Research - The year of living Dangerously - Sukarno, Konfrontasi, Wayang Kuilt

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A President Sukarno - biograhy

Sukarno (June 6, 1901 - June 21, 1970) was the first President of Indonesia. He helped the country win its independence from the Netherlands and was President from 1945 to 1967. Sukarno was forced from power by one of his generals, Suharto, who formally became President in March 1967.

Sukarno became a leader of a pro-independence party, Partai Nasional Indonesia when it was founded in 1927. He opposed imperialism and capitalism because he thought both systems worsened the life of Indonesian people.

He also hoped that Japan would commence a war against the Western powers and that Java could then gain its independence with Japan's aid. He was arrested in 1929 by Dutch colonial authorities and sentenced to two years in prison. By the time he was released, he had become a popular hero. He was arrested several times during the 1930s and was in jail when Japan occupied the archipelago in 1942.

Sukarno's vision for the 1945 Indonesian constitution comprised the Pancasila(Indonesia 5 point state ideology). Sukarno's political philosophy was guided by elements of Marxism, nationalism and Islam. This is reflected in the Pancasila, in the order in which he originally espoused them in a speech on June 1, 19451:

Nationalism (with a focus on national unity)

Internationalism ('one nation sovereign amongst equals')

Representative democracy (all significant groups represented)

Social Justice (Marxist influenced)

Theism (with a secular bent)

Sukarno resented his figurehead position and used the increasing disorder to intervene more in the country's political life. Claiming Western-style democracy wasn't suitable for Indonesia, he called for a system of "guided democracy" based on what he called traditional Indonesian principles. The Indonesian way of deciding important questions, he argued, was by way of prolonged deliberation designed to achieve a consensus. He proposed a government based not only on political parties but on "functional groups" composed of the nation's basic elements, in which a national consensus could express itself under presidential guidance.

During this later part of his presidency, Sukarno came to increasingly rely on the army and the support of the PKI - the Communist Party of Indonesia.

On the night of September 30, 1965, six of Indonesia's top anti-communist generals were killed and thrown down a well, and while the PKI was blamed for instigating a supposed coup attempt, evidence indicates Sukarno's supporters were behind it. This brought an immediate retaliation from Major General Suharto, commander of the Army's strategic reserves, and the rest of the military, sparking a crackdown on the Communist Party. The army encouraged anti-communist organizations and individuals to join in killing anyone suspected of being a communist sympathizer. The killings were concentrated in Sumatra, East Java and Bali. By the time they petered out in 1966, an estimated half a million Indonesians had been slaughtered by soldiers, police and pro-Suharto vigilantes.

Sukarno's grip on power was weakened by this crisis, while Suharto used the situation to strenghthen his own hand. On March 11, 1966, Suharto and his supporters in the military forced Sukarno to issue a Presidential Order called 'Supersemar (Surat Perintah Sebelas Maret -- The March 11 Order), in which Sukarno yielded all executive powers to Suharto in order to restore peace


Def: The Indonesia-Malaysia confrontation was an intermittent war over the future of the island of Borneo, between British-backed Malaysia and Indonesia in 1962-1966. It is called Konfrontasi in the Indonesian and Malay languages. Singapore was part of Malaysia at the time.

In 1961, the island of Borneo was divided into four separate states: Kalimantan, an Indonesian province, was located in the south of the island. In the north were the kingdom of Brunei and two British colonies -- Sarawak and British North...
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