Proclamation of Independence

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, on 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 Japanese surrender, on August 17, 1945, the Indonesian national leaders lr. 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.

Pancasila, 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:

  1. Belief in the one and only god
  2. Just and civilized humanity
  3. The unity of indonesia
  4. Democracy guided by the inner wisdom in the unanimity arising out of deliberations amongst representatives
  5. Social justice for the whole of the people of indonesia

Elaboration of the five principles is as follows:

  1. Belief in the One and Only God
  1. 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 that the pursuit of sacred values will lead the people to a better life in the hereafter. The principle is embodied in article 29, Section I of the 1945 Constitution and reads: "The state shall be based on the belief in the One and Only God".

  2. Just and Civilized Humanity

    This principle requires that human beings be treated with due regard to their dignity as God’s creatures. It emphasizes that the In-donesian 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 one’s nation and motherland. It envisages the need to always foster national unity and integrity. Pancasila nationalism demands that In-donesians avoid feelings of superiority on ethnical grounds, for rea-sons of ancestry and color 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 symbol of "Bhinneka Tunggal lka" which means "unity in diversity".

  4. 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 re-sponsibility 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 na-tional unity and the pursuit of social justice.Thus, Pancasila Democracy means democracy based on the people’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 line with human dignity; guarantee and strengthen national unity; and be aimed at 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 and progressive way. This means that all the country’s natural resources and the nationalpotentials should be utilized for the greatest 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 willful 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 is partly because the constitution was drafted and adopted in 1945 when the Republic was established, and partly to distinguish it from two other constitutions which were introduced in free Indonesia.

Furthermore, the articles of the 1945Constitution 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 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 of deliberations of representatives, and social justice for all the Indonesian people.

Guided 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 towards the establishment of a world order based on freedom, peace and social justice.

The National Flag

The Indonesian national flag is called "Sang Saka Merah Putih." As provided for in Article 35 of the 1945 Constitution, the flag is made up of two colors, red on top of white. Its width is two-thirds of its length, or two meters by three meters. It is hoisted in front of the presidential palace, of government buildings and Indonesian missions 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 commemorations 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 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. Its 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 lka" (Unity in Diversity), is enshrined on a banner held in the eagle’s talons. This old Javanese motto was introduced by Empu Tantular, a saint of the Majapahit Kingdom, in the 15th Century. It signifies the unity of the Indonesian people despite their diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.The shield symbolizes self-defense in struggle and protection of oneself. The red and white colors on the shield’s background denote the colors of the Indonesian national flag.

The five symbols on the shield represent the state philosophy of Pancasila, the foundation of the Indonesian state.The bar across the center indicates the equator which passes through the islands of Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and Halmahera.

This is a reminder of the fact that the Republic of Indonesia is the only tropical country in which the people have built a free and sovereign state by their own hands.The golden star on the black background in the center of the shield represents the first principle of Pancasila, belief in the One and Only God. The chain symbolizes successive human generations. The round links represent women and the square ones men. It is the symbol of the second principle, just and civilized humanity. The "beringin," or banyan tree, symbolizes the third principle, the unityon Indonesia. The head of the "banteng," or wild bull (bos javanicus), which is black on a red background, represents the fourth principle, democracy guided by the inner wisdom of deliberations of representatives. The fifth principle, social justice for all Indonesian people, is symbolized by the gold and white paddy and cotton ears.

The National Anthem

The national anthem is "Indonesia Raya," which means The Great Indonesia. The song was composed in 1928. The colonial policy of the day was "divide and rule." It was a policy that deliberately aggravated language, ethnic, cultural and religious differences amongst the people. 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 ethnic, language, religious and cultural backgrounds resolutely pledged allegiance to:

  1. One native land, Indonesia: One nation, the Indonesian nation;
  2. 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.


Territorial Waters And Exclusive Economic Zone

When independence was proclaimed and sovereignty gained, Indonesia had to enact laws to govern the seas in accordance with the geographic structure of an archipelagic state. This, however, did not mean that the country would bar international passage.

