Contents of the Presidential Decree of July 5, 1959 and History, Purpose, and Impact!

Presidential Decree 5 July – Presidential Decree 5 July 1959 is the contents of the first presidential decree in the history of the Republic of Indonesia. The decree was issued by President Soekarno in order to solve the problems that existed at that time. Presidential decrees need to be issued when a problem does not find a solution or is difficult to overcome.

Far decades later, namely after the 1998 Reformation that ended the New Order government, precisely on July 23, 2001, the 4th President of the Republic of Indonesia, Abdurrahman Wahid or who is also more familiar with the name Gus Dur, also issued a decree even though it was expressly rejected by the Assembly. People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) at that time.

PRESIDENTIAL DECREE OF JULY 5, 1959

According to the Big Indonesian Dictionary (KBBI), decrees or edicts are decisions (decree) or orders issued by heads of state, courts, and so on. The first decree in the history of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia was the Presidential Decree of 5 July 1959.

The contents of the 5 July 1959 Presidential Decree constituted an important point in the history of the Indonesian nation, especially in the government and political sectors. Then, what were the contents, reasons, background, objectives, and the impact of the decree issued by President Soekarno at that time?

History, Background, and Reasons for the 1959 Presidential Decree

The Presidential Decree of 5 July 1959 was the first decree issued by Indonesia’s first president, namely Ir. Sukarno. The background to the issuance of this decree was the failure of the Constituent Assembly in establishing a new constitution as a replacement for the 1950 Provisional Constitution (UUDS).

One of the reasons the 1950 Constitution needed to be replaced was because at that time there were frequent cabinet changes, which caused instability in the political field. On November 10, 1956, members of the constituent assembly began conducting trials to establish a new constitution. However, two years later, the UUD that is desired as a substitute has not yet been formulated.

Looking at the conditions at that time, President Soekarno delivered his address to the Constituent Assembly on April 22, 1959. The contents of the address were, Ir. Soekarno suggested reusing the 1945 Constitution. On May 30, 1959, the constituents voted. The result was that 269 votes voted in favor of the re-establishment of the 1945 Constitution and 199 votes voted against.

Even though many votes chose to agree, voting was carried out again because the number of votes did not meet the number of quorums or the minimum number of members who must be present at meetings, sessions, and so on. The second voting was held on 1 and 2 June 1959, which ultimately ended in failure. The constituent assembly was deemed unable to carry out its duties properly, so President Soekarno, with various considerations, decided to issue a presidential decree.

President Soekarno’s proposal to reuse the 1945 Constitution had reaped various pros and cons. There were those who accepted it but some who did not agree. The two major parties at that time, namely the PKI and PNI, accepted and agreed to Ir. Sukarno, but the Masyumi party refused. Those from the Masyumi party who refused were worried that if the 1945 Constitution was re-enacted, then Guided Democracy would also be implemented.

After going through lengthy negotiations, finally President Soekarno decided to issue a Presidential Decree on Sunday, July 5, 1959, at 17.00. Since the issuance of the Presidential Decree of 5 July 1959, the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia has used the Guided Democracy system of government.

Purpose and Content of Presidential Decree 5 July 1959

The failure of the Constituent Assembly to formulate a new Constitution was actually caused by the many interests of each group which gave rise to various upheavals in many areas. Thus, the situation in the country at that time was not conducive and quite chaotic because of these various upheavals.

Taking into account these poor conditions, President Sukarno finally decided to announce the Contents of the 1959 Presidential Decree on the basis of a national security law. So, the purpose of issuing the 1959 Presidential Decree was to save the country in accordance with staatsnoodrecht or the law of a state of danger to the state.

With the announcement of the contents of the 1959 Presidential Decree, the period of Liberal or Parliamentary Democracy in Indonesia officially ended, followed by the Guided Democracy period.

Quoting from the book History of Indonesian Law (2021) written by Sutan Remy Sjahdeini, the contents of the 1959 Presidential Decree are briefly as follows:

  • Dissolving the Constituent Assembly.
  • Re-enactment of the 1945 Constitution.
  • The 1950 Constitution is no longer valid.
  • The Provisional People’s Consultative Assembly (MPRS) and the Provisional Supreme Advisory Council (DPAS) were formed.

