Kedutaan Besar Republik Indonesia
Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia
Ambassade de la RÉpublique d'Indonésie

Old Country Profile


Image and video hosting by TinyPic

INDONESIA, the largest archipelago in the world to form a single state, consists of five main islands and 30 smaller archipelagos, which total to approximately 17,508 islands and islets of which about only 6,000 are inhabited. Indonesiaa��s national territory consists 84% of sea and 16% of land. The Indonesian sea area, which is approximately 7.9 million, is four times larger than its land area that is stretches around 7.9 million sq km. The five biggest islands in Indonesia are Kalimantan or two thirds of the island of Borneo (539,450; Sumatera (473,606; Papua, which forms part of the island of New Guinea (421,952, Sulawesi (189,035 and Java including Madura (132,035

The name “INDONESIA” is composed of the two Greek words: “Indos” meaning India, and “Nesos” meaning islands. The Indonesian archipelago forms a crossroad between two oceans, the Pacific and Indian oceans and a bridge between two continents, Asia and Australia. Because of its strategic position, therefore, Indonesia ‘s cultural, social, political and economic patterns have always been conditioned by its geographical position.


The majority of the country falls within the boundaries of the equatorial rain belt, which consists of a tropical climate. Its geographic make up is an archipelago of mostly small island surrounded by sea. However, it allows an active air circulation. As a result, the climate is closely similar to that of prevailing in the equatorial zones above the worlda��s oceans. Abundant rainfall, high temperatures and humidity are common characteristics that are present in the Indonesian lowland climate. The lowest recorded average temperature is 18 degree Celsius. Moreover, the proximity of the Asian and Australian Continents brings the Indonesian archipelago well within the Asian characteristic that keeps alternating in accordance with the seasons.

In Indonesia only two seasons prevail, a dry and wet, or rainy season. In most areas, the rainy season lasts from December up to March and ita��s dry season stretches from May to October, with the transition periods characterized by shifting winds and capricious weather occuring in the months of March to May and September to November. The transitional period between these two seasons alternates between gorgeous sun-filled days and occasional thunderstorms. Even in the midst of the wet season temperature could range from 21 degrees (70 degrees Fahrenheit) to 33 degrees Celsius (90 degreed Fahrenheit), except at higher altitudes, which can be much cooler. The heaviest rainfall is usually recorded in December and January each year.


Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Within the Indonesian archipelago lies one of the most remarkable zoogeographical boundaries in the world, which dates back to the glacial period when the sea level fell worldwide. In that glacial period, Java, Sumatra, and Kalimantan lay on the Sunda shelf and were joined to each other and to the mainland of Asia, but Papua and the Australian continent at that time lay on the Sahul shelf. This original geographical segregation explains why the typical oriental fauna species found in Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan are completely lacking in Papua. Similarly, the marsupials, which occur in Papua, are not found in the Oriental Region.

The region between these two shelves (Maluku, Sulawesi and the Lesser Sunda Islands) consists of another type of fauna. The bulk of Oriental fauna does not occur in Sulawesi, although it is only 50 km from Kalimantan across the Makassar strait, and the islands, such as Seram and Halmahera, closest to Papua lack the major part of the latter’s fauna. This may be on the account of the ancient presence of a deep strait between Kalimantan and Sulawesi and the depth of the Banda Sea so that this group of islands may never have been connected with either shelves during the glacial period. Scientists describe this situation in terms of three faunal lines: Wallace’s (a line drawn from south to north through Lombok and Makassar straits, ending at the southeast of the Philippines), Weber’s (a line drawn and passing through the sea between Maluku and Sulawesi) and Lydekkera��s ( a line drawn at the edge of the Sahul shelf, which skirts the western border of Papua and the Australian continent)- although some of them prefer to characterize the zone itself as a “subtractible-transition zonea�?.

According to Information obtained from the paleontological records, research suggests that the number of species known today is much smaller than in the past. The extinction of many species of animals was probably due to ecological and evolutionary processes to such as shifting sea levels, climatic changes and habitat alternations. For example, in Java, out of 75 species of mammals known as fossils, 35 are extinct, 20 still survive and 20 are extinct in Java but found elsewhere in Asia. The more recent process of extinction of certain animals in Java may have been related to human influences on the ecosystem.

At the present stage of Indonesian social and economic development, wildlife is considered as being incapable of caring for itself. In order to safeguard and protect wildlife in Indonesia, the Directorate of Nature Conservation and Wildlife Management (Direktorat Perlindungan dan Pengawetan Alam) or PPA has set the target of designating about 10% of land as serve areas. Presently there are 320 natural reserves and parks in Indonesia, with more additions being proposed.

The PPA has adopted modern natural conservation practices, which emphasize the conservation of the entire ecosystem. This is necessary , as it is often not possible to preserve wildlife without its habitat. For example, the orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus), found only in Sumatra and Kalimantan, is very dependent on primary forest habitat. Therefore, to protect their habitat, the PPA in cooperation with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has established “Orang Utan Rehabilitation” Project in Bohorok and in Tanjung Putting reserves, in Sumatra and Kalimantan respectively, for retraining illegally captured orangutans for life in the wilderness.

The Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis) with a length of 2 to 3m is the largest lizard in the world, has its home in the Komodo group of reserves, comprising of Komodo, Padar, and Rinca Islands, eastward of Java, off the west coast of Flores.

Due to its geographical isolation frorn other land masses for a longer period than the other major islands, Sulawesi has a unique fauna comprising of many endemic species and many variations thereof. The babirusa or pigdeer (Babyroussa-babyroussa) and the anoa, a forest-dwelling dwarf buffalo are among the interesting endemic animals of Sulawesi. Other endemic mammals of Sulawesi are the giant parn civet (Macrogalidia musschenbroeki), the largest of all civets, a species of tarsier (Tarsius spectrum), and several forms of the Sulawesi macaque (Cynopithecus niger).

Among the many species of birds in Sulawesi, two species of the megapode birds, the maleo fowl and the Sulawesi shrubhen, are very interesting.

Papua and Maluku areas are rich in colorful birds, ranging frorn the great flightless cassowaries (Casuarius-casuarius) to brilliantly plumaged birds of paradise of the family Paradiseidae and Ptilinorhynhidae (more than 40 species altogether) and many numbers of the parrot family.

Other members of the Oriental fauna are the hornbills of the family Bucerotidae, which are noted for their enormous beak topped by a bony casque, elephants (Elephas indicus), roaming the forest of Sumatra and Kalimantan, the Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris Sumatrae), and the very small number of rernaining Java tigers (Panthera tigris Sondaica), the Mentawai macaquel and leaf monkey Mentawai (Macoca pagensis and Prebystis potenziani) only found on the Mentawai Islands, off the west coast of Sumatra, the small number of one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus) found only in the Ujung Kulon reserve in West Java.

There are other interesting animals that are worthy to note, such as the banteng (Boss Javanicus), three kangaroo (Dorcopsis mulleri) frorn Papua, fresh-water dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) frorn Mahakarn River in Kalimantan and the proboscis monkey also from Kalimantan. In addition there are the great variety of birds including egrets, herons, kingfishers, hawks, eagles, and many others, thousands of species of insects, tortoises, turtles, and many kinds of lizards and snakes, and also exotic species of fishes, crabs, mollusks and other aquatic animals living both in salt and fresh water .