The laws were necessary instruments for the unity and national resilience of the country, with a territory that embraces all the islands, the islets and the seas in between.In view of the country’s susceptibility to foreign intervention from the sea and for domestic security reasons, on December 13, 1957, the Indonesian Government issued a declaration on the territorial waters of the Republic. It stated that all the waters surrounding and between the islands in the territory came within Indonesia’s sovereignty.

It also determined that the country’s territorial water limit was 12 miles, measured from a straight baseline drawn from the outermost points of the islands.In the past, archipelagic states like Indonesia have unilaterally determined their 200-mile-Exclusive Economic Zones.

Today such economic zones are confirmed by the International Convention on the Law of the Sea, which was ratified by the Indonesian Government on October 18. 1983, by Act No. 5 of the same year. This is the legal basis of the Indonesian-Exclusive Economic Zone.


Indonesia Standard Time

As of January 1, 1988, Indonesia’s three time zones have been changed as below:

  1. Western Indonesia Standard Time equals GMT + 7 hours (meridian 105"E), covering all provinces in Sumatra and Java, and the provinces of West and Central Kalimantan. Central Indonesia Standard Time equals GMT + 8 hours (meridian 120"E), covering the provinces of East and South Kalimantan, all provinces in Sulawesi, and the provinces of Bali, West and East Nusatenggara.
  2. Eastern Indonesia Standard Time equals GMT + 9 hours (meridian 1:35"E), covering the provinces of Maluku and Papua.


Languages and Dialects

There are 583 languages and dialects spoken in the archipelago. They normally belong to different ethnic groups of the population. Some of the distinctly different local languages are: Acehnese, Batak, Sundanese. Javanese, Sasak, Tetum of Timor, Dayak, Minahasa, Toraja, Buginese, Halmahera, Ambonese, Ceramese. and several Papuanese languages.

To make the picture even more colorful, these languages are also spoken in different dialects. The national language of Indonesia is "Bahasa Indonesia". Originally it was the Malay language mainly spoken in the Riau Islands. In its spread throughout the country, its vocabulary and idioms have been enriched by a great number of local languages.

To keep pace with religious, social and cultural progress, many words and terms have been derived from foreign languages, including Dutch, Chinese, Sanskrit, Arabic and, later, Portuguese.Although Bahasa Indonesia has become the lingua franca, local languages and dialects continue to be spoken and will not be abolished.



The majority (about 85%) of the population follows Islam. The rest are Catholics, Protestant, Hindu and Buddha. Freedom, of religion is protected by the Indonesian Constitution, which is defined in the First Principle of the State Philosophy "Pancasila".

State Organs

According to the 1945 Constitution there are six organs of the state:

  • The People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat). The Presidency. The House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat). The Supreme Advisory Council (Dewan Pertimbangan Agung). The State Audit Board (Badan Pemeriksa Keuangan).
  • The Supreme Court (Mahkamah Agung).

The People’s Consultative Assembly

Article I of the 1945 Constitution states that Indonesia is a republic with sovereignty vested in the people to be fully exercised by an elected People’s Consultative Assembly, which is the highest political institution in the state.

Since the Assembly holds the supreme power in the state, the people voice their political and social aspirations through this body.The major tasks of the Assembly are to sanction the Constitution, decide the Guidelines of State Policy, and elect the President and Vice-President for a term of office of five years.In relation to the Assembly, the President is its Mandatary and, as such, is accountable to the Assembly for the conduct of government. In the exercise of his duties, the President is assisted by the Vice-President.

The membership of the assembly’s consists of the House members and augmented by delegates of regions and groupings. The total number of MPR members is 700 comprising of 500 DPR members. 135 delegates of regions (five persons from each level I region) and 65 delegates of groupings.

Based on Decree No. VII/MPR/1998, the Chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly separates from Chairman of the House of Representatives. He is assisted by five Vice-Chairmen. The election of the Assembly’s chairman is by consensus among members. Where this is impossible, voting may be resorted to as provided for by the 1945 Constitution.

Issues and Perspectives





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