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Civis 006/2016

Advancing National Culture of Indonesia as Part of the Purpose of the 1945 Constitution, Article 32


The Amendment of the 1945 Constitution has resulted in a few significant changes in advancing Indonesian culture.

The process of the amendment had 4 phases started from October 1999 and ended in August 2002. The advancing of culture was being discussed in the second phase, November 1999 to August 2000, and in the fourth phase, November 2001 to August 2002.

We need to note that the Amendment of the 1945 Constitution was the first step to democratise the 1945 Constitution, as parts of the agreements of the 1998 Reformation. The agreement was the reformation of the 1945 Constitution will keep the original formation of the Preface to the 1945 Constitution that support the NKRI (Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia) and the Presidential system of government. This amendment has to be done according to the constitutional procedures. (MPR-RI, The People’s Consultative Assembly of the Republic of Indonesia, Year 1999 Assembly Treatise, edition 2010:22; Harian Republika, 29 September 1999:1).

Reformation of the 1945 Constitution will be done by making amendment following Point 37, Verse 3 of the 1945 Constitution. The team has come out with a few significant changes on the Articles of the 1945 Constitution and deleted the “Explanation (Penjelasan)”.

The Amendment has a series of 4 phases. Those points which had not finished would be continued at the following phase so some of the changes could be completed only after going through phases 2, 3, or 4 of the MPR’s General Assemblies.

These series of 4 phases of consultations were part of the MPR’s programme, to amend part of the 1945 Constitution which had not been finished in the previous consultation. For instance, the General Assembly of the MPR in October 1999 decided to have another assembly in 2000. Since it was still not completed, the General Assembly of the MPR in 2000 decided to have another assembly until it was finished in 2002 and the amendment were completely done only in 2004. The Annual Assembly of the MPR’s main duty was to complete the task of the MPR, which was to complete the Amendment of the 1945 Constitution.

All the changes of the 1945 Constitution were achieved through consensus, except for the article on the presence of the Party Delegates through the appointments by MPR was decided by voting (MPR-RI, Year 2002 Assembly Treatise, The Fifth Book, 2010:733 Edition).

There are 4 separate decisions by the MPR regarding the change of the 1945 Constitution. The first decision was on 19 October 1999, the second was on 18 August 2000, the third was on 9 November 2001, and the fourth was on 10 August 2002. But all these changes are parts of an undivided unit.

The Amended 1945 Constitution has been put in one script for public-practical use. This is a technical compilation without personal opinions of the General Secretary of the People Consultative Assembly of Indonesia for implementation purpose.

Influential Factors in the Amendment

Since the conception of the 1945 Constitution, it has been our aspiration to have a democratic constitution. These were written in the BPUPK (Badan Penyelidik Usaha-Usaha Persiapan Kemerdekaan – Investigating Committee for Preparatory Work for Independence) and PPKI (Panitia Persiapan Kemerdekaan Indonesia – Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence).

This aspiration is alive throughout the history of our nation, during the 1949 RIS Constitution, during the 1950 Temporary Constitution, and during the constitution consultation period from 1956 to 1959. Three main aspiration that remain the same: the aspiration to maintain the Preface of the 1945 UUD, Pancasila as the state foundation and the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia.

The amendment of the 1945 Constitution was done in the right time when the country was facing some political challenges. The economic crisis caused by the 1997 Asia monetary crisis soon developed and became political crisis; the withdrawal of President Suharto opened various opportunities, at the same time many challenges and problems came to surface. One of them was the tension between the central government with several provincial and local governments. All these revealed the weak foundation of our political system and the weakness in the nation building.

The public opinion, especially in the local societies, said that the Orde Baru (New Era) Government’s policies only focused on the central government, promoting uniformity. Citizen educations which should be “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika”, in reality emphasised more on the “one-ness” and overlooked the diversity. Consequently, there was a desire in several provinces to become federal states or to separate from the Republic of Indonesia.

The team tried to listen to all these dilemmas as input for the Amendment of the 1945 Constitutions. The MPR-Ad-Hoc team used several approaches to gather the inputs: inviting representatives from the unsatisfied regions in order to listen to their struggles and aspiration, reviewing news on mass media, visiting and hosting seminars.

