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The Anniversary of Pancasila, a Piece of History Being Manipulated?

Jokowi has set June 1 as the Birthday of Pancasila. However, this is still a debate in the public because August 18 is considered more appropriate to be the Anniversary of Pancasila. There are allegations that the history of Pancasila has been manipulated for political purposes. Is this true?

By Ranessa Nainggolan


Coinciding on June 1, Indonesia celebrates the birth of Pancasila through a virtual ceremony attended by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi). At this year’s celebration, the government carried the theme “Pancasila in Action, United, for a Resilient Indonesia.” 

Through his speech, Jokowi invited the public to strengthen the value of Pancasila in the state and asked that there be a new way to uphold the values ​​of Pancasila. Jokowi also said that 5G connectivity poses a threat to the development of transnational ideology which is a challenge for the implementation of Pancasila today.

Last Tuesday was the fifth time that Pancasila’s Birthday has been celebrated since its inception in 2016. Jokowi stipulates the Birthday of Pancasila through Presidential Decree (Keppres) No. 24 of 2016. The stipulation aims to make all elements of society commemorate Pancasila as the state ideology. 

In 2016, Tjahjo Kumolo, who at that time served as Minister of Home Affairs, said that the birth of Pancasila was closely related to the figure of Sukarno as the proclaimer of digging Pancasila. Tjahjo said that the determination of June 1 was the result of a joint decision and part of the nation’s historical process.

However, the history of the birth of Pancasila has various versions and is still being debated. Experts assess that August 18 is more accurately designated as the Birthday of Pancasila. Constitutional law expert Refly Harun said that Pancasila was only legally born when it was included in the Preamble to the 1945 Constitution. Based on this, Pancasila was born on August 18 when the Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence (PPKI) ratified the 1945 Constitution which contains Pancasila. 

However, Presidential Spokesman Fadjroel Rachman said that the determination of June 1 as the Birthday of Pancasila was following historical facts. This determination refers to the time Sukarno explained his ideas on Pancasila at a meeting of the Investigating Agency for Preparatory Work for Indonesian Independence (BPUPKI). 

Various versions of the history of Pancasila’s Birthday were mentioned by political observers at Andalas University Asrinaldi as a form of historical manipulation. According to Asrinaldi, the determination of state holidays should be based on studies and empirical facts, not on the interests of the ruling regime.

The debate on the history of Pancasila’s Birthday brings us to the next question. Is there political intrigue behind the determination of Pancasila’s Birthday? 

Historical Anachronism? 

If drawn back to history, the birth of Pancasila was attached to Japan’s defeat in the Pacific War which lasted from 1941 to 1945. The weakening of Japanese power made Japan promise independence to the Indonesian people and formed Dokuritsu Junbi Cosakai or BPUPKI as an institution that prepared and drafted plans regarding preparation for independence. 

The first BPUPKI session was held in the Chuo Sang In building or Pancasila building from May 29 to June 1, 1945. The session was chaired by Dr. KRT Radjiman Weyodiningrat discussed the basic idea of ​​the state. 

Sukarno was one of the figures who put forward the five basic points of the state on June 1, 1945. The ideas were Indonesian nationality or nationalism, humanity or internationalism, consensus or democracy, social welfare, and a cultural Godhead. 

Sukarno was not the only figure who put forward his ideas to BPUPKI. There was Muhammad Yamin who explained the “Principles and Basics of an Independent Indonesia” on May 29, 1945, and Soepomo who explained “The Fundamentals of an Independent Indonesian State” on May 31, 1945.

To complete the formulation of Pancasila and the Constitution, PPKI was formed on August 9, 1945, as a replacement for BPUPKI. PPKI consisted of nine committees called the Nine Committee which is a special team to discuss the continuation of the results of the BPUPKI formulation. Sukarno himself was one of the nine committees. 

After various trial processes, Pancasila was officially ratified in the PPKI session on August 18, 1945. Pancasila was approved to be included in the 1945 Constitution as the legal basis of the Indonesian state. 

