Residents of Greges, a fishing village in Surabaya, East Java, unfurl a 500-meter-long Indonesian flag during a Youth Pledge Day celebration on Sunday. (Antara Photo/Moch. Asim)

Youth Pledge Spirit Lives On


OCTOBER 28, 2019

Jakarta. The Youth Pledge, or "Sumpah Pemuda," with its patriotic refrain of "One motherland, one nation, one language: Indonesia," almost never fails to raise nationalistic fervour in Indonesians young and old. 

The pledge was first declared on Oct. 28, 1928, by young Indonesian nationalists who were attending a Youth Congress in Batavia (now Jakarta), the capital of the then Dutch East Indies.

"I'm calling on all our young people to join hands to move Indonesia forward, now and in the future," President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo tweeted on Monday.

The tweet was accompanied by a drawing of young Indonesians clenching their fist in imitation of their forebears' patriotic spirit.

"Ninety-one years may have passed, but the vow declared by Indonesian youths from across our archipelago who gathered here on Oct. 28, 1928 still echoes until today," the president said.

The Youth Pledge Day was also commemorated at the headquarters of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in South Jakarta, where deputy chairman Saut Situmorang said it should launch a momentum to eradicate rampant corruption in the country.

He said the essence of the Youth Pledge is that all Indonesians, regardless of their social status or background, share the same goals and values.

"In 1928, we already adopted a value that went beyond the limitations of the law, regulations and ethical codes. We should carry on with this value... to work hard, honestly, bravely and always with fairness to eradicate corruption," Saut said.

Meanwhile, Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan carried a Youth Pledge torch to the National Monument in Central Jakarta before leading the processions for a Youth Pledge Assembly.

"Ninety years ago, the challenge was to unite our nation. [Young people then] came up with the perfect recipe to build this country: unity. What's our biggest challenge today? Not to unite since that has already happened. Our biggest challenge now is to preserve that unity," he said. 

The governor said unity is inseparable from equality and fairness.

"Peace is not defined merely by the absence of conflicts and violence. Instead, true peace is marked with the feeling of equality among the people," Anies said.

It took two youth congresses in 1926 and 1928 before young people in the Dutch colony realized they should unite as one nation and start fighting together for independence.

Seventeen years later, Soekarno and Mohammad Hatta, both in their twenties when the Youth Pledge was declared, announced Indonesia's independence from the Japanese.