Some parts of the Indonesian archipelago are still unexplored and open for botanical and zoolagical surveys and discoveries.

Ornamental Fish

Indonesia is also known for its ornamental fish species which are now being exported to the United States, Japan, and Germany. These ornamental fish species are known for their colorful shape and beauty. They include: the Amphiprion fish, the Dascyllus, the red colored Labridae and the Coris Aygula species, which are generally found in and around the Bali straits.

Doctor fishes or Labroidae dimidiatus are ornamental fishes which behave like doctors, examining their patients or pecking the body of other fishes. The most common species among Indonesia’s ornamental fishes are the ThaIassoma lunare. The Chaetotontidae have small beaks, but the Forcipiger longirostris and the Rostratus fish are characteristic for their long snouts. The Heniches acuminatus have very long back-fins exceeding their body length and the Monish idol or Zanclus canescens can have a size of 20 cm.

Pamancanthus imperator, Pamancanthus semicirculatus, Pygoplites-diacanthus and Auxiphipos navarchus or angle fishes belonging to the Parnancanthidae families are collected because of their beautiful colors.

The Acarthuridaes and Paracunthurus hepatus fishes are very attractive due to their specific bluish color. Other attractive species are the Acunthurus-Ieucostemon fish, the Zebrazoma veliverum and the Naso-literature fishes. Fishes living in solitude are the Triggerfishes or Balistidaes.

Sea Horses or Hippocampus-coronatus of the family are also among the ornamental fishes collected in Indonesia. The Peacock fishes are called so after their long fins, found in Indonesian waters are the Ptrerois-zebra, Pterois-bachiopterus, P. Volitans, P Rusellii, P Miles and the Radiatas, all of them belongin to the Scorpanidae family. These species are a mere subset of the entire population.

Pearl Shells

Pearl oysters found in Indonesia are the Pictada maxima, Pmagaritifera and Rteria penguin species. The seas of Indonesiaa��s eastern part around Halmahera Island, the Maluku and Aru islands are the habitat of these species.

Pearl oysters became an important marine product after the setting up of the Marine Fisheries Research Institute (LPPL) in 1960 which started to conduct research and conducting experiments on the cultivation of pearl bearing oysters on the island of Aru and in Sulawesi. The series of successful experiments have given rise to the establishment of several pearl cultivation companies in the country . Indonesian pearls are in great demand because of their large size and superb quality. Pearl shells are found plentifully in Maluku. People used to dive for these shells for their iridescent colors and make of them beautiful ornamental articles and jewelry.


Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Indonesia lies within the botanical region of Melanesia, covering the Malay peninsula south of the isthmus of Kra, the Indonesia archipelago the Philippines and the whole of Papua New Guinea and Papua except the Solomon Islands. For the most part the Melanesian region is covered by the luxuriant growth of the characteristical tropical rainforest vegetation, a type of ever-wet vegetation containing a large number of timber species harboring various kinds of epiphytes, saprophytes and lianas. These characteristic features and the high number of genera and species endemic within this region make the flora of Indonesia completely different from that of neighboring continental Asia and Australia, as weIl as from the flora of other tropical areas in the world. The richness of the Melanesian region of which Indonesia represents the major portion, is reflected in the accommodation of close to 40,000 species of pants, or about 10-12% of the estimated number of plant species in the whole world.

Above an altitude of 1,000 m, a better development of what is normally considered temperature families can be seen, such as the Rosaceae, Lauraceae, Fogaceae, etc. Higher still, elfin or mossy forest and alpine vegetation are found, but comparatively speaking this is insignificant since the major part of Indonesian land-mass consists of lowland.

The rich flora of Indonesia contains many unique examples of tropical plaht life and manifestations Rafflesia arnoldi, which is found only in certain parts of Sumatra represents largest flower in the world; this parasitic plant grows on certain lianas but does not produce leaves. From the same area in Sumatra comes another giant, Amorphoplalus titanum, with the largest inflorescence of its kind. The insect trapping pitcher plants (Nepenthea Spp.) are represented by different kinds of species from many areas in western Indonesia. The myriad of orchids found in Indonesia are rich in size as the tiger orchid Grammatophyllum speciosum represents one of ita��s largest orchids, to the tiny and leafless specise of Taeniophyllum used by the local people as a source of food and handicraft. The forest groundin Indonesia is so rich in litter enabling a multitude of fungi to grow lux horsehair blight, the luminescent species, the sooty mould and the the black mildew.

Moreover, the flora making up the Indonesian vegetation abounds in timber species. The Dipterocarp family is world famous as the main source of timber (the meranti) as well as resin and vegetable fat, tengkawang or illipe nuts. Ramin, a valuable kind of timber for furniture, is obtained from species of Ganystylus, whereas sandalwood, ebony, ulin an the kayu Palembang are taken directly from the forest. Besides, Indonesia is also known for its teakwood, a product of man-made forest in Java.

In view of the richness of the Indonesian flora it isna��t surprising that the Indonesian people are heavily dependent on these natural resources to support their daily life. Approximately 6000 species of Indonesian plants are known to be used directy by the local people. Most characteristic in this modern time is probably the use of plants as the source of raw material for Indonesiaa��s traditional herbal medicine (Jamu) and as indispensable part in ceremonies, customs and traditions.

Rivers and Lakes

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Besides the great number of mountains and hills, there are many rivers scattered throughout the country . They serve as substantial
transportation means in certain islands; the Musi, Batanghari, Indragiri, and Kampar Rivers in Sumatra, the Kapuas, Barito, Mahakam, and Rajang Rivers in Kalimantan; and Memberamo and Digul Rivers in Papua. In Java, rivers are very important for irrigation systems, for instance the Bengawan Solo, Ciliwung and Brantas Rivers.

A number of unique lakes are also found in some islands. All of them are located amidst the islands, such as the Toba, Maninjau and Singkarak Lakes in Sumatra; the Tempe, Towuti, Sidenreng, Poso, Limboto and Tondano Lakes in Sulawesi, and the Paniai and Sentani Lakes in Papua.


When World War II broke out in Europe and spread to the Pacific, the Japanese occupied the Dutch East Indies as of March 1942, after the surrender of the Dutch colonial army following the fall of Hong Kong, Manila and Singapore.

On April 1, 1945, American troops landed in Okinawa. Soon after, in August 6 and 9, the United States dropped Atom bombs on two Japanese cities, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A few days later, on August 14 1945, the Japanese surrendered to the Allied Forces.

That occasion opened the opportunity for the Indonesian people to proclaim their independence. Three days after the unconditional surrender of the Japanese, on august 17, 1945, the Indonesian national leaders Ir. Soekarno and Drs. Mohammad Hatta proclaimed Indonesia`s independence on behalf of the people.

The proclamation, which took place at 58, Jalan Pegangsaan Timur, Jakarta, was heard by thousands of Indonesians throughout the country because the text was secretly broadcast by Indonesian radio personnel using the transmitters of the Japanese-controlled radio station, Jakarta Hoso Kyoku. An English translation of the proclamation was broadcast overseas.

