Dr. Sukarno’s Speech

Address of His Excellency Dr. Sukarno, President of the Republic of Indonesia to Members of the Senate and House of Commons

In the House of Commons Chamber, Ottawa on Tuesday, June 5, 1956, at 10.20 a.m.

The President was welcomed by the Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent, Prime Minister of Canada, and thanked by the Hon. Wishart McL. Robertson, Speaker of the Senate, and the Hon. L. Rene Beaudoin, Speaker of the House of Commons.

Right Hon. L. S. St. Laurent (Prime Minister of Canada):

Mr. President, we are honoured by your presence here today, for your visit to Canada is tangible evidence of the growing friendship between our two countries. Let me assure  you, therefore, of the pleasure which your visit to Canada, to our capital and to this parliament gives us.

If I may take the liberty of making a personal reference, Mr. President, I should like to say that I still recall with the best of memories my own too brief visit to Indonesia in 1954, when you made me welcome and we first became acquainted. I join with my colleagues in the hope that your sojourn in Canada will be as pleasant and rewarding as was my own among the friendly people of Indonesia, whose gracious hospitality I shall always recall with pleasure.

Although it is true that vast distances separate our two countries geographically, there exists no such distance or distinction between the hopes and aspirations of our two peoples, We share in the hopes for the building of strong and vital nations, states well adjusted in their relations with their neighbours and anxious to be on good terms with all peoples of good will.

Canada is a young nation made up of diverse races which have brought to this continent cultures and traditions, of other lands out of which we are building a united society. Indonesia too may be proud of her own ancient peoples and traditions, of her rich cultures which today she seeks to preserve and adapt to the demands of the twentieth century. Both our peoples have inherited countries rich in natural resources which we desire to develop to improve the living standards of our peoples. We both know that national development cannot be achieved by international isolation. So we in Canada take much satisfaction in our co-operation with you in the United Nations and in the modest assistance toward your economic progress that we can make through the Colombo plan.

As parliamentarians, Mr. President, we have followed with a lively interest the events associated with the convening of Indonesia’s first elected parliament. We know something of the difficulties which were involved in conducting your first national elections last autumn and of the magnificent way in which your people overcame those difficulties. I hope that on your return to Indonesia you and the other distinguished parliamentarians who accompany you will convey our greetings to the members of your new parliament.

I am sure that my colleagues and friends are aware, Mr. President, of the high esteem in which you are held by your people. In Indonesia the name of Sukarno is synonymous with the achievement of national independence, and to a degree which would be the envy of any statesman you enjoy and richly deserve the title of father of your country.

Therefore it gives me great pleasure, Mr. President, to welcome you to the Canadian parliament. I now invite the President of the Republic of Indonesia to address us.

President Sukarno of the Republic of Indonesia:

Mr. Speaker, I am deeply grateful for this opportunity of addressing the distinguished parliament of this great country. I am also deeply grateful for the invitation which has brought myself and your other Indonesian guests to these hospitable shores.

In one very important sense Canada and Indonesia are neighbours. Your country is both an Atlantic power and a Pacific power, and travelling west from your shores the Republic of Indonesia is a neighbour of yours. Nothing is more important than knowing one’s neighbours; that is one more reason why I was so glad to receive this invitation to visit you.

I feel that there is a close link between Canada and Indonesia. Both of these countries are on the verge of a great new period of development, and I am firmly convinced that the future of both countries will bring increased prosperity and increased happiness for all mankind.

Perhaps there is another link between us. In terms of history it is not so very long since Canada released herself from colonial bonds. If I am not mistaken, the uprisings in both Upper Canada and Lower Canada in 1837 slid not immediately bring national independence, but they did bring a new political constellation, which led directly to the granting of responsible government to those colonies we now know as Canada. That new political constellation was a direct ancestor of the British North America Act which even today serves, with its amendments, as your constitution.

