The name Indonesia has its roots in two Greek words: “Indos” meaning Indian and “Nesos” which means islands. It is an appropriate description of the archipelago as there are estimated to be a total of 17,508 islands, of which only about 6,000 are inhabited, stretching for 5,150 km between the Australian and Asian continental main lands and dividing the Pacific and Indian Oceans at the Equator.
Five main islands and 30 smaller archipelagoes are home to the majority of the population. The main islands are Sumatra (473,6O6 sq.km), Kalimantan (1539,400 sq.km), Sulawesi (189,216 sq. km), Irian Jaya (421,981 sq. km), and last but not least Java (132,187 sq.km), home to 70 percent of the country’s population. Indonesia shares Irian Jaya with Papua New Guinea and two thirds of the island of Kalimantan with Malaysia and Borneo.
The islands and people of Indonesia constitute the fourth most populated nation in the world. As a democratic republic, Indonesia is divided into 27 provinces and special territories and classified geographically into four groups. First are the Greater Sundas, made up of the larger islands of Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan and Sulawesi.
Second are the Lesser Sundas, consisting of smaller islands from Bali eastward to Timor. Third is Maluku which includes all the islands between Irian Jaya and Sulawesi. The fourth and final group is lrian Jaya in the extreme eastern part of the country.
The strategic position of Indonesia, has had distinctive influences on both the political and economic history of the islands. Fossils of “Java Man” (Pithecanthropus Erectus) which date back some 500,000 years, were discovered near the village of Trinil in East Java by Dr. Eugene Dubois in 1809. This discovery was followed by other finds in later years which are evidence of Java’s earliest inhabitants. Major migration movements to the Indonesian archipelago have been traced as far back as 3,000- 500 B.C. These first migrants were of Mongoloid stock from China and Tonkin and have been credited with introducing new Stone, Bronze and Iron Age cultures as well as the Austronesian language.
Indonesia came under the influence of a mighty Indian civilization through the gradual influx of Indian traders in the first century A.D., when great Hindu and Buddhist empires were beginning to emerge. By the seventh century, the powerful Buddhist Kingdom of Sriwijaya was expanding and it is thought that during this period the spectacular Borobudur Buddhist sanctuary was built in Central Java.
The thirteenth century saw the rise of the fabulous Majapahit Hindu Empire in East Java, which united the whole of what is now modern day Indonesia and parts of the Malay peninsula, and ruled for two centuries. Many monuments spread through Java such as the Prambanan temple complex near Yogyakarta, the Penataran temple complex in East Java as well as the ethereal temples on the Dieng Plateau are remnants of this glorious period in Indonesia’s history. First recorded attempts to invade Indonesia were by the notorious Mongol Emperor Kubilai Khan who was driven back in 1293. Arab traders and merchants laid the foundations for the gradual spread of Islam to the region which did not replace Hinduism and Buddhism as the dominant religions until the end of the 16th century. Small Moslem kingdoms developed and grew, but none anticipated the strength and persistence of European invasions which followed.
In 1292, Marco Polo became one of the first recorded Europeans to set foot on the islands, but it wasn’t until much later that the Portuguese arrived in pursuit of spices. In 1509, Portuguese trading posts were established in the strategic commercial centre of Malacca on the Malay Peninsula and it was from here that they began to control trade Routes.
The Dutch followed at the turn of the 16th century and succeeded in ousting the Portuguese to the easternmost islands where some ports were controlled by another major European power, Spain. The Dutch expanded their control of the entire area into the 17th and 18th centuries and retained it for the most part until the outbreak of World War 11 in 1939. The Dutch East Indies, as it was known at this time, fell under British rule for a short period during the Napoleonic Wars of 1811-1816, when Holland was occupied by France and Dutch power overseas was limited. While under British control the Lt. Governor for Java and its dependencies was Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, who was known for his liberal attitude towards the people under colonial rule and his research on the history of Java. With the return of the Dutch a relative calm was interrupted by long and bloody wars launched by the local people against the Dutch colonial government. It was from this period that the independence movements of the 20th century became stronger and more purposeful.