The contents of the 1959 Presidential Decree in its original format are as follows:

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PRESIDENTIAL DECREE

With the grace of God Almighty,

WE ARE THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA/COMMANDER OF THE ARMY

Hereby solemnly declare:

Whereas the recommendation of the President and the Government to return to the 1945 Constitution which was conveyed to all Indonesian people by the President’s mandate on 22 April 1959 did not obtain a decision from the Constituent Assembly as stipulated in the Provisional Constitution;

Whereas in connection with the statement that most of the members of the Constitutional Assembly did not attend the trial any longer. It is no longer possible for the Constituent Assembly to complete the tasks entrusted to it by the people;

That such a thing creates constitutional conditions which jeopardize the unity and safety of the State, the nation and the Nation, as well as hinder overall development in order to achieve a just and prosperous society;

That with the support of the majority of the Indonesian people and driven by our own convictions, we were forced to take the only way to save the Proclamation State;

That we believe that the Djakarta Charter dated 22 June 1945 animates the 1945 Constitution and is an integral part of that Constitution,

So on the basis of the above,

WE ARE THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF INDONESIA/COMMANDER OF THE ARMY SUPREME DECIDES the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly;

To stipulate that the 1945 Constitution is again valid for the entire Indonesian nation and for all of Indonesia’s bloodshed as of the date of the stipulation of this decree and the Provisional Constitution is no longer valid.

The establishment of a Provisional People’s Deliberative Assembly, consisting of members of the People’s Representative Council plus delegates from the regions and groups and the formation of a Provisional Supreme Advisory Council will be convened in the shortest possible time.

Stipulated in Djakarta on 5 July 1959

On behalf of the Indonesian people

President of the Republic of Indonesia/Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces

SOEKARNO

Impact of Presidential Decree 5 July 1959

The 1959 Presidential Decree had a fairly broad impact on changes to the constitutional system and the political map of Indonesia. Adapted from the SMA Learning Module: Indonesian History (2020) compiled by Mariana, the impact of the 1959 Presidential Decree is as follows:

  1. The Presidential Decree of 5 July 1959 ended the duties of the cabinet, parliament and the period of the parliamentary system itself.
  2. The Presidential Decree of 5 July 1959 ended the period of Parliamentary Democracy in Indonesia and at the same time resulted in a period of government by political parties.
  3. The end of the period of government by political parties with the Presidential Decree of 5 July 1959 made the role of parliament slowly held directly by President Soekarno which gave birth to a system of government, namely Guided Democracy.

PRESIDENTIAL DECREE 23 JULY 2001

On July 23, 2001, an event occurred which has now become history in the course of politics and government in Indonesia. The 4th President of the Republic of Indonesia, namely Abdurrahman Wahid or also known as Gus Dur, issued a presidential decree or decree on July 23, 2001.

Then, what is the chronology, content, purpose, and impact of the decree?

The edict issued by President Gus Dur on 23 July 2001 or the post-reform era is the second decree in the history of government in the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia. Much earlier, on July 5, 1959, Ir. Soekarno, who was the first President of the Republic of Indonesia, also did the same thing as explained in detail in the previous discussion.

History, Background, and Reasons for Presidential Decree 23 July 2001

KH Abdurrahman Wahid has served as the 4th President of the Republic of Indonesia since October 20, 1999, replacing BJ Habibie who was previously appointed as president after the fall of Suharto as a result of the 1998 Reformation movement which also ended the power of the New Order regime.

Apart from being known as a smart person, Gus Dur was also a unique figure and often sparked controversy, including when he was president. Many of the policies issued by Gus Dur were considered unpopular, so they often faced opposition from various parties, including the Republic of Indonesia’s House of Representatives (DPR).

Gus Dur’s initial policy that sparked a polemic was the policy of disbanding the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Social Affairs. According to President Gus Dur, the two departments caused more losses because in practice it was considered that more bad things were done instead of bringing benefits to the Indonesian people.

Greg Barton in Gus Dur’s Biography (2010) writes that the closure of the two departments was considered controversial and caused President Gus Dur to lose popularity in certain circles. The DPR issued a strong reaction because it felt that Gus Dur had not consulted before issuing this policy.

As a result, the DPR issued interpellation rights which were used to ask President Gus Dur for information. On November 18, 1999, in front of members of the DPR, Gus Dur was adamant that he would not retract what he had decided. In fact, Gus Dur called the House of Representatives “Kindergartens”.

