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The Jakarta Charter was a document drawn up by members of the Indonesian Investigating Committee for Preparatory Work for Independence in June 1945 that subsequently formed the basis of the preamble to the Constitution of Indonesia. It included an obligation for Muslims to abide by Shariah law.
In March 1945, the Japanese military authority in Java during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia established the Investigating Committee for Preparatory Work for Independence (BPUPK) to decide on key issues related to the future independent state, including its constitution. There was a clear division between those who wanted a secular state and those who wanted a greater role for Islam. On 1 June, the last day of the first session, nationalist and future Indonesian president Sukarno made a speech outlining the Pancasila - the five principles that would form the ideological basis of the new state. A sub-committee of eight members, the panitia kecil (small committee), was set up with Sukarno as chairman to discuss the issues that had emerged.
The drawing up of the document
In the recess between the two BPUPK sessions, at the urging of future president Sukarno, 38 members met and decided to task a committee of nine members, the Panitia Sembilan, with starting to draft the constitution. These members, and their affiliations were:
- Sukarno (secular Muslim nationalist)
- Mohammad Hatta (secular Muslim nationalist)
- A.A. Maramis (secular Christian nationalist)
- Abikoesno Tjokrosoejoso (Muslim nationalist, former leader of the Indonesian Islamic Union Party (PSII))
- Abdoel Kahar Moezakir (Muslim nationalist, leading member of Muhammadiyah)
- Agus Salim (Muslim nationalist, former leader of Sarekat Islam)
- Achmad Soebardjo (secular Muslim nationalist)
- Wahid Hasjim (Muslim nationalist, leader of Nahdlatul Ulama)
- Mohammad Yamin (secular Muslim nationalist)
Over the course of the afternoon of 22 June, the nine men produced a preamble for the constitution that included Sukarno's Pancasila philosophy, but added the seven words in Indonesian (dengan kewajiban menjalankan syariat Islam bagi pemeluknya) that placed an obligation on Muslims to abide by Islamic law. Mohammad Yamin, who played a dominant role in the wording, named the preamble the Jakarta Charter.
Text of the document
Whereas independence is a genuine right of all nations and any form of foreign occupation should thus be erased from the earth as it is not in conformity with humanity and justice,
Whereas the struggle of the Indonesian independence movement has reached the blissful point of leading the Indonesian people safely and well before the monumental gate of an independent Indonesian State which shall be free, united, sovereign, just and prosperous,
By the grace of Almighty Allah and urged by the lofty aspiration to exist as a free nation,
Now therefore, the people of Indonesia declare herewith their independence,
Pursuant to which, in order to form a Government of the State of Indonesia that shall protect the whole people of Indonesia and the entire homeland of Indonesia, and in order to advance general prosperity, to develop the nation's intellectual life, and to contribute to the implementation of a world order based on freedom, lasting peace and social justice, Indonesia's National Independence shall be laid down in a Constitution of the State of Indonesia, which is to be established as the State of the Republic of Indonesia with sovereignty of the people and based on the belief in the One and Only God, with the obligation to abide by Islamic law for adherents of Islam, on just and civilized humanity, on the unity of Indonesia and on democratic rule that is guided by the strength of wisdom resulting from deliberation / representation, so as to realize social justice for all the people of Indonesia.
Jakarta, 22 June 1945
On 17 August 1945, Sukarno declared Indonesian independence. The following day, the Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence (PPKI), which had been established with Japanese permission on 7 August, was due to meet. Hatta in particular and Sukarno were both worried that the obligation on Muslims would alienate non-Muslims. Before the meeting, Hatta met with Muslim leaders and managed to persuade them to agree to the removal of the seven words "for the sake of national unity". The PPKI then met and elected Sukarno and Hatta president and vice-president respectively. It then discussed the draft constitution, including the preamble. Hatta spoke in favour of removing the seven words, and Balinese delegate, I Gusti Ktut Puja, suggested replacing the Arabic word "Allah" with the Indonesian word for God ("Tuhan"). This was accepted, but for some reason when the constitution was officially published, this change was not made. Following further discussion, the constitution was approved.
When the 1945 constitution was replaced by the United States of Indonesia Federal Constitution of 1949, and this in turn replaced by the Provisional Constitution of 1950, there were no attempts to include the seven words in the preambles, despite their similarity to 1945 version. However, in 1959, the Constitutional Assembly of Indonesia, which had been set up to produce a permanent constitution, reached deadlock as the Islamist fraction wanted a greater role for Islam, but like the other factions, did not have enough support to win the two-thirds majority to push through its proposals. The Islamist faction supported the government's proposal to return to the 1945 Constitution on condition that the obligation on Muslims be re-inserted in the preamble. The nationalist faction voted this down, and in response, the Islamist faction vetoed the reintroduction of the 1945 Constitution. On 9 July 1959, Sukarno issued a decree dissolving the assembly and reinstating the original constitution, but without the seven words the Islamists wanted. To placate them, Sukarno stated that his decree relied on the Jakarta Charter, which had inspired the 1945 Constitution and which was an "inseparable" part of it, but was not a legal part of it.
There were two further attempts to revive the Jakarta Charter. In the 1968 special session of the Provisional People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), Parmusi, a new Islamist party, called for it to have legal force, but the proposal was voted down. In 2002, during the MPR session that passed the final amendments to the constitutions, a number of small Islamic parties with the support of Vice-president Hamzah Haz tried again, this time by amending the Article 29 of the constitution to make shariah law obligatory on Muslims, but they were resoundingly defeated.
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