Aiming for the better Future?
The independence of Indonesia came at a cost. After the dust settled it could be observed the the young and inexperienced country was struggling. A majority of the population was illiterate and unskilled. This did not help the waning economy struggling with inflation. With an increasing population this was not an ideal situation to be in.1 During theLiberal Democracy period of time Indonesia as a unitary state was tested with rebellions such as the Darul rebellion, also known as the Aceh rebellion which began in West Java 1947.2 As well as the drafting of a new Constitution.
During this time period the Provisional Constitution of 1950 came into effect. The new constitution was provisional as the 1945 constitution. The new constitution ensured human rights, drawing many of these changes from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the UN. The new constitution also introduced a parliamentary system of government. This constitution was never fully implemented. Although this constitution would replace the 1945 constitution which had many ambiguous terms and would have been more specific, a finalized version was never completed. On July 5th 1959 the Constitutional Assembly, responsible for making the 1950 Constitution, was dissolved following a decree by Sukarno. The public had been growing impatient at the amount of time it had taken to finalize the new constitution. The Constitutional Assembly wasn’t able to finalize the document due to disagreements on the nature of the state., Whether it would become a secular state or not. 3
This gave rise of a new era known as the time of Guided Democracy. Sukarno quickly changed the constitution back to the one of 1945, this allowed him to be the head of state and head of the government. Something he wouldn’t have been if the 1950 constitution had been finished and implemented. His new idea of Guided democracy made the 1945 constitution the one that would be followed. Legislation would become president guided. In 1959 Sukarno issued a decree which dissolved the old House of Representatives. The new legislature House of People's Representatives-Mutual Self-help was formed. Instead of being elected, seats were appointed. 154 out of 238 were appointed without election and 25% of the seats were given to PKI, a party which Sukarno had been growing close to.4
During Sukarno’s 1964 Independence speech, he denounced the US. Following this anti-American campaigns broke out and American institutions were attacked. 5 In 1965 the PKI purge and Sukarno’s downfall took place. A group named the 30th September Movement kidnapped and murder six army generals. Following the attack, the pruge of PKI began. An estimated 500,000 people were murdered in a purge with the goal of eliminating communism.6 The attack signified the fall of Sukarno as president and the beginning of the New Order.
The New order was brought by Suharto. Suharto was appointed acting president by the Indonesian parliament (MPRS). Suharto began reversing many policies made by Suharto. Suharto also dealt with political opposition that could threaten his position. This resulted in a much more stable political scene compared to when Sukarno was in power. One of the major changes he brought to Indonesia during his term was the Dual Function policy which allowed the military to participate in Indonesian politics, economy and social life.
Suharto stabilized the economy during his New Order as well. Enlisting the help of American-educated Indonesian economists, Suharto introduced new economic policies. These policies helped curb the rampant inflation rate from 660% inn 1966 to a significantly lower 19% in 1969. With the New Order taking a pro-western stance, USAID provided rice aid shipments which eliminated the risk of famines.7
Although Suharto brought prosperity to the country in some areas. His New Order regime would topple due to his restrictions on Civil Liberty and the several Human