Indonesia Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow: Commemorating the 78th Independence Day


Indonesia’s Independence in the Frame of History

Indonesia is a great nation with the fourth largest population in the world today, has an expensive cultural heritage, as well as the history of the nation whose independence was obtained through blood spilled from colonization. Until after Muhammad Yusuf Ronodipuro broadcast the Indonesian proclamation speech represented by Soekarno on Friday, August 17, 1945, since then the history of this nation entered the era of independence and until now it still stands with its own polemics and roles in life as a sovereign state.

Indonesia’s struggle for independence includes several important stages and events that form its historical framework. Here are some of the important stages of Indonesia’s independence history that brought Indonesia to the present day:

First, Early 20th Century: In the early 20th century, Indonesian nationalism began to grow in reaction to several centuries of Dutch colonialism. Organizations such as Budi Utomo (1908) and Sarekat Islam (1912) were established to fight for the political and economic rights of the Indonesian people. 

Second, during World War I: World War I affected the political situation of the world, including Indonesia. Japan took control of several territories in Asia, including Indonesia, which was previously controlled by the Dutch. 

Third, the Second World War: In 1942, Japan occupied Indonesia during the Second World War. Although the Japanese removed Dutch rule, they continued colonial rule. During the Japanese occupation, some nationalist groups started planning for independence after Japan lost the war. 

Fourth, the Proclamation of Independence: After Japan surrendered at the end of the Second World War, the situation in Indonesia became more intense. On August 17, 1945, President Soakarno and Vice President Mohammad Hatta proclaimed Indonesia’s independence. It was an important step in the struggle for independence, although it was not recognized by the Netherlands and many other countries.

Fifth, the War of Independence: After the declaration, Indonesia faced resistance from the Dutch who wanted to restore their power. Known as the Indonesian War of Independence, it involved battles and skirmishes in various regions. In 1949, international pressure and war fatigue finally forced the Netherlands to recognize Indonesia’s independence by signing the Roem-Royen Agreement. 

Sixth, Post Proclamation and Securing Independence: After independence, Indonesia faced various challenges, including building a new nation, integrating ethnic and cultural diversity, and establishing a stable government. President Sukarno led the country in its early period, but the difficult political and economic situation led to a change of government. 

Seventh, the New Order Period: In 1965, President Sukarno was replaced by Suharo after the events known as the September 30 Movement. Soeharto led the New Order government that lasted until 1998. Although this period brought political stability and economic development, it also violated human rights and restricted civil liberties.

Eighth, the Reformation Period: In 1998, pressure from various parties, including students and activists, led to the fall of the Suharto regime in the reformasi movement. This paved the way for the development of democracy and civil liberties in Indonesia.

Indonesia Today: Challenges and Opportunities

In reality, no country in the world has perfect independence, and Indonesia is no exception. Today, after several changes of leaders, Indonesia is still undergoing a series of challenges and opportunities in fulfilling the independence it has fought for. Some of the key challenges faced by Indonesia today include:

Economic Disparity: One of the biggest challenges facing Indonesia is the economic disparity between urban and rural areas, as well as between social groups. While efforts have been made to address this gap, further efforts are still needed to ensure that economic development is equitable and inclusive across Indonesia.

Infrastructure: The development of adequate infrastructure is an important prerequisite in fulfilling independence. Indonesia still faces challenges in building adequate infrastructure in various regions, especially in remote and isolated areas. Greater investment in infrastructure is needed to improve connectivity and accessibility, and support inclusive economic growth.

Social Inequality: Despite Indonesia’s rich cultural and ethnic diversity, there are still social inequalities in society. These inequalities can be seen in access to education, health and economic opportunities. Addressing these social inequalities is an important challenge in filling independence fairly and equitably for all citizens.

Corruption is a legacy in the management structure of the Indonesian state: The legacy of corruption in Indonesia’s governance structure has a long and complex history. Corruption has existed and experienced ups and downs since the time of the kingdoms in the archipelago, and continues to this day. This act of corruption is related to the existing structure of society and historical continuity. In research conducted by historians, corruption in Indonesia has a relationship with the existing state management structure. Some of the factors that contribute to corruption in Indonesia include power imbalance, lack of transparency and accountability, culture of tolerance towards corruption. Eradicating corruption is not an easy task and requires continuous work involving all parties. In tackling corruption, it is important to involve the active role of civil society, the media, and anti-corruption institutions in strengthening oversight systems and improving state governance.

Although Indonesia is faced with various challenges, there are also opportunities that can be utilized to better fulfill independence. Some of these opportunities include:

Young Demographics: Indonesia has a population that consists mostly of the younger generation. This is a great potential in filling independence, as the younger generation has the energy, creativity and passion to contribute to the country’s development. By providing quality education and good job opportunities, the younger generation can be a driving force in filling independence.

Natural Resources Potential: Indonesia is rich in natural resources, such as mines, forests and seas. The potential of these natural resources can be utilized sustainably to support economic growth, create jobs, and improve people’s welfare. Smart and sustainable utilization of natural resources will bring long-term benefits to Indonesia.

Technological Innovation: The development of information and communication technology provides new opportunities in filling independence in the digital era. Technological innovation can be used to improve efficiency and productivity in various sectors, such as agriculture, industry, and public services. The utilization of technology can also accelerate infrastructure development and improve accessibility to public services.

Looking to the Future of Indonesia: Towards the 2024 Elections

Indonesia’s 2024 elections, to be held in February next year, will be a pivotal point in shaping the country’s future. In order to achieve positive change, essential to this process are electoral transparency, effective political education, and active participation of the entire society. Electoral institutions and political parties play a major role in maintaining electoral integrity, while broad participation from all walks of life will ensure inclusive representation. Collaboration between government institutions and citizens in this election has the potential to steer Indonesia towards a better future, with an improved governance system and a strong foundation for democracy.

Indonesia has secured the candidates of the nation’s best sons and daughters to lead the country for the next decade who will hopefully lead the country to a better future with all their efforts to advance the country and protect the nation with all their souls and bodies for the sake of the motherland.

Syarifah Huswatun Miswar
Syarifah Huswatun Miswar
Syarifah Huswatun Miswar (孙美琳) from Indonesia. She received a Master of Law in International Relations from the School of International and Public Affairs, Jilin University, China. She is a research analyst with an emphasis on Environmental in International Relations issues. Now she is doing her doctoral degree in Central China Normal University (CCNU) in International Relations.