Sukarno and Hatta have not been declared national heroes. Political ideology should not be the basis in judging them.
It is truly ironic that Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta have not been declared national heroes. Their services were so extraordinary that the two who proclaimed Indonesia's independence should have received the honor they so richly deserve as soon as they died. But Suharto's government did not grant it, and neither did the following four presidents. This is not an ethical way to treat the people who gave birth to the Republic.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should take the initiative and put an end to the strange refusal to honor Bung Karno, as Sukarno was known. The obstacle is the Provisional People's Consultative Assembly (MPRS) Decree No. 13/1967 that stripped Sukarno of his powers. Chapter II Article 6 states that the legal process involving Sukarno will be resolved according to the provisions of prevailing laws. The implementation of this was left to the acting president.
The MPRS decree clearly assumes that Bung Karno still has legal problems. Indonesia's first president was frequently accused of involvement in the 30 September 1965 Movement, but Suharto, who was mandated by the MPRS to resolve the legal process, took no action whatsoever.
While he gave the impression of respecting the father of the nation, Suharto deliberately obscured the legal status of Bung Karno. The New Order regime had no desire to uncover the historical truth. Rather than rehabilitate Sukarno, the four presidents after Suharto, including Megawati Soekarnoputri, did nothing at all to clarify the legal process.
Suharto did issue Presidential Decision No. 81/1986 naming Sukarno and Hatta 'Independence Heroes', but the Honors Council established three years ago stated that this decision lacked a clear legal basis. The title of proclamation hero is not part of the vocabulary of our honor system.
Because of this, the Honors Council should try a different approach by not relying on the formal procedure, but by asking the people to propose again that Sukarno and Hatta be declared national heroes. Nominations for national hero status are usually in the form of proposals to the Social Affairs Ministry, but the process takes an extraordinarily long time. The proposal has to be verified with the regional and provincial governments, then they must be researched and discussed at public seminars, and further analyzed by experts.
Sukarno and Hatta do not deserve such a protracted process. The nomination of the president of the Emergency Government of Indonesia, Syafruddin Prawiranegara could be a useful example. Syafruddin was rejected twice and was finally officially named a hero two years after he was proposed in 2009. This rejection gives the impression we are foolish and lack an understanding of history. Everybody knows that Bung Karno and Bung Hatta led the revolution, devised the fundamentals of the nation and proclaimed independence. This protracted selection belittles their services to the nation.
Differences in political ideology are also not a suitable basis in making judgments. Sukarno named Tan Malaka a national hero in 1963 despite the two men's opposing political views. Sukarno recognized the major contribution Tan Malaka had made to the revolution. The Honors Council could follow the same approach, especially since the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) issued Decree No. 1/2003 stating no further legal measures concerning MPRS Decree No. 13/1967 were required, because the matter ended with the death of Sukarno.
As such, the Honors Council should not wait too long before recommending to the president that Sukarno and Hatta deserve to be held up as heroes. The four decades since Sukarno's death are too long a wait to show respect to a man who gave such dedication to his country.
No. 48/12, July 24, 2012