Round Table Conference: History, Background, and Its Impact on Indonesia

Definition of Round Table Conference – The Round Table Conference (KMB) or in Dutch: Nederlands-Indonesische rondetafelconferentie was a conference or meeting which was held in The Hague, Netherlands, from 23 August to 2 November 1949.

The meeting was held between representatives of the Republic of Indonesia, the Netherlands, and also BFO ( Bijeenkomst voor Federaal Overleg ) representing various countries created by the Dutch in the Indonesian archipelago.

Prior to this conference, three high-level meetings had taken place between the Netherlands and Indonesia, namely the Linggarjati Agreement (1947), the Renville Agreement (1948), and also the Roem-Royen Agreement (1949). This conference ended with the result that the Netherlands was willing to surrender its sovereignty to the United Republic of Indonesia.

Background

Attempts to thwart Indonesian independence by using violence ended in failure. The Netherlands received harsh criticism from around the world. The Netherlands and Indonesia then held several meetings to resolve this issue through diplomacy, through the Linggarjati negotiations and the Renville agreement.

On January 28, 1949, the United Nations (UN) Security Council passed a resolution condemning the Dutch military attack on Republican troops in Indonesia and demanding the restoration of the Republican government. He also called on the continuation of negotiations to find a peaceful settlement between the two parties.

As a continuation of the Roem-Royen Agreement which was implemented on May 7, 1949, which was effectively established by a Security Council resolution, Mohammad Roem said that the Republic of Indonesia, whose leaders were still exiled in Bangka, was willing to participate in the Table Conference. Round in order to accelerate the achievement of the transfer of sovereignty.

The Indonesian government, which had been exiled for a period of six months, returned to the provisional capital, Yogyakarta on 6 July 1949. To ensure the equality of negotiating positions between the Republican and federal delegations, in the second half of July 1949 and from 31 July 1949 – 2 August 1949 , the Inter-Indonesia Conference was held in Yogyakarta with participants being all the authorities of the part of the United Republic of Indonesia that would be formed. The participants agree on the principles as well as the basic framework for the constitution. Following preliminary discussions sponsored by the UN Commission on Indonesia in Jakarta, it was decided that the Round Table Conference would be held in the city of The Hague, Netherlands.

Negotiations In The Round Table Conference

The negotiations resulted in several documents, including the Charter of Sovereignty, the Statute of the Union, economic agreements and agreements related to social and military affairs. They also agreed to withdraw the Dutch troops from the Serikan Republic of Indonesia “in the shortest possible time”, and the United States of Indonesia to give the Dutch the most favorable national status.

In addition, there will no longer be discrimination against Dutch citizens and companies, and the United Republic of Indonesia is willing to take over the trade agreement previously negotiated with the Dutch East Indies. However, there is debate about the debts of the Dutch colonial government and also the status of West Papua.

JH van Maarseveen, Sultan Hamid II and Mohammad Hatta signed the Round Table Agreement, 2 November 1949

Negotiations regarding the foreign debts of the Dutch East Indies colonial government continued to drag on, with each side presenting their calculations and submitting opinions as to whether the United Republic of Indonesia should bear the debts incurred by the Dutch after they surrendered to Japan in 1942.

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The Indonesian delegation was especially angry and disapproved because RIS had to pay costs which, in their opinion, were used by the Dutch in military action against Indonesia. In the end, thanks to the intervention of US members in the UN commission for the United States of Indonesia, the RIS finally realized that the willingness to pay part of the Dutch debt was the price that had to be paid in order to gain sovereignty. On October 24, 1949, the delegation of the United States of Indonesia agreed to bear around 4.3 billion guilders in debt from the Dutch East Indies government.

Although much public opinion from the Netherlands supports the handover of West Papua to RIS, the Dutch cabinet is worried that it will not be able to ratify the Round Table Agreement if this point is agreed upon. In the end, at the beginning of 1 November 1949 an agreement was reached, the status of West Papua would be determined through negotiations between the United Indonesia and the Netherlands within one year after the transfer of sovereignty.

