THE NEW ORDER GOVERNMENT
Ever since taking office in 1967, the New Order Government of President Soeharto was determined to return constitutional
life by upholding the 1945 Constitution in a strict and consistent manner and by respecting Pancasila as the state
philosophy and ideology.
To emerge from the political and economic legacy of Soekarno’s Old Order, the new government set out to undertake
To complete the restoration of order and security and to establish political stability
To carry out economic rehabilitation.
To prepare a plan for and execute national development with the emphasis on economic development.
To end confrontation and normalize diplomatic relations with Malaysia.
To return to the United Nations, which Indonesia had quit in January 1965.
To consistently pursue an independent and active foreign policy.
To resolve the West Irian question.
To regain lndonesia’s economic credibility overseas.
To hold general elections once every five years.
Much of the implementation of these policies has been described in the foregoing pages. It remains here to mention
some of the more notable achievements of the New Order during the first few years of its existence. Results of
national development are presented in this book under the heading "Development Achievements" and are
updated each year.
With regard to Malaysia, not only were relations normalized but Indonesia together with Malaysia, the Philippines,
Singapore and Thailand joined to establish the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). On achieving independence
in 1984, Brunei Darussalam become the sixth member of ASEAN.The objective of the association is the establishment
of regional cooperation in the economic, social and cultural fields, but ASEAN also operates in the political area.
To prepare for national development, in addition to economic rehabilitation, Indonesia secured an agreement with
creditor countries to reschedule an overseas debt of US$ 5 billion. With the recovery of the country’s overseas
credibility, Indonesia succeeded in the formation of a consortium of creditor countries to assist in her economic
development. This consortium is known as the Inter-Governmental Group on Indonesia (IGGI) and includes the United
States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Britain and a number of West-European countries. Its annual meetings
are held in Amsterdam under the chairmanship of the Netherlands.
East Timor’s Integration
History recorded that in 672 AD Timor was part of the Crivijaya Kingdom. Later the island belonged to the Majapahit
Kingdom for 200 years, until 1520.
In the last quarter of the 16th Century the Portuguese subjugated Sultan Baabullah of Ternate, then the overlord
In 1651 the Dutch invaded Kupang in Western Timor and on April 20, 1859, concluded a treaty with Portugal whereby
the latter was granted the right only to the northern part of Timor, Atauro Island and Oecussi, a tiny Sultanate
in the Dutch-controlled part of West Timor.
In a statement on May 28, 1974, the Governor of Portuguese Timor, Colonel Fernando Alves Aldela, granted the people
permission to form political parties. The response was the emergence of five political parties - UDT (Uniao Democratica
Timorese), FRETILIN (Frente Revolucionaria de Timor Leste lndependent), APODETI (Associacao Popular Democratica
de Timor),KOTA (Klibur Oan Timur Aswain) and TRABALHISTA (Labor Party).
Through lack of popular support, FRETILIN resorted to terror tactics, threats and blackmail in an attempt to intimidate
members of the other parties. This caused growing tension throughout the colony and sparked an inevitable civil
On August 27, 1975, the Governor and other Portuguese officials abandoned the capital of Dili, fled to Atauro Island
and left FRETILIN free to continue its reign of terror. FRETILIN was even supplied with arms from the Portuguese
On November 28 of the some year, FRETILIN unilaterally "declared the independence" of East Timor and
announced the formation of "the Democratic Republic of East Timor".
In the light of these developments, on November 30, 1975, at Balibo, UDT, APODETI, KOTA and TRABALHISTA proclaimed
the independence of the territory and its simultaneous integration with Indonesia. On December 17, 1975, the four
parties announced the establishment of the Provisional Government of East Timor in Dili.
On May 31, 1976, the duly elected People’s Assembly of East Timor decided in an open session to formally integrate
the territory with the Republic of Indonesia. A bill on this integration was approved by the Indonesian House of
Representatives on July 15, 1976 and, with the promulgation by the President, became Law on July 17. East Timor
has since been the 27th province of Indonesia with all the rights and duties under the 1945 Constitution of the
|SIMPLIFICATION OF POLITICAL PARTIES
The Govemment Manifesto of November 3, 1945, opened the way to a rapid growth of political parties. Soon a multi-party
system emerged with parties of different ideologies, ranging from nationalism to socialism, religion and even Marxism/Leninism.
Hence, the political structure developed into a liberal democracy that was a complete departure from the type of
democracy envisaged by Pancasila.
