Indonesian Constitution Day is a national holiday in Indonesia celebrated on August 18 every year. It commemorates the adoption of the Indonesian Constitution on August 18, 1945, at a meeting of the Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence.
The constitution is the supreme law of Indonesia and establishes the basic principles of the country’s government, including its political system, economic system, and social order. Constitution Day is a day for Indonesians to celebrate their democracy and reaffirm their commitment to the principles of the constitution.
The day is marked by a variety of events, including patriotic speeches, parades, and cultural performances. This is an important event in Indonesian history and it will surely make Constitution Day even more special for Indonesians.
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Who was the founder of the Indonesian Constitution?
The Indonesian Constitution was founded by a group of Indonesian nationalists and intellectuals who met in Jakarta in the months before the country’s independence in 1945.
In 1942, Japan invaded the Dutch East Indies and defeated the Dutch colonial regime. They occupied the territory during World War II. The Japanese divided the territory into three regions of military rule: Sumatra, Java, and East Indonesia.
As the Japanese military position became increasingly untenable, they began appointing more and more native Indonesians to official positions in the occupation administration. On March 1, 1945, the Japanese 16th Army established the Investigative Committee for the Preparatory Works for Independence (BPUPK) in Java.
Subsequently, the 25th Army established a BPUPK for Sumatra. No such organization existed in the rest of the East Indies. The BPUPK in Java had 62 members at its founding, but 68 at the second session. It was chaired by Radjiman Wedyodiningrat.
Its members included future President Sukarno and Vice President Mohammad Hatta. The BPUPK met in the building that had been used by the Dutch quasi-colonial parliament, the Volksraad, in central Jakarta. It held two sessions, from May 29 to June 1 and from July 10 to 17, 1945.
The first session discussed general issues, including the state philosophy for the future independent Indonesia, Pancasila. Sukarno outlined this philosophy in a speech on June 1.
During the recess between the two BPUPK sessions, a Committee of Nine (Panitia Sembilan) consisting of Sukarno, Hatta, Yamin, Maramis, Soebardjo, Wahid Hasjim, Muzakkir, Agus Salim, and Abikoesno reformulated Sukarno’s Pancasila into a preamble to the future Constitution.
This later became known as the Jakarta Charter. It was a compromise document that included the obligation for Muslims to follow Sharia (Islamic law).
In the second session, which opened on July 10, a 19-person committee drafted a provisional constitution. They were:
- Oto Iskandar di Nata
- Agus Salim
- Achmad Soebardjo
- maria ulfa santoso
- Wahid Hasjim
- Harahap Stop
- Johannes Latuharhary
- Susanto Tirtoprodjo
- Tan Eng Hoa
- Soekiman Wirjosandjojo
The draft constitution consisted of 37 articles, 4 transitory provisions and 2 additional provisions. The nation would be a unitary state and a republic. On July 26, 1945, the Allies called for Japan’s unconditional surrender in the Potsdam Declaration.
The Japanese authorities, realizing that they would probably lose the war, began making firm plans for Indonesian independence, more to spite the Dutch than anything else.
On August 6, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. On August 7, the Southern Expeditionary Army Group headquarters announced that an Indonesian leader could create a body called the Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence (PPKI).
The dropping of a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria on August 9 led to the unconditional surrender of the Japanese on August 15, 1945.
Sukarno and Hatta declared independence on August 17, 1945, and the PPKI met the next day and declared the Indonesian Constitution on August 18, 1945.