On August 17th, 1945, Indonesia declared Independence from the Netherlands. Their declaration reads in English as follows, with a total of two signatures:
WE THE PEOPLE OF INDONESIA HEREBY DECLARE THE INDEPENDENCE OF INDONESIA. MATTERS WHICH CONCERN THE TRANSFER OF POWER AND OTHER THINGS WILL BE EXECUTED BY CAREFUL MEANS AND IN THE SHORTEST POSSIBLE TIME.
DJAKARTA, 17 AUGUST 1945
IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE OF INDONESIA
The Netherlands did not recognize Indonesian Independence until 1949, ending the Revolution. In 2005, they formally recognized August 17th as Indonesian Independence day.
The Indonesian struggle for independence is a fascinating and yet rather unknown story.
The first president, Sukarno, collaborated with the Japanese after their invasion. He, like many Asian leaders, saw the Japanese as liberators against the colonizers. They weren’t much better.
What’s important about his contribution is the way he developed the Indonesian national language, adopting its basics from the standardized Malay in British Malaya. He used his position of power under the Japanese to train an Indonesian army, which would see limited service during the war itself, but naturally be used against the Dutch when they returned and the British supporting forces.
He gave a lot of speeches at the time as the puppet for the Japanese, but note has to be made that he switched his language at the time to promote more Indonesian nationalism than Japanese propaganda. He still did it, but he was laying the groundwork for Indonesian independence.
Sukarno himself was a mediocre president: like many post-independence leaders he was inclined towards delusions of grandeur. He got Indonesia involved in a Confrontation with Malaysia, purely out of a desire for a united population of Malay speakers, or at least the Borneo provinces of Sarawak and Sabah. He was notorious for being promiscuous and somewhat corrupt. His apparent lack of strength against the Chinese-Indonesian Communists is part of what led to the military coup which let Suharto take power and crush them rather brutally.
Like many mediocre independence leaders, he’s glorified anyway because of his leadership role.