Academic journal article Asian Social Science

The Indonesian Coup September 1965: A Discussion from Bipolarity Structure

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

The Indonesian Coup September 1965: A Discussion from Bipolarity Structure

Article excerpt


This article discusses the Indonesian Coup 1965 from the bipolarity international political structure (Cold War). Power rivalry between the communist-socialist and democratic-capitalist during the Cold War period (bipolarity structure) had resulted the Indonesian Coup 1965. The 'new order' Indonesian administration emerged after the coup, replaced the 'old order' administration under President Sukarno. The different political philosophy and ideology of 'new order' under President Suharto shifted the Indonesian foreign policy from previously leaning against the East power to West power (democratic-capitalist). The domestic political changes after the Indonesian Coup 1965 contributed to the peaceful and harmonious relations with Malaysia and other capitalist state in the South East Asian region. The Indonesian 'new order' administration had paved the way to the formation of ASEAN in August 1967 and the creation of South East Asia regional stability.

Keywords: Indonesian Coup, bipolarity structure, new order, old order, regional organization, regional stability

1. Introduction

The Indonesian Coup of 1965 or GESTAPU (Gerakan tiga puluh September, or 30th September Movement) was a significant event in politics and ideological changes in Indonesia. The event had transformed the politics of Indonesian from the 'old order' administration (under Sukarno with Communist influence) to the 'new order' administration under President Suharto and was pro-West government. Indonesian 'Gestapu' was also important because this event changed the regional political structure in Southeast Asian region and paved the way to the formation of strong regional organization, Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). After the formation of ASEAN in August 1967, a new type of relationship between Malaysia-Indonesian and other pro-American countries in South East Asia (ASEAN members) began. There are two versions of Indonesian Coup 1965; the version I (the communist action) and version II (the Army and Pro-United States action). Both versions will be discussed in turn.

2. Indonesian Coup 1965, Version I

Communist Action: According to this version the Indonesian Coup of 1965 was a communist strategy to gain power in Indonesia. A few weeks before the 'Gestapu' event, President Sukarno's health was very poor. The communists took a prompt action before the army took power from President Sukarno.

On the midnight of 30th September 1965 "progressive, revolutionary" military officers backed by the Communist (PKI) leadership, the so-called 'Gestapu,' (September 30th Movement) were involved in the kidnapping and murder of six generals of the Indonesian army (Mahmud, 2000, pp. 212-213). General Suharto and Nasution who escaped death (Suharto not being on the priority list and Nasution being wounded) rallied opposition forces and put down the coup.

The objective of the 'Gestapu' had been to purge the army general staffand critics of the PKI and of President Sukarno. According to this version, if Suharto and Nasution had been killed on the 30th September midnight, the coup might have succeeded and a communist regime might well have emerged in Indonesia (Fifield, 1973, p. 317).

General Suharto, with key figures Adam Malik, the Sultan of Jokjakarta and widespread student support, controlled the situation in early October 1965. Suharto was seen as a figure to control Indonesia from the communist coup. Without the role played by Suharto and the army, the PKI would control Indonesian politics. Indonesia would become a communist state after 30th September 1965.

This version of the Indonesian coup of 1965 is totally different from version II (discussed below). Since the late 1980s and especially after the fall of President Suharto in 1998, many materials about the 1965 coup were published (and released) that gave more evidence to support version II of the Indonesian Coup 1965 (Scott, 1985, pp. 239-264). …

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