the
name of 30th September movement, when they kidnaped and killed six of the
country's top army generals in the early hours of October 1, 1965.
The Asian-African Conference
President Soekarno had to his credit the holding of the Asian-African
Conference in Bandung, West Java, from April 18 to 24, 1955. The initiative
was taken by Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Myanmar and Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
The conference was attended by delegates from 24 Asian and African countries.
The purpose of the meeting was to promote closer and amiable cooperation
in the economic, cultural and political fields. The resolution adopted
became known as the "Dasa Sila", or "The Ten Principles," of Bandung. It
strived for world peace, respect for one another's sovereignty and territorial
integrity, and for non-interference in each other's internal affairs. The
resolution also sought to uphold the human rights principles of the United
The Asian-African Conference became the embryo of the Non Aligned Movement.
The seeds that sprouted in Bandung took firm root six years later when
25 newly independent countries formally founded the Non-Aligned Movement
at the Belgrade Summit of 1961. Since then the membership of the Movement
has grown to its present strength of 1 12 member countries.
THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW ORDER
Over-confident of their strength and precipitated by the serious
illness of President Soekarno, who was undergoing treatment by a Chinese
medical team from Beijing, the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) attempted
another coup on September 30, 1965. The uprising, however, was abrupt and
quickly stamped out by the Armed Forces under Major General Soeharto, then
Chief of the Army's Strategic Command.
On the night of September 30, or more precisely in the early hours of
October 1, 1965, armed PKI men and members of Cakrabirawa. the President's
security guard, set out to kidnap, torture and kill six top Army Generals.
Their bodies were dumped in an abandoned well at Lubang Buaya, on the outskirts
of Jakarta. The coup was staged in the wake of troop deployments to Kalimantan,
at the height of Indonesia's confrontation with Malaysia. Moreover, at
the time, many cabinet members were attending a celebration of the Chinese
October Revolution in Beijing. It was during this power vacuum that the
communists struck again.
Under instructions from General Soeharto, crack troops of the Army's
Commando Regiment (RPKAD) freed the central radio station (RRI) and the
telecommunication center from communist occupation.
Students made for the streets in militant demonstrations to fight for
a three-point claim, or "Tritura," that aimed to ban the PKI, replace Soekarno's
cabinet ministers, and reduce the prices of basic necessities. They set
up a "street parliament" to gather the demands of the people.
Under these explosive conditions, President Soekarno eventually gave
in and granted Soeharto full power to restore order and security in the
country. The transfer of power was effected by a presidential order known
as "the 11th of March order" of 1966. Soon afterwards, on March 12, 1966,
General Soeharto banned the PKI. This decision was endorsed and sanctioned
by virtue of the Provisional People's Consultative Assembly Decree No XXV/MPRS/1966.
He also formed a new cabinet, but Soekarno remained as Chief Executive.
This brought dualism into the cabinet, particularly when Soekarno did not
show support for the cabinet's program to establish political and economic
stability. Hence, a special session of the Provisional People's Consultative
Assembly (MPRS) was convened from March 7-12, 1967. The Assembly resolved
to relieve Soekarno of his presidential duties and appointed Soeharto as
Acting President, pending the election of a new President by an elected
People's Consultative Assembly.
The New Order Government
Ever since taking office in 1967, the New Order Government of President
Soeharto was determined to return constitutional life by upholding the
1945 Constitution in a strict and consistent manner and by respecting Pancasila
as the state philosophy and ideology.
To emerge from the political and economic legacy of Soekarno's Old Order,
the new government set out to undertake the following:
1. To complete the restoration of order and security and to establish political stability.
2. To carry out economic rehabilitation.
3. To prepare a plan for national development and execute it with the emphasis on economic development.
4. To end confrontation and normalize diplomatic relations with Malaysia.
5. To rejoin to the United Nations, which Indonesia had quit in January 1965.
6. To consistently pursue an independent and active foreign policy.
7. To resolve the West Irian question.