Quoted from the Cabinets of the Republic of Indonesia from the Beginning of Independence to Reformation (2003) by PNH Simanjuntak, the remarks made by Gus Dur were considered to have insulted the image of the DPR. Since that incident, the feud between the president and parliament has intensified.

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Many subsequent series of incidents also contributed to exacerbating relations between Gus Dur and the DPR so that the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), which at that time was led by Amien Rais, decided to hold a Special Session (SI) to revoke the presidential mandate.

Purpose and Content of Presidential Decree 23 July 2001

The plan to remove Gus Dur was met with resistance from various parties, especially from the Nahdliyin circle, because the DPR and MPR were deemed unable to prove Gus Dur’s guilt in a constitutional way, including the Buloggate and Bruneigate issues.

In essence, President Gus Dur’s goal in issuing the edict a few hours before the SI MPR was to maintain the country’s stability at a time when the political situation was getting worse. Gus Dur did not want turmoil and the potential for civil war to arise by holding back hundreds of thousands of his supporters from going to Jakarta.

Past midnight, on Monday 23 July 2001 at exactly 01.05 WIB in the morning, President Gus Dur issued a statement at the Merdeka Palace, Jakarta. In his speech, President Gus Dur stated that he would implement the presidential decree.

Even though this was not a pleasant action, as president, Gus Dur had to take action for the safety of the country. Quoted from Gus Dur’s Last Days at the People’s Palace (2009) written by Andreas Harsono and friends, President Gus Dur requested that the TNI together with the Police secure the implementation of the decree.

The full contents of the July 23, 2001 Presidential Decree read by Yahya C. Staquf who is one of the Spokesmen for President Gus Dur read:

  • Freezing the MPR and DPR.
  • Returning sovereignty to the hands of the people and taking action as well as setting up the bodies needed to hold elections within one year.
  • Saving the total reform movement from various obstacles from the New Order elements by freezing the Golkar Party while waiting for a decision from the Supreme Court.

The contents of the 1959 Presidential Decree in its original format are as follows:

Declaration of the President of the Republic of Indonesia

After observing and paying close attention to the political developments which have led to a political deadlock due to the protracted constitutional crisis which has exacerbated the economic crisis and hindered efforts to uphold the law and eradicate corruption caused by power-politic disputes which no longer heed the rules of law.

If this is not prevented, it will soon destroy the establishment of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, then with confidence and responsibility to save the country and nation and based on the wishes of the majority of the Indonesian people, we as the Head of State of the Republic of Indonesia are forced to take extraordinary steps by announcing:

  1. Freezing the People’s Consultative Assembly of the Republic of Indonesia and the People’s Representative Council of the Republic of Indonesia.
  2. Returning sovereignty to the people and taking action and setting up a body to hold general elections within one year.
  3. Saving the total reform movement from being hampered by New Order elements, by freezing the Golkar Party while waiting for the decision of the Supreme Court.

For this reason, we order all ranks of the TNI and Polri to secure steps to save the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia and call on all Indonesian people to remain calm and carry out their socio-economic life as usual. May God Almighty bless the country and people of Indonesia.

Jakarta, 22 July 2001

President of the Republic of Indonesia/Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces

KH Abdurrahman Wahid

Impact of Presidential Decree 23 July 2001

Shortly after the announcement was issued, the chairman of the MPR, who at that time was Amien Rais, firmly rejected the presidential decree. Based on the proposal from the DPR, the MPR accelerated the time for holding the special session. This became the culmination of the fall of KH Abdurrahman Wahid from the presidency.

During the Special Session, the MPR stated that President Abdurrahman Wahid had violated the MPR Decree No. VII/MPR/2000, by appointing Komjen (Pol.) Chairuddin Ismail as interim caretaker for the position of National Police Chief.

Furthermore, in the MPR Special Session on 23 July 2001 the MPR chose Megawati Soekarnoputri as president to replace President Abdurrahman Wahid based on the MPR Decree Number III of 2001. The next day Hamzah Haz, general chairman of PPP was elected vice president of Indonesia. With the election of Megawati Soekarnoputri as president and Hamzah Haz as vice president, President Gus Dur’s power ended.

Also read:

  • Definition of Presidential Government System
  • Main Duties of the President: Terms and Powers
  • Duties and Authorities of the President According to the 1945 Constitution
  • Suharto Biography: The 2nd President of Indonesia
  • The Rengasdengklok Event: Its Impacts and Benefits