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Soekiman’s ‘more resolute way’

Natsir was unwilling to cooperate with the nationalist PNI, and his cabinet fell within six months of its installation. Soekarno then requested that the second cabinet, eventually formed by another Masyumi leader, Soekiman, should be truly a coalition cabinet. The resulting coalition was characterized by smoother inter-party relations, a decisive anti-communist outlook and a clear antagonism between the government and the army. This tension mostly arose as a result of the army’s realization that its role was shrinking while postrevolution Indonesia developed into a constitutional democracy.

These tensions were not eased even by Soekiman’s tougher approach to the Darul Islam. The cabinet’s early days were marked by the pride that ‘this [Soekiman’s] cabinet will address the issue of security in a more resolute way, which will be felt by the people when compared to the previous cabinet, which endeavoured to end the DI problem with politics’. To this statement Natsir replied: ‘The cabinet saw the Darul Islam as one aspect of the more general guerrilla problem [...] but I was not qualified to determine how to end it. Whether [the solution] was political, or military, or military- political depended on the experts.’[1]

Despite his stronger disposition towards a military solution, Soe- kiman did not manage to launch an anti-Darul Islam military operation, as he had to focus instead on the other rebellions that had suddenly reawakened in mid 1951. Most strikingly, the agreement that Natsir had reached, after months of negotiations, with Kahar Mudzakkar in South Sulawesi, and which sanctioned the incorporation of his battalions into the Republican Army, came undone. On the eve of the ceremony, Mudzakkar fled to the mountains with his men, a group that was estimated to number around 20,000.[2] In the meantime, the 426 Battalion of the Central Java TNI Division, disappointed with the direction taken by the Republic, mutinied en masse, swelling the rank and file of the Darul Islam.[3]

  • [1] ‘Soal DI: Suatu bagian dari masalah gerilla’, Berita Masjumi, 16 May 1951.
  • [2] Feith, The decline, pp. 172, 212-3.
  • [3] Markhaban Fakkih, ‘Golongan santri dan peristiwa 426 di Klaten’ (thesis, Universitas Gad-jah Mada, Yogyakarta, 1970).
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