Government and Politics.
A decisive change in the structure of government as a result of a new political crisis, and continuing economic uncertainty characterized Indonesian affairs during 1959. In January plans were made to implement President Sukarno’s concept of ‘guided democracy’ (demokrasi terpimpin), first announced by the chief executive on Feb. 21, 1957. On January 12, the National Advisory Council, itself an agency of Sukarno’s projected plan to give a new structure of ‘leadership’ to the government and also headed by him, submitted to the cabinet of Premier Djuanda Kartawijaja a detailed memorandum outlining the proposed inclusion of representatives of ‘functional groups’ in the parliament. ‘Functional groups’ were understood to mean various associations with a specific socio-economic interest — labor, veterans, peasants, businessmen, women, professional people, the military, youth, etc. During most of January and early February protracted discussions took place between the President, members of the cabinet, and other party leaders. It was soon apparent that while there was no opposition to the idea of including delegates of functional groups in the parliament, the manner of their inclusion was a subject of sharp partisan controversy. Some proposed the inclusion of the ‘functionals’ up to but not above one-third of the total membership, while others favored a 50 per cent representation. There were also those who were anxious to retain party influence in parliament and urged a scheme whereby political parties, many of them closely interwoven with the functional organizations to begin with, would have a decisive voice in the election of functional delegates. On the other hand, there were those that favored a method of election free from any form of party control. President Sukarno declared on February 23 that ‘unanimous agreement’ had been reached between members of the cabinet and himself on the implementation of the ‘guided democracy’ concept, and that amendments to the election law of 1953 would be proposed to bring representatives of functional groups into a new parliament. The President further indicated that he would formally recommend that the 1945 Constitution be adopted.
In the weeks that followed, a divergence of opinion developed in the Constituent Assembly, which since the end of 1956 had attempted to draft a set of fundamental laws for the country, with nationalists and Marxists favoring a ‘secular’ state, and Muslims advocating recognition of the Islamic character of the Indonesian Republic. The focus of the controversy was the Djakarta Charter of June 22, 1945, which stipulates that Muslims of Indonesia have the duty to carry out the dictates of Islamic law. The cabinet appeared willing to incorporate the Djakarta Charter into its proposed Bandung Charter, announcing the promulgation of the 1945 Constitution. However, it refused, as some Muslim groups quietly insisted, to include the Djakarta Charter into the Constitution itself, thereby recognizing in effect the Islamic character of the Republic.
President Sukarno addressed the Constituent Assembly on April 22, 1959 to request its approval for a return to the 1945 Constitution. The 1945 Constitution, he declared, ‘is in harmony with the personality of the Indonesian nation: democracy led by wise guidance in consultation with representatives.’ He warned the nation of the ‘dangerous stagnations’ in politics and economic life that had resulted from the liberalism which had been allowed to emerge in the country over the past years.
It quickly became apparent that principal opposition to the President’s proposal came from two of the four major political parties — the Nahdlatul Ulama (Muslim Teachers), which has generally cooperated with the government and which reflects a popular form of Islamic belief and practice, and the Masjumi (Muslim Federation), a more liberal and modern group which for the past two years had been in opposition to the government. These two groups insisted on safeguarding the Islamic foundations of the state and were supported by some lesser Islamic groups. In the Masjumi, as well as in some minor parties which reflected both regional and anti-Communist interests in the country, there were also strong misgivings over the constitutionality of the whole ‘guided democracy’ scheme, and its long-term political implications. Sukarno’s proposal, however, found strong support among the Nationalist Indonesian Party, the old standardbearer of Indonesian aspirations with which the President was believed to be in general sympathy, and among the Communists, although some Communist spokesmen had earlier been critical of the intended procedure of appointing rather than electing representatives of the armed forces to the new parliament. On May 30 the Constituent Assembly formally voted on Sukarno’s proposal. The result was 269 (out of 474 votes) in favor, and 199 against, far short of the required 316 votes (or two-thirds majority) needed to carry the measure. On June 1, a second vote was taken and the result was 264 in favor and 204 against. After three votes by the Constituent Assembly failed to bring the necessary majority for Sukarno’s proposal, Army Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. A. H. Nasution, acting under martial law conditions banned all political activities to avoid ‘fanaticism.’ At the time of this impasse, President Sukarno was on a world tour. The atmosphere of tension prevailed for nearly two weeks while the President was winding up his journey. On June 24 Nasution called an emergency meeting of army commanders in Djakarta to consider concrete steps to be taken to surmount the crisis. On July 5, after consultations with the military and cabinet, Sukarno announced the reinstitution of the 1945 Constitution and the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, which he alleged was no longer able to complete the task entrusted to it. Disavowing that he was a dictator, Sukarno also announced that the parliament would stay on until new elections were held in 1960, and that a new provisional People’s Consultative Assembly, comprising members of the parliament as well as delegates from various areas and functional groups, would be formed soon. Under the new constitutional set-up, the President is responsible to this Assembly, which will meet at least once every five years. The cabinet, appointed by the President, is responsible solely to him; the parliament, with its authority greatly reduced, is to co-operate with the President on all important legislative matters. There is also a Supreme Advisory Council to be consulted by the President on major issues. On July 8, 1959 President Sukarno announced the appointment of a new cabinet (the Djuanda government having resigned on July 5) of 10 ‘inner’ ministers, and on July 12, 23 additional deputy ministers were appointed. The ‘inner cabinet’ members are: Prime Minister, Sukarno; First Minister and Finance, Djuanda; Security and Defense, Lt. Gen. A. H. Nasution; Social and Cultural Affairs, Mohammad Yamin; Production, Colonel Suprajogi; Distribution, J. Leimena; People’s Welfare, Muljadi Djojomartono; Construction, Chairul Saleh; Foreign Affairs, Subandrio; Interior, Ipik Gandama. The 33 new appointees come from a wide range of the political spectrum and include two outspoken Communist fellow travelers (Pryono and Sudjono), but exclude any member of the Masjumi party.
On July 22 the parliament approved Sukarno’s new powers and appointments by acclamation (but not without protests from the Masjumi) and by July 23 more than 230 members had taken the oath of loyalty to the 1945 Constitution and were seated as members of the new legislature. Leading Masjumi deputies resigned, however. On July 30 Sukarno appointed the 77 members of the National Planning Board, of which Muhammad Yajim became chairman, and the 45 members of the Provisional Supreme Advisory Council, of which Foreign Minister Ruslan Abdulgani became Vice-Chairman (Sukarno being Chairman). The latter body contained leading members of the Indonesian Communist Party, among them Party Secretary General D. N. Aidit, but again no member of the Masjumi party.
The new government did not hesitate to take drastic measures. On July 27, new ordinances were issued providing for severe punishment, including the death penalty, for acts of economic sabotage or acts endangering national security. The nationalist newspaper, Merdeka, editorially noted these new decrees ‘with a shiver.’ The ban on political activities was mitigated somewhat on July 24, but open air political meetings and mass demonstrations of any kind were forbidden. Most sweeping was the decree of August 24 ordering a 90 per cent devaluation of banknotes of 500 rupiah and 1,000 rupiah denominations and the freezing of 90 per cent of all bank deposits over 25,000 rupiahs. The frozen money was to be used for the ‘purchase’ of 2 billion rupiahs’ worth of government bonds. While the measure was hailed in some quarters as a first step to domestic stability, its adverse effects in terms of rising unemployment and capital flight were soon felt. Severe press censorship was imposed and all expression of political opposition to the new regime were suppressed. Membership in political parties was declared incompatible with the holding of high ranking government offices, and attempts were made to further ‘depoliticize’ the bureaucracy. The new government was undoubtedly helped by its agreement with Darul Islam (Muslim State) insurgents in Acheh, Northern Sumatra, under which the rebels were to cease operations in return for provincial autonomy. A split in the ranks of Darul Islam insurgents in South Sulawesi (Celebes) in the first week of September presaged a similar agreement in that area. But in Central Sumatra and Northern Sulawesi operations against scattered units of the ‘Revolutionary Republic of Indonesia,’ which was proclaimed on Feb. 15, 1958 in Sumatra, continued and were keeping large Government units in the field.
In line with the policy to streamline the army, Chief of Staff Nasution ordered compulsory military service on March 2 for youths and unemployed. The increasing importance that Nasution enjoys as Army Chief of Staff and Minister of Defense led to rumors and charges that he might be aspiring to a military dictatorship. On July 18, Col. Eddy Martadinata replaced Vice-Admiral Subiyakto as Naval Chief of Staff, after Subiyakto had protested the special powers given to Nasution as Minister of Defense. Subiyakto was subsequently sent to Turkey as ambassador. Similar dissatisfaction in the Air Force was met by appointing.Air Force Chief of Staff Commodore Suryadarma as an ex officio member of the new cabinet on July 15.