Rethinking the purpose of Indonesia

Today, 65 years ago, the Founding Fathers of our republic reached a point in which they agreed on the common principles to bind the diverse nations which also agreed to be called Indonesia. The five basic principles, together with the 1945 Constitution, guided the unsteady period of newly independent nation-state in its striving for international recognition that acquired after countless sacrifices of wealth and irreplaceable lives of unknown heroes who believed their children and fellow countrymen will be better off in an independent state where freedom is the air they breath. The remarkable struggle of earlier Indonesian people to gain independence can be perceived as the manifestation of incredible motivation to eliminate their common enemy, namely colonialism, who happened to be a blessing in disguise that provide the channel for nation building of Indonesia along with its common principles we known asPancasila. Their struggle was for the ultimate goal of freedom which beautifully crafted under the five principles of Pancasila and the four purposes of establishing Indonesian state mentioned in the fourth paragraph of Opening of the 1945 Constitution.

Then, if we track back the first fifty years of Indonesia history as an independent nation-state since its international recognition on December 1949, we have witnessed the Motherland has survived two major crisis in the 1965-1966 and 1998. The first test was the cloudy historical phenomenon most of us known as the betrayal of communism within which thousands or perhaps millions of lives have been exhausted in the purpose of, once again, to inherit the freedom and spirit of nationalism. The second and probably the one we can still vividly recall, is the multi-dimensional crises ignited by the downfall of economy under former President Soeharto’s New Order era. The magnitude of the financial crisis then expand to other realm like politics, cultural, and humanity during which we also have witness the violence burst in several area against certain ethnics, numbers of ethnic conflicts which also projected and exaggerated   to be a sort of religious conflicts. But, for some reason we still wondering on, our country has survived after innumerable sacrifices the very people, in fact our brothers and sisters, of Indonesia have brought upon us.

Recalling a lesson in our elementary schoolbook, the younger generation and the rest of the citizen of a 237 million people size of country have been asked to make our own struggling in the spirit of independence our forefathers had succeed to us. Individually, some of our countrymen have carved their names in our golden history book as the winner of gold medal in badminton worldwide, also gold medals in Science Olympics, best-seller novelists, entrepreneurs and world leaders, indeed numbers of achievement that honor the rest of us who share the same nation-state. But, what have we achieved as a collective entity of a state?

One good and perhaps acceptable way to measure the achievement of an organization is through reflecting back to its purpose. A marketing company would be consider a successful one if it has marketed certain amount of products to become a well-known brand. A football club considered a champion when it recorded the most victories. A Boy Scout team is completing its code deciphering tasks. But, as complex as a country, determining the success rate is a painful task, yet, it is not impossible. Therefore, I would like to invite my fellow citizens to evaluate how our beloved country’s performance so far by seeing it through the Pancasila and four purposes of Indonesia as a state, which are rest in the role to provide protection, education, and welfare for its people, and actively engage in world order.


The state is responsible for the security of its citizens under various kinds of threats. The triumph of this purpose is in place where the people are secure and able to pursue their goals under guarantee of freedom from the state. Giving this condition, Indonesia, to some extent, has become a safe place for its people to strive for their interests and goals without any significant threat of other states regardless the condition of national weaponry defense mechanism and equipment. Does it mean Indonesia succeed in the first task? To be honest, Indonesia is yet to provide the security for its people. Our homework as a nation-state, then, need to stretch out to those in isolate area where the Capital’s fruit of development is not exist, the border area where neighbor country’s economic magnet is more attractive, Indonesian worker, especially women, who work overseas and to every citizen who trapped in the flood of urbanization and live below, Indonesia standard, poverty line. Substantially, the responsibility to protect must able to stop self-interest politicians and conglomerates jeopardizing the social capital and security. It is painful to witness how groups of uniformed officials involve in violent conflict against the civilian they should protect in the name of the state. But it is more painful to see how the university students and civilians who seek for democracy and justice easily enraged in brutal actions during their street protests.


Numbers of gold medal collections of Indonesia Science Olympic Teams, the high standard of curriculum, and the number of National Budget allocated for the purpose of education are not adequate variables to justify the success of our education system, yet nothing to be ashamed to be proud of. The controversy over National Exam, disparity on educational facilities nationwide, status of many years part-time teachers, and the high cost for higher education are what left uncheck in our educational tasks to implement Indonesia as a smart nation. It is crucially important to have an appropriately addressed policy, execution, and evaluation over the issues evolve around one of the most important purposes of Indonesia. The purpose that once succeeded our forefathers to brought changes in the struggle for independence way and, in the end, presented an independence status as a nation.


A classical and yet the most sensitive issue on development. Under the United Nations (UN) 2US$ per day living costs standard, we are all informed that half of Indonesians live below the poverty line. It means that around 120 million people are facing hard time dealing with fulfilling their daily needs; not so close to even think of higher education. It is certainly a huge number in terms of all of abundant natural resources we used to be told we had and yet, this massive population in the size of Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand altogether deprived not getting the pie of development. By the same token, the extraordinary gap of economy is shown in the media through its TV series, extravagant lives of public figures and, nevertheless, the controversial salary of House of Representative members. In fact, it’s not wise to accuse anybody should be responsible; but one thing is certain here, while our national economic growth rate is around 4-5% each year, the problem on share of welfare is left unfinished. This is the big homework of welfare to be done.

Active engagement in international politics

Democratically speaking, Indonesia is raising star in international forum within which active and neutral foreign policy and positive economic performance have collaboratively contribute to the current role of Indonesia as a leader in the global politics. Non-permanent seat of UN Security Council has been entrusted to Indonesian diplomats three times, the leading role in UN Human Rights Commission, prominent influence on ASEAN dynamics, the prolonged network of Non-Aligned Movements, and the membership of elite G-20 group of nations are the good report to file in Indonesia’s foreign policy performance. But still, it doesn’t mean that the homework is perfectly done. The power of Indonesian diplomacy is crucially needed in terms of represented the developing nations as well as most of our population who not benefitted from the international agreements we have agreed on; agreement on agriculture and import policy per se.

Next vision as a Nation

These abundant complexes of problems are surely balance with our human and natural resources potential power bestowed and entrusted to us to be carefully managed. Knowing the very existence of our lack of performance to fulfill the purposes is not automatically makes us, Indonesia, a failed state. At least not, as long as the performance to achieving those goals keep under constant and constructive evaluation from not only the government, but the rest of the people as well. Recalling back to the sacrifices made by our ancestors so that we can enjoy astonishing freedom today, maintaining the spirit of the second, fourth and fifth principles of Pancasila: Kemanusiaan yang adil dan beradabKerakyatan yang dipimpin oleh hikmat kebijaksanaan dalam permusyawaratan/ perwakilan, and Keadilan sosial bagi seluruh rakyat Indonesia is essential for us Indonesians and whoever has the power in government to alleviate the country from those problems with actual resolutions so that the need to have a united and faithful Indonesia is not that far away. If we used to unite by having common enemies in the past in form of colonialism and repressive governments, it is possible that history repeating; but this time with a common vision and purposes as a nation-state. Doing so, we do not take independence for granted. (HPY)


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