If viewed from the historical sequence, Pancasila was officially ratified on August 18, 1945, through the PPKI session. This is the basis for the argument of constitutional law expert Refly Harun who considers that August 18 is the most appropriate date to be set as the Birthday of Pancasila, not June 1.

However, the government still set Pancasila on June 1 because Pancasila was attached to Sukarno as the figure who formulated the idea of ​​Pancasila. The government’s attitude can be explained through the concept of anachronism or historical anachronism. 

Based on the writings of Jacques Ranciere entitled The Concept of Anachronism and the Historian’s Truth, an anachronism is a form of error in determining historical chronology. This creates ambiguity in understanding history because there is an error in placing a person, phenomenon, or era in the wrong time series. This fails to determine the cause and effect of a phenomenon and errors in establishing historical facts and truths. 

If we depart from the theory of historical anachronism, there is a historical chronological game behind the determination of June 1 as the Birthday of Pancasila. June 1 was indeed the date on which Sukarno outlined his formula at the BPUKPKI, but this is considered wrong if it is used as a reference to determine the Birthday of Pancasila. 

On June 1, 1945, Pancasila itself was not legally formed. Pancasila was still being discussed at PPKI which was finally ratified on August 18, 1945. 

In addition, the reason for the determination of June 1 which was based on the day Sukarno explained his ideas related to Pancasila at BPUPKI was also irrelevant. The reason is that there are two other political figures, namely Muhammad Yamin and Soepomo, who also explained their ideas in the previous days. Sukarno was not the first to give the basic idea of ​​the state, but Mohammad Yamin. 

Then why the determination of Pancasila must be associated with the figure of Sukarno? Is there a political interest behind this determination? 

Avoiding De-Sukarnoization? 

During the New Order era, June 1 was the anniversary of Sukarno’s speech at BPUPKI. Therefore, the Chairperson of the PDIP Megawati Sukarnoputri proposed June 1 not only commemorates Sukarno’s speech but also as a national holiday. 

This proposal was submitted to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), who at that time was still serving as president. However, the proposal was not followed up and only realized by Jokowi. 

The determination of June 1 as the Birthday of Pancasila may not be separated from Jokowi’s status as a PDIP cadre. Megawati as the central figure of PDIP said that party cadres are party officials, so they must carry out the tasks mandated by the party. 

Megawati once said that she had appointed Jokowi as a presidential candidate (candidate). So that when Jokowi is elected, he must not forget his status as a party official.

From Megawati’s statement, it could be that the determination of June 1 is one of the party’s tasks given to Jokowi. This was Megawati’s attempt to attach Pancasila to Sukarno and avoid de-Sukarnoization.

Megawati’s maneuver can be explained through Antoon De Baets’ writing entitled Dossier: History and Social Demands which explains the theory of abuse of history. Baets said that history is often misused for political purposes, such as strengthening the power and legitimacy of ideologies. An undemocratic and dictatorial environment influences the manipulation of history. The theory of abuse of history explains that history is written without a theoretical and methodological approach to historical analysis.   

Based on Baets’ writings, the determination of June 1 may be part of Megawati’s political goal to eliminate de-Sukarnoization. This was Suharto’s attempt to discredit Sukarno, for example, Suharto’s attempt not to associate Pancasila with Sukarno. 

This was confirmed by PDIP politician Ahmad Basarah. He said that Suharto’s efforts to carry out de-Sukarnoization were continuing until now so that a historical alignment with Sukarno was needed. It is possible that Megawati’s act of tying the birth of Pancasila with Sokerno was an attempt to eliminate de-Sukarnoization and “history rectification.” 

In conclusion, Sukarno indeed played a major role in the formation of Pancasila. However, we cannot deny that Pancasila is also the result of the cooperation of other national figures. The determination of the birthday of Pancasila which is still causing debate is a sign that the determination should be reviewed because history must be written objectively.


Editor’s note: The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of PinterPolitik.


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