HISTORY: THE BIRTH OF THE REPUBLIC
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
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
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
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
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.
THE COMMUNIST ABORTIVE COUP
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
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
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
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
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
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
SIMPLIFICATION OF POLITICAL PARTIES
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
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
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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