Understanding Indonesia

I'm going to start by mentioning I know of dark deeds, but since they're history and absolutely nothing to do with this thread as they had no influence on modern day Indonesia, I'm ignoring them and don't went the thread ruined by political stuff.


I've been doing a little study of post 1945 Indonesian history, not exactly a great work that'll survive centuries and/or make me a fortune in royalties, more a rough outline designed to give me a clue or two as to the way things developed here, and how the events since '45 influenced Indonesian thinking.

Most Indonesians are strongly nationalistic but the vast majority aren't xenophobic, so foreigners tend to get a nice welcome.
That, I'm sad to say, doesn't always include people of all skin colours, but that's another story, not really for this thread.

The Dutch occupied much of Indonesia for several hundred years, only leaving when superior Japanese forces kicked them out. The Japanese were hardly saviours, but they did change the local political landscape when they removed the Dutch.

The first president declared freedom for Indonesia on 17 August 1945, and set about forming an administration, something the Dutch government of the time didn't like at all.

The British landed in Indonesia first, but wanted no claim and there was no political will to stay, so they were gone in about 12 months, but that was time enough for the Dutch to return and take control of many major towns, but totally failing to control much outside those areas.
The Indonesian army of the time had little to fight with, mostly home made stuff and 10 year out of date Japanese stuff, but that improved a little when a bunch of several hundred Indian Muslim troops sent by the British defected, taking their weapons and training with them.
There is absolutely no denying the amazing bravery of the Indonesians, but they had very little hope of winning a purely military battle, so the diplomatic front was taken on board.
The communist party declared a soviet republic in a town just outside Jogjakarta but they were quelled quickly, much to the delight of the US who saw Indonesia as anti communist, so potentially a very nice regional ally in the developing cold war, so they quietly forgot about the $10 million they'd loaned to the Dutch to retake Indonesia, and supported independence.

That manifested itself as a United nations security council resolution that basically meant the Dutch had to leave.
That set Indonesia on a path that embraced freedom as an absolute, and dictates nationalist feeling right up to today.

The 1945 proclamation of independence goes something like this:

and is still read out at 10am on the seventeenth of August every year, showing the power these few words still hold, and explaining much of the reason foreigners still can't own property in Indonesia.

The ownership of Indonesia is still very much a hot topic, and that translates into very careful thought going into any law that is seen to allow foreigners to own even the smallest part of Indonesia.

Indonesia is ruled by a constitution (undang undang dasar 1945), the preamble being set in stone, that stating:

Whereas freedom is the inalienable right of all nations, colonialism must be abolished in this world as it is not in conformity with humanity and justice;
And the moment of rejoicing has arrived in the struggle of the Indonesian freedom movement to guide the people safely and well to the threshold of the independence of the state of Indonesia which shall be free, united, sovereign, just and prosperous;
By the grace of God Almighty and impelled by the noble desire to live a free national life, the people of Indonesia hereby declare their independence.
Subsequent thereto, to form a government of the state of Indonesia which shall protect all the people of Indonesia and their entire native land, and in order to improve the public welfare, to advance the intellectual life of the people and to contribute to the establishment of a world order based on freedom, abiding peace and social justice, the national independence of Indonesia shall be formulated into a constitution of the sovereign Republic of Indonesia which is based on the belief in the One and Only God, just and humanity, the unity of Indonesia, democracy guided by the inner wisdom of deliberations amongst representatives and the realization of social justice for all of the people of Indonesia.

Basically, no colonialism and rights for all.

The rest of the constitution lays out the rights of the people and how government and the justice system should work. There's a lot more, but the preamble is the bit that really matters as far as policy is concerned.
That little lot takes up a lot of pages (I've read and summarised the lot in an attempt to gain a basic understanding of it), but the basics are held in five principals, the pancasila.
Each has a set meaning to be upheld by all Indonesians, and each has a symbol to enhance its message.
Indonesians tend to take these principals very seriously.

Expats in Indonesia don't have to follow them, but understanding and respecting them is always a good idea.

1965 saw a politically charged year in Indonesia with an attempted communist coup that started with the murders of several Indonesian generals.

Much of this story is vague and often disputed, but the results are still evident today, seen by most in roads named after dead generals, but the standing political issue being the communist party is still illegal in this country, and communism is seen in a very dark light.

The truth is no longer of much real importance to most as most of the people on both sides are long dead or past their political best, but the remains of 1965 are still with Indonesia today.

It's also left many Indonesians with a distrust of anyone who looks Chinese, a sad thing and directly against Sila ketiga (Principal number 3) that tells us of Indonesia's unity.

Born and raised in the US, I was always taught that America is the melting pot of the world.  It isn’t.  Indonesia is the melting pot of the world.  An archipelago of some 17,000 islands, none of them connected by bridges and roads, and with many areas of the country still being remote to this day.

Nowhere on earth can one find a greater diversity of indigenous cultures and languages that somehow, almost miraculously, came together in those formative years after independence.  It took strong leadership to accomplish this, and that of course came by way of both Presidents Soeharto and Soekarno.   As you mention, there were indeed “dark times” but what brand new country hasn't experienced these challenges which can come from within and outside? 
When I first moved to Bali, Soekarno was still President.  In no way was I prepared for the incredible changes and improvements that Indonesia would accomplish in the ensuing 18 years.  It is nothing less than remarkable.  Obviously there is still much to get done, but I am utterly convinced that Indonesia will continue its growth and a shared prosperity for all it’s citizens. 

Good luck to Jokowi at the G20 summit.  Indonesia should take pride in being the only G20 nation in SE Asia.

I'm also very pro Indonesia and want to see Indonesia be the best it can be, especially as my kids will probably stay here when they grow up.

The thread isn't designed as a pro Indonesia 'love in', more to try to give an understanding of the basics to visitors to the place, and hopefully allow them to understand a little of the working of this country, and why some rules relating to expats are so strict.

I don't hide my love for Indonesia, but I'm hoping this keeps going as a history and explanation thread when these things impact on the country today, and especially when it comes to expat life here.

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