The surrender of the Japanese in 1945 signaled the end of the Second World War in Asia and also the start of independence. In the wake of global perceptions of freedom, Indonesia proclaimed its independence on August 17 that same year.
But the returning Dutch bitterly resisted Indonesian nationalist movements and intermittent fighting followed. Under the auspices of the United Nations at The Hague, an agreement was finally reached on December 9, 1949; it was from this time that Indonesia’s sovereignty over the former Dutch East Indies was officially recognized.
The State Philosophy
Pancasila, pronounced Panchaseela, is the philosophical basis of the Indonesian State. Pancasila consists of two Sanskrit words, “Panca” meaning five, and “Sila” meaning principle. It comprises five inseparable and interrelated principles. They are:
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
SOCIAL JUSTICE FOR WHOLE OF THE PEOPLE OF INDONESIA
Elaboration of the five principles is as follows:
Belief in the One and Only God
This principle of Pancasila reaffirms the Indonesian people’s belief that God does exist. It also implies that the Indonesian people believe in life after death. It emphasizes the pursuit sacred values will lead the people to a better life in the hereafter. The principle is embodied in article 29, Section 1of the 1945 Constitution and reads: The state shall be based on the belief in the One and Only God.
Just and Civilized Humanity
Just principle requires that human beings be treated with due regard to their dignity as God’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.
The Unity of Indonesia
This principle embodies the concept of nationalism, of love for one’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 “Bhineka Tunggal Ika” which means “Unity in diversity”.
Democracy Guided by the Inner Wisdom in the Unanimity Arising Out of 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 one’s own conviction and religious belief, with respect for humanitarian values of man’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 people’s soveregnity 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 respüomnsibility towards God Almighty according to the respective faith; uphold humanvalues in line with human dignity; guarantee and strengthen national unity; and be aimed at realizing social justice for the whole of the people of Indonesia.
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 country’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 them work. On the contrary, they should work according to their abilities and fields of activity. Protection should prevent wilful treatment by the strong and ensure the rule of justice.
These are the sacred values of Pancasila which, as a cultural principle, should 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 there after. 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 Indonesia’s struggle for independence, a declaration of independence and a statement of fundamental goals and principles. It further states, inter alia, that Indonesia’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:
The Constitution, the 1945 Constitution originally adhered an ideology that the sovereignty was vested in the people executed fully by the People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat / MPR). It adhered an ideology of the PCA supremacy, making the PCA be a state institution that had unlimited authority because it became an institution of the sovereignty embodiment of all Indonesian people. Its huge and unlimited power caused MPR was unable to be controlled by any other state institutions. Accordingly, MPR became a super body state 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 abreast to the changing era, the original 1945 Constitution views was no longer conforming to democracy ideology that required the implementation of checks and balances system among intra-state institutions. For that, its decree of the Article 2 section (1) was converted to the sovereignty is vested in the people and executed according to the constitution.
The Structure of the Membership Authority of the People’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 Regional 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 Representatives’ Council members, a new representative institution in the structure of the matters pertaining to form of government of the Republic of Indonesia.
The Authority of the President
The 1945 Constitution adheres presidential government system. Either in theoretic and practice of the matters pertaining to form of government in countries following the presidential government system by this constitution, the president has such a quite big and important power and role. So does in Indonesia. Therefore, it was logical that there quite many materials related to the Presidential authority in the 1945 Constitution that spread over in various articles and sections, especially concerning his power begun from declaring war until granting abolition.
Direct Election of the President and the Vice-President by the People
Since the establishment of the Republic of Indonesia, the election of president and vice president had been executed by MPR by an indirect of representative mechanism. In accordance with the spirit of democracy that requiring the people are 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 first and second ranks. The couple that has the majority vote will be inaugurated as the president and vice-president.
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 Vice President 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.
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 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 DPR considers the president is really violating the basic state guidelines of state policy.
Now the amended 1945 Constitution embodies casual factors and procedures of discharging the president and/or vice-president from their offices.
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 Vice President automatically shall replace the president until the end of his/her term if the president die, resigns is discharged, or unable to discharge his/her duties during his/her term of office.
The Executor of the Presidential Duties
Although improbable, there remain another possibility of the emergency condition caused by, for example, the President and Vice-President at the same time die, 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 that condition occurred, the executors of the presidential duties are that consisting of three cabinet members namely: the Foreign Affairs Minister, the Home Affairs Minister and the Defense Minister.
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 had a task to give advice and judgment to the president was viewed as less effective 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.
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.
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 remains 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.
The Regional Representative’s Council
The amended 1945 Constitution introduces a new representative institution in the structure of the government of Indonesia. The institution is the Regional Representative Council (Dewan Perwakilan Daerah /DPD) as stated in the provisions of the Chapter VIIA concerning the DPD.
The Principles of the Foreign Policy
The principles underlying Indonesia’s foreign policy were expounded for the first time by Mohammad Hatta on September 2, 1948 at Yogyakarta in Central Java.
In a session of the Working Group of the Central National Committee of Indonesia (KNPI), the forerunner of the Indonesian Parliament, Vice-President Hatta, concurrently Prime Minister and Minister of Defense of the young Republic, clarified the Government’s stand on various domestic and international issues. Refuting the premise of the People’s Democratic Front of the Indonesian Communist Party, that in the Cold War between Russia and America the best foreign policy for Indonesia would be to side with Russia, Hatta stated: “Do we, Indonesians, in the struggle for the freedom of our people and our country, only have to choose between Russia and America? Is not there any other stand that we can take in the pursuit of our ideals?”
“The Government is of the firm opinion that the best policy to adopt is one which does not make us the object of an international conflict. On the contrary, we must remain the subject who reserves the right to decide our own destiny and fight for our own goal, which is independence for the whole of Indonesia.” (Mohammad Hatta, “Mendayung Antara Dua Karang,” 1976).
The above statement was an indication of the policy Indonesia would take in international relations, which later became known as “mendayung antara dua karang” (rowing between two reefs).
The Independent and Active Foreign Policy
These principles are the foundation of Indonesia’s foreign policy, which is independent and active.
The policy is independent because Indonesia does not side with world powers. As a matter of principle, so doing would be incompatible with the country’s national philosophy and identity as implied in Pancasila.
The foreign policy is active to the extent that Indonesia does not maintain a passive or reactive stand on international issues but seeks active participation in their settlement. In other words, Indonesia’s independent and active policy is not a neutral policy, but it is one that does not align Indonesia with the super powers nor does it bind the country to any military pact. Essentially, it is a policy designed to serve the national interest while simultaneously allowing Indonesia to cooperate with other nations to abolish colonialism and imperialism in all their forms and manifestations for the sake of world peace and social justice. This explains
The Coat of Arms
The Indonesian coat of arms consists of a golden eagle, called “garuda” 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. It’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 Indonesia’s independence proclamation: 17 August 1945. The motto, “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika” ( Unity in Diversity), is enshrined on a banner held in the eagle’s talons.
The National Flag
The Indonesian national flag is called “Sang Saka Merah Putih”. The flag is made up of two colors, red on top of white. It’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 Indonesia’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 “bendera pusaka”, 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
The national anthem is “Indonesia Raya”, which means Great Indonesia. The song was composed in 1928. The birth of Indonesia Raya marked the beginning of Indonesian nationalist movements. The song 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 ethnic, language, religious and cultural backgrounds resolutely pledged allegiance to:
- One native land, Indonesia;
- One nation, the Indonesian nation;
- 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 Indonesia’s