The State Philosophy

Pancasila, pronounced Panchaseela, is the philosophical basis of the Indonesian State. Pancasila consists of two Sanskrit words, a�?Pancaa�? meaning five, and a�?Silaa�? meaning principle. It comprises five inseparable and interrelated principles. They are:


Elaboration of the five principles is as follows:

  1. Belief in the One and Only God
    This principle of Pancasila reaffirms the Indonesian peoplea��s belief that God does A�A�A�A�A�exist. It also implies that the Indonesian people believe in life after death. It A�A�A�A�A�emphasizes the pursuit sacred values will lead the people to a better life in the A�A�A�A�A�hereafter. The principle is embodied in article 29, Section 1of the 1945 Constitution A�A�A�A�A�and reads: The state shall be based on the belief in the One and Only God.
  2. Just and Civilized Humanity
    Just principle requires that human beings be treated with due regard to their dignity A�A�A�A�A�as Goda��s creatures. It emphasizes that the Indonesian people do not tolerate physical or spiritual oppression of human beings by their own people or by any other nation.
  3. The Unity of Indonesia
    This principle embodies the concept of nationalism, of love for onea��s nation and motherland. It envisages the need to always foster national unity and integrity. Pancasila Nationalsm demands that Indonesians avoid feelings of superiority on ethnical grounds, for reasons of ancestry and colour of the skin. In 1928 Indonesian youth pledged to have one country, one nation and one language, while the Indonesian coat of arms enshrines the symbols of a�?Bhineka Tunggal Ikaa�? which means a�?Unity in diversitya�?.
  4. Democracy Guided by the Inner Wisdom in the Unanimity Arising Out of A�Deliberations amongst Representatives
    Pancasila democracy calls for decision-making through deliberations, or musyawarah, to reach a consensus, or mufakat. It is democracy that lives up to the principles of Pancasila. This implies that democratic right must always be exercised with a deep sense of responsibility to God Almighty according to onea��s own conviction and religious belief, with respect for humanitarian values of mana��s dignity and integrity, and with a view to preserving and strengthening national unity and the pursuit of social justice.
    Thus, Pancasila Democracy means democracy based on the peoplea��s sovereignty which is inspired by and integrated with other principles of Pancasila. This means that the use of democratic rights should always be in line with responsibility towards God Almighty according to the respective faith; uphold human values in lineA�with human dignity; guarantee and strengthen national unity; and be aimed atA�realizing social justice for the whole of the people of Indonesia.
  5. Social Justice for the Whole of the People of Indonesia
    This principle calls for the equitable spread of welfare to the entire population, not in a static but in a dynamic progressive way. This means that all the countrya��s natural resources and the national potentials should be utilized for the greater possible good and happiness of the people.
    Social justice implies protection of the weak. But protection should not deny themA�A�work. On the contrary, they should work according to their abilities andA�fields of activity. Protection should prevent willful treatment by the strong and ensure the ruleA�of justice.

These are the sacred values of Pancasila which, as a cultural principle, shouldA�A�always be respected by every Indonesian because it is now the ideology of the state and the life philosophy of the Indonesian people.

The 1945 Constitution

The Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia is usually referred to as the 1945 Constitution. This partly because the constitution was drafted and adopted in 1945 when the Republic was being established, and partly to distinguish it from other constitutions which were introduced in free Indonesia. Furthermore, the articles of the 1945 Constitution spell out the ideals and the goals for which independence was proclaimed on August 17, 1945, and defended thereafter. It reflects the spirit and vigor of the time when the constitution was shaped. It was inspired by the urge for unity and for the common goals and democracy built upon the age-old Indonesian concepts of gotong royong (mutual assistance), deliberations of representatives (musyawarah) and consensus (mufakat).

Preceded by a preamble, the Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia consists of 37 articles, four transitional clauses and two additional provisions.

The preamble is composed of four paragraphs and includes a condemnation of any form of colonialism in the world, a reference to Indonesiaa��s struggle for independence, a declaration of independence and a statement of fundamental goals and principles. It further states, inter alia, that Indonesiaa��s national independence shall be established in the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia with sovereignty vested in the people. The State shall be based upon the following philosophical principles: Belief in the One and Only God, just and civilized humanity, the unity of Indonesia, democracy guided by the inner wisdom in the unanimity arising out of deliberations amongst representatives, and social justice for the whole of the people of Indonesia.

Guide by these fundamental principles, the basic aims of the state are to establish an Indonesian Government which shall protect all the Indonesian people and their entire motherland, advance the public welfare, develop the intellectual life of the nation, and contribute toward the establishment of a world order based on freedom peace and social justice.