On the other hand, the trend of the nation building. After several Repelita (Rencana Pembangunan Lima Tahun – The Five Years Building Plan in Suharto’s time) the national economic was growing yet the economic crisis in 1997 proved that the link between the economy system and our resources was very weak (backward linkages)

The nation building was also weakened by poor mentality of the people as pointed out by Prof. Koentjaraningrat, pay no attention on quality, careless, lack of self-confident, irresponsible and lack of self-discipline (Koentjaraningrat 1974).

In the early years after the Independent of the country, people believe that obeying the rules and laws were not patriotic or not revolutionary. Besides, the nation was also plagued by consumerism, materialism, and hedonism as part of the global problems.

Align with the above, as what has been mentioned in the Cultural Values and Human Progress’ symposium (Lawrence, E. Harrison & Huntington, Samuel P., 2000, Culture Matters,), there is a strong link between cultural values with economic and political performance. Even corruption was part of the cultural problem.

In other words, to pay attention to “daily life culture” in the life of the people and society, we will find many weaknesses in our culture. Thus we are not ready to move to a continuous growing which is much needed if we are to be promoted from the developing country to the advanced country,

Some Changes

The first change was regarding the culture factor in the local government organisation on Article 18. This article was altered and modified with two more additions: Article 18A and 18B

Based on the ‘mother’ system, Republic Indonesia is a Unitary State, Articles 18A and 18B give room for organising the local governments as sub-systems where they could retain the uniqueness of each locality.Based on the principle of the unitary state, the central government will issue law regarding the uniqueness of each local, and all local governments have to observe the law. This law, according to the 1945 Constitution, article 20 (2) and 22D will be prepared together by DPR (The House of Representative), DPD (The Regional Representatives Council) and Presidents, the highest Executive.

Bearing these in mind, we need to note the mistakes in the past. The No. 32/2004 Law regarding Local Government stated the ways for local government election including the Governor of the Special Region of Yogyakarta. This Law has created unnecessary tension in Yogyakarta. Later, the 13/2012 Law rectified the regulation for the election for Special Region of Yogyakarta.

During the process of the change of the 1945 Constitution, the ideas regarding the local government election did not require all elections to be conducted in the same way. Article 18 Point (4), of the 1945 Constitution only stated that Governor, Regent and Mayor election are to be conducted in a democratic way. This point gives room to retain the uniqueness of each local election such as Special Region of Yogyakarta. In the future, if the socio-politics dynamics requires, it is possible also to have a direct election as written in No. 32/2004 Law.

The other change in Articles 18A to 18J regarding Human Rights and Chapter XIII regarding Education and Culture.

These Articles show that the 1945 Constitution has a very broad view of culture, covering the way of life of a group of people, behaviour, belief, values and symbols which they use without questioning, and will pass on from one generation to the next through communications and imitating.

The discussion was based on this understanding. The change of the name of Chapter XIII from Education becomes Education and Culture emphasised the needs to cultivate culture through education. Which means there will be intentional, purposeful plans to plant the culture in the life of the people and society as part of the nation building.

For this reason, the term “teaching” in the former Article, which referred mostly to the teaching materials—knowledge and technology, has been change to “education” which means apart from knowledge and technology, also as the formation of the mental-attitude, moral values and cultivating good habits.

Article 31 aims to change the capacity and quality of the people by requiring every citizen to have basic education which are to be financed by the government.

Article 32 aims to improve and strengthen culture so Indonesia can compete and excel in this globalisation era.

With this change, including the new stipulation in Articles 33 and 34, to achieve welfare and social justice for people which is stated in the Preface of the 1945 Constitution, we use the substantive-building approach, where the state is actively and efficiently allocating all resources in the attempt to empower every person and all societies so they can reach their full potentials, as part of the efforts to achieve welfare and social justice for the nation (compared with Amartya Sen 2009).

