Indonesian “independence” was initially realised with the help of Japan

For years now the Indonesians have been bragging that they gained independence through the “blood and sweat” of Revolution from the Dutch, and that Malaysian independence was literally handed over “on a silver platter” by the British. The true story behind Indonesian “independence”, however, is that it was initially realised with the help of Japan during World War II.

“In March 1945, Japan organized an Indonesian committee (BPUPKI) on independence. At its first meeting in May, Soepomo spoke of national integration and against personal individualism; while Muhammad Yamin suggested that the new nation should claim British Borneo, British Malaya, Portuguese Timor, and all the pre-war territories of the Dutch East Indies. The committee drafted the 1945 Constitution, which remains in force, though now much amended. On 9 August 1945 Sukarno, Hatta, and Radjiman Wediodiningrat were flown to meet Marshal Hisaichi Terauchi in Vietnam. They were told that Japan intended to announce Indonesian independence on 24 August. After the Japanese surrender however, Sukarno unilaterally proclaimed Indonesian independence on 17 August. A later UN report stated that four million people died in Indonesia as a result of the Japanese occupation.”

Bolded emphasis are my own. The citation above is pretty much self-explanatory.

It is true, however, that the Indonesians were engaged in a protracted war with the Dutch when they returned to the Indonesian islands after 1945. However, by this time Indonesia was already de jure an independent state (with the help of Japan) which was not recognised by the Dutch. Hence the Dutch invaded the islands and the rest is, as they say, history. That is the “Revolution” which ultra-nationalistic Indonesians speak of in no uncertain terms.

It is amusing, however, that when Indonesians accuse Malaysia of having gained independence “with the help of the British”, they suffer a short-term memory loss by failing to realise that one could also say the same for them, that they had gained independence “with the help of Japan”!

Malayan General Elections 1955 campaign video

The Prime Minister of Malaysia has announced the dissolution of the Dewan Rakyat this morning, hence paving the way for our 13th general elections which will most likely be held within the month. Sentiments on the ground are blowing away from the current ruling coalition but since this is a history blog, I will not go into that.

The above is a campaign video of the first Malayan general elections in 1955, urging Malayans to go out and vote in the country’s first general elections to elect members of the Federal Legislative Council. At the time, Malaya had not achieved her independence yet — which was declared only in 1957, two years later. Our society has gone a long way since then. Most likely that if such a campaign video were to be played now on our television stations, it will elicit more giggles than succeed in urging anyone to go out and vote.