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The Linggadjati Agreement and the Dutch invasion: Implications for national politics

The Republicans’ readiness to cooperate with the Dutch soon had serious consequences, as several nationalists turned their backs on Soekarno, Sjahrir and their contingencies. The single event that most upset the fragile balance within the anti-colonial movement was the Linggadjati Agreement, signed by Van Mook and the Indonesian Prime Minister, Soetan Sjahrir, in November 1946. Though KNIP eventually ratified it in 1947, the agreement was strongly opposed by Islamic nationalists. The treaty established a ceasefire and called for the formation of a federative United States of Indonesia (with Java, Madura and Sumatra included de facto in Soekarno’s Republik Indonesia in Yogyakarta). The federation would be part of the Netherlands-Indonesian Union and under the authority of the Dutch Queen.

The pro-independence front was deeply fragmented among the Islamic, socialist and Soekarnoist factions. However, as the Dutch considered Soekarno, Hatta and Sjahrir to be representative of the movement as a whole, Masyumi was granted less political space than might have been expected from its popular support.[1]

At the end of 1946 Masyumi openly called for armed opposition against a Republican government that pursued overtly accom- modationist policies. As announced in a letter sent to all Masyumi branches and published in al-Djihad, Wahid Hasjim, Soekiman and Zainal Arifin proclaimed their intention to ‘bring down the Indonesian government with arms’.[2]

Under such pressure, Sjahrir was forced to resign and Soekarno, to form a new cabinet. InJune andJuly 1947 Soekiman, who had been included in the four-man team in charge of appointing new ministers, demanded leadership of the cabinet and several key ministries for the Islamic party. Soekarno refused to accommodate these demands, and Masyumi withdrew from the cabinet, causing a stalemate only solved in November with the formation of yet another cabinet.[3]

In the meantime, Kartosuwiryo had been invited to represent PSII in the First Amir Sjarifoeddin Cabinet as junior Vice-Minister of Defence. However, while his name was included on the official lists drafted on 3-4 July, as well as on the list published by the press, he never accepted the position.[4] First, Soekiman, Salim, Kartosuwiryo and Wondoamiseno had not yet completed their attempts to revive the Partai Sarekat Islam Indonesia, thus leaving their relationship with Masyumi undefined. Second, Masyumi was not participating in the cabinet.[5] Third, Sjarifuddin’s cabinet was strongly sympathetic to socialist and communist policies, which did not go down well with Kartosuwiryo.[6] Finally, I would like to suggest that because the Dutch invasion ofJuly 1947 had led to the physical and political isolation of West Java, Kartosuwiryo’s absence from the cabinet was connected with his difficulties (and lack of interest) injoining the centre of parliamentary power. Announcing that he ‘had not yet become involved with the PSII and still felt committed to Masyumi’, Kartosuwiryo eventually declined Soekarno’s and Sjarifuddin’s offer.[7]

Despite the diplomatic achievements and a climate of relative peace -acknowledged also by the British envoy to Java - on 20 July 1947 the Dutch launched their first military campaign on Republican territory, with the intention of occupying West Java, Madura and Sumatra.[8] The invading Dutch forces expanded from Bandung across north-eastern West Java in three directions (east, south-east and south-west), pushing Indonesian soldiers and militias south of Purwakarta, Subang, Sumedang and Majalengka.[9]

Regardless of the fact that a United Nations-sponsored ceasefire had been signed in August, the consequences of the invasion were strongly felt in the months to come. On 23 September Netherlands’ Prime Minister, Louis Beel, declared that one of the achievements of the politioneele actie (‘police action’), as the Dutch called it, had been ‘the creation of better conditions for the execution of the political plan of reconstruction laid down in the Linggadjati Agreement’. In fact, Indonesian sources reported that consequent to the invasion, ‘All the militias ha[d] left [their headquarters] to reach the various areas of West Java to carry out, at their best, an ideological struggle, sabotage and guerrilla actions.’ Rather than supporting Beel’s rationale,[10] such comments showed the irreparable political damage caused by the aggression.

  • [1] Kahin, Nationalism and revolution, pp. 196 onwards; Ricklefs, A history, pp. 224-5. For a complete analysis of the Federal State, see A. Arthur Schiller, The formation offederal Indonesia, 19451949 (The Hague: Van Hoeve, 1955).
  • [2] ‘Rapat raksasa Banteng R.I. di Malang, Kementrian Pertahanan Oeroesan A.L.R.I. Bag. CPoesat Jogjakarta’, 7 January 1947, KemPert no. 188, ANRI.
  • [3] Noer, ‘Masjumi: Its organization’, pp. 105-7.
  • [4] ‘Het Republikeinsche Kabinet Sjarifuddin, IV Kabinet, 3 Juli 1947’, APG no. 731, NA; ‘Kabi-net Sjarifuddin Ve Kabinet (4 Juli 1947-23 Jan 1948)’, APG no. 731, NA; ‘Kabinet - SjarifuddinVe Kabinet (na wijziging op 11-11-1947)’, APG no. 731, NA; ‘Soesoenan kabinet baroe’, Merdeka,4 July 1947.
  • [5] ‘Partai Sarekat Islam Indonesia’, 19 Mei 1947, KemPert no. 1054, ANRI.
  • [6] ‘Proces-verbaal van verhoor van R. Didi b.Uhap al.Tatang Bachtiar, Onderhoofd van hetMinisterie van Voorlichting van de Negara Islam Indonesia (NII); Parket van den Procureur-Gen-eraal bij den Pengadilan Tinggi van de Negara Pasundan te Bandoeng’, 26 September 1949, AASno. 2755, NA; and Dinas Sejarah TNI, Penumpasanpemberontakan D.I./T.I.I., p. 59. This report ofthe arrest of a Darul Islam member in 1948 mentions that Kartosuwiryo had refused to join theSjarifuddin cabinet because it was communist. As this might represent one aspect of the problem,it should also be noted that some anti-communist politicians, including Haji Agoes Salim, joinedthis cabinet in an effort to bring Indonesia out of its stalemate and to obtain full independence.
  • [7] ‘Kartosuwiryo keberatan’, Merdeka, 8 July 1947.
  • [8] ‘Bataljion genietroepen oorlogsdagboek nr B149/101.34’, MD: AS no. 2231, NA.
  • [9] ‘Laporan keadaan Djawa Barat’, 28 July 1947, KemPert no. 1290, ANRI.
  • [10] ‘Laporan keadaan Djawa Barat’, 28 July 1947, KemPert no. 1290, ANRI. Beel’s comment in‘Political reconstruction in the Netherlands East Indies, Consul-General Shepherd to Mr. Bevin,Batavia, 22 October 1947’, p. 79, FO 480/1, NAUK.
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