Follow up

Based on the principle of the supremacy of the Constitution, the No. 12/2011 Law regarding the Formation of the Regulations and Laws, every Law has to be in agreement and not contrary to the 1945 Constitution. In regard to the formation of the Law about Culture there is a need to have a clear scope.

In my presentation, the scope will be limited on the formation of the life-attitude which is needed to enable the people of Indonesia to join the dynamic of the global world. The substance of the Culture Law is a part of the formation of the national education system.

Other speakers perhaps will explain other aspects such as the development of culture from the aspect of art, etc.

The national education system stated in the Constitution is like a tunnel where the various and diverse young generation of the country could be “processed” not only to affirm their diversity (bhinneka) but also how to be “tunggal-ika” (one); equipped with basic knowledge, a good mental attitude, and the ability to think.

The declining of social discipline as can be seen in the chaotic traffic in many cities in Indonesia; poor garbage handling, robberies and corruptions (either big or small) in every life stratum, the violation of laws in the urban, villages and even in the remote areas, the declining of morality and ethics. These facts pointed out the urgent need for cultural education.

In a country that based on Pancasila, beliefs and religions play a role as the source of morality, ethics, and spiritual which will define what kind of mental-attitude to be instil in the students in particular, and to the society in general.

The phrase in Article 31 (3), “increase the level of spiritual belief, devoutness and moral character in the context of developing the life of the nation” has a very deep meaning. Lest not just take religions and beliefs literally as the source for rituals and to memorise the scripture verses, but to give the most honourable place as the source for ethics, morality and spirituality for everyday life.

Education should emphasise more on the attitude for mutual respect in living together as a complex community. Education that seek to increase spiritual belief and devoutness ought to be elaborated in measurable attitudes in everyday life, such as mutual respect amongst people who come from different ethnicity, religion, race, etc.; honour honesty, trustworthy, appreciate achievements, observed rules and regulations, respect time, not stealing, not involved in corruption in any kinds.

This kind of education system need to be supported by other aspects, especially law enforcement. Without the law enforcement, all the attempts to develop the advanced culture will be in vain.

Law enforcement in a democratic country is a very important aspect. The formation of law has gone through democratic system, considered human rights, so the enforcement had to be strong. If we overlooked small violations in everyday life, and do nothing to resolve it thoroughly, this will support the declining of discipline in the society, and create the ambiguity—what is right and what is wrong is not clear anymore, what is lawful and what is unlawful becomes obscure.

As written by Peerenboom, too many policies and too much flexibility will hinder law enforcements that will eventually lead the lawful country losing its meaning (Randall Peerenboom 2004). Consequently, in this kind of situation, our education system will not be able to instil strong cultural values in the society, which will hinder the progress of the nation building.


(Presented at the Seminar on National Culture, Ministry of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia, “Advancing the National Culture of Indonesia as Part of the Purpose of the 1945 Constitution, Article 32, Jakarta, 6 September 2016)

Drs. Jakob Tobing, MPA

Drs. Jakob Tobing, MPA

President, Leimena Institute

Jakob Tobing is one of the most prominent architects of the new democratic Indonesia. He played an instrumental role in Indonesia’s transition from the authoritarian rule to democracy in 1998. He was then entrusted as the Chairman of the 1999 National Election Committee and the 1999-2004 Parliamentary Commission on the Constitutional Amendment – the two important bodies that decisively replaced authoritarianism with democracy in Indonesia. Under his leadership, the constitutional amendment has guaranteed the principles of democracy, rule of law, and human rights, which is now seen as a model by many other countries. He was a student leader against the old order in 1966, appointed as member of parliament in 1968, and became the Vice Chairman of the ruling party during the Suharto’s regime. But during the height of the authoritarian regime, he joined the opposition and was invited to join and establish the reform PDIP party by its Chairman Megawati Soekarnoputri, who later became the President of Indonesia. President Habibie decorated him with Mahaputera Utama medal in 1999. After more than three decades as a member of parliament, in 2004 he was appointed as the Indonesian Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, a leadership role which again he performed so outstanding that the Republic of Korea awarded him the Gwanghwa medal—the country’s highest diplomatic award. He received his graduate degree from the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA.