The Republic of Indonesia first saw light on August 17, 1945. when its independence was proclaimed just days after 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 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 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 11, 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 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 Dutch troops continued, the seat of the Republican Government was moved from Jakarta to Yogyakarta on January 4,1946.

The Indonesian Question in the United Nations

The war in Indonesia posed a threat to international peace and security. In the spirit of article 24 of the United Nation's 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 Clark Kerr.

But the freedom fight continued and Dutch military aggressions were 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 Dutch troops.

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 cease-fire and the release of Republican leaders. The Dutch, however, were adamant and continued to occupy the city of Yogyakarta in ignorance 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, now President of the Republic, led an all-out attack on the Dutch troops in Yogyakarta on March 1, 1949, and occupied the city for several hours. This offensive recorded in Indonesia 's history as " the first of March all-out attack " to show to the world at the time that 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 Sovereignty

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 alia, 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 Mandatory of the Provisional People's Consultative Assembly. He is assisted by a Vice-President 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 Ika ."

However, no sooner was the Unitary State re-established then it had to face numerous armred 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 arm 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 Andy Aziz, also rebelled. In Kalimantan Ibnu Hadjar lead 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 kidnapped 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 " Dasa Sila ", or " The Ten Principles " of Bandung. It strives for world peace, respect for one another sovereignty and territorial integrity , and for noninterference in each other's internal affairs. The resolution also seeks to uphold the human rights principles of the United Nations.


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, the 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 attending a celebration of the Chinese October Revolution in Beijing. It was during this power vacuum that the communist struck again.

Under instruction from General Soeharto, crack troops of the Army's Commando Regiment ( RPKAD ) freed the central radio station ( RRI ) and the telecommunication center from the communist occupation.

Students made for the streets in militant demonstration to fight for a three-point claim, or "Tritura," that aimed to ban the PKI, replace Soekarno's cabinet ministers, and reduce the price 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 affected by a presidential order known as "the 11th of March order" of 1966 ("Super Semar"). 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.


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 the economic rehabilitation

3. To prepare a plan for and execute national development with the emphasis on economic development

4. To end confrontation and normalize diplomatic relations with Malaysia

5. To return 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

8. To regain Indonesia's economic credibility overseas

9. To hold general elections once every five years

Much of the implementation of these policies has been described in the foregoing pages. It remains here to mention some of the more notable achievements of the New Order during the first few years of its existence. Results of national development are presented in this book under the heading "Development Achievements" and are updated each year.

With regard to Malaysia, not only were relations normalized but Indonesia together with Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand joined to establish the Association of South East Asian Nations ( ASEAN ). On achieving independence in 1984, Brunei Darusalam became the sixth member of ASEAN. The objective of the association is the establishment of regional cooperation in the economic, social and cultural fields, but ASEAN also operates in the political area.

To prepare for national development, in addition to economic rehabilitation, Indonesia secured an agreement with creditor countries to reschedule an overseas debt of US$ 5 billion. With the recovery of the country's overseas credibility, Indonesia succeeded in the formation of a consortium of creditor countries to assist in her economic development. This consortium is known as the Inter-Governmental Group on Indonesia ( IGGI ) and includes the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Britain and a number of West-European countries. Its annual meetings are held in Amsterdam under the chairmanship of the Netherlands.

East Timor's Integration

History recorded that in 672 AD Timor was part of the Crivijaya Kingdom. Later the island belonged to the Majapahit Kingdom for 200 years, until 1520.

In the last quarter of the 16th century the Portuguese subjugated Sultan Baabullah of Ternate, then the overlord to Timor.

In 1651 the Dutch invaded Kupang in Western Timor and on April 20, 1859, concluded a treaty with Portugal whereby the latter was granted the right only to the northern part of Timor, Atauro Island and Oecussi, a tiny Sultanate in the Dutch controlled part of West Timor.

In a statement on May 28, 1974, the Governor of Portuguese Timor, Colonel Fernando Alves Aldela, granted the people permission to form political parties. The response was the emergence of five political parties - UDT ( Uniao Democratica Timorese ), FRETILIN ( Frente Revolucionaria de Timor Leste Independent ), APODETI ( Associacao Popular Democratica de Timor ), KOTA ( Klibur Oan Timur Aswain ) and TRABALHISTA ( Labor Party ).

Through lack of popular support, FRETILIN resorted to terror tactics, threats and blackmail in an attempt to intimidate members of other parties. This caused growing tension throughout the colony and sparked an inevitable war.

On August 27, 1975, the Governor and other Portuguese officials abandoned the capital of Dili, fled to Atauro Island and left FRETILIN free to continue its reign of teror. FRETILIN was even supplied with arms from the Portuguese army arsenal.

On November 28, 1975 of the same year, FRETILIN unilaterally "declared the independence" of East Timor and announced the formation of "the Democratic Republic of East Timor".

In the light of these developments, on November 30, 1975, at Balibo, UDT, APODETI, KOTA and TRABALHISTA proclaimed the independence of the territory and its simultaneous integration with Indonesia. On December 17, 1975, the four parties announced the establishment of the Provisional Government of East Timor in Dili.

