New Order (Indonesia)

New Order (Indonesia)
This article is part of the
History of Indonesia series
History of Indonesia.png
See also:
Timeline of Indonesian History
Early kingdoms
Kutai (4th century)
Tarumanagara (358–669)
Kalingga (6th–7th century)
Srivijaya (7th–13th centuries)
Sailendra (8th–9th centuries)
Sunda Kingdom (669–1579)
Medang Kingdom (752–1045)
Kediri (1045–1221)
Singhasari (1222–1292)
Majapahit (1293–1500)
The rise of Muslim states
Spread of Islam (1200–1600)
Sultanate of Ternate (1257–present)
Malacca Sultanate (1400–1511)
Sultanate of Demak (1475–1548)
Aceh Sultanate (1496–1903)
Sultanate of Banten (1526–1813)
Mataram Sultanate (1500s–1700s)
European colonization
The Portuguese (1512–1850)
Dutch East India Co. (1602–1800)
Dutch East Indies (1800–1942)
The emergence of Indonesia
National awakening (1908–1942)
Japanese occupation (1942–45)
National revolution (1945–50)
Independent Indonesia
Liberal democracy (1950–57)
Guided Democracy (1957–65)
Start of the New Order (1965–66)
The New Order (1966–98)
Reformasi era (1998–present)
v · d · e

The New Order (Indonesian: Orde Baru) is the term coined by former Indonesian President Suharto to characterize his regime as he came to power in 1966. Suharto used this term to contrast his rule with that of his predecessor, Sukarno (dubbed the "Old Order," or Orde Lama). The term "New Order" in more recent times has become synonymous with the Suharto years (1965–1998).

Immediately following the attempted coup in 1965, the political situation was uncertain, but the Suharto's New Order found much popular support from groups wanting a separation from Indonesia's problems since its independence. The 'generation of 66' (angkatan 66) epitomised talk of a new group of young leaders and new intellectual thought. Following Indonesia's communal and political conflicts, and its economic collapse and social breakdown of the late 1950s through to the mid-1960s, the "New Order" was committed to achieving and maintaining political order, economic development, and the removal of mass participation in the political process. The features of the "New Order" established from the late 1960s were thus a strong political role for the military, the bureaucratization and corporatization of political and societal organizations, and selective but effective repression of opponents. Strident anti-communism remained a hallmark of the regime for its subsequent 32-years.

Within a few years, however, many of its original allies had become indifferent or averse to the New Order, which comprised a military faction supported by a narrow civilian group. Among much of the pro-democracy movement which forced Suharto to resign in the Indonesian 1998 Revolution and then gained power, the term "New Order" has come to be used pejoratively. It is frequently employed by them to describe figures who were either tied to the Suharto period, or who upheld practices of his authoritarian regime, such as corruption, collusion and nepotism (widely known by the acronym KKN: korupsi, kolusi, nepotisme).[1]



As the leader of the Indonesian Nationalists at time of its victory over the colonial Dutch, President Sukarno held immense moral power over the Indonesian public. This eventually translated into great political powers as well, as Sukarno became increasingly autocratic throughout the timespan of his rule.

Discontent with Sukarno

In global politics, Sukarno would embrace rhetoric denouncing the imperialism of Western capitalists, eventually nationalising many sectors of the economy. He would foster alliances with the Soviet Bloc, the People's Republic of China, as well as emerging post-colonial nations. Domestically, this translated to an alliance between Sukarno's Nationalists and the Communist Party of Indonesia.

This produced a number of enemies to the Sukarno regime, both foreign and domestic. These enemies included a substantial, right-wing oriented portion of the Indonesian army, with whom the United States would cultivate ties through military education and equipment sales. Among those in this right-wing camp included Suharto, an officer in the Indonesian Army dating to the time of independence.

When Sukarno cut ties with the United States, including shipments of food (famously telling U.S. officials "To hell with your aid!"), he was forced to adopt rationing measures amidst famine conditions. Taking advantage of this, Suharto and the right-wing camp of the military created elaborate smuggling networks. These networks would eventually create a separate form of government out of its regional command structure, down to the village level. When his role in the scheme was discovered, Suharto would be reassigned to a job at the military college in Jakarta. Disrupted momentarily, this regional command structure (including its corrupt and militaristic aspects) would be revived when Suharto took power.