With us it was different. My nation still had almost one hundred years of colonialism to undergo after the Canadian people had assumed the mantle of nationhood. Our independence did not come smoothly, but it came eventually as a result of war, of enemy occupation, of revolution, and, most important, of a national struggle lasting decades. But now that great struggle is partly over. The Republic of Indonesia has joined the family of nations and seeks to play a full part in the joint tasks and joint responsibilities of that family.

Standing before the members of this parliament and before you, my thoughts inevitably fly to the far-flung homes of the Canadian people who have chosen you as their representatives and who have handed to you the responsibilities of government. I would like to convey to those people, spread over this vast country, the most sincere greetings from myself, from members of my party, and from the Indonesian people. Further, I wish to convey to you the most grateful and heartfelt thanks of the Indonesian people for your assistance in the past, and our hope that this visit will lead to even closer relations in the future. It would not be surprising if even closer relations should develop between neighbours, even though they are separated by the thousands of miles’ expanse of the Pacific ocean.

Mr. Speaker, allow me to say a few words to the French-Canadian members.


May I be permitted to say a few words to the French-Canadian members. As first citizen of my country, I feel greatly privileged to extend to you the most cordial and sincere wishes of the Indonesian people whom I have the honour of representing here. They are the wishes of a friendly nation whose ideals and interests are almost identical with yours. Such similarity is quite logical since, in all democratic countries, the roots of civilization are basically the same.

Moreover, I avail myself of this opportunity, which is unique in our history, to thank you for the warm welcome you have given me.


Mr. Speaker, it is obviously true that the land, the climate and the people are the basic elements for the making of any nation. The future of that nation depends greatly upon what is done with the land and its resources. The political future of the nation depends, it is clear, upon the organized strength of the nation, and, the social and cultural development of the nation can be measured only by the people’s victory over their environment.

Like Canada, Indonesia is a vast country. We have more than 3,000 inhabited islands and our archipelago runs from Malaya to the north of Australia. It is a vast country of 82 million people and—I do not say this in any boastful spirit—it is today the third largest democracy in the world. Our nation is young in this modern world of ours, but it does not enter the family of nations empty-handed. I know that Canada is just beginning to exploit the great wealth bestowed by God upon this country: we of Indonesia are in the same position. The difference between us is that Canada’s great natural wealth could not be exploited until science and technology had reached their present level. Indonesia’s natural wealth could have been exploited—to the benefit of humanity—long ago. But we laboured under colonialism.

Now we can see no limit to the possibilities of development. It is no exaggeration to say that even we of Indonesia do not know the wealth of our country. It is no exaggeration to say that many of the islands composing our archipelago have e hardly been explored, let alone exploited. When modern technology and modern science are devoted to the task of extracting the maximum from those islands, then I say with no fear of contradiction that Indonesia will contribute very, very greatly to the material well-being of this interdependent world of ours.

Furthermore, it is my belief that Indonesia and the other newly reborn countries of Asia and Africa have other gifts to bring to the world. I would like to quote to you a passage—a very short passage, but a very important passage—from a booklet distributed by the Canadian government. This booklet was distributed three years ago throughout the countries of Southeast Asia and, speaking of Asia, it stated that:

Although we may have something to give and to teach, we have also much to receive and to learn. In this vast country of ours, we have found out how we may live and prosper, but from the east, with its ancient cultures, we have much to learn of the abiding things that bring comfort and delight to the mind and heart.

Mr. Speaker, that may well be true. What is equally true is that from the east also can come great material benefit, material benefit for all countries, material benefit
both for the west and the east, material benefit for the whole world.

I know that it is a truism to talk of the interdependence of nations; I know that almost every speaker today refers to this, but it is sometimes difficult to appreciate just what it means in cold reality. The government of Canada has obviously a real understanding of the position: this is shown clearly by the fact that each year Canada contributes more than $25 million to the Colombo plan. As the representative of a country, and as the representative of a nation benefiting from this aid, I know what the Colombo plan means and, please believe me, I express the gratitude of my people for this example of the brotherhood of nations and the interdependence of mankind.

