Indonesia National Day

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Indonesia's original national flag paraded for the first time in decades for independence day

The original flag, which was first hoisted on August 17, 1945, was sewn by then First Lady Fatmawati, the first wife of late President Sukarno

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2016, 2:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 August, 2016, 5:14pm

For the first time in decades, Indonesia’s original national flag was paraded to the presidential palace on Wednesday, to mark the country’s independence day holiday.

The flag, which is popularly known as “bendera pusaka”, or “sacred flag”, was paraded from Merdeka (Freedom) Square, the location of the National Monument, which symbolises the fight for independence, to the Merdeka Presidential Palace, where the annual independence day ceremony, led by President Joko Widodo, was taking place.

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Together with the original text of the Independence Proclamation, the flag was brought in a horse-drawn carriage, escorted by a flag-hoisting team consisting of the best students in the country and cavalry troops. The event was watched by thousands of Indonesians along the way.

The original flag, which was first hoisted on August 17, 1945, was sewn by then-first lady Fatmawati, the first wife of late President Sukarno, in 1944, a year before the end of the war. She had sewn it by hand as the Japanese occupying forces had banned the use of sewing machines.

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The red and white cloth for the original was provided by Hitoshi Shimizu, the head of Senden-bu, or the Department of Propaganda, of the Japanese forces, following an announcement by then Japanese Prime Minister Kuniaki Koiso, who promised to give independence to Indonesia “some day”.

Japan’s occupation of Indonesia ceased with its surrender at the end of the second world war on August 15, 1945. Sukarno declared independence two days later, marking the start of Indonesia’s breakaway from nearly 150 years of Dutch colonial rule.

As the flag was showing signs of ageing, it was not hoisted again after the independence day ceremony of 1968. A replica, made of silk, had been used since then.