Sukarno, Indonesia’s first president and proclamator of independence

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Sukarno, Indonesia’s first president and proclamator of independence. (Photo: Prive. Doc)

 IO – As the ‘Father of the Nation’ the name Sukarno is most representative of the Republic of Indonesia. It was on that fateful morning of August 17, 1945, Sukarno along with Mohammad Hatta proclaimed the independence of Indonesia. 

Sukarno was then chosen by the Central Indonesian National Committee (KNIP) to become the first President of the Republic of Indonesia, with Hatta as his Vice President. 

Born and named “Koesno” in Surabaya on June 6, 1901, from the couple Raden Soekemi Sosrodihardjo with Ida Ayu Nyoman Rai. Soekemi was a teacher; Sukarno’s father met his mother in one of the Indigenous Elementary Schools in Singaraja, Bali. Because he was often sick, Koesno’s name was later changed to Sukarno. 

Sukarno, who later became famous with the name Bung Karno, spent his childhood in Tulung Agung, East Java with his grandfather. Bung Karno later moved to Mojokerto to live with his parents, he was sent to Europeesche Lagere School (ELS) to be easily accepted into the Hogere Burgerschool (HBS). 

After graduating in 1915, Sukarno continued his education at HBS or high school level in Surabaya, East Java. In Surabaya, Sukarno met many leaders from Sarekat Islam, an organization that was then led by HOS Tjokroaminoto, who also gave a room in his house for Sukarno to stay in when he was staying in Surabaya. 

In Surabaya, Sukarno’s nationalism was increasingly vibrant. He actively participated in the youth wing of Boedi Oetomo organization, Tri Koro Darmo, which in 1918 was renamed Jong Java (Javanese Youth). 

Graduating from HBS, Sukarno continued his studies at the Technische Hogeschool (now renamed the Bandung Institute of Technology) in Bandung and majored in civil engineering. 

Sukarno was declared to have passed the engineering exam on May 25, 1926, and at the Technische Hogeschool ‘s 6th Anniversary on July 3, 1926, he graduated with eighteen other engineers. 

In 1929, Sukarno was arrested by the Dutch and incarcerated in Banceuy Prison for his activities at the PNI (Indonesian National Party). In 1930 he was transferred to Sukamiskin Prison; in this prison Soekarno made a phenomenal defense for himself at the court entitled Indonesia Sues. 

Sukarno was released in 1931 and joined the Indonesian Party (Partindo) which was a fraction of the PNI. 

In 1933, Sukarno was again arrested and exiled to Flores. Sukarno’s spirit did not break. From 1938 until 1942 Sukarno was exiled to Bengkulu. Sukarno was only truly free after the Japanese occupation in 1942. 

At the beginning of its occupation, Japan did not pay much attention to the figures of the Indonesian independence movement, until finally around 1943 when the Japanese realized how important these figures were. Japan began to use Indonesian independence movement figures, one of whom was Sukarno, to create a more favorable attitude towards Japanese propaganda among the Indonesian population. 

Sukarno began to actively prepare for Indonesian independence, together with the Preparatory Board for Indonesian Independence (BPUPKI), including formulating Pancasila, the 1945 Constitution, and the foundations of the Indonesian government. 

In August 1945, Sukarno was invited by Marshal Terauchi, leader of the Japanese Army of the Southeast Asian region to Dalat, Vietnam. Marshal Terauchi stated that it was time for Indonesia to be free and all matters of Indonesian independence were the responsibility of the Indonesian people themselves. 

After meeting Marshal Terauchi in Dalat, Vietnam, the Rengasdengklok Event took place on August 16, 1945. The youth leaders from PETA demanded that Soekarno and Hatta immediately proclaim the independence of the Republic of Indonesia because at that confused time, following the surrender of Japan, a power vacuum was forming in the Indies. 

Sukarno, along with other national figures, began to prepare themselves for what was to come. Based on a meeting held by the Investigation Agency for the Preparation of Indonesian Independence (BPUPKI) a small committee for the proclamation of independence, consisting of eight people, was officially established. Sukarno became Chairman of the Indonesian Independence Preparatory Committee (PPKI) and Hatta became his deputy. Other PPKI members were Prof. Mr. Dr. Soepomo, KRT Radjiman Wedyodiningrat, R. P. Soeroso, Soetardjo Kartohadikoesoemo, Kiai Abdoel Wachid Hasjim, Ki Bagus Hadikusumo. 

In the morning of August 17, 1945 at Pegangsaan Timur 56, Jakarta, on behalf of the Indonesian people, Ir.Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta proclaimed the independence of Indonesia. (RP)