89. Intelligence Memorandum1

OCI No. 2057/64


For the first time in several years there are the faint stirrings of an anti-Communist movement in Indonesia. Provoked by increasing boldness on the part of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and by Sukarno’s own increasing reliance on the party, several non-Communist figures have raised a new banner called “Sukarnoism.” The movement is ostensibly dedicated to the defense of the President’s almost mystical Five Principles (Pantjasila), but its main purpose appears to be that of combating PKI influence in the government and throughout the country.
It is too early to measure the movement’s strength or effectiveness. While it reportedly has received indirect approval from Sukarno and appears to have enlisted important support, it could well collapse overnight if its strategy of winning the President’s support should fail and Sukarno should move to suppress its growth.
The movement first came to light during Sukarno’s absence on a foreign tour from 17 September to 5 November, when articles berating the PKI appeared in the Djakarta press. The PKI responded, of course, and a lively polemic followed for several weeks. However, during the week immediately preceding and the one immediately following Sukarno’s return, the polemic subsided, almost as if the Sukarnoists feared retribution from the President. The only government move against the group, however, was the banning of a single Sukarnoist newspaper soon after the President’s return. In the absence of further repressive action, the group seems to have taken on new courage, and its leaders are trying to organize and expand the forces involved.
Minister of Trade Adam Malik leads the group, but Chaerul Saleh, third deputy prime minister and concurrently minister of development, is also deeply involved. Malik, who is a former Indonesian ambassador to the Soviet Union, and Saleh are ideologically attuned to the “right wing” of the Murba (Proletarian) Party, usually described as the national Communist Party of Indonesia. With Indonesia having moved a considerable distance to the left under Sukarno, Malik and [Page 190] Saleh represent a “moderate” position, and their activities are arousing the hopeful interest of individuals who stand further to the right. The new group has advocated the spreading of Sukarnoism, i.e., the President’s teachings, as a means of unifying the nation. Its spokesmen state that the campaign to crush Malaysia and to spread Sukarnoism are inseparable. Early in the press polemic, they attacked Communist Party Chairman Aidit for a statement he allegedly made disavowing the need for Pantjasila, to which all recognized political parties are obliged to subscribe—“once the revolution is won.” Although this particular line of attack has been abandoned, the Sukarnoists continue to warn against those who are not true “Pantjasilaists.”
Malik told US Ambassador Jones on 19 November that his movement has the support of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the only large Moslem party which is still legal; the right wing of the National Party; and lower levels of the bureaucracy and political parties. Sukarnoist press elements have organized a “Body to Support Sukarnoism”; youth groups have organized a “Sukarnoist Student Movement”; and several non-Communist labor federations reportedly have banded together in an “undercover body” to support Sukarnoism. The labor groups feel they must keep their organization secret to avoid attack by the PKI. Malik feels that for the time being the movement must remain a loose coalition.
Whether the Sukarnoists have the extensive support they claim cannot be verified. For the most part only the statements of Djakarta politicians are available. There is a large but disparate body of non-Communist opinion in Indonesia, however, which would rally if given a safe opportunity. By early November in North Sumatra, at least, newspapers were cautiously echoing the new line from Djakarta.
Sukarno apparently is willing to see how the situation develops. According to Malik, a NU official on 18 November requested and received Sukarno’s consent to “endorse non-Communist ideas” in a speaking tour of East and Central Java. Sukarno is said to have questioned the NU leader closely about the new movement’s support, and the official reportedly told him that the NU is fully backing the new force.
Probably as a result of this meeting and reports about it, support for Sukarnoism during the next few days began to mushroom. Two military leaders—Minister for Defense General Nasution and Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Martadinata—spoke openly in its behalf. Army leaders, initially sympathetic but circumspect toward the new movement, are now making statements which, while not specifically supporting it, obviously align them with the Sukarnoists. Minister of Information Achmadi, who earlier had opposed it, reportedly told Sukarnoist supporters in North Sumatra to ignore attacks and to spread the doctrine [Page 191]but to preserve national unity. Even First Deputy Prime Minister Subandrio, who has tried to curry favor with the PKI for the past year and a half, reportedly received a Sukarnoist delegation, was “very friendly,” and gave “valuable advice.” Parliament, scheduled to open on 3 December, has postponed its next session until the second quarter of 1965. The change may have been arranged to avoid an early showdown between the PKI and the Sukarnoists.
The PKI, with its allies in the left wing of the National Party, for the time being is on the defensive. It has labeled Sukarnoism a disguise for “Communist phobia”—a favorite term of Sukarno’s—and has stressed that the anti-PKI campaign developed behind Sukarno’s back while he was out of the country. It charges that Sukarnoism is an attempt to displace NASAKOM, Sukarno’s term for the cooperation of nationalist, religious, and Communist elements.
Prospects of the Sukarnoists seem to depend largely on the President. Although he is opposed to divisive political tendencies, Sukarno is at the same time ever willing to find effective pro-Sukarno elements that can be used in his political balancing game. In view of his preoccupation with his own political position and his possible concern that the PKI is pushing too hard, the successful development of Sukarnoism may be of interest to him. He could be willing to overlook for a time the fact that there are elements within Sukarnoist ranks whom he distrusts and whom he has considered expelling from the recognized political scene.
A major factor in Sukarno’s permissive attitude toward the new anti-PKI group may be his hope that he can use it in maneuvering to schedule new talks on the Malaysia issue, and he may even believe he can use it to get economic assistance from the West.
Sukarnoist spokesmen are urging the US Embassy to take steps to encourage UK-Indonesian or Indonesian-Malaysian talks. They state that unless the Malaysia issue is peacefully settled, the new non-Communist movement will be smothered in the continuing anti-Malaysia clamor, and efforts to remedy Indonesia’s deteriorating economy will continue to be frustrated. Although Sukarnoist leaders have identified themselves with the Malaysia confrontation, they seem to be trying to change its emphasis from a politico-military to a politico-economic one as a means of pressing national economic development. Although the Sukarnoists are not necessarily being directed by Sukarno to approach the Americans, their needs and strategy for the moment coincide with his.
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Indonesia, Vol. III, 9/64–2/65, [2 of 2]. Secret. Prepared in the Office of Current Intelligence.