Date: Tue, 10 Dec 96 17:42:46 CST
From: rich%pencil@VMA.CC.ND.EDU (Rich Winkel)
Subject: How come Indonesians forget their history ?
/** reg.easttimor: 786.0 **/>
** Topic: How come Indonesians forget their history ? **
** Written 10:52 PM Dec 9, 1996 by in cdp:reg.easttimor **
From: (Paul Salim)
Subject: How come Indonesians forget their history ?

How come Indonesians forget their history?

By Paul H. Salim <>
9 December 1996

Dear readers and my fellow Indonesians:

On the eve of Nobel prize ceremony to Bishop Carlos Filip Ximenes Belo and Dr. Ramos Horta, I would like to write this article which will be dedicated to all readers in Internet (especially my fellow Indonesians) as well as to both Nobel recipients.

Mark Twain, an american writer, used to say: "Get the fact first, then play with it as much as you want."

The fact in East Timor is that on 28th November 1975 East Timorese people through Fretilin party proclaimed their independence from any colonial rulers [1]. The declaration of independence of East Timor reads as follows [2]:

"Expressing the highest aspirations of the people of East Timor and to safeguard the most legitimate interests of national sovereignty, the Central Committee of Fretilin decrees by proclamation, unilaterally, the independence of East Timor, from 00.00 hours today, de- claring the state of the Democratic Republic of East Timor, anti-colonialist and anti-imperialist.

Long live the Democratic Republic of East Timor!
Long live the people of East Timor, free and independent!
Long live Fretilin!"

Another fact in East Timor is that East Timor's declaration of independence was created as a result of the struggle between East Timor's old generation and East Timor's youths. In 1974-1975, there were three main political parties: Fretilin, UDT and Apodeti. Robert Lawless (an anthropology professor at University of Florida, source [1]) reported that:

1. Fretilin had support from East Timor's youths (such as junior civil servants, teachers, urban workers, and students)

2. UDT and Apodeti gained support from East Timor's old generation (such as, the higher civil servants, the native chiefs, and some Chinese businessmen).

Like East Timor, Indonesia had exactly the same experience surrounding the proclamation of independence on 17th August 1945.

The day was 14th August 1945, when the Japanese surrendered to the Allies. At that moment, Indonesia's youths (called "pemuda") conducted several meetings to anticipate Japanese surrender. Among the "pemuda" were Adam Malik, Djawoto, Chaerul Saleh, Sukarni, B.M. Diah, Anwar and Harsono Tjokroaminoto, Pandu Karta Wiguna, Wikana, Supeno, Trimurti, Dr. Muwardi, Sudiro ("mBah"), Sutomo ("Bung Tomo"), Chailid Rasjidi, Maruto Nitimihardjo, and many others [3]. The "pemuda" worried whether Sukarno and Hatta (i.e., leaders of the old generation) were willing to take a firm stand against the Japanese. After Sukarno and Hatta didn't seem to act as the "pemuda" wanted, on 15th August 1945 at 10:00 pm, a meeting between Sutan Syahrir and the "pemuda" made a decision "to remove Sukarno and Hatta from their position as obstacles to action by the people and 'pemuda.' Sukarni is assigned to arrange this removal, and the other 'pemuda' are obligated to prepare for Indonesia's proclamation of independence."

Flanked by armed soldiers, Sukarni were able to meet Sukarno and Hatta, and then to force them into leaving Rengas Dengklok at 4:00am on 16 August 1945 [3]. There Sukarno and Hatta were shut up in the Peta barracks.

Sukarno and Hatta asked Sukarni why they have been brought there. And, in discussion revealed that Sukarno and Hatta didn't believe that the Japanese had surrendered [3]. They maintained that the news received by the "pemuda" was a lie and that the "pemuda" were too influenced by news from "enemy spies." Sukarno and Hatta insisted that the truth was the news that they heard from a "highly placed individual" (a noble Japanese who couldn't possibly lie !) whose name they didn't disclose. Sukarno and Hatta also maintained that the Japanese were still fully armed and that "the Allies also will come fully armed to Indonesia." Further, Sukarno and Hatta stated that they themselves "had no faith in the strength of the people and the 'pemuda'." Hatta asked Sukarni, "Wat habben wij ?" ("What do we have ?")

