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Federation of the East Indies (Twilight of a New Era)

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Federation of the East Indies
Bond van Oost-Indië
Federasi Hindia

Timeline: Twilight of a New Era

OTL equivalent: Indonesia
Flag of the Federation of the East Indies Coat of arms of Dutch East Indies
Flag Coat of Arms
LocationIndonesia (TNE)
Location of Federation of the East Indies

Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Old Javanese, loosely translated as Unity in Diversity, but literally means (Although) in pieces, yet One. (Dutch, Malay and Javanese)

(and largest city)
Batavia (Malay: Jakarta)
Other cities Bandung, Jogjakarta City, Semarang, Surabaja and Palembang
Dutch, Malay and Javanese
  others Sundanese, Madurese, Minangkabau, Chinese and other state languages
Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism and Judaism (officially recognized)
  others Animism
Ethnic Groups
  others Sundanese, Europeans, Indo (Indo-European), Malay, Chinese, Madurese, Batak, Bugis, Minangkabau, Arab and others
Demonym Indonesian
Government Federation
Queen of the Netherlands
Area 1,919,443 km²
Population 60,700,200 
Established 1928
Currency Netherlands Indies gulden (NIƒ)
Organizations Commonwealth of States (1933) and Benelux (association agreement 1936)

The Federation of the East Indies (Bond van Oost-Indië / Federasi Hindia) is a Dutch colony and later a founding member of the Commonwealth of States. It is an archipelago comprising thousands of islands and shares land borders the Kingdom of Sarawak, British North Borneo, and the Melanesian Territories (former Territories of Papua and New Guinea).

Before 1928, It was know has the Dutch East Indies, or Netherlands East Indies, (Dutch: Nederlands-Indië; Malay: Hindia-Belanda). Nationalist groups refer to it as the Federation of Indonesia (Bond van Indonesië / Federasi Indonesia).

The Dutch East Indies was formed from the nationalized colonies of the former Dutch East India Company that came under the administration of the Netherlands in 1800. During the nineteenth century, Dutch possessions in the archipelago and its hegemony were expanded, reaching their greatest extent in the early twentieth century.

From Colony to Autonomy

The great Asian colony of the Netherlands would be marked by the Ethical Policy (Ethische Politiek) since 1901. This would start major works irrigation programs, the introduction of banking services for the native population, and subsidies for native industries and handicrafts. Transmigration from over-populated Java to the less densely populated areas of Sumatra and Borneo (and West New Guinea in the 1930s), beginning with government-sponsored schemes from 1905 onwards. In the opening of Western education to indigenous Indonesians unlike the colonies of United Kingdom and the French Union the East Indies lagged behind in number of educational establishments and personal in relation to its population. This lead to establishment of primary schools in every village, secondary education schools in the major cities of the provinces and the opening of new higher education institutions.

After World War I, the Netherlands was in a state of bankruptcy and in need of a fast reconstruction. Immigration of workers was necessary to the Metropolis. They were outline plans to more fully integrate the East Indies in the reconstruction effort. The purchase of East Timor from Portugal was made in 1923, becoming a new province of the East Indies.

In 1920 it was formed the Volksraad has a measure of limited self-government (approval of colonial budget and propose legislation) and Dutch government agreement that at some, unspecified point in the future, Indonesians would be granted complete self-rule. Initial composition was of 30 indigenous people, 25 dutch and 5 Chinese. In its first meeting group of its deputies issued the Home Rule Petition to the Governor-General and the Government of the Netherlands. It was rejected because it was considered that the Indonesians were not yet ready for independence, even within the Dutch commonwealth. This rejection encouraged the incipient nationalist movement to be more radical.

A series nonviolent actions and violent riots in East Indies that started in 1922. The would force an amendment where half of its members were to be directly elected in 1924. However nascent nationalist movement would consider this insufficient and would proceed with its agenda of autonomy. The mass pressures in the East Indies along a possibility of having a movement similar to the Indian arose the need to address the issue has swiftly has possible. The name of Indonesia begins to appear among local political movements has the alternative name for the Dutch East Indies.

A major turning point was the decision of liberals and socialdemocrats in the Netherlands to push for the autonomy of the East Indies. A round table to consult the issue with Indonesians was called at the end of 1926. A government proposal was presented to the Staten-Generalen of the Netherlands. In 1928, after a long debate and refusal from various political and social forces to consider the idea, the Charter of the Federation of the East Indies (Statuut voor de Bond van Oost-Indië) giving ample internal autonomy and federalizing was approved.

Geleide Ontwikkeling and Kebangkitan Nasional Indonesia

From 1928 the new period is characterized by the Dutch Planned Development (Dutch: Geleide ontwikkeling) and the Indonesian National Awakening (Malay: Kebangkitan Nasional Indonesia). the Geplande ontwikkeling would be characterized by the enlighten paternalism (verlicht paternalisme, in Dutch) from colonial authorities.The colonial administration will most of time be filled and staffed by bureaucrats and authorities that sympathize with liberalism. They will actively promote the advancement of East Indies and economical development and reforms to bring East Indian society in the path of the West by the principles of principles of positivism, rationalism and secularism. The caste system was to be broken up and the superiority of civil law promoted. It will also mark the breakup with religious groups such has Muslims. The economic crisis would almost mark the downfall of this policy. The discovery of oil, some would say miracle, and the revenue from it would be able to push the policy forward.