Overthrow of Sukarno

On September 30, 1965, six generals were killed by guards of Sukarno, a group calling themselves the 30 September Movement. The guards alleged a right-wing plot to kill the president. General Suharto led the army as field general in its retaliation against the alleged perpetrators, the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI). The violent anti-communist purge led by Suharto, and aided and abetted by the United States, resulted in the deaths of an estimated 500,000 people.

Beginnings of the New Order

After being promoted, Suharto was assigned emergency powers on March 11, 1966 through a presidential decree by Sukarno known as the Supersemar. He would then go on to become president in 1967. Suharto would proclaim the New Order, a system of authoritarian rule to reconstruct the country.

Political imprisonment

Under the New Order, surviving members of the Communist Party of Indonesia, as well as those considered sympathizers or fellow travelers, were branded "political detainees" (Indonesian: tahanan politik) commonly appreviated "tapol". During and after the civil war, tapols were often given harsh prison sentences without trial, and their property was either seized or destroyed.

Tapols often served sentences including internal exile to penal colonies on desolated islands within the Indonesian archipelago. These included the Buru island in the Maluku Islands. Among its more famous prisoners included author and PEN Freedom to Write winner Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who was imprisoned there for alleged membership in a Communist Party literary group, LEKRA. In a book of memoirs (The Mute's Soliloquy), Pramoedya made detailed allegations of forced labour, starvation, torture and other abuses within the colony. ("Tapol Troubles" 1999)

Though the New Order released virtually all surviving tapols by 1979, they continued to be social outcasts afterward. All tapols were required to carry an ID card, stamped "ET" for ex-tapol, and have these ID cards renewed every three years. Many, including Pramoedya, lived under virtual house arrest into the 1990s. Spouses, children, and relatives of tapols have often carried a stigma of guilt by association and commonly face discrimination. Elderly tapols have in more recent times sued to win back their right to vote, and for compensation for their losses.

Anti-Chinese laws

While resentment toward the Chinese Indonesians by Austronesian descended peoples of the archipelago dated back to the Dutch East Indies era, persisting through the Post-Independence era, the events surrounding the 30 September Movement unleashed both widescale violence and a new tide of anti-Chinese legislation throughout the archipelago. Stereotypes of the Chinese as disproportionately affluent and greedy were common throughout the time (both in Indonesia as well as Malaysia), but with the anti-Communist hysteria, the association of the Chinese Indonesians with the People's Republic of China caused them to also be viewed as a communist fifth column.

As a result of this hysteria, Indonesia's hitherto friendly diplomatic relations with mainland China were severed and the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta burnt down by a mob. Several anti-Chinese laws were passed to curtail Chinese culture and civil rights, including laws mandating closure of Chinese language schools, adoption of "Indonesian" sounding names, and severe limits on Buddhist temple construction. The lasting effects of these laws and anti-Chinese sentiment fostered by the Suharto regime was demonstrated in the organization of anti-Chinese pogroms in 1998.

Political system

The liquidatation and banning of the Communist Party eliminated one of the largest political parties in Indonesia. Along with the subsequent efforts by Suharto to wrest power from Sukarno by purging loyalists from the parliament, civilian government in Indonesia was effectively put to an end by the civil war.

Strident anti-communism remained a hallmark of the regime for its subsequent 32-years.[2]

The new regime that emerged from the upheavals of the 1960s was dedicated to maintaining political order, promoting economic development, and excluding mass participation from the political process. The military was given a strong role in politics, political and social organisations throughout the country were bureaucratised and corporatised, and a selective but effective and sometimes brutal repression was used against opponents of the regime.[3]

A number of seats in the Parliament were set-aside for the military under as part of the dwifungsi (dual function) doctrine. Under the system, the military took roles as administrators in all levels of government. The political parties not banned outright were consolidated into a single party, the Party of the Functional Groups (Indonesian: Partai Golongan Karya), more commonly known as Golkar. Though Suharto would allow for the formation of two non-Golkar parties, these were kept weak during his regime.

