Date: Tue, 10 Mar 1998 19:22:34 +0100
Subject: Re: sejarah bahasa
> Can someone recommend a good source (book, article, guru?), in either English
> or Indonesian, that discusses how and why Malay was adopted as the national
> language? I have a version of events that I tell to impress upon students the
> many aspects of the relative newness of [the concept of] Indonesia, but I would
> like to know that what I am transmitting is more fact than folklore.
The way I read it, that's actually two questions:
(1) How did Malay get to become the generally accepted national
language in the country?
(2) How did the concept of Indonesia emerge?
The one you meant seems to be the latter? (Please correct if I misunderstood)
That again has two aspects:
(2a) What historical, economical, social, political facts and
developments led to the formation of both objective geopolitical
and subjective conceptual phenomenon "Indonesia"?
(2b) What citable historical "happenings" mark the development and
emergence of the concept and phenomenon "Indonesia"?
(2b) is the more trivial of the alternatives, and therefore the easiest
to answer. So that's what I'll try to answer here :-)
Needless to say, however, even this goes without claim of completeness.
- In 1870, a group of prominent Dutch citizens signed a lengthy
petition to the Dutch king, in which a reorientation of colonial
policy was urged, that would have a future independence of
Netherlands East Indies as its aim.
But, of course, apart from the circumstance, that the petitioners
didn't exactly have the formation of an indigenous national state in
mind, the territory of the colony had not yet reached the full extent
of Indonesia at proclamation (it only reached that by around the time
of World War I, when e.g. Acheh, Bali, Riau-Lingga finally succumbed
or got fully included).
- E.F.Douwes Decker, speaking before a congress of the Indies Party (this
must have been 1913, but I may be mistaken by 1 or 2 years), for the
first time actually demanded outright the immediate independence
of the colony. The IP being a political party mainly of "Indo"
Eurasians, having also good ties to parts of the indigenous elite,
this came considerably closer to a national independent state
During the World War I years, indigenous and Eurasian
newspapers edited by Razoux Kuhr, Marco Kartodikromo, Suwardi
Suryaningrat, Tjipto Mangoenkoesoemo, H.M. Misbach, and others
began to carry anticolonial slogans such as "Hindia lepas dari
Belanda" / "Indie los van Holland".
- In 1918, at a memorial meeting to celebrate the 10th anniversary of
Boedi Oetomo, Suwardi Suryaningrat (the later Ki Hajar Dewantara),
gave for the first time the formulation of an independent national
unitary state in the borders of Netherlands East Indies, and also used
Indonesia (well, Indonesië, he was holding his talk in Dutch) as
the name of that state.
In that same 1918, the idea of using "Indonesia" as a geopolitical
term to replace "Netherlands East Indies" (i.e. not as anthropological
designation of peoples speaking languages of the Western branch of
Malayo-Polynesian, or belonging to the "Malayan" racial stock) was also
proposed or used by others, both indigenous as well as Dutch (among the
latter: Jan A. Jonkman, the later Director for Education and Religion,
and H.J. van Mook, the later Lieutenant Governor General as of 1941,
and Minister of Colonies 1942-1945, who both used that term in
their 1918 doctoral theses).
Throughout the following decade, the name "Indonesia" gained
increasing popularity, to replace "Dutch East Indies" in the names of
political parties and organisations, study groups, circles, etc.
- The first attested use in an international meeting was at the
VI Congrès International pour la Paix, held in August 1926 in Paris,
at which the Indonesian delegation headed by Mohammad Hatta was
subsumed in the official French-languaged list of participating
countries as Indonésie.
- Then comes the famous "Sumpah Pemuda" at the Second Youth Congress
in October 1928, in which delegates from as far as Ambon in the East
and the Bataklands in the West pledged to one motherland, one nation,
and one language, the Indonesian, closing that decade of consolidation
of use and meaning of the term. With this, the term Bahasa Indonesia
was now also on record to replace Bahasa Melayu as designation of what
would be stated as the national language in the 1945 constitution.
- In 1931 (give or take a year, my memory is a bit fuzzy on this),
Soetardjo Kartaningprang forwarded a motion in the Volksraad ("Peoples
Council" - a pseudo-parliament with appointed members and only consultative
but no legislative powers, set up in 1918), calling for a reorganisation of
the Kingdom of the Netherlands, in which each territory would be equally
represented (i.e. as Holland itself), and for the reorganisation of the
Volksraad as an elected legislative body. Unlike an analogical motion by
Husein Djajadiningrat in 1918, the Soetardjo motion passed the Volksraad
with a comfortable majority. But it was rejected by the Dutch government
of that time. Furthermore, although referring to a territory identical with
that of Netherlands East Indies, the motion did not (I think) use the term
- In 1933, Sutan Takdir Alisjahbana and Armijn Pané founded the philological
and linguistic journal Poedjangga Baroe aimed at promoting a more
uptodate language tradition than that of Balai Poestaka. The language was
refered to as Bahasa Indonesia, e.g. in:
Alisjahbana, S.T., 1933, "Bahasa Indonesia", Poedjangga Baroe 1:129-178.