After the discussion had gone on for some time, Sukarni asked a question what would be Sukarno and Hatta's intention for Indonesia's independence. They answered as follows [3]:

"Tomorrow, 17 August, we will commence a gathering at the Chuo Sangi-in building in Pejambon, which will go on until 22 August or, at least, 23 August. On 23 August all decisions made by that meeting will be forwarded to Tokyo. On 24 August, we shall receive a telegrammed reply. By 25 August, at the very least, we shall be independent."

Immediately, Sukarni stated that Indonesian independence a la Sukarno and Hatta was independence a la Japan. Then, Sukarni announced the decision made by the people and "pemuda" of Jakarta:

"the people and 'pemuda' of Jakarta have determined that they don't wish to be handed over by the Japanese as a colonised people to the Allies and to the Dutch;

the people and 'pemuda' of Jakarta wish to make their attitude known to the outside world, no matter what sacrifice this may entail;

this is the best moment to act, because the Japanese have surrendered to the Allies;

although the sacrifice in Jakarta will be great, other areas will soon join in the defence of our independence;

in Rengas Dengklok itself the Japanese and their agents have been detained, the Hinomaru has been lowered, and the red and white flag has been raised high, and the people and the Peta have been readied;

Sukarno and Hatta must not stand in the way of these wishes of the people and 'pemuda', and for this reason have been removed to Rengas Dengklok."

After hearing the statement, Hatta only replied, "WELL THEN, HISTORY WILL DECIDE." [3,4,5]

In the meeting held about 3:00am on 17th August 1945, Sukarno and Hatta didn't arrive until about 4:00am, after Sajuti Melik, Chaerul Saleh, and Sukarni had drafted the proclamation, which was approved by the meeting and read as follows [3]:


We the people of Indonesia hereby declare


Matters relating to the transfer of power and so forth will be executed in an orderly manner and in the shortest possible time.

Jakarta, 17 August 1945
On behalf of the people of Indonesia

Sukarno Hatta


1. Indonesia's declaration of independence on 17th August 1945 was PURELY created by Indonesia's youths ("pemuda"), without whom Indonesia would be independent at the very least on 25th August 1945, or would never be independent because the Allies would colonise Indonesia as Japanese property,

2. East Timor's declaration of independence on 28th November 1975 was PURELY created by East Timor's youths. Please note that Balibo Declaration on 30th November 1975 which legitimized Indonesian invasion on 7th December 1975 was created by East Timor's old generation in UDT and Apodeti. What UDT and Apodeti did on 30th November was the same as what Hatta said on 16th August 1945: "WAT HABBEN WIJ ?" ("What do we have ?")

3. If we annually celebrate Indonesia's declaration of independence on 17th August, we as Indonesians have to respect East Timor's declaration of independence on 28th November.

4. Since the presence of Indonesian troops in East Timor is an act of colonization and is against Indonesian Constitution UUD45, the Indonesian government has to withdraw all its troops from East Timor without delay.


[1] Lawless, Robert, "The Indonesian Takeover of East Timor," Asian Survey, 16(10), 948-964 (1976)

[2] Jolliffe, Jill, "East Timor: Nationalism and Colonialism," p. 212, University of Queensland (1978)

[3] Malaka, Tan, "From Jail to Jail," vol. 3, pp.85-95, Ohio University Centre for International Studies (1991)

[4] Malik, Adam, "Riwayat dan Perjuangan Sekitar Proklamasi" pp. 42-43

[5] Hatta, Mohammad, "Sekitar Proklamasi", pp.37-39


Paul H. Salim

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