The Amendments of the 1945 Constitution

Since the reformation era, the 1945 Constitution has experienced some amendments, additions, and completion for four times in the annual session of 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002. The amendments were based on topics covering among other are the following issues:
  1. Sovereignty
    The Constitution, the 1945 Constitution originally adhered an ideology that the sovereignty was vested in the people executed fully by the Peoplea��s Consultative A�A�A�A�Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat / MPR). It adhered an ideology of the PCA supremacy, making the PCA be a state institution that had unlimited authority A�A�A�A�because it became an institution of the sovereignty embodiment of all Indonesian A�A�A�A�people. Its huge and unlimited power caused MPR was unable to be controlled by A�A�A�A�any other state institutions. Accordingly, MPR became a super body state A�A�A�A�institution that in the structure of the matters pertaining to form of the government of the Republic of Indonesia was positioned as the highest state institution. To keep A�A�A�A�abreast to the changing era, the original 1945 Constitution views was no longer A�A�A�A�conforming to democracy ideology that required the implementation of checks and A�A�A�A�balances system among intra-state institutions. For that, its decree of the Article 2 A�A�A�A�section (1) was converted to the sovereignty is vested in the people and executed A�A�A�A�according to the constitution.
  2. The Structure of the Membership Authority of the Peoplea��s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat /MPR)
    Before the amendment, the stsructure of the membership of the MPR consisted of member of the House of Representative (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat /DPR) included appointed members of the Indonesian Military /Police, the appointed RegionalA�Delegates ( Utusan Daerah /UD), and Group / Delegates ( Utusan Golongan /UG). The member of DPR were elected in the General Election, while the UD and the UG were appointed. The appointment of some members of MPR was considered not conforming to with the teaching and spirit of democracy, therefore the formulation was changed by conforming that all members of MPR have to be chosen by the people through general election. With this amendment, the structure of the membership of MPR consists of DPR members and the Regional Representativesa�� Council members, a new representative institution in the structure of the matters pertaining to form of government of the Republic of Indonesia.
  3. The Authority of the President
    The 1945 Constitution adheres presidential government system. Either in theoretic A�A�A�A�and practice of the matters pertaining to form of government in countries following A�A�A�A�the presidential government system by this constitution, the president has such a A�A�A�A�quite big and important power and role. So does in Indonesia. Therefore, it was A�A�A�A�logical that there quite many materials related to the Presidential authority in the A�A�A�A�1945 Constitution that spread over in various articles and sections, especially A�A�A�A�concerning his power begun from declaring war until granting abolition.
  4. Direct Election of the President and the Vice-President by the People
    Since the establishment of the Republic of Indonesia, the election of president andA� vice president had been executed by MPR by an indirect of representative A�A�A�A�mechanism. In accordance with the spirit of democracy that requiring the people are A�A�A�A�being given the right to elect the president and vice-president directly, so the current election system by MPR has to be changed to the direct election system by the people.
    If the conditions of the first round general election are not fulfilled, the second round will be executed to appoint a candidate pair who has the majority vote from the firstA� and second ranks. The couple that has the majority vote will be inaugurated as the president and vice-president.
  5. The Term of Office of the President and Vice-President
    Before having been amended, the formulation of the term of office of the president and vice-president in the 1945 Constitution was not decisive or concrete to arrange the frequency of the term. In consequence, it opened chance for more than one interpretation. The amended 1945 Constitution sets that the president and vicepresident hold the fixed term of five years and can be re-elected for another term. It means that an Indonesia citizen is only being able to be voted for the president and vice-president for 10 years consecutively.
  6. The Discharge of the President and Vice-President on Posts
    Prior, there was no decree in the 1945 Constitution which arranged the discharge of the president and/or vice-president from their offices. The constitution only A�A�A�A�stipulated a decree on the accountability of the president before the extraordinary session of MPR based on the invitation of the DPR. It is executed when DPRA� considers the president is really violating the basic state guidelines of state policy.
    Now the amended 1945 Constitution embodies casual factors and procedures ofA� discharging the president and/or vice-president from their offices.
  7. The replacement of the President amid the Term by the Vice-President
    According to the amended 1945 Constitution, the position of the Vice-President is to assist the President in discharging his/her duties. That position makes the A�A�A�A�Vicepresident automatically shall replace the president until the end of his/her termA� if the president die, resigns is discharged, or unable to discharge his/her duties A�A�A�A�during his/her term of office.
  8. The Executor of the Presidential Duties
    Although improbable, there remain another possibility of the emergency conditionA� caused by, for example, the President and Vice-President at the same time die, A�A�A�A�resign, and are discharged, or are unable to discharge their duties of offices during on their terms. In this condition, prompt decision based on a strong law is needed. Anticipating such case the amended 1945 Constitution, stipulates that in case thatA� condition occurred, the executors of the presidential duties are that consisting of A�A�A�A�three cabinet members namely: the Foreign Affairs Minister, the Home Affairs Minister and the Defence Minister.
  9. The formation of the President Advisory Council and the Elimination of the Supreme Advisory Council (Dewan Pertimbangan Agung /DPA)
    The existence of DPA as a state institution, which was equal with the president and A�A�A�A�had a task to give advice and judgment to the president was viewed as less effective A�A�A�A�and efficient. It was due to unbinding of the advice and judgment to the president. Based on that consideration, the amended 1945 Constitution eliminates the existence of DPA. To substitute for it the constitution gives the authority to the President to form the Advisory Council that has the task to give advice and judgment to the President.
  10. The State Ministry
    As a constitution adhering to the ideology of presidential government system, the amended 1945 Constitution asserts that the state ministers, who are appointed and discharged by him/her, are to assist the President.
  11. The Regional Government
    The regions are given the freedom and authorities to exploit and manage their natural resources, with the yield emphasized regulates to raise the regional progress and prosperity. The regional autonomy has to be executed and remainsA� within the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia.
    The newly amended Constitution also regulates the state recognition of and respect for regional administration units, which is special and extraordinary in character.
  12. The Regional Representativea��s Council
    The amended 1945 Constitution introduces a new representative institution in the structure of the government of Indonesia. The institution is the Regional A� Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah /DPD) as stated in the provisions of the Chapter VIIA concerning the DPD.

The Coat of Arms

The Indonesian coat of arms consists of a golden eagle, called a�?garudaa�? that is a figure from ancient Indonesian epics. It is also pictured on many temples from the 6th Century.

The eagle is a symbol of creative energy. Ita��s principal color, gold, suggests the greatness of the nation. The black color represents nature. There are 17 feathers on each wing, 8 on the tail and 45 on the neck. These figures stand for the date of Indonesiaa��s independence proclamation: 17 August 1945.

The motto, a�?Bhinneka Tunggal Ikaa�? ( Unity in Diversity), is enshrined on a banner held in the eaglea��s talons.

The National Flag

The Indonesian national flag is called a�?Sang Saka Merah Putiha�?. The flag is made up of two colors, red on top of white. Ita��s width is two-third of its length, or two meters by three meters. It is hoisted in front of the presidential palace, of government buildings and Indonesian mission abroad. The first flag was courageously flown amidst Japanese occupation forces on the day Indonesiaa��s independence was proclaimed. Since then it has been hoisted at independence day commemoration in front of the presidential palace in the capital city of Jakarta. This historical flag, or a�?bendera pusakaa�?, was flown for the last time on August 17, 1968. Since then it has been preserved and replaced by a replica woven of pure Indonesian silk.

The National Anthem

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The national anthem of Indonesia is called a�?Indonesia Rayaa�?, which means Great Indonesia. The song was composed in 1928.

The birth of Indonesia Raya marked the beginning of Indonesian nationalist movements. The song was first introduced by its composer, Wage Rudolf Supratman, at the second All Indonesian Youth Congress on October 28, 1928 in Batavia, now Jakarta. It was the moment when Indonesian youth of different ethnicities, language, religious and cultural backgrounds resolutely pledged allegiance to:

  1. One native land, Indonesia;
  2. One nation, the Indonesian nation;
  3. One unifying language, the Indonesian language.

Soon the national song, which called for the unity of Indonesia, became popular. It was echoed at Indonesian political rallies, where people stood in solemn observance. The song seriously aroused national consciousness among the people throughout the archipelago Indonesiaa��s National Anthem.


Image and video hosting by TinyPic Due to the vastness of the Indonesian lands, many of ita��s people have been separated by seas which in turn has caused the development of different cultures and languages. This separation has led to an increase in diversification among people that share similar roots in ancestry.

Nevertheless, the population of Indonesia has been reclassified, not so much on the basis of their racial origins, but more so on the basis of their linguistic identities caused by geographic diversification, into four ethnic groups. A pure classification according to their racial origins is difficult to realize due to their inter-marriages. These four main ethnic groups are the Melanesians (the mixture between the Sub-Mongoloids with the Wajaks), the Proto-Austronesians (including the Wajaks), the Polynesians and the Micronesians.

These Melanesians are again sub-divided into the Acehnese of North Sumatra, the Batak in Northeast Sumatra, the Minangkabaus in West Sumatra, the Sundanese in West Java, the Javanese in Central and East Java, the Madurese on the island of Madura, the Bali-nese, the Sasaks on the island of Lombok, and Timorese on Timor Island. On the island of Borneo in Indonesia’s Kalimantan, one finds the Dayaks. On the island of Sulawesi in the north are the Minahasas and in the center the Torajas, and in the southern part, Makasarese and the Buginese. The Ambonese in the Maluku and the Irianese in Papua are Polynesians and Proto-Austronesians. The Micronesians are found on tiny islets of Indonesia ‘s eastern borders.

The population of Indonesia is approximately 210 million, which represents the fourth most populous nation in the world next to China, India and the United States. One of the biggest challenges that Indonesia faces in present time is population distribution. There is a high concentration of people in a small area. For example, approximately 62% of the population living in the island of Java, whose land area constitutes only 7% of the countrya��s total territory.

