08/17/2020, 13.50
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Low-key Independence Day celebrations due to pandemic

by Mathias Hariyadi

Indonesian independence from the Netherlands was proclaimed on 17 August 1945. Government officials take part in the flag raising ceremony dressed in traditional garments to emphasise the country’s cultural pluralism. No other public ceremony or traditional games and shows were held. For Card Suharyo, social justice is still the main concern of the Catholic Church.


Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Indonesia today held low-key celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of its independence.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo led a flag-raising ceremony in front of the presidential palace with few dignitaries and only three students.[*] No other public ceremony was held across the country.

Local communities or villages did not organise traditional games, like local variants of the tug-of-war, nor hold night-long vigils ahead of the anniversary, with locals gathering to watch shows and exhibits.

President Widodo attended the flag-raising ceremony wearing a traditional outfit from South-Central Timor Regency (East Nusa Tenggara province).

Except for soldiers and police, other state officials took part in the event wearing traditional garments from their home province, a first on Independence Day, ostensibly to boost Indonesians’ morale and nurture their colourful traditions[†] at this particularly difficult moment in time.

To honour the anniversary, the Central Bank issued new 75,000-rupee banknotes. The Catholic Church also made herself heard, although it could not celebrate any special Mass to mark the occasion.

Card Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo, archbishop of Jakarta and president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Indonesia, stressed that social justice “is still our pastoral concern, as all Indonesian bishops have always reminded us.” In particular, “social justice should be implemented by sharply reducing corruption, violence and nature’s destruction.”

In a pastoral letter, Archbishop Robertus Rubiyatmoko of Semarang said he was proud to be Indonesian, noting that Pancasila remains the fundamental basis for national unity.

The five philosophical principles of Pancasila, together with the Indonesian language, are the pillars on which Indonesian unity rests, this in a country made up of thousands of different ethnic groups.

[*] Usually the number of students is 45, picked among the country’s best and brightest.

[†] Each regency has its own language, gastronomy, customs and cultural traditions.

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