Official portrait of Soepomo
Official portrait, c. 1954
2nd Ambassador of Indonesia to
the United Kingdom
In office
Preceded bySubandrio
Succeeded bySoenario
1st Minister of Justice
In office
20 December 1949 – 6 September 1950
Preceded bySusanto Tirtoprodjo
Succeeded byA. G. Pringgodigdo
In office
19 August 1945 – 14 November 1945
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byRaden Soewandi
2nd President of the
University of Indonesia
In office
Preceded bySusanto Tirtoprodjo
Succeeded byA. G. Pringgodigdo
Personal details
Born(1903-01-22)22 January 1903
Sukoharjo, Dutch East Indies
Died12 September 1958(1958-09-12) (aged 55)
Jakarta, Indonesia
Political partyIndependent
Alma materLeiden University (Mr.)

Soepomo (EYD: Supomo; 22 January 1903 – 12 September 1958) was an Indonesian politician and lawyer who served as the country's first Minister of Justice from August until November 1945 and again from December 1949 until 6 September 1950. Known as the father of Indonesia's constitution,[1] he was posthumously declared an Indonesian National Hero by President Sukarno in 1965.

Early life and education

Soepomo was born on 22 January 1903, in Sukoharjo, Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia).[2] He came from a noble family; his maternal and paternal grandfathers were both high-ranking government officials. He began his education in 1917 when he was enrolled at a Europeesche Lagere School (ELS) in Boyolali. He graduated in 1920 and continued his studies at Meer Uitgebreid Lager Onderwijs (MULO) in Surakarta. In 1923, he moved to Batavia (now Jakarta) and attended the Rechts Hogeschool (RHS).[2] After graduating from RHS, he took a job at a court in Surakarta,[3] before leaving for the Netherlands to pursue further education. In the Netherlands, he enrolled at Leiden University and studied law under Cornelis van Vollenhoven.[4]

He graduated in 1927, with his thesis, entitled "Agrarian System Reform in the Surakarta Area",[a] containing both a description of the agrarian system in Surakarta and veiled critiques of Dutch colonialism.[4] When he returned home, he became a court employee in Yogyakarta, later being transferred to the Justice Department in Batavia. While serving at the Justice Department, he took a side job as a guest lecturer at the RHS.[5] He then joined the Jong Java youth association and wrote a paper entitled "Indonesian Women in Law",[b] which he presented together with future Prime Minister Ali Sastroamidjojo at the 1928 Women's Congress.[3]

Promulgation of the constitution

Photograph of Soepomo, c. 1954

On 1 March 1945, the final year of the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies, the Japanese administration established the Investigating Committee for Preparatory Work for Independence (BPUPK) on 1 March 1945 to work on "preparations for independence in the region of the government of this island of Java". Soepomo became one of the 62 members. In the first session, which lasted from 29 May to 1 June, he expressed support for the future of Indonesia to be a strong unitary state, arguing that it was by Indonesian societal norms. He also spoke out against the idea of an Islamic state. On 1 June 1945, future president Sukarno made a speech, in which he outlined the future basis of the state, the five-element Pancasila. During the BPUPK recess, this was subsequently incorporated into a preamble for the future constitution, the Jakarta Charter by a Committee of Nine, which did not include Soepomo.[6]

When the BPUPK reconvened for its second session, which began on 10 July, a 19-member committee was set up to produce a draft constitution, and Soepomo played the dominant role in its deliberations, which took place over three days. He deliberately produced a constitution that had a strong central government with power concentrated with the president, and without a clear system of checks and balances, in line with his opinions. Specifically, he supported integralist totalitarianism based on the family ideology and proposed the Indonesian state be modelled on Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.[7]

He believed this system would avoid conflicts of interest between the government and the people. In the discussions, he was strongly opposed by Mohammad Yamin, who called for a more Western-style democracy with guarantees for human rights. Future vice-president Hatta also wanted a bill of rights to be included, but Sukarno sided with Soepomo. The compromise reached Article 28, which stated that human rights would be regulated by law. After heated discussions, particularly over the role of religion in the news state, the draft constitution and preamble were accepted on 16 July.[8][9][10][11][12] Following the surrender of Japan, on 17 August 1945, Sukarno and Hatta proclaimed Indonesian independence. The following day, the Preparatory Committee for Indonesian Independence (PPKI), which had been formed on 7 August, met and approved the draft constitution produced by the BPUPK committee.[10] The constitution also had an elucidation providing further information about the preamble and body, which was also written by Soepomo. As this was not a product of the BPUPK or the PPKI, its legal status was uncertain.[12]

Post-independence career

After his terms as Minister of Justice, Soepomo became a lecturer at Gadjah Mada University,[5] as well as the Jakarta Police Academy.[3] He was also President of the University of Indonesia.[3] From 1954 to 1956, Soepomo was Indonesia's ambassador to the United Kingdom.[3][13] Soepomo died in Surakarta on 12 September 1958.[2] On 14 May 1965, Soepomo was posthumously declared an Indonesian National Hero by President Sukarno.[3]


  1. ^ Original: "Reorganisatie van het Agrarisch Stelsel in het Gewest Soerakarta"
  2. ^ Original: "Perempuan Indonesia dalam Hukum"



  1. ^ Drooglever 1997, p. 69.
  2. ^ a b c Bahari 2011, p. 12.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Salah Satu Perumus UUD 1945" [One of the Writers of the 1945 Constitution]. Archived from the original on 2 October 2022. Retrieved 17 August 2022.
  4. ^ a b Bahari 2011, pp. 12–13.
  5. ^ a b Bahari 2011, p. 13.
  6. ^ Elson 2009, pp. 108–111.
  7. ^ Bourchier, David (2016). Illiberal democracy in indonesia : the ideology of the family state. London and New York: Taylor & Francis. pp. 65–69. ISBN 9781138236721. Retrieved 2 April 2022.
  8. ^ Anderson 1961, p. 18.
  9. ^ Kusuma & Elson 2011, p. 196.
  10. ^ a b Elson 2009, p. 114-118.
  11. ^ Butt & Lindsey 2012, pp. 39–41, 51.
  12. ^ a b Indrayana 2008, p. 98-100.
  13. ^ Embassy of Indonesia, Indonesian Ambassadors.


Diplomatic posts Preceded bySubandrio Ambassador of Indonesia to the United Kingdom 1954–1956 Succeeded bySoenario