We are indeed grateful for all assistance which comes to us, from whatever quarter of the globe it may come. We struggled long for our national identity. We love that national identity, we hold that national identity dear as life itself. We aim, therefore, above all things, to maintain and preserve that national identity. I assure you in all seriousness: nothing will ever take that from us. No hope or promise of quick reward will persuade us to barter one scrap of our independence, for to us that independence, that national independence, is more precious than any other thing in this world.

When I first set foot in the United States I expressed my hope of observing America, amongst other things, as a state of mind. It is important that Asia and Africa be seen as a state of mind. And what is that Asian and African state of mind? Essentially it is the determination that the nations of Asia and Africa develop their own national reality. I use the word "reality" advisedly, because a nation is a reality.

Who could doubt that after observing the post-war world? In particular, perhaps, who could doubt that after observing the Asian and African conference which was held in Bandung a year ago? That great and historic meeting of twenty-nine states showed clearly the path of history in this post-war and troubled world. Representatives of more than half of mankind, pre-representatives of 1,600 million people, met together in one of Indonesia’s mountain cities, and discussed problems common to them all.

Those national representatives of Asia and Africa discussed the basic problem of where their nations stood in this modern world. I know that it is not necessary for me to tell you of the result of that conference. You know that a long and all-embracing resolution was unanimously adopted. That result answered the basic question of where those nations stood. It answered the question of what the peoples of Asia and Africa sought and desired. Those assembled representatives of the majority of mankind clearly expressed their opposition to colonialism in all its forms. That is a basic fact in the mid-twentieth century.

Above all things, this is the period of Asian and African nationalism. This is the era when the old conditions, the old and hated pattern of world society is undone. Who can be surprised by the fact that colonialism, whatever form it assumes, whatever mask it may hide behind, however it may disguise itself, is indeed a hateful and a disgusting thing? I will tell you this: colonialism left Indonesia with a heritage of illiteracy, a heritage of human sickness, of human ignorance, of human degradation, which was a disgrace and a menace to the twentieth century. We had the highest illiteracy rate in the world. We had the highest mortality rate in the world. We had the lowest living standard in the whole world: one “goband” a day, two and a half guilder-cents a day—not even one dollar-cent a day. Our country was rich, but its wealth did not serve to alleviate the misery and ignorance of our people. Having achieved independence, we still feel the consequences of 350 years of colonialism. And those consequences are not light ones.

Illiteracy, sickness which science has long known how to control, technical backwardness, great social inequality, great economic backwardness, were our inheritance, but under a national government, under a government dedicated to the uplifting and progress of our people, these things are not insupportable or unchangeable.

Just eleven years ago almost all of our people were illiterate; today less than half of our people are illiterate. Perhaps it may seem that I am boasting. I do not intend to boast, but I am immensely proud of the achievement in this field, and I am immensely proud of our national progress in other fields. We a nation previously numbered amongst the voiceless and the unconsidered in the world, a nation previously numbered amongst the unregarded—we have, for example, but recently completed, to our great satisfaction, the very first general election in our country. This is a considerable achievement, and I am proud of it. I am proud of it because it shows a degree of political progress which could hardly have been expected of a nation which only eleven years ago was not even considered by the world.

We elected, under conditions of universal suffrage and secret ballot, a parliament and a constituent assembly. Although I know well that those things alone are not a guarantee of democracy, I know equally well that without those things democracy cannot exist. We have chosen, and chosen after proper consideration, the democratic path to national fulfilment and national emancipation. We have chosen the path of Pantja Sila, the five principles of our state. They are: Belief in God; nationalism; humanitarianism; democracy, and, last of all, social justice. It is our belief that this path will lead us most rapidly to the full and useful life which every nation ought to contribute and enjoy in our present-day world.

We all know that there is more than one road to participation in the world’s affairs. We have chosen this Pantja Sila road. It is our sincere hope, our most sincere hope, that it will lead to success.