On May 31, 1976, the duly elected People's Assembly of East Timor decided in an open session to formally integrate the territory with the Republic of Indonesia. A bill on this integration was approved by the Indonesian House Representatives on July 15, 1976 and, with the promulgation by the President, became Law on July 17. East Timor has since been the 27th province of Indonesia with all the rights and duties under the 1945 Constitution of the Republic.


Pancasila Democracy is a system of life for the state and society on the basis of people's sovereignty. It is inspired by the noble values of the Indonesian nation. Pancasila itself, which means the five principles, is the name given to the foundation of the Indonesian Republic. The five principles of Pancasila are : Belief in the One and Only God; A just and civilized humanity; the Unity of Indonesia; Democracy guided by the inner wisdom of deliberations of representatives; and Social Justice for all the Indonesian people.

Thus, Pancasila Democracy means democracy based on people's sovereignty which is inspired by and integrated with the other principles of Pancasila. This means that the use of democratic rights should always be in line with the sense of responsibilty towards God Almighty according to the respective faith, uphold human values in line with human dignity; guarantee and strengthen national unity; and be aimed at realizing social justice for the whole of the people of Indonesia.

In a democratic life based on Pancasila, the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), being the highest state institution, has a very important role to play. As an institution which fully exercises the sovereign rights of the Indonesian people, the MPR should always reflect the aspirations and the wishes of the people with all its decisions or decrees. And as the holder of the highest power in the state, the Assembly appoints the President and Vice-President and determines the Guidelines of State Policy for implementation by the President.

The House of Representatives (DPR), the members of which are from the people and are elected by the people, has the function of exercising control over the conduct of the administration by the President. The mechanism of this control by the House of Representatives constitutes a means to prevent constitutional deviation or deviations from the people's wish by the government.


The Government Manifesto of November 3, 1945, opened the way to a rapid growth of political parties. Soon, a multi-party system emerged with parties of different ideologies, ranging from nationalism to socialism, religion and even Marxism/Leninism. Hence, the political structure developed into a liberal democracy that was a complete departure from the type of democracy envisaged by Pancasila.

With sharply conflicting ideologies, political rivalry was the order of the day and a stable Government was out of the question. With a total of 24 political parties and their fractions, cabinets could only be formed on the basis of a shaky compromise between the strongest parties. In point of fact, coalition cabinets were formed and dissolved very often. The administration was in a complete shambles and development was a far cry.

The first and only general election ever held during the rule of the Old Order took place in 1955. Even that election did not produce a strong cabinet with a solid back-up in Parliament. On the contrary, because political conditions continued to deteriorate, the President ordered the formation of a Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution. However, as mentioned earlier, this only ended up in a total deadlock which led the president to take all the power of the state into his own hands under the pretext of guided democracy.

Having learned from the experience of the unlimited multi-party system of the past, the New Order Government, which came into office in 1967, decided to simplify the political system along the following lines:

1. In order to minimize ideological conflicts between political organizations, all political organizations shall adopt Pancasila as their sole basis principle.

2. To simplify the political system, particularly for the purpose of choosing a political organization by the people in general elections, it was felt that the number of these organizations should be reduced.

3. In the past, villages were made the bases of political activities and maneuvers, most notably in the heyday of the Indonesian Communist Party. This adversely affected the social and economic life of the village populations. Hence, it would be desirable to free villages from the activities of political organizations.

Furthermore, the large number of organizations has been reduced by the fusion of parties and their affiliated organizations into two political parties - Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (The United Development Party or Partai Persatuan) and Partai Demokrasi Indonesia (The Indonesian Democracy Party or PDI), and one Functional Group or Golongan Karya (Golkar).

Partai Persatuan is a fusion of Nahdlatul Ulama (the Moslem Scholars Party), Parmusi (the Moslem Party), PSII (the Islamic Confederation) and PERTI (the Islamic Union).

PDI is a fusion of the former PNI (the Nationalist Party), the Catholic Party, the Christian (Protestant) Party, the Indonesian Independence Party, and Partai Murba (the People's Party).

Golkar accommodates the aspirations and political rights and duties of functional groups that are not affiliated with either party, namely civil servants, retired members of the Armed Forces, women's organizations, professional groups, farmers, student, etc.

By virtue of the 1983 Guidelines of State Policy and on the basis of Act No. 3 of 1985, Pancasila has finally been adopted as the one and only ideological principle upon which all political organizations base their activities.

Election System

For the election of members of DPR and the Regional DPR (DPRD) the system of proportional representation and register system apply. In this way, the number/force of representatives of the organization in the DPR and DPRD is as far as possible in proportion to the amount of support in society. To this end, an organization whose candidates are listed in some list of candidates will obtain a number of seats based on a certain electoral quotient, i.e. a certain number obtained by dividing the total number of votes by the number of seats available. The register system as well as the system of general elections reflect an acknowledgment of the system of organization taking part in the political life.

(Source: INDONESIA 1995 An Official Handbook.)

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