Results of the Round Table Conference

  1. The conference was officially closed at the Dutch parliament building on 2 November 1949. The contents of the conference agreement were as follows:
  2. The Kingdom of the Netherlands handed over sovereignty over Indonesia wholly to the United States of Indonesia unconditionally and irrevocably, and therefore recognized the United States of Indonesia as an independent and sovereign State.
  3. The United States of Indonesia accepts this sovereignty on the basis of the provisions of its Constitution; constitutional amendments have been announced to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
  4. Sovereignty will be transferred not later than December 30, 1949

Additional information regarding these results is as follows:

  1. Transfer of sovereignty over the Dutch East Indies territory from the Dutch colonial government to the United States of Indonesia, except for western Papua. Indonesia hopes that the entire former Dutch East Indies region will become the territory of the United States of Indonesia, while the Netherlands wants to make western Papua a separate country because of ethnic differences. The conference was closed without any decision on this matter. Therefore article 2 states that western Papua is not part of the handover, and that this issue will be resolved within one year.
  2. The formation of an alliance from the Netherlands – Indonesia, with the leader being the Kingdom of the Netherlands as the head of state
  3. The Dutch East Indies debt was taken over by the United Republic of Indonesia
  4. The Dutch Parliament debated the agreement, and the Upper and Lower Houses ratified it on 21 December 1949 by the required two-thirds majority. Despite the criticism, particularly regarding the assumption of Dutch government debt and the unresolved status of West Papua, the Indonesian legislature, the Central Indonesian National Committee (KNIP), ratified the agreement on December 14, 1949. Sovereignty was then transferred to the United Republic of Indonesia on December 27 December 1949.
  5. The Netherlands recognizes the United Republic of Indonesia (RIS) as an independent and sovereign country.
  6. The withdrawal of the Dutch ships and several corvettes or small warships was handed over to RIS.
  7. Withdrawal of all Dutch troops from the United States of Indonesia.
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People in the Round Table Conference

The recognition of Indonesia’s political sovereignty at the Round Table Conference (KMB) is inseparable from the role of important figures. Who are the figures involved in the KMB? The Government of Indonesia arranges the delegations to be sent to the KMB, with the following composition:

Chairman: Mohammad Hatta

Member :

  1. Mohammad Roem
  2. Dr. Soepomo
  3. Johannes Leimena
  4. Ali Sastroamidjojo
  5. Suyono Hadinoto
  6. Sumitro Djojohadikusumo
  7. Abdul Karim Pringgodigdo
  8. Colonel TB Simatupang
  9. Muwardi

In the Round Table Conference, delegates from Indonesia were represented by Mohammad Hatta, Mohammad Roem, and Prof. Dr. Soepomo. As for the representative from the BFO ( Bijeenkomst voor Federaal Overleg ), which is a collection of various federal states formed by the Dutch in Indonesia, is Sultan Hamid II.

For the representative of the delegation from the Netherlands, namely Johannes Henricus van Maarseveen who at that time served as Minister of Overseas (Minister of Colonial Affairs). Also present were representatives of the United Nations Commission for Indonesia or the United Nations Commission for Indonesia (UNCI), namely Tom Critchley.

For Indonesia, the location of the transfer of sovereignty was carried out at the Indonesian Merdeka Palace. The representative from the United States of Indonesia, namely Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX. Meanwhile, the representative from the Netherlands, namely AHJ Lovink, who at that time served as High Representative of the Dutch Crown.

For the Netherlands, the location of the surrender of sovereignty was carried out in the throne room of Amsterdam. The Indonesian side was represented by Mohammad Hatta and the Dutch side was represented by Queen Juliana, Prime Minister Dr. Willem Dress, and Mr. EMJA (Maan) Sassen who at that time served as Minister of Overseas Affairs.

The Impact of the Round Table Conference on Indonesia

On December 27, 1949, the provisional government of the United States of Indonesia was installed. Its president, Ir. Sukarno, with Moh. Hatta as Prime Minister, who formed the United Republic of Indonesia Cabinet. The United States of Indonesia was formed like a sovereign federated republic and consisted of 16 states and was an alliance state with the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The date of transfer of sovereignty by the Netherlands to the United States of Indonesia is also the date recognized by the Netherlands as the date of Indonesian independence. It was only after about sixty years later, on August 15, 2005, that the Dutch government officially acknowledged that Indonesia’s de facto independence began on August 17, 1945.

In a conference in Jakarta, Dutch Prime Minister at that time Ben Bot expressed his “profound regret for all the suffering” experienced by the Indonesian people during the four years of the National Revolution, although he did not officially convey this apology.

Indonesian reaction to the Dutch position was generally positive; The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, namely Hassan Wirayuda said that, after this acknowledgment, “it will be easier to move forward and strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries”.

Regarding the debts of the Dutch East Indies which had been agreed through the Round Table Conference, the Indonesian side finally continued to pay approximately 4 billion guilders in the period 1950 – 1956 but then decided not to repay the remaining debt.

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