I am told that people are sometimes surprised at our attitude toward certain international problems in the world. We do not automatically accept the views of any group of people. We do not join in any military organization. We intend to be ourselves. It is true, it is very true, that we are enthusiastic members of the United Nations, and we see in the United Nations the faint outlines of a future world organization. We call our foreign policy not a "neutral" foreign policy; we call our foreign policy "independent" and "active". We call it so because we take an independent line in accordance with what we see as the best interests of the world and our own nation, and we act upon that.

One of the draftsmen of Canada’s greatness, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, said in the year 1900:

I claim for Canada this: that in future Canada shall be at liberty to act or not to act.

In those words that great prime minister, that architect of the future, summed up the foreign policy which we of Indonesia choose to follow today.

We seek to follow a policy which will give the greatest benefit to all mankind, and if that foreign policy should sometimes run counter to what you believe and act upon, believe me when I say that what we do and how we vote is dictated by our ideals, and not by any spirit of opposition.

Yes, we are separated, as I said, by the Pacific ocean. But we are also joined by the Pacific ocean. We are neighbours, and nothing is more important than that neighbours should understand each other. I have not come to your vast country to negotiate any treaty. I have come with the hope that this short visit of mine will lead to a better understanding between our nations. If this should be so, I will be well content. You have a great future with your neighbour and friend to the south, the United States of America, that vast country which I so recently visited. There is a saying that "an unseen frontier of friendship" exists between Canada and the United States. It is my prayer that between us of Indonesia and this country of Canada a similar frontier of friendship may develop and grow strong.

Again I say, if our .foreign policy should sometimes run counter to what you believe in or act upon, it is dictated by our ideals and not by a spirit of opposition. So let our friendship be strong.

Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen, I beg you, do not underestimate the force of the nationalist torrent which is today pouring over Asia and Africa. It is a mighty torrent, and one thing is certain; we are in the midst of an historical change which is vital for the whole future of mankind. It is a nationalist torrent, and that torrent is not directed against anyone or any nation. It is a torrent whose object is the greater freedom, the greater liberation, of mankind. I say this in all seriousness: any attempt to stand against that torrent will be vain, just as every attempt ever undertaken to stand against an historical process has been vain. This torrent is directed only against the outworn principle of colonialism. You may call it a destructive torrent, but it is one which is destructive only of colonialism and one which will lead to a greater and wider horizon of freedom for all men everywhere and in every country. In the framework of history it is constructive and progressive.

Today most of my own country is free, most of my own nation is enjoying the fruit of independence, but to our sorrow and continued dissatisfaction a part of our nation and country still suffers under colonialism, that plague on mankind’s fulfilment. West Irian—perhaps you know it better as West New Guinea—is still unfree. Until West Irian is rejoined to the rest of my country Indonesia will feel herself incomplete and insecure. There can be ne question that West Irian is part of Indonesia, and indeed until 1950 no one in the world would have dreamed of denying that fact. Until we are united with our still unfree brethren we of Indonesia will never be content, because we know just what colonialism means in terms of human unhappiness, in terms of human misery and human degradation.

In this world of ours, troubled and uneasy though it is, there is still much success and many gains for the peace and security of men. Whatever we have gained has been won because man’s understanding of other men as brothers has increased.

This is essential. Mankind the world over is basically the same, whatever -cultural or ideological details may appear to divide it. Understanding and sympathy are necessary. Active understanding and active sympathy will help relieve the strains and tensions in the world. This is really my message to you. Give us your understanding and your sympathy. Give us, if you can, your active understanding and your active sympathy. If you do that, and if we of Asia and Africa retain that active sympathy and understanding, then the future of the world can indeed be bright. Yes, mankind is basically the same, whatever racial or ideological details may appear to divide it. Why should mankind divide itself? Look, Indonesia is a country with many religions and many faiths. We have in Indonesia Moslems, we have Christians, we have Civa-Buddhists, we have peoples of other creeds. We have many ethnic units, such as Javanese, Achinese, Balinese, Madurese, Sundanese, etc. But, thank God, we have our will to unity.

