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Sukarno "Bung Karno"

First President of the Republic of Indonesia, Sukarno [only one name], who used to be called Bung Karno, was born in Blitar, East Java, June 6, 1901 and died in Jakarta, 21 June 1970. His father was Raden Soekemi Sosrodihardjo and his mother Ida Ayu Nyoman Rai. During his life, he had three wives and has eight children. From Fatmawati have children namely Guntur, Megawati, Rachmawati, Sukmawati and Guruh. From Hartini has Taufan and Bayu, while from Ratna Sari Dewi, the woman whose original name was derived Japanese Naoko Nemoto had a child Kartika.

Sukarno's childhood passed for a few years living with his parents in Blitar. During his elementary schooling, he lived in Surabaya, staying in the home of Haji Oemar Said Tokroaminoto, a veteran politician and founder of Sarekat Islam. Then he went to school in HBS (Hoogere Burger School). While studying at HBS, Sukarno was galvanizing spirit of nationalism. After he graduated from HBS in 1920, he moved to Bandung and continue to THS (Technische Hoogeschool or Technical High School who is now the ITB). He won the title "Ir" on May 25, 1926.

Then, he formulated and established the doctrine Marhaenisme PNI (Nationalist Party of Indonesia) on 04 July 1927, with the aim of an independent Indonesia. As a result, the Netherlands, put him into prison at Sukamiskin, Bandung on December 29, 1929. Eight months later he had a new trial. In his defense titled “Indonesia Menggugat”, he showed apostasy of Netherlands, a nation that claimed it was more advanced. This defense that made the Dutch more and more angry. So in July 1930, the PNI was dissolved. After his release in 1931, Sukarno joined Partindo and as a result, he was again arrested by the Dutch and exiled to Ende, Flores, 1933. Four years later he moved to Bengkulu.

After going through a long struggle, Bung Karno and Bung Hatta proclaimed Indonesia's independence on 17 August 1945. On 18 August 1945 Ir.Soekarno was elected by acclamation as the first President of the Republic of Indonesia.

The struggle that followed the proclamation of independence on August 17, 1945, and lasted until the Dutch recognition of Indonesian sovereignty on December 27, 1949, is generally referred to as Indonesia’s National Revolution. It remains the modern nation’s central event, and its world significance, although often underappreciated, is real. The National Revolution was the first and most immediately effective of the violent postwar struggles with European colonial powers, bringing political independence and, under the circumstances, a remarkable degree of unity to a diverse and far-flung nation of then 70 million people and geographically the most fragmented of the former colonies in Asia and Africa.

Internally the Republic was threatening to disintegrate. Public confidence in the Republic began to erode because of the worsening economic situation, caused in part by the Dutch blockade of sea trade and seizure of principal revenue-producing plantation regions, as well as by a confused monetary situation in which Dutch, Republican, and sometimes locally issued currencies competed. The Dutch finally recognized the sovereignty of Indonesia on December 27, 1949.

Perhaps the greatest expectation of independence, shared by middle and lower classes, rural as well as urban dwellers, was that it would bring dramatic economic improvement. The Japanese had left the economy weak and in disarray, but the Revolution had laid waste, through fighting and scorched-earth tactics, much of what remained. Infrastructure, badly needing rehabilitation, was neglected, adversely affecting production and trade. Corruption and crime spread.

Policies familiar to the prewar generation of nationalists, now firmly in power, took precedence. These were already visible in the Benteng (Fortress) Program (1950–57), one aspect of which was discrimination against ethnic Chinese and Dutch entrepreneurs in order to foster an indigenous class of businessmen. The Benteng Program failed.

Independence had also brought with it expectations of a modern political framework for the nation. When voters went to the polls in September 1955, there was considerable hope that such a system would provide solutions to the political divisiveness that, freed from the limitations of the common anticolonial struggle, had begun to spread well beyond the mostly urbanized educated elite. In the event, however, the national elections proved disappointing. The elections exposed and sharpened existing divides between Java and the other islands, raising fears of domination by Jakarta, and between the rapidly rising Communist and Muslim parties, raising fears of communist (interpreted as antireligious) and populist ascendancy.

Sukarno spoke of “burying” the political parties and of his desire to see Guided Democracy (demokrasi terpimpin, a term Sukarno had been using since 1954) in Indonesia. Into this deteriorating situation, the military increasingly inserted itself. On 21 February 1957, Sukarno, supported by army chief Nasution, proposed instituting a system of Guided Democracy. Sukarno declared martial law for all of Indonesia on 14 March 1957. On 05 July 1959, Sukarno dismissed the Constituent Assembly and declared that the nation would return to the constitution of August 18, 1945.

The Asia–Africa Conference was held in Bandung, Jawa Barat Province, in April 1955. This gathering of 29 new nations sought to avoid entanglement in the Cold War and to promote peace and cooperation; to many it represented the sudden coming of age of the formerly colonized world. It is generally considered the beginning of the Nonaligned Movement.

What was once Sukarno’s gift for effecting conciliation and workable synthesis now turned sour, and, even to many of its earlier supporters, the promise of Guided Democracy seemed empty. The economy worsened and fell into a spiral of uncontrolled inflation of more than 100 percent annually. Tnsions had escalated by late 1964, to the point that government was paralyzed and the nation seethed with fears and rumors of an impending explosion.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, President Soekarno moved closer to Asian communist states and toward the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) in domestic affairs. The PKI represented the largest communist party outside the Soviet Union and China. By 1965, the PKI controlled many of the mass civic and cultural organizations that Soekarno had established to mobilize support for his regime and, with Soekarno's acquiescence, embarked on a campaign to establish a "Fifth Column" by arming its supporters. Army leaders resisted this campaign.

In the early morning hours of 01 October 1965, Jakartans awoke to a radio announcement that the September 30 Movement (Gerakan September Tiga Puluh, later referred to by the acronym Gestapu by opponents) had acted to protect Sukarno and the nation from corrupt military officers, members of a Council of Generals that secretly planned, with US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) help, to take over the government. Faced with the news of this apparent coup attempt, the commander of the Army Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad), General Suharto (only one name), moved swiftly, and, less than 24 hours after events began, was in control.

These momentous events, which triggered not only a regime change but also the destruction of the largest communist party outside the Soviet Union and China, hundreds of thousands of deaths, and a generation of military rule in what was then the world’s fifth (now fourth) most populous country, have long eluded satisfactory explanation by scholars. Debate over many points, both in and outside of Indonesia, continues to be stubborn, polarized, and dominated by intricate and often improbable tales of intrigue. Indonesian government estimates have varied from 78,500 to 1 million killed.

Throughout the 1965-66 period, President Soekarno vainly attempted to restore his political stature and shift the country back to its pre-October 1965 position. Although he remained President, in March 1966, Soekarno transferred key political and military powers to General Suharto, who by that time had become head of the armed forces. Sukarno, still the acknowledged president, was pressured into signing the Letter of Instruction of March 11 (Surat Perintah Sebelas Maret, later known by the acronym Supersemar), turning over to Suharto his executive authority.

Soekarno ceased to be a political force. Alone and bitter, Sukarno lived under virtual house arrest in the presidential palace in Bogor, Jawa Barat Province. His health continued to deteriorate, which on Sunday, June 21, 1970 he died at the army hospital. He was buried at Wisma Yaso, Jakarta and was buried in Blitar, East Java, near the tomb of his mother, Ida Ayu Nyoman Rai. Government awarded him as "the Hero of the Proclamation".

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Page last modified: 06-07-2014 20:20:03 ZULU