The 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia Department of Information Republic of Indonesia 1989 Prefac e

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III. The Constitution gives form in its articles to the fundamental ideas contained in the Preamble.

The above fundamental ideas pervade the spiritual background of the Constitution of the State of Indonesia. These fundamental ideas give rise to those ideals of law (Rechtsidee) which dominate the Fundamental Law of the State, both written law (the constitution) and unwritten law.

The Constitution gives form to these fundamental ideas in its articles.

VI. The Constitution is short and flexible in character.

The Constitution has only 37 articles. The other paragraphs contain only additional and transitional provisions. This draft is thus very brief when compared, for instance, with the constitution of the Philippines.

It is enough if the Constitution contains only fundamental rules, contains only guidelines of instruction to the Central Government and to other authorities of the State for conducting the life of the State and providing social well-being. Especially for a new state and a young state, it is better if that written Fundamental Law contains only basic rules, whilst the provisions implementing those basic rules are left to statutes which are more easily drawn up, altered and revoked.

This is the system of the Constitution.

We must always remember the dynamic of the life of the Indonesian society and state. The Indonesian society and state are growing, the era is changing, especially during this present period of physical and spiritual revolution.

Therefore, we must live dynamically, we must watch every kind of movement in the life of the Indonesian society and state. In that connection, let us not precipitately crystallize, provide form to (Gestaltung), ideas which can still easily alter.

Certainly, it is the nature of those written rules to be binding. For that reason, the more flexible ("elastic") those rules are, the better. Thus we must guard against the constitutional system being left behind the times. Let us not go so far as to make a constitution which is quickly out-moded (verouderd). What is extremely important in the administration and in the life of the state is the spirit, the spirit of the authorities of the state, the spirit of the leaders of the administration. Although a constitution is drawn up which, according to the letter, is charactersized by the family principle, if the spirit of the authorities of the state, the leaders of the administration, individualistic, that constitution is certain to have no meaning in practice. On the other hand, although that constitution is not perfect, if the spirit of the authorities of the administration is good, that constitution will certainly not obstruct the course of the state. Thus what is most important is the spirit. That spirit is a living thing, or, in other words, it is dynamic. In this connection, only the fundamental rules alone must be laid down in the constitution whilst what is necessary for executing those fundamental rules must be left to statutes.


The system of the government of the State which is stipulated in the Constitution is:

I. Indonesia is a State based on Law ("Rechtstaat").

1. The State of Indonesia is based upon law (Rechtstaat), it is not based upon more power (Machtstaat).

I. The System is Constitutional

2. The government is based upon constitutionalism (Fundamental Law) not absolutism (authority without limits).

III. The Highest Authority of the State is in the hands of the Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat ("die gesamte Staatsgewalt liegt allein bei der Majelis").

3. The sovereignty of the people is held by a body named the Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat as the embodiment of the whole of the People of Indonesia (Vertretungsorgan des Willens des Staatvolkes). This Majelis determines the Constitution and the guidelines of the policy of the State. The Majelis appoints the Head of State (President) and the Vice-Head of State (Vice-President).

It is this Majelis which holds the highest authority of the State, whilst the President must execute the policy of the State according to the guidelines which have been determined by the Majelis.

The President who is appointed by the Majelis, is subordinate to and responsible to the Majelis. He is the "mandatory" of the Majelis, he is obliged to execute the decisions of the Majelis.

The President is not "neben" but is "untergeordnet" to the Majelis.

IV. The President is the Highest Executive of the Government of the State below the Majelis

Below the Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat, the President is the Highest Executive of the government of the State.

In conducting the administration of the State, authority and responsibility are in the hands of the President (concentration of power and responsibility upon the President).

V. The President is not responsible to the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat.

Besides the President there is the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat. The President must obtain the agreement of the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat in order to make laws (Gesetz gebung) and in order to fix the estimates of the revenues and expenditures of the State (Staatsbegroting).

Because of this, the President must work together with the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, but the President is not responsible to the Dewan, which means that the President's position is not dependent upon the Dewan.

VI. The Ministers of State are Assistants to the President: the Ministers of State are not responsible to the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat.

