The Proclamation of Indonesia’s Independence was read directly by Soekarno, accompanied by Mohammad Hatta, on 17 August 1945 at Jalan Pegangsaan Timur Number 56, Jakarta, at exactly 10am during the month of Ramadan 1366 H. While that moment itself is considered almost sacred by the Indonesian population, it was in many ways just the culmination of a long series of events. And there are many unique and interesting stories behind the story that are not always mentioned in the history books. Here are a few of these moments:
A Simple Ceremony
The ceremony for reading the Proclamation of Independence was carried out very simply and without any protocols. The flagpole was made of bamboo and was stuck into the ground and prepared just before the ceremony began. The day before, Soekarno’s wife, Fatmawati, had prepared a beautiful cloth for the symbol of independence, a red and white flag, but it was very small, only 50cm long. Because time was running out, she looked for cloth in a cupboard and found a white one, then she got a red cloth from a young man named Lukas Kastaryo who bought it from a soto (soup) seller, then she sewed them together.
Soekarno was Sick while Reading the Proclamation Text
Exactly two hours before reading the Proclamation text, Soekarno was diagnosed with symptoms of tertian malaria. His body temperature was high due to staying up late to draft the proclamation text with his friends at Admiral Maeda’s house. At that time Soekarno’s personal doctor came to his residence to check his condition. Then he was injected and asked to take medicine before going to sleep. After that, Soekarno woke up and performed the Proclamation ceremony at 10 am.
The Original Text of the Proclamation Was Thrown in the Trash
It is written in history books that the text of the proclamation was made by Soekarno and Mohammad Hatta at the residence of Admiral Maeda after a lengthy discussion. The original manuscript was handwritten by Soekarno and dictated to Hatta at around 4 am on 17 August 1945. When finished, Soekarno then gave the manuscript to the youths who had gathered at his house. The script was then typed by Sayuti Melik. After he finished typing the manuscript, Sayuti Melik threw the handwritten manuscript into the trash because it was deemed unnecessary. Fortunately, it was saved by BM Diah, an Indonesian press figure. Afraid of being thrown away again, Diah kept the original text of the proclamation for 49 years before finally being handed over to the government on 29 May 1992, and it is now stored in the National Archives.
Recording Soekarno’s Voice
Have you ever heard Soekarno’s reading the Proclamation Text? This is not an original recording of Soekarno during the actual day of proclamation, but is a recording of him five years after independence. If it were not for Jusuf Ronodipuro, the founder of Radio Republik Indonesia, asking President Soekarno to rerecord the reading in the RRI studio, we would not be able to hear Soekarno’s voice reading the Proclamation Text. Soekarno thought that the reading of the Proclamation Text was only valid once and could not be repeated, but Jusuf convinced the president otherwise. Finally the first president agreed to have his voice recorded once again.
Indonesia celebrates 78 years of Independence on August 17th 2023 with activities, games and ceremonies taking place in virtually every district, town and village across the country