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Indonesia announces Konfrontasi (Confrontation) 20th Jan 1963

Konfrontasi (or Confrontation, 1963–1966) was Indonesia’s response to the formation of the Federation of Malaysia, arising from the British decolonisation process in Southeast Asia.[1] Konfrontasi involved armed incursions, bomb attacks and other subversive acts aimed at destabilising the states that were to be included in the Federation, namely, Singapore, Malaya, Sarawak, Brunei and North Borneo (now known as Sabah).[2]

When the concept of Malaysia was first mooted publicly by Malayan Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman in May 1961, the Indonesian government initially did not raise any objections. It began to express opposition to the Malaysia proposal shortly after the Brunei Revolt of December 1962.[3] The revolt, staged by insurgents opposed to Brunei joining Malaysia, was quickly crushed by British forces. On 20 January 1963, the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Dr Subandrio, announced a policy of Konfrontasi towards Malaysia. While there were intermittent attempts at reaching a political understanding, Indonesian troops began engaging in a series of cross-border raids into Malaysian territory.[4] The first recorded infiltration of Indonesian forces was in April 1963 when a police station at Tebedu, near Kuching, the capital of Sarawak, was attacked.[5] Indonesian infiltrators also started spreading propaganda.[6]

From then, until Malaysia came into being in September 1963, Indonesia criticised the Malaysia plan as a British “neo-colonialist project” and a threat to their country’s security. The Manila Conferences (7—11 June 1963) had held out hopes of an amicable compromise. But these hopes were dashed after a series of incidents that led Indonesia to accuse Malaysia of a “breach of the Manila Agreements”.[7] In May 1963, then Indonesian President Sukarno and the Tunku held talks in Tokyo. The Tunku agreed that a referendum would be held in the three territories before the Federation was formed, while Sukarno promised that he would not oppose the Federation if the people of North Borneo supported it. However, the Tunku signed the London Agreement on 9 July 1963 in which it was settled that the Federation of Malaysia would be formed on 31 August 1963. Konfrontasi was intensified following the announcement of a “ganyang Malaysia” or “Crush Malaysia” campaign by Sukarno on 27 July 1963.[8]

On 16 September 1963, the Federation of Malaysia was formed. Two days later, rioters burned the British Embassy in Jakarta and ransacked the homes of Singapore representatives and the Singapore trade office. [9] Cross-border incursions into Sarawak and Sabah, which ceased to be British territories, escalated. Indonesia also began raids in Singapore and the Malaysian Peninsula. Singapore was hit by a wave of bomb explosions with the first bomb attack just eight days after it joined Malaysia.[10]

1. Koh, T., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The Encyclopedia (p. 141). Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board. Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]
2. National Library Board. (2008). The Indonesian-Malaysian Confrontation written by Marsita Omar. Retrieved from Singapore Infopedia.
3. Mackie, J. A. C. (1974). Konfrontasi: The Indonesia-Malaysia dispute, 1963–1966 (p. 3). Kuala Lumpur; New York: Oxford University Press. Call no.: RSING 327.5950598; Dewi Fortuna Anwar. (1994). Indonesia in ASEAN: Foreign policy and regionalism. (p. 23) New York: St. Martin's Press; Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Call no.: RSING 327.598059 ANW
4. National Library Board, 2008; Koh, 2006, p.141.
5. Clutterbuck, R. L. (1984). Conflict and violence in Singapore and Malaysia: 1945–1983 (p. 279). Singapore: G. Brash. Call no.: RSING 959.57 CLU-[HIS]
6. Koh, 2006, p.141.
7. Mackie, 1974, p. 3.
8. Koh, 2006, p.141; National Library Board, 2008; Dewi Fortuna Anwar, 1994, pp. 23–24.
9. Clutterbuck, 1984, p. 279; Koh, 2006, p.141.
10. Koh, 2006, p.141; National Library Board, 2008; Bloodworth, D. (1986). The Tiger and the Trojan Horse (pp. 273–274). Singapore: Times Book International. Call no. RSING 320.95957 BLO


The information in this article is valid as at Dec 2015 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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