|Co-ordination: The Gandrung Banyuwangi Dance from Banyuwangi, East Java, Indonesia. — Photo courtesy of the Indonesian Embassy
To mark Indonesia's Independence Day, Viet Nam News presents an article by Indonesian Ambassador to Viet Nam Mayerfas.
August 17, 1945 was a long-awaited moment in Indonesia's history, and since then it has become a sacred date. We proclaimed our independence after hundreds of years of colonial rule, and the Republic of Indonesia was born after a long struggle.
The national flag of Indonesia was proudly unveiled on the same day, August 17. It is based on the banner of 13th Majapahit Empire in East Java. The flag consists of two horizontal stripes of equal size. The top strip is red and the bottom is white. The colours of the flag have special significance for the history and people of Indonesia. While red represents courage, white epitomises purity.
The Republic of Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world comprising of 13,466 large and small tropical islands fringed with white sandy beaches, many still uninhabited and some still unnamed.
Straddling the equator between Asia and Australia – and the Pacific and the Indian Oceans – it stretches as wide as the US from San Francisco to New York, or the distance from London to Moscow.
Indonesia has a total population of more than 215 million people from more than 200 ethnic groups. Because of its location and geology, Indonesia is blessed with a diverse landscape, from fertile rice fields in Java and Bali to the luxuriant rainforests of Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi, the savannah grasslands of the Nusatenggara Islands and the snow-capped peaks of West Papua.
For Indonesia and Indonesian representative offices abroad, Independence Day is a time filled with festivities and celebrations. After the flag-hoisting ceremony in the morning, people usually gather for a little friendly neighbourhood competition. The challenges include sack races and a kerupuk or cracker eating contest. One of the toughest – and most entertaining – is the palm tree climbing contest, a male-only event. Those games and activities bring the Indonesian people closer together.
On the occasion of our 70th Independence Day we would also like to congratulate Viet Nam for its 70th National Day. This year is a joyful one for both of our countries, as 60 years ago, on December 30, Indonesia and Viet Nam established our diplomatic relations. We are celebrating an important milestone in the history of our bilateral relationship, friendship and solidarity. During the last 60 years, our two countries have developed bilateral relations in all areas.
In fact, the bond between our two nations dates back even further than that. Our founding fathers, President Soekarno and President Ho Chi Minh, led our nations through hardships to win our fights for national independence. We are proud that Indonesia was the fourth country in the world and the first in South East Asia to establish diplomatic relations with Viet Nam. We have stayed good neighbours, supporting each other to improve the well-being of our peoples. Viet Nam is currently the only country in the region with which Indonesia has a strategic partnership.
There is a great deal of work to be done, and we have challenges ahead of us. We need to make use of all of the potential and opportunities our two countries could offer each other. We should exert our best efforts to strengthen the mutual understanding and contacts between our people. And most importantly, we need to make sure our close relations and fruitful co-operation benefit our people.
Indonesia and Viet Nam should grow together, with each of our countries exploring and making use of all of the potentials that we have, including our big populations, abundance of natural resources, increasing economic achievements, rising purchasing power parity, geographical closeness and strong ties as an ASEAN family. Indonesia needs Viet Nam and vice versa – not just for bilateral relations, but also on a larger scale in the region and in international forums.
With so many achievements in our bilateral relations in the last 60 years and the strong foundations laid by President Soekarno and President Ho Chi Minh, we are confident that the friendly relations between Indonesia and Viet Nam will continue to prosper in the years ahead.
Independence Day is the perfect moment to evaluate what Indonesia has achieved and our relations with Viet Nam, a close, friendly nation. — VNS