Rise of Islamism

The purging of two secularist parties, the Nationalists and the Communists, had a notable side effect of having given greater space for the development of Islamism in Indonesia. This included liberal, conservative, and extremist groups practicing Islam in Indonesia. It is widely believed by observers of Indonesian history and politics that Suharto's forces whipped up anti-Communist sentiment in part by exploiting conservative Muslims' fears of "godless" Communism to instigate a jihad against them during the civil war.

As for more mainstream groups, conservative Islamic groups (called the "Central Axis") became a prop of the regime for some time after the civil war. Liberal Islamic groups, on the other hand, are believed to have defected during the wave of protests before the Indonesian Revolution of 1998.

Improved ties with the West

The change in regime from Sukarno to Suharto, though brutal, brought a shift in policy that allowed for USAID and other relief agencies to operate within the country. Suharto would open Indonesia's economy by divesting state owned companies, and Western nations in particular were encouraged to invest and take control of many of the mining and construction interests in Indonesia. The result was the alleviation of absolute poverty and famine conditions due to shortfalls in rice supply and Sukarno's reluctance to take Western aid, and stabilisation of the economy.

As a result of his victory in the civil war, Suharto would come to be seen as a pro-Western and anti-Communist strongman regime, similar to that of Augusto Pinochet. An ongoing military and diplomatic relationship between the Indonesia and the Western powers was cemented, leading to American, British, and Australian military, diplomatic, and economic support.

Relations with the U.S. Government

Historically, the United States has been a leading supporter of the Indonesian military. The United States provided over $1,118,000,000 worth of weaponry to Indonesia between 1975 and 1995.[4] The U.S. also provided some for of security assistance virtually every year between 1950 and 1999, including $388 million in grants and loans to pay for U.S. arms.

The U.S. government also provided training under the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program from 1950 to 1992, when Congress prohibited this aid in reaction to severe human rights abuses in during the Indonesian occupation of East Timor.[5] Because of the widespread human rights abuses that took place under Suharto, many citizens and members of Congress opposed the United States’ role as a source of weapons and military training as well as millions of dollars in economic aid for the regime.

At the time of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975, over 90% of the Indonesian military's arms were made in America.[improper synthesis?] Amnesty International and other human rights groups have estimated that more than 100,000 Timorese out of a population of only 700,000 were killed in the first five years. Between 1980 and 1999, another 100,000 are thought to have been killed or to have died of hunger and disease.[6][dead link]

In November 1991, using U.S.-supplied M-16 assault rifles,[improper synthesis?] the Indonesian army opened fire on peaceful Timorese demonstrators. The soldiers killed 50-150 demonstrators who were proceeding to a cemetery in Dili, the capitol of Timor, in a memorial for a man previously killed by the military.[7][dead link]

In 1992, because of the massacre in Dili in the preceding November, the Congress cut off further military training for Indonesia. Responding to Congressional and citizen pressure, in 1994 the U.S. State Department banned the sale to Indonesia of small arms, riot gear, and other "crowd control" technologies which could be used to commit human rights abuses.

Height of the New Order

The two decades immediately following Suharto's wresting of power were marked by an expansion of Indonesia's military and economic power, as well as the assertion of Indonesian identity over regional or ethnic identities. Conversely, Indonesia under Suharto had little tolerance for dissent, and is generally thought of as an abuser of human rights.

Economic growth

On economic matters, the New Order tended to rely on a group of American-educated economists, nicknamed the "Berkeley Mafia," to set policy. Soon after coming to power, Suharto implemented a number of reforms meant to establish Indonesia as a center of foreign investment. Indonesia experienced tremendous growth, with Gross Domestic Product rising threefold between the mid 1960s and 1990.[8][9] However, members of the military and Golkar Party acted without accountability. Key figures from the military and Golkar were heavily involved as intermediaries between the booming corporations (foreign and domestic) and the Indonesian government. This led to a great deal of corruption in the form of bribery, racketeering, and embezzlement. Funds from these practices often flowed to foundations (yayasan) controlled by the Suharto family.