With sharply conflicting ideologies, political rivalry was the order of the day and
a stable Government was out of the question. With a total of 24 political parties and their fractions, cabinets
could only be formed on the basis of a shaky compromise between the strongest parties. In point of fact, coalition
cabinets were formed and dissolved very often. The administration was a complete shambles and development was a
The first and only general election ever held during the rule of the Old Order took place in 1955. Even that election
did not produce a strong cabinet with a solid back-up in Parliament. On the contrary, because political conditions
continued to deterioate, the President ordered the formation of a Constituent Assembly to draft a new consfitufion.
However, as mentioned earlier, this only ended up in a total deadlock which led the president to take all the power
of the state into his own hands under the pretext of guided democracy.
Having learned from the experience of the unlimited multiparty system of the post,
the New Order Government, which came into office in 1967, decided to simplify the political system along the following
n order to minimize ideological conflicts between political organizations, all political organizations shall adopt
Pancasila as their sole basis principle.
To simplify the political system, particularly for the purpose of choosing a political organization by the people
in general elections it was felt that the number of these organizations should be reduced.
In the past, villages were made the bases of political activities and maneuvers, most notably in the heyday of
the Indonesian Communist Party. This adversely affected the social and economic life of the village populations.
Hence, it would be desirable to free villages from the activities of political organizations.
Furthermore, the large number of organizations has been reduced by the fusion of parties and their affiliated organizations
into two political parties - Partai Persatuan Pembangunan (The United Development Party or Partai Persatuan) and
Partai Demokrasi Indonesia (the Indonesian Democracy Party or PDI), and one Functional Group or Golongan Karya
Partai Persatuan is a fusion of Nahdlatul Ulama (the Moslem Scholars Party), Parmusi
(the Moslem Party), PSII (the Islamic Confederation) and PERTI (the Islamic Union).
PDI is a fusion of the former PNI (the Nationalist Party), the Catholic Party, the Christian (Protestant) Party,
the Indonesian Independence Party, and Partai Murba (the People’s Party).
Golkar accommodates the aspirations and political rights and duties of functional groups that are not affiliated
with either party, namely civil servants, retired members of the Armed Forces, women’s organizations, professional
groups, farmers, student, etc.
By virtue of the 1983 Guidelines of State Policy and on the basis of Act No. 3 of 1985, Pancasila has finally been
adopted as the one and only ideological principle upon which all political organizations base their activities.
|Source: www.deplu.go.id (Department of Foreign Affairs update November 2002)
|Suharto (1921- ), second president of Indonesia (1968-1998), who oversaw the country’s
unprecedented economic growth and emergence as a regional power.
Born to a peasant family in Kemusu, a village near the city of Yogyakarta in central Java (then under Dutch control),
Suharto had an unsettled childhood. His parents’ marriage broke up before he was two years old, and he was brought
up variously by each of his remarried parents and by relatives in other villages and towns around Yogyakarta. Suharto
attended local Javanese schools, worked for a short time in a village bank, and joined the Dutch colonial army
By 1942 Suharto had been promoted to sergeant. That year, Japan invaded and occupied
Indonesia during World War II. Believing that cooperation with the Japanese offered the best hope for eventual
Indonesian independence, Suharto joined a Japanese-led militia and received military training. After Japan surrendered
and Indonesia declared its independence in August 1945, Suharto joined the newly established Indonesian army and
fought in a five-year war against the Dutch, who attempted to regain control of the region after Japan’s withdrawal.
The Dutch captured much of Java in 1947 and Yogyakarta the following year. In March 1949 troops under Suharto’s
command attacked the Dutch in Yogyakarta and recaptured the city. The Dutch agreed to leave all of Indonesia except
Dutch New Guinea (West Irian) later that year.
