Sunday, August 16, 2009
Indonesian Independence Day
The Proclamation of Indonesian Independence (Indonesian: Proklamasi Kemerdekaan Indonesia, or simply Proklamasi) was officially made at 10.00 a.m. sharp on Friday, August 17, 1945. The declaration marked the start of the diplomatic and armed-resistance of the Indonesian National Revolution, fighting against the forces of the Netherlands until the latter officially acknowledged Indonesia's independence in 1949. In 2005, the Netherlands declared that they had decided to accept 17 August 1945 as Indonesia's independence date.
Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta, who were appointed President and Vice-president, respectively, were the documents signatories.
The draft was prepared only a few hours earlier, on the night of August 16, by Sukarno, Hatta, and Soebardjo, at Rear-Admiral Maeda (Minoru) Tadashi's house, Miyako-Doori 1, Jakarta (now the "Museum of the Declaration of Independence", JL. Imam Bonjol I, Jakarta). The original Indonesian Declaration of Independence was typed by Sayuti Melik. Maeda himself was sleeping in his room upstairs. He was agreeable to the idea of Indonesia's independence, and had lent his house for the drafting of the declaration. Marshal Terauchi, the highest-ranking Japanese leader in South East Asia and son of Prime Minister Terauchi Masatake, was however against Indonesia's independence, scheduled for August 24.
While the formal preparation of the declaration, and the official independence itself for that matter, had been carefully planned a few months earlier, the actual declaration date was brought forward almost inadvertently as a consequence of the Japanese unconditional surrender to the Allies on August 15 following the Nagasaki atomic bombing. The historic event was triggered by a plot, led by a few more radical youth activists such as Adam Malik and Chairul Saleh, that put pressure on Soekarno and Hatta to proclaim independence immediately. The declaration was to be signed by the 27 members of the Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence (PPKI) symbolically representing the new nation's diversity. The particular act was apparently inspired by a similar spirit of the United States Declaration of Independence. However, the idea was heavily turned down by the radical activists mentioned earlier, arguing that the committee was too closely associated with then soon to be defunct Japanese occupation rule, thus creating a potential credibility issue. Instead, the radical activists demanded that the signatures of six of them were to be put on the document. All party involved in the historical moment finally agreed on a compromise solution which only included Soekarno and Mohammad Hatta as the co-signers 'in the name of the nation of Indonesia'
Soekarno had initially wanted the declaration to be read at Ikada Plain, the large open field in the centre of Jakarta, but due to unfounded widespread apprehension over the possibility of Japanese sabotage, the venue was changed to Soekarno's house at Pegangsaan Timur 56. In fact there was no concrete evidence for the growing suspicions, as the Japanese had already surrendered to the Allies, and the Japanese high command in Indonesia had given their permission for the nation's independence. The declaration of independence passed without a hitch.
The event also triggered several insurgencies and atrocities in some local areas such as Westerling's Celebes Massacre in 1946, the East Sumatra Social Revolution in 1946, and Laskar Hitam. They were carried out by both Dutch-loyalists and anti Dutch-loyalists fighting against each other, as well as by other local militias that simply took advantage of the seemingly uncertain situation following the proclamation.