Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Wati's interviw with the China press on Pancasila and Peaceful Coexistence

In the April 29th post I mentioned that Wati was being interviewed by a Beijing newspaper because of her father Roeslan Abdulgani’s involvement with the development of the Five Principles of Pancasila under President Suharto.  It has been suggested that the five principles of Peaceful Coexistence, whose 60th anniversary in China was celebrated on June 27, had partly originated as the Indonesian state philosophy of Pancasila. 

Dr H Roeslan Abdulgani rose through Indonesia's political ranks to become one of the country's most important policy-makers, and a trusted aide to President Sukarno. Wati has written a biography of her father called A Fading Dream: The Story of Roeslan Abdulgani and Indonesia (2003). (available on Amazon at

The interview was published this week in, a news clearinghouse for media including China Today, the Beijing Review, Women of China,, China News and Report, CCTV and others.

Interview: Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence serve as guiding light in int'l diplomacy: Indonesian expert

June 27, 2014
The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence formulated in 1954 are important norms and should serve as a guiding light in international diplomacy then and now, Indonesian expert Wati Knapp has said.

Wati Knapp, daughter of Ruslan Abdulgani, secretary-general of the 1955 Bandung Conference and former Indonesian foreign minister, is a specialist on China and commutes from China to Indonesia.

Wati, also a people-to-people diplomat, told Xinhua recently that the five principles, though raised long time ago, still have meaningful impact and should be adhered to by the international community.

The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence advocated by China, Myanmar and India 60 years ago stand for mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non- aggression, mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and cooperation for mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence.

In 1955, the principals were widely accepted at the Asia-Africa Conference in Indonesia's Bandung City and became part of the 10- point Bandung Declaration on Promotion of World Peace and Cooperation.

Wati said every free nation should respect the system of government that each independent country has chosen. "Any free country has the right to decide the best system of its government in accordance with local situation, culture, faith and tradition," she said.

Wati, who had traveled China with her father as early as 1955, said China is one of the countries that carry the torch and a forerunner of the Bandung spirit.

Wati noted that China's continuously implementation of the five principles in the past decades has been proved good and it will continue to show the five principles are still relevant today.
Asked about the conflicts in some parts of the world, Wati said conflict always has something to do with the expansion of territory and ideology including faith, belief or religion.

The five principles are always valid in solving these conflicts, she said.

The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence,
·       Mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty.
·       Mutual non-aggression.
·       Mutual non-interference in each other's internal affairs.
·       Equality and cooperation for mutual benefit.
·       Peaceful co-existence.

The Five Principles of Pancasila:
·       the belief in the divinity of God
·       justice and humanity
·       the unity of Indonesia
·       Representative Democracy
·       Social justice

The 1945 Indonesian Constitution set forth Pancasila as “the embodiment of basic principles of an independent Indonesian state,” although the principle of the belief in the “all-oneness of God” did promote the ratifiers to change some language that promoted religious freedom, and that gives the incoming President the right to swear-in to office via a “promise,” not mentioning God at all.  Pak Roeslan was one of Sukarno’s advisors during this alteration and development process.

Indonesia's second president, Suharto, was a strong supporter of Pancasila. However, “after initially being careful not to offend sensitivities of Muslim scholars who feared Pancasila might develop into a quasi-religious cult, Suharto secured a parliamentary resolution in 1983 which obliged all organisations in Indonesia to adhere to Pancasila as a basic principle. He also instituted a Pancasila indoctrination program (Penataran P4) that all Indonesians, from primary school students to office workers, had to regularly attend. In practice, however, the vagueness of Pancasila was exploited by Suharto's government to justify their actions and to condemn their opponents as ‘anti-Pancasila’". [emphasis added.]

And this, my friends, is why attempts at legislating morality always do more harm than good.

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