Unitary state and regional unrest

A key tenet of the New Order was the idea of the "unitary state" and the necessity of territorial gain of "Greater Indonesia" (Indonesia Raya). Suharto acted zealously to stake and enforce its territorial claims over much of the region through both diplomacy and military action.

In 1969, Suharto moved to end the longtime controversy over the last Dutch territory in the East Indies, western New Guinea. Working with the United States and United Nations, an agreement was made to hold a referendum on self-determination, in which participants could choose to remain part of the Netherlands, to integrate with the Republic of Indonesia, or to become independent. Though originally phrased to be a nationwide vote of all adult Papuans, the "Act of Free Choice," held July–August 1969, allowed only 1022 "chiefs" to vote. The unanimous vote was for integration with the Republic of Indonesia, leading to doubts of the validity of the vote. Even before that the militant Free Papua Movement (OPM) organization has started a campaign of attacks on government outposts, businesses, and civilians.

In 1975, after Portugal withdrew from its colony of East Timor and the Fretilin movement momentarily took power, Indonesian troops invaded the territory. On July 15, 1976 Suharto's "New Order" declared East Timor the 27th province of Indonesia. Following Suharto's 1998 resignation from the Presidency, East Timor voted for independence in 1999 and was transferred to United Nations administration. A detailed statistical report prepared for the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor estimated a minimum of 102,800 conflict-related deaths in the period 1974–1999, namely, approximately 18,600 killings and 84,200 'excess' deaths from hunger and illness.[10]

In 1976, the regime was challenged in the province of Aceh by the formation of the Free Aceh Movement, or GAM, who demanded independence from the unitary state. Suharto quickly authorized troops to put down the rebellion, forcing several of its leaders into exile in Sweden. Prolonged fighting between GAM and the Indonesian military and police led Suharto to declare martial law in the province, by naming Aceh a "military operational area" (DOM) in 1990.

Underpinning Suharto's territorial ambitions was the rapid development of Indonesia's traditional urban centers. The rapid pace of this development had vastly increased their population density. In response, Suharto pursued the policy of transmigration to promote movement from crowded cities to rural regions of the archipelago where natural resources had not yet been exploited.

Suharto with William Cohen

Politics and dissent

In 1970, corruption prompted student protests and an investigation by a government commission. Suharto responded by banning student protest, forcing the activists underground. Only token prosecution of cases recommended by the commission was pursued. The pattern of co-opting a few of his more powerful opponents while criminalising the rest became a hallmark of the New Order government.

To maintain a veneer of democracy, Suharto made a number of electoral reforms. He stood for election before electoral college votes every five years, beginning in 1973. According to his electoral rules, however, only three parties were allowed to participate in the election: his own Golkar party, the Islamist United Development Party (PPP), and the Democratic Party of Indonesia (PDI). All the previously existing political parties were forced to be part of either the PPP or PDI, with public servants under pressure to join the membership of Golkar. In a political compromise with the powerful military, he banned its members from voting in elections, but set aside 100 seats in the electoral college for their representatives. As a result, he won every election in which he stood, in 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, and 1998.

This authoritarianism became an issue in the 1980s. On May 5, 1980 a group Petition of Fifty (Petisi 50) demanded greater political freedoms. It was composed of former military men, politicians, academics and students. The Indonesian media suppressed the news and the government placed restrictions on the signatories. After the group's 1984 accusation that Suharto was creating a one-party state, some of its leaders were jailed.

In the same decade, it is believed by many scholars that the Indonesian military split between a nationalist "red and white faction" and an Islamist "green faction." As the 1980s closed, Suharto is said to have been forced to shift his alliances from the former to the latter, leading to the rise of Jusuf Habibie in the 1990s.