The President appoints and dismisses the Ministers of State. Those Ministers are not responsible to the Dean Rakyat. Their positions are not dependent upon the Dewan but are dependent upon the President. They are the assistants of the President.

VII. The Authority of the Head of State is not unlimited.

Although the Head of State is not responsible to the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat, he is not a "dictator", which means that his authority is not unlimited.

It has been stressed above that he is responsible to the Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat. Apart from this, he must carefully and thoroughly pay attention to the voice of the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat.

The position of the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat.

The position of the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat is strong. The Dewan can not be dissolved by the President. (This is at variance with the parliamentary system). Apart from this, members of the Dewan are all of them concurrently members of the Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat. For that reason the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat can at all times control the acts of the President, and if the Dewan considers that the President has in fact transgressed against the policy of the State determined by the Constitution or by the Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat. The Majelis can be called for a special sitting so that can ask the President to account for his responsibility.

The Ministers of the State are not ordinary high-ranking Civil Servants.

Although the position of the Ministers of State is dependent upon the President, nevertheless they are not ordinary high-ranking civil servants, because it are those Ministers who, in the first place, in practice execute the authority of the Government (pouvoir executif).

As the leaders of Departments, the Ministers know the ins and outs of matters connected with their jurisdictions. In this connection, Ministers have a great influence upon the President in determining that part of the state's policy with which their Departments are concerned. Indeed, what is intended is that the Ministers are Leaders of the State.

In determining Government policy and in co-ordinating the administration of the State, the Ministers work together as closely as possible, one with the other, under the leadership of the President.


Chapter 1. The Form and Sovereignty of the State.

Article 1

This prescribes that the form of the state shall be unitary and a Republic, and contains the fundamental idea of sovereignty of the State.

Chapter II. The Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat.

Article 2

Clause 1.

The intention is that the whole of the people, all the groups and all the regional territories throughout the country, shall have representatives in the Majelis, so that the Majelis can truly be considered to be the embodiment of the People.

What are referred to as "groups" are bodies such as co-operatives, workers' associations and other collective bodies. Such rule is indeed in harmony with the trend of the times. In connection with the recommendation to establish the co-operative system in the economy, this clause recalls the existence of groups in economic organizations.

Clause 2

This organ which will have a large total membership, sits at least once in five years. At least once, therefore if necessary of course it may sit more than once in five years by holding special sessions.

Article 3

Because the Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat holds the sovereignty of the State, its powers are not limited. In view of the dynamic of society, once in five years the Majelis reviews everything which has happened and considers all the trends at that time, and determines what policies it desires to be used for the future.

Chapter III. The Powers of Government of the State.

Article 4 and Article 5, clause 2.

The President is the head of the executive power in the State. In order to execute laws, he possesses the power to prescribe government regulations (pouvoir reglementaire).

Article 5, clause 1

Apart from the executive power, the President together with the Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat exercises the legislative power in the State.

Articles 6, 7, 8, 9.

Already clear

Articles 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15

The powers of the President provided by these articles are consequences of the President's position as Head of State.

Chapter IV. The Advisory Council

Article 16

This Council is a Council of State which is obliged to provide considered views to the Government. It is purely an advisory body.

Chapter V. The Minister of the State

Article 17

See above.

Chapter VI. Local Government

Article 18

I. Because the State of Indonesia is a unitary state, Indonesia, therefore, will not have within its jurisdiction areas which have the character of "states".

The area of Indonesia will be divided into provinces, and these provinces will likewise be divided into smaller regional territories. These regional territories will have an autonomous character (streek- and locale rechtsgemeen-schappen), titles of so-called autonomous areas during the colonial period, or have the character of purely administrative regions, all to be in accord with rules to be laid down by statute.

In those regional territories with an autonomous character, local representative bodies will be set up, because local government also will be founded upon the principle of deliberation.

II. Within the territory of the State of Indonesia there are to be found about 250 zelfbesturende landschappen, and volksgemeenschappen, titles of so-called selfgoverning localities during the colonial period, such as the desa of Java and Bali, the nagari of Minangkabau, the dusun and marga: names of various social-administrative units.

Those localities have their own traditional structures, and for this reason can be considered to have a special character.
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