Soekarno, his exile in Ende and Pancasila

It was here in the Dutch Landraad courthouse in Bandung in 1930 that Soekarno gave his famous speech against colonialism, ‘Indonesia Menggugat’ or ‘Indonesia Accuses’ in the Dutch courtroom.


The Dutch Landraan courthouse in Bandung   photo – Ian Burnet

Here he is along with his fellow accused and their lawyers. Soekarno was never allowed to complete his statement to the court, proceedings were abandoned, and he was ultimately sentenced to four years in prison.


Soekarno with his co-accused and their lawyers

The building has since been restored as a museum dedicated to the memory of Soekarno and the three other leaders who were sentenced with him. In a beautiful touch of irony the restored building was officially opened by his daughter President Megawati Soekarno in 2002.

P1030339 - Copy

photo – Ian Burnet

Still a determined republican, Soekarno was subsequently sent into internal exile in the town of Ende on the south coast of Central Flores where he and his family lived from 1934 until 1938. This photo shows a family group in front of his house in Ende with Soekarno standing on the right behind his wife Inggit.

Soekarno House Ende

After he became president the house was restored as a memorial, it still includes historic items from this same period and has become the main tourist attraction in Ende. Here is a photo of the house before an ugly statue of Soekarno had been placed in the front garden.

Soekarno House Ende restored



photo – Ian Burnet

About 700 meters from Soekarno’s house, was a breadfruit tree that directly faced Ende Beach. It is known that Soekarno often sat here to contemplate whilst envisioning a united country that would be called Indonesia. Indonesia’s First President claimed that it was on this very spot that the concept of Pancasila, the philosophical foundation of the Republic of Indonesia was conceived. Pancasila is recognized and accepted as the 5 Principles on which the Indonesian State and Nation are founded. Today, the Birth of Pancasila is commemorated every year on 1st of June, which is also a national holiday.


The Soekarno Statue, the  memorial pond and the breadfruit tree       photo – Ian Burnet

A Memorial Pond with a statue of a contemplating Soekarno have been constructed in the public gardens on this site where the five principles of Pancasila were first conceived. Comprising of two ancient Javanese words originally derived from Sanskrit: “pañca” (“five”) and “sīla” (“principles”), Pancasila is composed of five principles that are inter-related and inseparable from one another, these are:

1. Ketuhanan Yang Maha Esa (Belief in the One Supreme God)
2. Kemanusiaan Yang Adil dan Beradab (A Just and Civilized Humanity)
3. Persatuan Indonesia (The Unity of Indonesia)
4. Kerakyatan Yang Dipimpin oleh Hikmat Kebijaksanaan, Dalam Permusyawaratan Perwakilan (Democracy led by the inherent wisdom of concensus arising from deliberation among popular representatives)
5. Keadilan Sosial Bagi Seluruh Rakyat Indonesia (Social Justice for all the people of Indonesia.)


“In this town I found five pearls and beneath this breadfruit tree were conceived the five concepts of Pancasila”  –   Soekarno

Indonesia is a multicultural nation, a very diverse country comprised of over 17,000 islands, hundreds of ethnic groups with their different languages, cultures, religions and ways of life. Indonesia’s Founding fathers wisely decided that the State Ideology should encompass and shelter the whole spectrum of Indonesian society, in which consensus for common good must be striven for, and justice is served and met. These principles are enshired in the Pancasila. And also based on these principles, Indonesia’s National Motto became “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika”, meaning: We are Many but we are One.

Soekarno more than any other leader of the Indonesian Republican movement was aware of the differences in religions and ways of life that a united Indonesia would need to encompass. Although born in East Java and brought up as a Muslim, his mother was Balinese, a Hindu, and he loved Balinese culture. Now for the four years of his internal exile on Flores he had walked, talked and lived in a predominantly Christian community and had also learned to appreciate their values.

Indonesia Symbol 2




About ianburnet

Author of the book, Spice Islands. Which tells the History, Romance and Adventure of the spice trade from the Moluccas in Eastern Indonesia over a period of 2000 years. Author of the book, East Indies.Which tells the history of the struggle between the Portuguese Crown, the Dutch East India Company and the English East India Company for supremacy in the Eastern Seas. Author of the book 'Archipelago - A Journey Across Indonesia'. Author of the book 'Where Australia Collides with Asia' Author of the book 'The Tasman Map'. Author of the book 'Eastern Voyages'.
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5 Responses to Soekarno, his exile in Ende and Pancasila

  1. Denis O'Hara says:

    I was not aware of the Ende connection. Thanks Ian.

  2. ianburnet says:

    Most of Soekarno’s fellow revolutionaries had only eperienced life in Sumatran or Javanese Islam. Without Soekarno’s own experiences Indonesia could have easily became an Islamic state.

  3. Mark Heyward says:

    Wonderful piece, Ian. All sorts of connections for me, in addition to the obvious one of valuing the inclusivity of Pancasilla in these divisive times. I lived in Bajawa, near Ende for a couple of years and did a lot of work in Ende. I also once spent some time in the Indonesia Menggugat building in Bandung, where I acquired a very special handmade guitar. The place seemed to be operating as a kind of drop in centre for artists, activists and musos at the time. Have you been to the tomb – and the original Tugu Hotel in Blitar, where for an extra fee you can stay in the room he used to use?

    • ianburnet says:

      Thanks Mark. I was only in Bajawa for a few days but I can still taste the standard hotel breakfast of banana pancakes and local coffee. Absolutely delicious. Have also stayed in the Tugu Hotel in Blitar and paid homage to Soekarno’s room. There is also an excellent Soekarno museum in the house he purchased for his mother in Blitar. That should be the subject of another blogpost.
      I am of the opinion that without Soekarno’s personal experiences Indonesia would have been close to becoming an Islamic State.

  4. Fitrian Ardiansyah says:

    A great piece of reflection of the challenging years in the history of Indonesia. Thanks

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