Over the next 15 years, Suharto rose steadily through the military ranks. In the early
1950s Suharto led military operations to suppress uprisings by Muslim and Dutch-led groups in various parts of
Indonesia, and in 1957 he took command of the central Javanese army division. Suharto became a brigadier general
in 1960, and in 1962 he headed a military operation to recover West Irian (now the province of Papua; formerly
Irian Jaya) from the Dutch. In 1963 he was put in charge of the army’s strategic command, a special force kept
on alert for national emergencies
By the mid-1960s both the military and the Indonesian Communist Party (Partai Komunis Indonesia, or PKI) had gained
considerable power under the regime of Indonesian president Sukarno. When a group of dissident pro-Communist army
and air force troops attempted to seize control of the government in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, in October 1965,
Suharto successfully suppressed them. Although he was not Indonesia’s dominant military leader at the time, Suharto
outmaneuvered his military competitors for power during the succeeding months. The army alleged that the PKI was
responsible for the abortive coup, and in late 1965 army units and Muslim groups began to massacre Communists and
their supporters throughout the countryside. In March 1966 Suharto successfully persuaded President Sukarno to
authorize him to restore security and order, which effectively transferred executive authority to Suharto. In 1967
the Indonesian parliament appointed Suharto acting president. He was elected full president by the parliament in
1968 and was reelected to successive five-year terms in 1973, 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, and 1998. The Indonesian
constitution does not limit the number of terms a president may serve.
President of Indonesia
From the outset, Suharto focused heavily on national security, adopting a strong anti-Communist stance in contrast
to his predecessor, Sukarno. Suharto quickly eliminated the PKI and associated organizations and subsequently began
repressing other organizations and people he viewed as a threat to his hold on power. These included Muslims pursuing
a more prominent role for Islam in state affairs, writers desiring greater artistic freedom, and politicians seeking
increased freedom to promote their ideas to the public. When Portugal ended its colonial rule of the territory
of East Timor in 1975, Suharto intervened in the struggle for control of the region. The Revolutionary Front for
an Independent East Timor (Fretilin), a leftist revolutionary party, eventually took power, and in December Suharto
ordered an invasion of the region, arguing that an independent East Timor under Fretilin would threaten the unity
of the Indonesian state. Suharto’s government annexed East Timor the following year.
Suharto also sought to restore Indonesia’s relations with the Western world, which had deteriorated under Sukarno.
Suharto ended Indonesia’s hostile stance toward Malaysia, whose independence Sukarno had felt was a front for continued
British colonial activities in the region. Suharto also rejoined the United Nations (UN), from which Sukarno had
withdrawn in 1965, when Malaysia was elected a nonpermanent member. Finally, Suharto froze the diplomatic ties
forged by Sukarno with Communist China.
With internal political stability largely in place by the 1980s, Suharto set out to
expand Indonesia’s role in international politics. He continued the country’s leadership role in the Association
of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a regional economic and political alliance that Indonesia had helped found
in 1967. In the late 1980s and early 1990s he promoted efforts to bring peace to Cambodia and also normalized relations
with China. In 1992 Indonesia chaired the Nonaligned Movement, an association of nations not specifically allied
with a world superpower.
Economic development was another major focus of Suharto’s presidency. Under his rule, Indonesia experienced unprecedented
growth beginning in the early 1970s. Economic success resulted from substantial foreign investment and from economic
diversification, which reduced the country’s reliance on oil and agriculture. Suharto’s government developed roads
and irrigation systems and implemented food production programs. The government also made social improvements,
expanding health and educational facilities and family planning programs. Although most Indonesians enjoyed greater
economic security than ever before, the benefits of the country’s growth were experienced unequally, as Suharto’s
family members and their business partners became immensely wealthy.
By 1997 Suharto was concluding his sixth five-year term of office and had not given
any indication that he was contemplating retirement. Although critics periodically raised the question of succession,
Suharto always managed to deflect the issue. He also ensured that his vice presidents were always politicians with
no reasonable likelihood of succeeding him. In the second half of 1997 the value of the Indonesian currency began
to plummet, sparking a massive economic crisis in which inflation soared and unemployment rose. Negotiations with
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) produced three possible rescue packages for the economy. However, these packages
failed to convince international financial managers that recovery was possible. These managers made it clear that
they did not believe economic stability could be restored as long as Suharto was president.
In March 1998 Suharto was elected to a seventh term. His cabinet appointments—mostly loyalists unlikely to challenge
his authority or push for change—sparked demonstrations by university students calling for democratic reforms.
In May police shot six students at a demonstration, triggering two days of arson and looting in Jakarta in which
about 500 people died. Opposition to Suharto’s rule spread to many political and community leaders who had previously
supported him. On May 21 Suharto bowed before this pressure and resigned. His vice president, B. J. Habibie, succeeded
him as president.
Colin Brown, B.Econ., Ph.D.
Professor of Asian Studies, Flinders University of South Australia. Coauthor of Indonesia: Dealing with a Neighbour,
editor of Modern Indonesia: A History Since 1945 (Postwar World).
How to cite this article:
"Suharto," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2004
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