- In 1939, in September, GAPI (Gaboengan Politik Indonesia) held a
conference presided by Hoesni Thamrin, Abikoesno Tjokrosoejoso, and
Amir Sjarifoeddin, with the aim of formulating constructive proposals to
the colonial administration in view of the oncoming war. The conference,
in which major political parties and organisations of the "cooperation"
as well as "non-cooperation" wings took part, and several senior Dutch
colonial officers were present as observers, agreed to mobilize all
efforts of the indigenous population to support the defence efforts of
the Netherlands, if Indonesia would be permitted to have an elected
In December of the same year, the Congress Ra'jat Indonesia organized
by GAPI, but with participation of just about all political and cultural
parties and organizations of the indigenous population as well as of
"foreign oriental" ethnic communities, in short - the most representative
assembly of the Indonesian people ever to have convened in the entire
colonial history of the country - formulated the same proposal to the
colonial power. It was the first time, that the entire politically
organized population of the entire colony organized itself to formulate
its common political will in an issue of vital national importance as
well as of considerable international significance. It did this using
Indonesia as self-designation, and it expressed its will to side with
the Allies in the oncoming World War II.
- On Sunday, December 6, 1942, on the first anniversary of the bombing of
Pearl Harbour, Queen Wilhelmina in her exile in London (the Netherlands
were occupied by Nazi Germany) held an address on Radio Oranje, in which
she made a proposal resembling that of the Soetardjo motion (see above).
In this proposal, inspired a.o. by the "surprising" circumstance that
Indonesian nationalists in the Netherlands were without exception fighting
in the Dutch underground for Dutch independence, she referred to Indonesia
as Indonesië. This was the first time, that the name was heard in
official utterance from the mouth of a Dutch monarch.
- On August 17, 1945, Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta proclaimed the independence
of Indonesia. In the constitution that was enacted and published some months
later, Indonesia is defined as a unitary state having the name Indonesia,
and Bahasa Indonesia is declared as the national or state language.
In legislature passed in the following months, the new country name was
installed in the penal and civil codes with formulas like:
(that's for the penal code in
article 3 of Statute No.1 of February 26, 1946, published in 1946, Berita
Repoeblik Indonesia 2:45).
<<Djikalau dalam sesoeatoe peratoeran hoekoem pidana ditoelis
perkataan Nederlandsch-Indië atau Nederlandsch-Indisch(e),
maka perkataan-perkataan itoe haroes dibatja Indonesië atau
- The proclamation of independence, as all know, was contested by the colonial
power, who brought in troops in March 1946, leading to a war that lasted
till 1949, with the aim of reconquering the former colony for which
the name "Netherlands East Indies" continued to be used (as though to
return the "hutang budi" for Indonesian engagement in the Dutch resistance,
some 2000 Dutch recruits refused military service and some 4000 more deserted
in the 3 years between 1946 and 1949, compared with a total of only around
900 in 15 years from 1924 till 1939; one must not forget this either).
However, the name Indonesia soon came into general use internationally,
not only in the press, and not only by foreign states which recognized
Indonesian independence, but also in the proceedings of the United Nations,
where a draft resolution on Indonesia was brought in by the Ukraine and
a proposal by Egypt in 1946, and initiatives by Australia and India in 1947.
In Indonesia itself, one of the puppet states set up by the colonial
administration in the occupied zones, the "State of East Indonesia" set up
in 1947, actually insisted on using the term Indonesia in its official
- On September 4, 1948, in her proclamation to the Dutch people, the newly
coronated Queen Juliana of the Netherlands reminded of the 1942 address
of her mother, Queen Wilhelmina, and again refered to Indonesia by
that name. The occupational administration grasped this opportunity to
lift the embarrassing situation with the country name. The legal procedure
of installing the name into the legislature was duplicated on the Dutch
side, e.g. in article 1 of the Announcement of the Lieutenant Governor
General of September 21, 1948 (Staatsblad van Indonesië 1948 no. 224):
<<Waar bij of krachtens bestaande ordonnanties of andere algemene
verordningen, waarvan bij ordonnontie kan worden afgeweken, gesproken
wordt van Nederlandsch-Indië, wordt daarvoor gelezen: Indonesië>>
Thirty years had passed since a young Indonesian journalist, exiled in
the Netherlands for anti-colonial publications, had for the first time
proposed that name for his country.......
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