Language and Dialects

There are about 150 a�� 250 languages and dialects spoken and written over the whole of the Indonesian archipelago. They are usually classified according to the above mentioned ethnic denominations. The main district local languages of Indonesia are among others: the Acehnese, Batak, Sundanese, Javanese, Sasak, Tetum of Timor, Dayak, Minahasa, Toraja, Buginese, Halmahera, Ambonese, Ceramese, several Irianese languages and other such languages. In between these languages there exist many other different dialects.

Indonesia’s National Language was officially introduced after Indonesia ‘s independence and is called the BAHASA INDONESIA. Its lexicon and structure is mainly based on the Malay language enriched by Indonesia ‘s lexicon of her multi-local languages and dialects. Although the Bahasa Indonesia has since been regarded as the Lingua Franca, yet local languages are equally valid and no attempt and intention exist to abolish these local languages and dialects. Therefore, the majority of the Indonesian nationals is bilingual.

In August 1973, Indonesia and Malaysia signed a cultural agreement in which similar spelling of both the Malaysian a�?Bahasa Persatuan” and the lndonesian “Bahasa Indonesiaa�? has been agreed upon.

Ethnic Groups

The first inhabitant of Indonesia dates back 500,000 years ago, named Pithecanthropus erectus by Eugene Dubois who found the fossils at several places on the island of Java in the vicinity of the Bengawan Solo River. The fosil found in 1891 and 1892 in the village of Trinil, were called Homo Soloensis, while those found in Wajakkensis. Homo Soloensis with the same characteristic as the Austro Melanosoid people had roamed to the West (Sumatra) and to the East (Papua).

In the period of 3,000-500 BC, Indonesia was inhabited by Sub-Mongoloid migrants from Asia who later inter-married with the indigenous people. ln 1,000 BC, inter-marriage still occurred with Indo-Arian migrants from the South-Asian sub-continent of India. The influx of the Indian settlers until the seventh century AD brought about the Hindu religion spread throughout the archipelago.

Muslim merchants from Gujarat and Persia began visiting Indonesia in the 13th century and established trade links between this country and India and Persia. While conducting trade, the Gujarat and the Arab people also spread the Islamic religion in this area. The first to accept the Islamic religion were the coastal kingdoms, which before had embraced Hinduism.

In Aceh, Islam was widely accepted by the community with the Pasai and Perlak Kingdoms becoming the first Moslem kingdoms in the archipelago. First accepted by court circles, Islam found its way to the community at a later stage. Particularly in Java, the “Wali Songo” (Islamic preachers) had played a very important role.

It was in 1511, that Portuguese arrived in Indonesia. The arrival of the Portuguese should be linked to the European demand for spices. They were followed by Spaniards, the Dutch and the British. Besides search for spices, they propagated Christianity. In the rivalry that ensued, the Dutch ultimately succeeded in gaining the trade monopoly in spices throughout the archipelago, thus making the beginning of 350 years of Dutch colonialism over the country .

In the period preceding independence, Indonesia ‘s community was made up of a large variety of ethnic groups or rural communities. The member of each group are tied to each other by a sense of solidarity and identity which finds its roots in the land, language, art, culture and customs they share.

There are about 500 ethnic groups in Indonesia spread from Sabang (the northernmost tip of Sumatra) to Merauke in Papua. The Javanese community comprises the largest number of Indonesia’s total population, followed by the Sundanese, Madurese, Minangkabau, Buginese, Batak and the Balinese. Other ethnic groups are among others the Ambonese, Dayaks, Sasaks, the Acehnese, etc. Apart from the indigenous communities, other subcommunities of foreign descent are the Chinese, Arabs and Indians.


Image and video hosting by TinyPic

A variety of ethnic groups can be found in Indonesia. One of the special characteristics of the Indonesia culture is the high appreciation of the community towards religion and the faith in One and Only God.

There are five world religions, which have formally been recognized in Indonesia, they are Islam, Catholicism, Protestanism, Hinduism and Buddhism. Nevertheless, other faiths are found, especially in isolated societies, which have been accepted and are called traditional faiths. According to statistics, the majority of the Indonesian people are Moslems.

The 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, paragraph 2 article 29 ensures freedom of religious practice. Every Indonesian citizen has the right to adhere to the religion of his /her own choice and there shall be no religious discrimination. Every citizen shall respect and be tolerant to each other belief while any form of anti-religious program shall be condemned and prohibited.

Art and Culture

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Indonesia is rich in art and culture which are interwined with religion and age-old tradition from the time of early migrants with western thought and cultural values initially brought by Portuguese traders and Dutch colonialist. The basic principles which guide life, include the concepts of mutual assistance or a�?gotong-royonga�? and consultation or a�?musyawaraha�? to arrive at consensus of a�?mufakata�?. Derived from rural life, this code of behaviour or a�?adata�? law still exists in community life throughout the country, differing from area to area.

Religious influences on the community are evident from island to island. Unlike some countries, art forms in Indonesia is not only based on folklore, as many were developed in the courts of former kingdoms such as in Bali and Java, where they are part of religious ceremonies.

The famous dance dramas of Java and Bali are derived from Hindu Mythology. Highly stylized in movement and costume, dances and the a�?wayanga�? (puppet) drama are accompanied by a full a�?gamelana�? orchestra comprising of xylophones, drums, string instruments and flutes. The bamboo instrument called a�?angklunga�? of West Java are well known for their unique tinkling notes. The leather shadow puppet, called a�?Wayang Kulita�? of Java is performed with the puppets held by the puppeteer against a white screen, with the shadow of the characters on the screen visible from the other side, where the audience are seated.

The crafts of Indonesia vary in both medium and art form. The people are artistic by nature and express their ideas, inspiration and thought on wood, metal, clay, cloth and stone. Batik is the famous waxed and dyed cloth of Java, produced in some other areas such as in Bali, Jambi and Madura which varies in their respective local creativity and colouring. Other provinces produce hand-woven cloths of gold and silver threads, silks or cottons with intricate designs, such as Lampung, Palembang, Makassar and West Nusa Tenggara.


Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Nationalist Movements

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 medi-cal officers. Dr. Soetomo was greatly influenced by Dr. Wahidin Soedirohoesodo and sup-ported 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. Tjokroaminoto, 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 reforms.

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-Sneevliet, 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 or Volksraad
    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 officials.
    The Volksraad later developed into a semi-legislative assembly. Among the members of this body were prominent nationalist leaders like Dr. Tjipto Mangunkusumo, H.O.S. Tjokroaminoto, Abdul Muis, Dr. G.S.S.J. Ratulangi, M.H. Thamrin, Wiwoho, Sutardjo Kartohadikusumo, Dr. Radjiman, and Soekardjo Wiryopranoto.

    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 a promise that was never met.

    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 labor strikes prompted the colonial government to put severe restrictions on Indonesian civil liberties and make amendments to the colonial laws and penal codes. Freedom of assembly, speech and expression in writing was restricted.

