Essay- Indonesia leaders prepared themselves to declare their in­dependence


As the war drew closer and the prospects of Japanese defeat became imminent, the Indonesia leaders prepared themselves to declare their in­dependence of the Netherlands crown.

A Preparatory Committee, con­sisting of representatives of all the parts of Indonesia was set up in June 1945 to draft a provisional constitution for the Republic of Indonesia_and for finalization of plan for take over from the Japanese command. Ulti­mately, on 17 August 1945 Sukarno made the proclamation of independence which read:

“We the people of Indonesia hereby declare Indonesia’s independence. Matters concerning the transfer of power and other matters will be executed in an orderly manner and in the shortest possible time.”


A Red and White Flag, specially made for the occasion was hoisted by Sukarno’s wife (Fatmawati) and the national anthem was for the first time sung in an independent Indonesia. This marked the first step towards the creation of Greater Indonesia

The Proclamation electrified the whole nation. All the Indonesian civil servants, police and military groups immediately declared their allegiance to the new Republic. A decree was used by the President instructing the people to ignore the orders of the Japanese and obey only the instructions of the Republican Government.

In short, the Proclamation became a sym­bol of awakening of the spirit of unity and self-sacrifice. People were united into one unit irrespective of their political affiliations and were willing to make any sacrifice for the maintenance of country’s independence.

After the formal surrender by Japan when the British forces landed in Indonesia on behalf of the Allies they found the Indonesians had already set up a working government. In view of these political realities the British Government decided to accord de facto recognition to the Repub­lic.


The British took this action despite request from the Dutch Government to its commander that he should arrest the Republican leaders on charge of collaboration with the Japanese. Naturally, this action of Britain was disapproved by the Dutch Government.

However, the Dutch Govern­ment did not show any inclination of arriving at a negotiated settlement with the Republic and continued to move more and more troops in Indo­nesia. As a result, there were growing number of clashes between the Indonesia and Dutch. Ultimately the British were able to pressurize the Dutch to negotiate with the Indonesian leaders under the threat of with­drawal of British force.

After prolonged negotiations Linggadjati Agreement was signed on 15 November 1946. Under the agreement the Dutch recognized the. Republic’s sovereignty over Java and Sumatra and agreed to co-operate in the formation of the United States of Indonesia consisting of Republic, Borneo and East Indonesia, to whom the sovereignty was to be transferred not later than January 1949.

However, this spirit of conciliation proved short-lived. Soon after the withdrawal of the British, the spirit of concili­ation evaporated and differences cropped up over the interpretation of the term ‘co-operation’ in the creation of states of Borneo and East


Indonesia. While the Dutch maintained that they were to work unilaterally for the creation of these states in co-operation with the residents of these slates.

Consequently, when the Dutch proceeded to form the states of Borneo and East Indonesia, the Republicans a:cused the Dutch of violating the Linggadjati Agreement. Prolonged negotiations between the two parties ensued which ultimately ended with the Dutch ‘police action’.

The outbreak of hostilities between the Dutch and the Republic obliged the Security Council to give a call for cease-fire and create a committee of Good Offices to help the two parties to come to some settlement.

As a result of the efforts to Committee of Good Offices, and agreement was arrived at regarding the truce as well as the political prin­ciples for future negotiations. A formal agreement known as Renville Agreement was signed on board the US ship Renville, in January 1948.


As a result of the Renville Agreement the Republic agreed to accept the states newly created by the Dutch. This considerably reduced the terri­tory of the Republic. The Republic accepted this only in the hope that a basic political settlement on independence would follow. However, after the Renville Agreement, the Dutch Government unilaterally started set­ting up new states in their recently occupied territories.

The Dutch also refused to lift up their economic blockade. Political negotiation followed, but they were stalemated by June 1948. Efforts by the Committee of Good Offices as well as USA and Australia to resolve the deadlock also failed.

The things took a serious turn in the fall of 1948 when the Dutch occupied and removed the files from the Republican delegation’s head­quarters in Djakarta.

This greatly offended the Republicans not only because this was a clear violation of their diplomatic immunity but also because they had always considered the building as an ideological symbol. Military clashes started between the two, which assumed alarming dimen­sions in course of time.


The final breaking point came on 19 December, 1948 when the Dutch launched their ‘Second Police Action’ and attacked the Republican capi­tal.

They captured President Sokarno, Vice President Hatta and a host of other important political leaders. This action of the Dutch Government bitterly aroused the Indonesian people against the Dutch and they refused to oiler any co-operation to the Dutch Government.

Certain sections of the populations even offered armed resistance to the Dutch authorities. In view of this bitter armed resistance and stubborn non-cooperation encoun­tered by the Dutch throughout the Republic areas the Dutch were obliged to make a retreat.

After the ‘Second Police Action’ by the Dutch even the world opinion tilted in favour of the Indonesians. The Security Council unanimously denounced the Dutch action and called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and release of Republic leaders.

Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru callcd a Conference on Indonesia at New Delhi from 20-23 January 1949, which condemned the Dutch action. Even the puppet states and govern­ments installed by the Dutch in Indonesia also started getting restless and demanded an ultimate transfer of sovereignty to the Indonesian people.

Although the Dutch finally agreed to cease hostilities it was not until 7 May 1949 that they agreed to release the Republican leaders interned on the Island of Banka ant allowed them to return to Jogjakarta.

On 30 June 1949 the Dutch withdrew from Jogjakarta and the Republican Govern­ment moved in. The hostilities between the two formally ended on 1 August 1949.

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