We try to practise our state motto "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika", which means "Unity in Diversity". We are tolerant to each other, we are one nation. One of the most remarkable phenomena in modern history is that we of Indonesia, although living on 3,000 islands, are united in one nation, without pressure, without compulsion, without civil war.

What, then, is our unifying force? It is the will to unity, it is "le désir d’être ensemble", instead of suspecting each other, dominating each other, threatening each other and colonizing each other—living at each other’s expense.

We of Indonesia try to practise "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" amongst ourselves. Let us try to practise `Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" amongst nations.

Then, only then, can we look up again to the stars and say, "Thank God, for You have given us this world, and we have lived according to Your word."

Hon. Wishart McL. Robertson (Speaker of the Senate):

May I, Mr. President, thank you on behalf of the Senate of Canada for coming to us and for the eloquent and inspiring address you have just delivered.

We realize that you are the first head of an Asian state who has ever visited this parliament. We were disposed to extend to you a hearty welcome, for your reputation had preceded you. We were disposed as well to extend that hearty welcome because of the great respect we have for the Indonesian minister in Canada, and extend that welcome on the part of all those who have come under the charm and influence of his personality.

We are more honoured and pleased on this occasion, Mr. President, because Indonesia, although a young nation as the age of states is reckoned, has become a leader of that community of nations in Asia and Africa which are newly independent or just emerging to take their rightful place in the family of free nations. It was just over a year ago that the achievements of the Asian-African conference held in Bandung, Indonesia, brought dramatically to the attention of the whole world the fact that a new and powerful force was present in world affairs. We welcome this new force which is based on the independence and equality of the people of Asia and Africa. There has long existed among the people of Canada sympathy and understanding for the aspirations of countries like Indonesia which are engaged in the great task of creating new nations out of ancient civilizations.

You, sir, have been a most powerful spokesman not only for Indonesia but for that larger community of which Indonesia forms a part. We leave this chamber with a clearer understanding of the important matters with which you have dealt and we sense that, great as may be the geographical distances which separate our two countries, we are close in mind and heart. We would ask you particularly, Mr. President, to convey to your parliamentarians and the people of your country generally our warmest expressions of esteem and friendship.

Indonesia is the world’s sixth most populous nation, and her natural beauties and resources are justly famous. She may be proud, Mr. President, of her accomplishments at home and her reputation abroad. We wish her well in all her future undertakings.

Hon. L. Rene Beaudoin (Speaker of the House of Commons):


Mr. President, right hon. Prime Minister, hon. Speaker of the Senate, hon. members of the Senate, hon. members of the House of Commons, ladies and gentleman:

While listening this morning to the President of the Republic of Indonesia, who enjoys such prominence and popularity in his own country, because of his struggle for her independence, and especially because of the well-deserved success he has achieved as a result of perseverance and courage, I recalled a statement once made by a Canadian writer to the effect that the spirit of independence is deeply rooted in the heart of peoples. And if, under certain circumstances, and by virtue of certain historic rights, that spirit is sometimes subjected to equitable laws, it is nonetheless true to the laws of nature and to common aspirations that societies develop in the sense of their autonomy.

This same struggle to which you referred a while ago, Mr. President, we have experienced at home, albeit without clash, or blow, and, especially, without bitterness, so that here, that is to say in the commonwealth, the symbol of the crown and the good will of all parties are the only bonds which make it a united whole.

While listening to you, Mr. President, we noted that your problems were quite different from ours, though quite as complex. Canada, which is a sovereign country, has always avoided interference in the domestic problems of other countries, and so we are in a position to wish for you, and to hope with you, that they may all be solved in accordance with your wishes, for the greatest good and prosperity of your country whose noble aspirations you symbolize so admirably.

In this task you are ably supported by your Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ruslan Abdulgani, whose presence at your side I note with pleasure.


To you, Mr. President, to your able Minister of Foreign Affairs and to the people of Indonesia, may I express the best wishes of the Canadian people and of the members of this house, and also the sincere hope that you will be successful in all your worthy enterprises till you have fulfilled your cherished ideals.

Top Navigation