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Upon Japanese surrender, Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta declared Indonesian independence on 17 August 1945, and Sukarno was appointed as first president.
Sukarno and his fellow nationalists collaborated to garner support for the Japanese war effort from the population, in exchange for Japanese aid in spreading nationalist ideas.
He blamed this for the deep poverty and low levels of education of Indonesian people under the Dutch.
Later on, as president, Sukarno remained engaged in architecture, designing the Proclamation Monument and adjacent Gedung Pola in Jakarta; the Youth Monument (Tugu Muda) in Semarang; the Alun-alun Monument in Malang; the Heroes' Monument in Surabaya; and also the new city of Palangkaraya in Central Kalimantan.
Author Pramoedya Ananta Toer once wrote "Sukarno was the only Asian leader of the modern era able to unify people of such differing ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds without shedding a drop of blood." After a chaotic period of parliamentary democracy, Sukarno established an autocratic system called "Guided Democracy" in 1957 that successfully ended the instability and rebellions which were threatening the survival of the diverse and fractious country.