After the 1990s brought end of the Cold War, Western concern over communism waned, and Suharto's human rights record came under greater international scrutiny. In 1991, the murder of East Timorese civilians in a Dili cemetery, also known as the "Santa Cruz Massacre" , caused American attention to focus on its military relations with the Suharto regime and the question of Indonesia's occupation of East Timor. In 1992, this attention resulted in the Congress of the United States passing limitations on IMET assistance to the Indonesian military, over the objections of President George H.W. Bush.[11] In 1993, under President Bill Clinton, the U.S. delegation to the UN Human Rights Commission helped pass a resolution expressing deep concern over Indonesian human rights violations in East Timor.[12]

Downfall of Suharto

Support for Suharto and his New Order government began to increasingly wane in the 1990s with more strident demands for democracy from within Indonesia's legal political parties. Criticism of the New Order's authoritarianism, human rights abuses, and situation of East Timor from Western NGOs and politicians began to isolate the regime diplomatically. The onset of the 1997 Asian financial crisis in Indonesia, and the stubbornness of Suharto in adopting reforms to address the crisis drew greater scrutiny from international lenders to the New Order corruption and lack of transparency. These factors culminated in the Indonesian Revolution of 1998 and the resignation of Suharto as president.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Aspinall (1999), p i
  3. ^ Aspinall (1999), p i
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Hill (Ed) (1994)
  9. ^ Booth and McCawley (eds) (1981)
  10. ^ Benetech Human Rights Data Analysis Group (9 February 2006). "The Profile of Human Rights Violations in Timor-Leste, 1974-1999". A Report to the Commission on Reception, Truth and Reconciliation of Timor-Leste. Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG). 
  11. ^ See United States Cong. House of Representatives. 102nd Congress, 2d Session. H.R. 5368, 2nd Session Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 1993. Title III - International Military Education and Training.
  12. ^ See UN Commission on Human Rights resolution 1993/97, "Situation in East Timor"


Further reading

  • Watson, C.W. (Bill), Of Self and Injustice. Autobiography and Repression in Modern Indonesia, Leiden 2006, KITLV, ISBN 997169369-0
  • McGregor, Katharine E., History in Uniform. Military Ideology and the Construction of Indonesia’s Past, Leiden 2007, KITLV, ISBN 978-9971-69-360-2

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • New Order (disambiguation) — New Order were a British band. New Order may also refer to: In politics: New world order (politics) New Order (Nazism) (Neuordnung), Nazi Germany s political and territorial goal in the 1940s Ordre Nouveau (1940s), Vichy French term for the above …   Wikipedia

  • Transition to the New Order — This article is part of the History of Indonesia series See also: Timeline of Indonesian History Prehistory Early kingdoms …   Wikipedia

  • Indonesia — /in deuh nee zheuh, sheuh, zee euh, doh /, n. 1. See East Indies (def. 1). 2. Republic of. Formerly, Netherlands East Indies, Dutch East Indies. a republic in the Malay Archipelago consisting of 13,677 islands, including Sumatra, Java, Sulawesi,… …   Universalium

  • Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation — Indonesia Malaysia confrontation Control of the island of Borneo, which is divided between Indonesia, Malaysia and …   Wikipedia

  • Order of Saint Augustine — Abbreviation OSA Formation March, 1256 Type Catholic religious ord …   Wikipedia

  • New Apostolic Church — New Apostolic redirects here. For other uses, see New Apostolic Reformation. New Apostolic Church (NAC) New Apostolic church hall with emblem Classification Chilia …   Wikipedia

  • Indonesia — Republic of Indonesia Republik Indonesia …   Wikipedia

  • Indonesia Raya — This article is about the national anthem. For other uses, see Indonesia Raya (disambiguation). Indonesia Raya English: Great Indonesia One of the two original publications of what is now known as Indonesia Raya in the 10 November 1928… …   Wikipedia

  • New Imperialism — This article is part of the New Imperialism series. Origins of New Imperialism Imperialism in Asia The Scramble for Africa Theories of New Imperialism New Imperialism refers to the colonial expansion adopted by …   Wikipedia

  • Indonesia — Indonésie Republik Indonesia (id) République d Indonésie (fr) …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.