  • Further Growth of Indonesian Organizations
    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 gain independence. 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 Mangunkusumo 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 non-cooperation 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, 1929, delegates to the second 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 off widespread 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 was formed by Sartono, LLM and named Partai Indonesia, the Indonesian Party. Its basis was nationalism, its line was independence. Also in 1931, Sutan Syahrir formed Pendidikan Nasional Indonesia. Known as the new PNI, it envisaged national education. Mohammad Hatta joined this organization. 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 other nationalist leaders were arrested and banished until 1942. In 1935, Soetomo merged Persatuan Bangsa Indonesia and Boedi Oetomo to form Partai Indonesia Raya (Parindra). Its fundamental 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 nationalism, social independence and self-reliance. In 1939 the All Indonesian Political Federation, GAPI, called for the establishment of a full-fledged Indonesian parliament. This demand 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 in Asia.

The Japanese Occupation

After their attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, the Japanese forces moved southwards to conquer several Southeast Asian countries. After Singapore had fallen, they invaded the Dutch East Indies and the colonial army surrendered in March 1942.

Soekarno and Hatta were released from their detention. The 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 and 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 Indramayu (West Java), and in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

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 Indonesia’s independence.

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 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 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 United Nations
    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 Clark 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 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, 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 all-out 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 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 on 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 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” 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 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, Andi Aziz, also rebelled. In Kalimantan Ibnu 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 Nations. 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 112 member countries.
  • The Beginning Of The New Order Government
    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.
    8. To regain Indonesia’s economic credibility overseas.
    9. To hold general elections once every five years.
  • The Reform Order Government
    Since the outset of the First Five-Year Development Plan in 1969, Indonesia under the New Order Government of President Soeharto had endeavored to achieve its national devel-opment goals. Indonesia, indeed, had been able to achieve substantial progress in various fields which had been enjoyed by the majority of the Indonesian people. Indonesia had gained success in the national development. Unfortunately, economic crisis, which began with the monetary crisis, struck Indonesia as of July 1997.

    Since the middle of 1997, the people’s standard of living dropped considerably. The de-cline in the people’s standard of living was aggravated by various political tensions arising from the 1997 general elections. The political system which had been developed since 1966 turned out to be unable to accommodate the dynamism of the aspirations and interests of the community. This led to riots and disturbances. To a certain extend, they reflected the malfunc-tioning of the political order and of the government, finally causing this situation to develop into a political crisis.

    The accumulation of the economic crisis and the political crisis became a triggered factor for crisis in confidence. This applied not just to officials and state-running institutions, but also began to touch on the system of values and the legal foundations that underpin the state-running institutions.

    A number of student demonstrations ensued, including the occupation of the People’s Consultative Assembly/House of People’s Representatives compound. They appealed for po-litical and economic reform; demanded President Soeharto to step down and stamp out cor-ruption, collusion and nepotism. Critical moments prevailed in the capital, Jakarta, and other towns from 12 to 21 May 1998. On 12 May a tragedy happened in the Trisakti University Campus, causing the death of four students. On 18 May the leadership of the House suggested the President resign. The President’s effort to accommodate the developing aspirations of the people by forming a re-form cabinet and a reform committee never materialized as there was no adequate support from various circles.

    Finally, on 21 May 1998, , President Soeharto, after a 32-year rule of the New Order Government resigned. Pursuant to Article 8 of the 1945 Constitution and the People’s Consul-tative Assembly decree no VII/1973, he handed over the country’s leadership to Vice-President Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie.

    A day after his installment as the third president, Habibie formed the Reform Development Cabinet. He picked the ministers from the various political and social forces, including three politicians from the two minority parties, the United Development Party (PPP) and the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI). to provide the needed synergy.

    President B.J. Habibie outlined the agenda for reform during his presidency as follows:

    1. rooting out corruption, collusion and nepotism, and create a clean government.
    2. reviewing the five political laws upon which the current political system is bound. They are the laws on mass organization, the House of Representatives (DPR), the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), political parties, regional administrations and elections.
    3. implementing sweeping reform in all sectors, including in the political, economic, and legal fields, to enable the government to satisfy mounting demands for a strong and clean government.
    4. boosting output from the agriculture, agribusiness, exportoriented industry and tourism sectors.
    5. safeguarding the implementation of the 1998/99 state budget
    6. accelerating the bank restructuring program
    7. resolving the problem of corporate foreign debts.
    8. conducting a special session of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) in November 1998, followed by General Elections on May 1999.


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 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.

Since the birth of the New Order in 1966 seven General Elections had been held, namely in 1971, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1992, 1997 and the last general election was held in June 7, 1999. Indonesians vote for representatives at three levels: the House of Representatives (DPR), the provincial assemblies (DPRD-I) and regency assemblies (DPRD-II). Every citizens of Indonesia has the right to cast his/her vote in the election. Political parties in Indonesia were simplified in 1973.

Since that time until the general election of 1997, there were two political parties, the United Development Party (Partai Persatuan Pembangunan) and the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), plus the Functional Group (Golkar). Golkar emerged as the winning party at every election ever held during the New Order Government.

Indonesia’s eight general election held in June 7, 1999 was the first general election in the Reform Order Cabinet under the President B.J. Habibie administration. Forty-eight (48) political parties contested the election, under the observation of both domestic and international observers and great coverage of a free press. It was noted as the most democratic and transparent general election in Indonesia. People were to choose 462 legislators from at least 10,500 candidates from 48 political parties to represent them at the 500-member House Representatives. The remaining 38 seats have been allocated to the military, whose members have relinquished their rights to vote.

The result of 1999 General Election are: Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI-Perjuangan) on top of the list followed by its four contenders: the Golkar Party, the National Awakening Part) fPKB). the United Development Party fPPP) and the National Mandate (PKB), the United Development Party (PPP) a Party (PAN). Law No. 3 of 1999 on General Election Based on MPR Decree No. XIV/MPR/1998 concerning Amendment and Supplement of MPR Decree No. 111/MPR/1998 on General Elections, a general election is held democratically and transparently based on the principle of being just, fair, direct, general, free, and secret.

Law No .3 of 1999 stipulates the aim of general election is to elect people to sit in the people’s consultative institution/ representations, to form a government, to continue the struggle to fill up the ideals of independence, and to maintain the integrity the state of the Republic of Indonesia. The system of election is a proportional system based on the list mechanism. The number of DPR seats in each electoral region is decided on the basis on the number of population in the first level region, with the stipulation that each second level region will get at least one se. Then the number of DPR seats in each electoral region is decided the General Election Commission (KPU). The number of seats in a Provincial Legislative Assembly (DPRD is a minimum of 45 and a maximum of 100 depending upon the number of population in the first level region (province). Then, each second level region (district or municipality) will get at least one DPRD-I seat. The number of DPRD-II (District or Municipality Assembly) seats is a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 45, depending on the number of population in the second level region. Every sub-district will get at lest one DPRD-II seat.

General Elections are implemented by the independent Ger Election Commission (KPU), consisting of political parties participating in the General Election and government representatives who responsible to the President. The working period of the electoral committee (KPU) for the 1999 General Election will end one year before the 2004 General Election. To control General Elections implementation, the Supervisory Committee is established at Central. Provincial. District/Regency and Subdistrict level. The composition of the Supervisory Committee is determined by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for the Central Level, the Chairman of Provincial Court of Appeals for the First Level, the Chief Judge of the District Court for the Second and Subdistrict Levels.

Domestic and foreign monitoring institutes should register with the KPU. Some of monitoring institutes: University Network for a Free and Fair Election (UNFREL). Rector Forum, European Union Carter Center, National Assembly for Monitoring Free and Fair Election/NAMFREL (the Philippines). The relationship and organization among the monitoring bodies and KPU as well as the Organizing Committees from the Central Level down to the Polling Stations (TPS). is further regulated by the Supreme Court in coordination with KPU.


The 1999 General session of the People’s consultative Assembly (MPR) was held in two stages. October 1-3 and October 14-21. The Assembly commenced its activities with inauguration of new members, establishment of factions, election of its speaker, and formation of the executive committee.

During the Plenary Session, the MPR established 11 (eleven) factions, namely those of the Love the nation Democratic Party (F-PDKB), the Indonesian Military and National Police (F-TNI/POLRI), the National Awakening Party (F-PDKB), the Interest Group (F-UG). the Golkar Party of Reform (F-PG), Reformation (F-Reform), the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (F-PDIP), the Crescent Moon and Star (F-BB), Indonesian Nationhood, United people’s Sovereignty (F-PDU) and United Development (F-PP) In this first stage the Session elected Amin Rais (chairman of National Mandate Party) as Speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly 1999-2004 and installed seven deputy speakers who are H. Matory Abduidjalil (F-PKB), Hari Sabarno (F-TNI/POLRI), Ginanjar Kartasasmita (F-PG), Kwik Klan Gie (F-PDIP), Nazri Adiani (F-UG), HusniThamrin (F-PP), and JusufAmir Feisal (F-BB).
At the conclusion of its session, on October 20 and 21, the People’s consultative Assembly elected the President and vice-president of the Republic of Indonesia for the period of 1999-2004. Prior to this important task, the session reviewed the accountability address of the outgoing President Habibie which was delivered before the Assembly on October 14. In his address Habibie listed the release of political prisoners and a freedom of expression for the people and the press as stronger macroeconomic indicators of his achievement during his leadership. Yet, the report failed to mention the failings that dogged his administration. Habibie was given the chance to respond to his critics, but his last effort failed to appease the majority of the Assembly.

The accountability address was rejected and Habibie withdrew from his presidential nomination as a candidate from Golkar Party. Until shortly before the presidential election there were four candidates for presidency: Megawati Soekarnoputri of Indonesia democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP). Abdurrahman Wahid who was nomi-nated by the so called “Axis Force’ (alliance of Moslem-based parties and the National Mandate Party). Akbar Tandjung Golkar Party chairman and Yusril lhza Mahendra Crescent moon and Star Party chairman. Yet. before the start of balloting Akbar Tandjung and Yusril lhxa Mahendra withdrew from their nomination.

With only two candidates remaining, the Assembly split its support for Megawati and Abdurrahman Wahid. KH. Abdurrahman Wahid, better known as Gus Dur indisputably became Indonesia’s fourth President when he secured 373 votes out of the total 691. With five abstentions Megawati obtained 313 votes.The newly elected 59 year old President, and internationally acclaimed moderate Moslem leader, is one of the National Awakening Party founders. He started his political career when in 1984 he was elected chairman of the Nahdiatui Ulama Islamic Organization. The Vice-presidential election which took place on the last day of the session listed four candidates. Megawati Soekarnoputri, Hamzah Haz United Development Party (PP) chairman. Akbar Tandjung Golkar Party Chairman and Gen. Wiranto Indonesian Military (TNI) chief. Shortly before the balloting. Akbar Tanjung and Wiranto dropped out of the race.

After a dramatic counting of votes Megawati Soekarnoputri (PDI-P) came out as the country’s eighth vice-president with 396 votes of a total 685. There were five abstentions, thus Hamzah Haz obtained 284.

Aside from the elections of Indonesia’s President and vice-president. the assembly, based on article 37 of the 1945 constitution. amended Article 5 clause (1), article 7, article 9, article 13 clause (2), article 14, article 15, article 17 clause (2) and (3), Article 20 and Article 21 of the 1945 constitution. In the meantime, the House of People’s Representatives has elected Akbar Tandjung chairman of the House with four deputies, namely Soetardjo Soerjogoeritno, Hamzah Haz, Khofifah Indar Parawansa and AM. Fatwa.

The House of Representatives also endorsed the job description of its 500 members who are grouped to work in nine commission:

Commission I on Defense, Security, and Foreign Affair;
Commission II on Law and Home Affairs
Commission III on Agriculture and Food
Commission IV on Transportation and Infrastructure
Commission V on Industry and Trade
Commission VI on Religion and Human Resources
Commission VII on Population and Welfare
Commission VIII on Mining and Energy
Commission IX on Finance and Development Planning

The General Session adopted nine decrees:

    1. Decree No. 1/MPR/1999 concerning the Fifth amendment of the Decree No. 1/MPR/1983 on the Assembly’s internal rules. The new decree stipulates that the Assembly leadership comprise one speaker and a maximum of seven deputies who represent the political party factions that meets electoral threshold, Armed Forces/National police, and the various interest groups.
    2. Decree No. 11/MPR/1999 on MPR Internal rules include the tasks of the Assembly’s speaker and working committee, member’s immunity, decision making process, constitution amendment, the broad outlines of the State policy (GBHN) and the President’s accountability report.
    3. Decree No. 111/MPR/1999 on the Accountability of Indonesial President Prof. Dr. Ing. Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie stipulate; that Habibie’s accountability address before the I 1th Plenary Session on October 17, 1999 was rejected by the Assembly.
    4. Decree No. IV/MPR/1999 on the Broad Outlines of the State Policy (GBHN) for the period of 1999-2004 consist of: Introduction General Condition, Vision and Mission, Policy implementation and Closing.
    5. Decree No.V/MPR/999 concerning East Timor Balloting. The MPI endorses the result of the August 30 ballot, and relinquish East Timor after 23 years integration with Indonesia.
    6. Decree No.VI/MPR/1999 regulates the nomination and election of the President and vice-president. The next president/Vice President should win the support of the majority of the people, are not involved in banned organisations, are not serving a jail sentence are mentally healthy, and have the vision to maintain the nation’s unity.
    7. Decree no. VIII/MPR/1999 stipulates the designation of K.H. Abdurrahman Wahid as president of the Republic of Indonesia for the five year period of 1999-2004.
    8. Decree No. VII/MPR/1999 stipulates the designation of Megawati Soekarnoputri as vice-president of the Republic of Indonesia for the five year period of 1999-2004.
    9. Decree no. IX/MPR/1999 assigns the MPR Working Committee to continue the amendment of the 1945 of Constitution
  • EAST TIMOR QUESTION IntegrationWith the advent of World War II the Japanese ousted both the Dutch and Portuguese from Timor, as well as from the rest of Indonesia. When Japan surrendered to the allied forces in 1945, Indonesians proclaimed the independence of their country which covers the areas of the former Netherlands East Indies.

In the mean time, East Timor was returned to the Portuguese by the Allied Forces after the war and the people stayed colonized. They had made several attempts to fight the Portuguese and join Indonesia, but they were suppressed by the colonial regime. Not until 1974 did the Portuguese give them a chance to decide their own political future. 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 the other parties. This caused growing tension throughout the colony and sparked an inevitable civil 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 terror. FRETILIN was even supplied with arms from the Portuguese army arsenal. On November 28 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 of Representatives on July 15, 1976 and, with the promulgation by the President, became Law on July 17. East Timor has since been the 27’h province of Indonesia with all the rights and duties under the 1945 Constitution of the Republic.

