Courtesy Reuters

Promise in Indonesia

Every historical milestone reflects the end as well as the beginning of an era, and since history is continuity in spite of change, so the beginning of an era is never a complete disengagement from the past, either materially or mentally. Such is the case now in Indonesia.

Within her short history as an independent nation Indonesia has experienced systems of government, political outlook and conduct which were more than merely different; they were contradictory. But during both those decades one man remained at the summit of the Indonesian political scene: Sukarno. His character is by no means easy to describe because of its many ambiguities. He is a man who loves the mysteries of the night's darkness, but none the less can enjoy the freshness of a bright day; who knows how to add flavor to protocol by breaking formal rigidities with touches of human interest; who smiles or snubs as he expresses his vivid joys or sorrows to others; who sometimes reveals the positive attitude of an exact scientist or, again, the intuition of an artist; who knows how to saturate the masses with emotion and hold them spellbound, but also how to control them with a minimum of gestures. During serious discussions of problems with his ministers he could appreciate humorous interruptions by high officials in the role of court jesters. My personal recollection of him is of a man rich in ideas and imagination and direct in both his sympathies and antipathies; in short, an unforgettable character.

In spite of the mistakes which Sukarno made during his period as President of the Republic, he succeeded in making himself a rallying point for the Indonesian people in general. It was not easy to build up a leadership image in a polyethnic country like Indonesia. We must admit Sukarno's skill in developing his image as Supreme Leader of the Indonesian Revolution, Extension of the People's Tongue, Bearer of the Mission of the People's Suffrage and so on. He was

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