The Indonesian National Awakening would mark the start of the promotion of local cultures. Formalization of Indonesian, a standardized form of Malay in the East Indies, has the lingua franca, along the official Dutch language. Literacy campaigns in all states. In religious affairs the Governor-General creates a religious office to deal with the recognized religions in the archipelago (Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism and Judaism). The Islamic authorities, co-opted by the Dutch since will start organizing themselves in cultural and religious associations, promote and built schools and universities, and social welfare networks. However the threats of the Russian revolution, the Chinese Revolution and Civil War would impose special police laws to address possible subversion and restrict in some cases political activity.

Politically the nationalist camp is divided in various sector. The principal mass organizations of Indonesia nationalism currents seek further home rule or a possible independence from the Netherlands. This camp distinguishes between a populist wing and a socialist/communist left wing. Of importance are also the Javanese, Bali, groups in Sumatra and other ethnics in the rest of the islands that advocate more political and cultural rights inside their states where they are a majority or protection has minorities. Some nationalist circles embraced the idea of a Greater Indonesia. The Greater Indonesia (Indonesia Raya or Melayu Raya) has the means to bring the Malay people together by uniting British Malaya (Northern Borneo and Malay Peninsula) with Dutch East Indies. The proclamation of an Islamic State (Darul Islam), or at least the establishment of the Sharia law, is also the agenda of some nationalist groups in Sumatra and Java.

The Statuut

The Statuut organizes the East Indies into a federation within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. All habitants of the East Indies are declare equal before the law and federal citizenship is open to all people. The right of suffrage is granted to all men over 25 years who can read and write in Dutch or any recognized state language. The Statuut guarantees the freedom of speech, assembly, association, movement, religion, thought and right to a fair trial. Kingdom of the Netherlands keeps all powers in the defense and foreign affairs of the East Indies. It establishes a custom union between the Netherlands and East Indies. Reserved powers are the creation, fusion or dissolution of the states of the federation, citizenship, public lands, keeping and enforcing domestic peace, and to dissolve legislative and executive bodies and call for new elections when required or demanded by them. Constitutional revision is vested on mutual agreement between the Staten-Generalen of the Netherlands and the Federal Assembly of the East Indies.

The Federation of the East Indies is headed by the representative of the King in the person of the Governor-General who names the Minister-President and the Ministerial Council. The federal legislative power resides on the Federal Assembly. It is divides in the Council of the States (Raad van de Staten) and the Volksraad. The first one designated by each State Assembly and some members nominated by the Governor-General, for mandate of 8 years. The Volksraad is directly elected by means of proportional representation every 4 years and 1/5 designated by cultural and religious organizations. Any chamber of the Federal Assembly can call a vote of confidence on the Ministerial Council, however it must be approve by both chambers. Same power have the State Assemblies.

Each state is organized according to the Statuut in a Ministerial State Council designated by the State Governor (appointed by the Governor-General). The unicameral State Assembly, directly elected by proportional representation every 4 year. Local government is vested in the Town Council or District Council directly elected and the Supervisor or District Administrator (appointed by the State Governor). Some cities enjoy autonomy from the state executive and directly communicated with the Governor-General.

The judicial power is organized in the Federal Justice Council that has the supreme judicial authority. Parties have right to appeal to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands on issues of constitutionally of the Statuut and other points described in the Statuut itself with the exception of criminal justice. The State Justice Council and the District Justice Council are the second and third tier of the system. All the judges are appointed by the Governor or his representative on advice of the Council of State or State Assembly.

In the territories in Borneo and West Guinea the State Governor, names the Territorial Board. Limited legislative powers are given to Consultative Council that is integrated by one half of elected representatives and the other half named by the State Governor. The Sultanate of Yogyakarta keeps its form of government along an elected assembly. The Federal District of Batavia is given the category of autonomous city with its Council President nominated by the Governor-General on advise of the City Council.


The formation and activity of political parties and movements before 1928 was controlled and hindered by the Colonial Administration. For most of its history it prohibited nationalist and socialist activities and sponsored groups that collaborated with the authorities. However despite these restriction a party system developed, that pressure for autonomy and assume the main political role after the application of the Statuut in 1928. The main political groups are the following:

  • The National Indian Party (Dutch: Nationale Indische Party, NIP), direct successor of the Indische Party (IP). The INP is a social movement and political organisation founded in 1919 by the Indo-European (Eurasian) community of the Dutch East Indies that fought for race equality and political say in. It is the main representative of the interests of the majority of its middle class it clearly set out to also protect and uplift the most vulnerable bottom layer of Indo society.
  • Indonesian National Party (Malay: Partai Nasional Indonesia, Dutch: Indonesische Nationalistische Partij PNI / INP) is the oldest and main nationalist party. The organization's aim was economic and political independence for the Indonesian archipelago. This would be achieved by non-cooperation with the Dutch colonial regime. Several times prescribed and its leadership trialed and sentenced.
  • The Islamic Association Party (Malay:: Partai Sarekat Islam PSI) the main party representing the Islamic community of Indonesia.
  • the Chinese community divided between the Indonesian Chinese Party (Partai Tionghoa Indonesia PTI) pro independence or autnomy and more akin to Peranakan Chinese) and the Indonesia Chinese Association (chinese nationalism and more akin to Totok Chinese).
  • The Indonesian Christian Party (Malay: Partai Kristen Indonesia Parkindo) a party representing the Christian minority.
  • The Communist Party of Indonesia (Malay: Partai Komunis Indonesia, Dutch Communistische Partij van Indonesië PKI / CPI)
  • The Socialist People's Party (Malay: Partai Rakjat Sosialis; Dutch; Socialistische Volkspartij, Parsas / SVP) a merger of several socialist, labor, national communist and ex communist groups.

Internal organization of the Federation

Federation of the East Indies 1928

Map of the States, Territories and Special Territores of the Federation of the East Indies (1928)

The federation is organized in States, Territories and Special Territories.

States (Deelstaten/Negara)

  1. Aceh (in Sumatra)
  2. North Sumatra /Sumatera Utara (in Sumatra)
  3. West Sumatra /Sumatera Barat (in Sumatra)
  4. Central Sumatra /Sumatera Tengah (in Sumatra)
  5. South Sumatra /Sumatera Selatan (in Sumatra)
  6. Lampung (in Sumatra)
  7. West Java /Jawa Barat (in Java)
  8. Central-East Java /Jawa Tengah-Timur (in Java)
  9. Bali (in Java)
  10. Madura (in Java)
  11. Celebes /Sulawesi
  12. Moluccan Islands / Maluku Islands
  13. Lesser Sunda Islands / Nasu Tenggara

Territories (Gebied/Daerah)

  1. West Guinea /Guinea Barat (in New Guinea)
  2. West Borneo /Kalimantan Barat (in Borneo)
  3. South Borneo /Kalimantan Selatan (in Borneo)
  4. East Borneo /Kalimantan Timur (in Borneo)

Special Territories (Daerah istimewa)

  1. Batavia/ Jakarta (Federal District) (in Java)
  2. Sultanate of Yogyakarta (in Java)


Economically the main productions of the Dutch East Indies would be rice, soybeans, cash crops (tobacco, cocoa, jute, tea, coffee, palm oil, indigo and sugar), spices, cinchona (chief world producer), kapok fiber and oil, rubber, tin rapidly becoming one of world's largest producer, oil and gas since 1930.

Has a result of the Cultivation System (Dutch: cultuurstelsel, 1830-1870) the plantation agriculture is the main economical activity. It produces the cash crops its mainly located in Java and Sumatra. Borneo and West Guinea, recently opened to settlement and colonization are major timber producers. Although, most of its economy its hunter-gatherer.

In Java and Sumatra the main industries are textile and clothing manufacturing, food processing, metals, cement, paper products, fertilizer, and transportation equipment. The principal employer in the petrochemical industry is Royal Dutch Shell.

The official currency is the Netherlands Indies gulden (Nederlands-Indische gulden). The Oost-Indië Bank is charted institutions in charge of the emission and printing of the currency. It also manages the federal debt.

Koninklijke Nederlandsch-Indische Luchtvaart Maatschappij (English: Royal Netherlands Indian Airways) is the national airlines of Dutch East Indies.


Basic and primary education is given in:

  • ELS (Dutch: Europeesche Lagere School) - Primary School for Europeans (1-6 grade)
  • HIS (Dutch: Hollandsch-Inlandsche School) - Primary School for Natives (1-6 grade)
  • MULO (Dutch: Meer Uitgebreid Lager Onderwijs) - Middle School (7-9 Grade)
  • AMS (Dutch: Algeme(e)ne Middelbare School) - High School or College (10-12 grade)

The main higher education institution are the University of Indonesia (1936), GHS (Geneeskundige Hogeschool, 1927, medical school and former STOVIA) RHS (Rechts Hogeschool, 1924, for the training of civilian officers and servants), THB (Technische Hoogeschool te Bandung, 1920), along the state universities.

Armed forces

According to the Statuut the defense and military affairs are in charge of the Kingdom of the Netherlands thru its Ministry of Defense. In the East Indies the armed services are:

  • Royal Netherlands East Indies Army (Koninklijk Oost-Indisch Leger)
  • Royal Netherlands East Indies Air Force (Koninklijke Oost-Indisch Luchtmacht)
  • The East Indies Fleet of the Royal Netherlands Navy (Oost-Indische Vloot -Koninklijke Marine)
  • Government Navy (Gouvernementsmarine or GM) Mainly civilian and for coastal guard support of the KM. It commander is the Governor-General

The first three report to the Minister of Defense, but are locally coordinated by the East Indies Defense Board along the GM and the KOIM.

A central gendarmerie for rural zones in charge of the Royal East Indies Marechaussee (Koninklijk Oost-Indisch Marechaussee). Its in direct command of the Governor-General

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