Proposal for a Special Status

The search for solution of the East Timor issue entered a new round after President B.J. Habibie on June 18, 1998 proposed the special status with wide-ranging autonomy to East Timor as the complete formula of solution. This was valued for East Timor as the complete formula of solution and was valued by Secretary General of the United Nations as a positive development which need follow up. For further action, the UN Secretary General held a tripartite dialogue meeting between Indonesian and the Portuguese Foreign Ministers under the auspices of the UN Secretary General in New York on 4-5 August, 1998, to discuss officially the Indonesian proposal.
In that meeting, both countries had agreed to continue discussing the Indonesian proposal at higher official levels without influencing the basic position of both sides. They also agreed that the UN Secretary General would continue consulting with East Timorese prominent leaders and groups living in East Timor and abroad. The consultation was aimed at explaining about the discussion progress on East Timor issue in the Tripartite Dialogue and for a solution.

The New York meeting also agreed to open Interest Section in respective capitals on November 27. 1998. namely, Interest Section of Indonesia at the Embassy of Thailand in Lisbon and Interest Section of the Portuguese at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Jakarta. This step was taken to enhance the sense of confidence and understanding each other in order to help smooth visits between both countries.

Concerning the proposal for a Special Status to East Timor, the attitude of Indonesian government has been clearly stated as follows:

a.A�A�A� The Indonesian government is prepared to give special status with wide-ranging autonomy to East Timor as part of the final solution on the East Timor Issue, which is considered fair and acceptable by concerned parties. Therefore, Indonesia agreed to discuss substantive elements of wide-ranging autonomy to East Timor in the Tripartite Dialogue Meeting conducted under the auspices of the UN Secretary General.

b.A�A�A� Indonesia holds the opinion that in view of historical, political. cultural, social and geographical factors as well as condition related to East Timor issue, to give special status with wide-ranging autonomy for East Timor as part of the Republic of Indonesia is tne most realistic and viable solution for the East Timor issue and it has the most peaceful prospects. On the other hand. in view of historical couurse, which is full of disturbances and shed of bloodshed. the proposal of referendum for East Timor will only re-open old wounds and trigger armed-disputes and conflicts and even raise dissension of civil-war.

c.A�A�A�A� Mentioned autonomy government tor East Timor WTII have extensive freedom to manage its government and people in the political, economic, social, cultural and religious sectors in accordance with East Timorese aspirations, except the aspects of: (1) external defense: (2) foreign policy: (3) monetary and fiscal affairs.

The special status with extensive autonomy will not be practiced unilaterally by the Government of the Republic of Indonesia, but it will be realized after it has been discussed and agreed jointly with the Portuguese through the Tripartite Dialogue. It is expected that this effort will be explicitly recognized as the formula of solution for the East Timor issue and will end the conflicts between Indonesia and the Portuguese on the political status of East Timor. In other words the special status with extensive autonomy becomes the progress of Indonesian attitude and reflects an honest and strong wish of the Indonesian government to solve the East Timor issue by taking middle ground and accommodate certain sides that have been opposing the integration.

The Second Option

The sincerity of the Indonesian government in the effort to seek peaceful solution acceptable by all sides was again performed by the issuance of Decision of Plenary Cabinet Session on January 27, 1999, on what was called “the second option” namely: If the proposal for a special status with wide-ranging autonomy is rejected by the majority of East Timor People, the government will propose an option to the newly elected MPR General Session to separate East Timor from Indonesia peacefully, respectfully and constitutionally.

The Plenary Cabinet Session of May 3, 1999. also ratified the three agreements concerning East Timor, resulted from Tripartite Dialogue:

1.A�A�A� Principal agreement between Indonesia and the Portuguese government. including its annex in the form of constitutional frame of special autonomy for East Timor:

2.A�A�A� Agreement on implementation modality of autonomy ballot for East Timor; o Agreement on security arrangement. This agreement plus its annex was signed by Indonesia and the Portuguese and witnessed by the UN Secretary General.

The government of Indonesia is committed to implement the contents of the signed agreements. In this relation, the outcome of the implementation as well as process of ballot taking by East Timor people will be very much decided by the capability of the Indonesian Armed Forces, especially POLRI (Indonesian Police), in keeping and guaranteeing security and stability, including the safety of the UN personnel in East Timor who are participating in the preparations of the ballot on August 30 to determine whether the population accepts Jakarta’s for offer autonomy.

The New York Agreement, dated May 5, 1999. contains the truth perception and attitude of the Indonesian policy mentioned that the special status with the wide-ranging autonomy for East Timor is a better and peaceful way to solve the East Timor problems for the sake of East Timorese. the Indonesian people as well as peace and security in the area, which would contribute to world peace as a whole. The signing of the treaty concerning the special autonomy for East Timor with its two complementary agreements was a historical milestone for the solution of the East Timor problems.

That event was the culmination of Indonesian Government’s diplomacy efforts to reach solution on international related matters. It also gave directions to East Timor to consider taking ballots of the East Timorese concerning the special autonomy package in accordance with the agreement reached by Tripartite Dialogue.

The Ballot

In August 30, 1999, the East Timorese cast their votes in a large peaceful direct ballot. The ballot was conducted by the UNAMET (United Mission in East Timor) under the agreement reached by lndonesia and Portugal. Over 80% of the 451,000 registered voters turned out at pollir booth. Meanwhile those of East Timorese living outside the provini thronged to polling stations across the country, i.e. Yogyakarta Ujungpandang, Surabaya and Denpasar. The official announcement, made simultaneously on September 1999, in New York, Lisbon and Jakarta.

The pro-independence group won by a landslide of 78.5% against 21.5% grabbed by supporters the integration/autonomy camp. The votes considered valid were 438,968 of the total 446,953 cast votes.
The result of the ballot has shown that the East Timorese have rejected an offer by the Government for wide-ranging autonomy within Indonesia and from an independent state.
After almost two and half decades of conflict, this territory new stands on the threshold of independence one an orderly and peaceful transition period has taken place. However the violence and rampaged perpetrated by anti independence force as a protest against the outcome of the referendum occurred. It caused the UN personnel evacuated from East Timor, followed by foreign and Indonesian journalist.

Meanwhile thousands refugees flee their homes in East Timor. Indonesia, which under the May 5, 1999 agreement is responsible for the security arrangement in East Timor, has come under strong criticism for its failure to promote peace and order in the run-up and after the ballot. Considering the high tension of anarchy in East Timor following the announcement of the ballot results and facing the strong international pressure on handling violence in East Timor, President B.J. Habibie announced the Indonesian government’s readiness to accept a United Nation peacekeeping force, the International Force for East Timor (Interfet), to the troubled territory.

The UN peacekeeping force, coming from friendly nation, would work in cooperation with the Indonesian military (TNI) to restore peace and security in East Timor, to protect the people, and to implement the result of the direct ballot of the 30th of August 1999. Through the Decree No.V/MPR/999, Indonesian People Consultative Assembly (MPR) endorses the result of the August 30 ballot, and relinquish East Timor after 23 years integration with Indonesia.