PKI and Sukarno in the Words of Suharto

I’ve never found any works on Indonesian massacre of 1965 referred to Suharto’s own words on why and how did he purge the Indonesian communists (or allegedly communists). This video below is mesmerizing to me as it shows, at least, why did he take a strong force against PKI in 1965 and, consequently, the feuds he had on Sukarno during the raucous time of 1965.

Suharto revealed that he had warned Sukarno since 1958 about the potential recurring rebellions of PKI when the two met in Central Java. When Sukarno made a visit, Suharto was a then-military commander of Diponegoro area (it covers the whole territory of Yogyakarta and Central Java).

Central Java was considered the center of electorates of PKI. As such, PKI won in Central Java in 1955 election. Suharto assumed that the greater PKI could endanger the army power – as it should have been obvious as PKI did two early rebellions in Java back in 1926 and 1948. These rebellions were recent enough to put PKI always in likely confrontation against the army. But when Suharto told the president about his anxieties, Sukarno was getting grumpy. Suharto said he was blamed by the president (“saya dimarahi”). Paraphrasing Sukarno, Suharto said “the strong PKI is the fact. They earned power from people. That’s the power that must be taken. We have to make them comply with PKI Pancasila” (“Itu kan kenyataan (PKI kuat). Kan PKI dapat dukungan dari rakyat. Itu harus kita perhatikan. Sekarang bagaimana caranya kita berjuang menjadikan PKI itu PKI Pancasila”). Suharto also said that communism, along with nationalism, and Islam, had been the ideals that Sukarno proudly sold to the world (“Nasakom itu adalah jualan bung Karno ke dunia, termasuk ke PBB”).

Thus it becomes clear for the young general that the president himself will always back the communist party. Nonetheless within such a raging context, we don’t yet to have any hints whether the systematic plans of coup existed within the army. There is no plot that convinced scholars about whether Suharto carried out or planned the coup from the very scratch. In fact, the coup of 1965 was not at all look like the recent failed coup in Turkey. And if Suharto, after all, did a coup, apparently it was not planned as such. At least it was not until the killings of 6 generals in the night of October 1 that changed the game. Suharto and the army saw the support from people has swung toward him and then he confiscated the power from Sukarno – who shunned putting PKI in the sideline in the aftermath of October 1.

So, in retrospect, what we seen is more about a situational yet rational response from the army (or Suharto) too deal with intense pressures in the midst of post-Gestok rather than a committed and planned taking of power from Sukarno. This is the insight of Asvi Warman Adam, a historian, who dubbed the 1965 coup as the “creeping coup” (kudeta merangkak). For Asvi, the transfer of power from Sukarno to Suharto took place in a number of sequential steps: (1) The killings of general October 1  1965, (2) the issued of Supersemar on March 11 1966 through which Suharto granted discretionary power to dissolve PKI, (3) the rejection of Nawaksara Speech of Sukarno in front of parliament (MPRS) on June 22 1966 that caused the immediate termination of presidential position from Sukarno as the parliament’s mandatory, and (4) the appointment of Suharto as acting-president on February 22 1967.

But, for sure, this situational response comes at the expense of unimaginable ramifications for Indonesians in the years to come, particularly to those allegedly communists.

3 thoughts on “PKI and Sukarno in the Words of Suharto

  1. Maaf, saya ingin bertanya, mengapa pada teks di atas penulisan “Soeharto” menjadi “Suharto”? Apakah ada alasannya, misalnya bukti kuat, seperti bentuk tertulis yang menyatakan bahwa ada perubahan penulisan huruf pada nama mantan presiden RI tersebut? Tentu saja hal itu berbeda dengan penulisan “Soekarno” menjadi “Sukarno” yang memang beliau sendiri–setahu saya–mengubah bentuk penulisan namanya.

    • Saya tidak punya bukti tertulis soal perubahan penulisan nama dari “Soeharto” ke “Suharto.” Tapi setau saya ini adalah standard umum yang berlaku sejak pemberlakuan EYD dimana penulisan “oe” menjadi “u.” Memang masalahnya jadi agak pelik karena ini menyangkut nama seseorang…

  2. Mmh, jadi alasan Anda/Kakak/Mas (maaf saya agak bingung dalam menentukan kata sapaan) menulis “Soeharto” menjadi “Suharto” berdasarkan pemberlakuan EYD? Seandainya Anda/Kakak/Mas membuat sebuah tulisan/artikel/opini terkait dengan beberapa nama tokoh Indonesia yang diketahui penulisan namanya masih menggunakan ejaan sebelum EYD (Van Ophuijsen/Soewandi), misalnya Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie (“ch” dan “j”), Jusuf Kalla (“j”), apakah tetap huruf-huruf tersebut diubah sehingga menjadi “kh” dan “y”?

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