Languages of Security in the Asia-Pacific

College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University

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Indonesian – Kedaulatan

May 27th, 2011 · No Comments · Indonesian, Sovereignty

Kedaulatan

Relates to sovereignty; authority

‘Kedaulatan rakyat’ (people’s sovereignty) is placed in a supreme position in the Indonesian constitution.  Interestingly, the word daulat originates from a feudalistic context, i.e. expression of deference to nobility.  It transforms into a keyword for Indonesian revolution when it is made into an intransitive verb berdaulat (sovereign, independent). The word lost its popularity during Suharto’s New Order regime, as the people (rakyat) lost their political leverage vis-à-vis the state.  This was exacerbated by the association of the practice of daulat rakyat (people’s power) with the communist party as communist farmer and labour organisations reclaimed (mendaulat) and redistributed lands during the 1960s. During the revolution and Sukarno’s Old Order era, it was popularly used also as a transitive verb, mendaulat, which means ‘to spontaneously endow someone with authority” or “to force someone to do something’.  In the late 1990s, the transitive meaning of daulat was revived by NGO and pro-democracy activists to restore the people’s power (daulat rakyat) by reclaiming their rights and resources.

The explanation above suggests that the term kedaulatan (sovereignty) operates in two terrains.  In the case of Indonesian political culture, sovereignty refers to kedaulatan rakyat involving the power struggles between state and society in which the marginalized society lost and reclaimed its sovereignty from state domination. By contrast, in foreign policy it is kedaulatan negara (state’s sovereignty) that is the focus of concern, in the context for example of ASEAN’s non-intervention condition.


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