Indonesia History in the 1950’s

Rate this post

The Dutch-Indonesian Union, on which the Hague government had founded so many hopes, soon proved to be an organism devoid of vitality and dissolved within five years of its formation, while relations between the two countries progressively worsened. There were two main reasons for tension between Djakarta and The Hague: on the one hand the question of western New Guinea (Irian) and on the other the economic privileges that Holland intended to preserve in Indonesia.

The question of Western Irian arose soon after the Hague Round Table conference (August-November 1949) which recognized the independence of the Indonesia, having not been able to reach agreement on the problem if Irian administered by the Holland should or should not be transferred to Indonesian sovereignty. The government of Djakarta claimed it, since it was a territory that had been part of the Dutch East Indies until then, while the Hague government claimed that this territory had no ethnic-historical link with Indonesia and that moreover the Indonesians would not have had the ability to exploit it economically. Negotiations resumed in 1950, lasting unnecessarily for two years, until the Holland refused to continue them and sharply rejected an Indonesian proposal to set up, pending a definitive solution, a provisional mixed administration. In 1954 the question was brought before the UN and continued to be so in each of the following years, but the problem found no way out. Also opposed to the transfer of western Irian to Indonesia was Australia, which administered the other half of the island.

The economic problem presented no less difficulties, since the heated nationalistic sentiment of the Indonesian population considered the privilege regime granted by the 1949 agreements to Dutch assets and investments in Indonesia as an extension of Dutch colonialism on the country. The refusal of the Netherlands to the attempts of the government of Djakarta to negotiate a new agreement, prompted them in 1956 to declare the 1949 treaty lapsed to formally renounce the Dutch-Indonesian Union and to start a policy of successive nationalization of Dutch properties in Indonesia..

Even shorter life was the complicated federal structure created for the Indonesia at the 1949 Round Table conference: after 9 months, in August 1950, the United States of Indonesia was replaced by the unitary Republic of Indonesia, administratively decentralized into provinces (see above): Soekarno and Hatta, who had directed the struggle against the Dutch colonial domination, they were respectively president and vice-president. A provisional constitution was promulgated which provided for a parliamentary regime: the Chamber of Deputies was made up of 231 members appointed by the president on proposals from the most important political groups. For Indonesia 1998, please check

The new state immediately had a troubled life. The extreme fragmentation of the archipelago, with islands large enough to create in each a sense of its own individual state, did not facilitate the unitary objectives of the nationalist group of Java. There was also a lack of adequate administrative cadres. The distrust, in some islands, of a “Javanese imperialism” was the basis of various rebellions, in 1950-51 and in 1954-55, in the so-called “outer islands”: the Moluccas, Celebes and Amboine. Another hotbed of local rebellion arose in 1954 in Achin, the far northwestern region of Sumatra. More serious was the guerrillas promoted in various areas of the archipelago by Darul Islam, a far-right Muslim movement that aimed at the formation of a theocratic state. The economic problems were also very serious, which the revolution of 1945 had not addressed; above all, the problem of the organization, often still feudal, of land ownership remained unsolved.

In the first Chamber of Deputies, no party had an absolute majority and it was necessary to resort to coalition cabinets between the two main parties, the Nationalist with secular and radical tendencies and the Muslim Masjumi. Their opposing programs, even in foreign policy – neutralistic the first, pro-Western the second – soon made collaboration impossible, and governments followed one another frequently with the direction of one party now and then of the other, preventing the development of a coherent policy. and long perspectives and keeping the country under the permanent threat of acts of force.

To get out of the chronic crisis situation, in 1957 President Soekarno proposed the use of “guided democracy” and the creation of a consultative council, under his direction, in which military and religious groups with the power to control the work of the parliament. The Soekarno experiment was firmly opposed by Masjumi and the most conservative groups in the country: in 1958 this hostility resulted in a secessionist rebellion on the west coast of Sumatra, where a junta of “young colonels” hostile to Soekarno formed a real government opposed to Djakarta. Among the programmatic points of it were respect for foreign properties – in open controversy with Soekarno’s anti-Dutch measures – a massive investment program in Sumatra and a moderate reaffirmation of diplomatic neutralism. Despite the blatant support of some Western powers, including the USA, the rebels were quickly defeated by government forces. A step forward, in the centralization of the entire state authority on himself, was taken by Soekarno in July 1959, assuming full powers, dissolving the Constituent Assembly and restoring the 1945 constitution which attributed all executive power to the head of state. and part of the legislative power. Continuing this process, a decree of 12 January 1960 gave the president control over the parties, allowing him both to dissolve those movements which were not present in at least a quarter of the provinces and districts, which had principles contrary to the directives of the state and which had been implicated in the 1958 rebellion, and to control party funding in blocking the aid that came to them from abroad. At the same time he announced the formation of a “National Front” in which all Indonesians who shared his political directives were called to participate. On March 5, 1960, Soekarno suspended the parliament elected at the end of 1955, declaring that this body “undermined the unity and security of the state and prevented the normal evolution towards the achievement of a just and prosperous society”.

Indonesia History in the 1950's

You may also like...