Amir Sjarifuddin

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Amir Sjarifuddin : biography

27 April 1907 – 19 December 1948

This antagonism between the government and PETA-trained officers, forced Amir to find an armed support base elsewhere He aligned himself with sympathetic Dutch-educated officers in certain divisions, such as the West Java ‘Siliwangi’ Division the command of which had been assumed by KNIL Lieutenant A.H. Nasution in May 1946. Another source of support for the new cabinet was the more educated armed pemuda sympathetic to the cabinet’s ‘anti-fascist’ approach. With an engaging personality and persuasive oratory skills, Amir had more time and aptitude than Sjahrir for party building, and he played the main part in wooing these pemuda.

Prime Ministership

A split between Amir’s and Prime Minister Sjahrir’s supporters rapidly deepened in 1947. There had long been mutual suspicion between Sjahrir and the communists who had returned from the Netherlands in 1946; the fading of the ‘anti-fascist’ cause made these suspicions more obvious. Sjahrir’s preoccupation with diplomasi, his physical isolation in Jakarta from revolution-infused Central Java, and is dislike of mass rallies allowed the more Moscow-inclined Marxists to assume more control in both the PS and Sayap Kiri. By June 1946, Sjahrir’s increasing isolation from the coalition encouraged the opposing factions to depose him. This group put their support behind Amir, the alternative PS leader. On 26 June 1947, Amir, along with two other Moscow-inclined Ministers—Abdulmadjid (PS) and Wikana (PESINDO)— backed by a majority of Sayap Kiri withdrew their support for Sjahrir. Their argument was that Sjahrir had compromised the Republic in his pursuit of diplomasi—the same charge that deposed every revolutionary government—and that in the face of Dutch belligerence, such conciliation seemed futile.

Amir courted a broad coalition but hostility from Muslim Masyumi prevented its leader, Dr Sukiman, and pro-Sjahrir ‘religious socialists’ from previous cabinets from joining the new cabinet. In July, Amir was appointed Prime Minister of the Republic. Other influential Masyumi factions, such as that of Wondoamiseno, provided support. Although Amir’s communist allies controlled about 10% of the thirty-four with Amir’s Defence Ministry their sole key one, this cabinet was the highest point of orthodox communist influence in the Revolution.Reid (1973), page 100 Amir succeeded Sutan Sjahrir as Prime MinisterVickers (2005), page 226

Following a backlash over the Renville Agreement, a disaster for the Republic for which Amir received much of the blame, PNI and Masyumi cabinet members resigned in early January 1948. On 23 January, with his support base disappearing, Amir resigns from the prime ministership. President Sukarno subsequently appoints Hatta to head an emergency ‘presidential cabinet’ directly responsible to the President and not the KNIP. The new cabinet consisted mainly of PNI, Masyumi and non-party members; Amir and the "Left Wing" are subsequently in opposition.

Dutch East Indies and Japanese Occupation

In 1937, towards the end of the Dutch period, Amir led a group of younger Marxists in the establishment of Gerindo (‘Indonesian People’s Movement’), a radical co-operating party opposed to international fascism as its primary enemy.Vickers (2005), page 226; Reid (1973), page 9 The Soviet Union’s Dmitrov doctrine had called for a common front against fascism which helped swell the number of Indonesians taking a cooperative approach with regards to the Dutch colonial administration in an attempt to secure Indonesian independence. Gerindo was one of the more significant cooperative parties in the years leading to World War II whose objectives included a fully Indonesian legislature; It had modest goals in comparison to the Dutch-suppressed radical nationalists led by the likes of Sukarno and Hatta, who Sjarifuddin had met before the War.Reid (1973), page 9 By 1940, Dutch intelligence suspected him of being involved with the Communist underground.