15 Best Sukarno Quotes That Continue to Inspire

Koesno Sosrodihardjo, better known as Sukarno, was the first president of the Republic of Indonesia from 1945 to 1967. He was a polarizing figure whose time in office was plagued by a continuous state of national crisis and corruption, leading to several assassination attempts on Sukarno. Others hailed him as the “Great Leader of the Revolution.” Nevertheless, he was instrumental in the fight for Indonesian independence from Dutch colonial rule and did so in part by using his oratory skills and giving a number of rousing speeches during his presidency.

Portrait of Sukarno With Quote Portrait of Sukarno With Quote
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Sukarno Quotes About Leadership and Liberty

In his speeches, Sukarno often delivered inspirational messages of independence and unity as he maneuvered through negotiations with the Dutch and the establishment of a new Indonesian government.

  • “Reach your ambition as high as the skies. Dream it as high as the skies. Because if you fall, you're going to fall among the stars.” - BPUPKI Congress, April 29, 1945

  • “Independence can only be obtained and secured by a nation that has its spirit raging with determination: ‘independence or death!’” - speech to the Investigation Agency for Preparation of Indonesian Independence, June 1, 1945

  • “Learning without thinking is useless, but thinking without learning is very dangerous.” - Speech at Independence Day August 17, 1961 "'Djarek (Djalannja Revolusi Kita) Bagaikan Malaikat Turun Dari Langit"

  • “Do good to another man, even when they do not do you good; another will certainly do you good. If there is still shame and fear in one's heart to do good, there will certainly be no progress at all.” - speech at Independence Day August 17, 1961 "Djarek (Djalannja Revolusi Kita) Bagaikan Malaikat Turun Dari Langit"

  • “We liberate our nation's heart inside of Indonesian independence!! Ibn Saud liberated Arabian's heart inside of Saudi Arabian independence one by one!! Stalin liberated Soviet-Russian's heart inside of Soviet one by one!!” - speech to the Investigation Agency for Preparation of Indonesian Independence, June 1, 1945

  • “Don't ever forget the history. It will make and change who we are.” - speech at Independence Day August 17, 1961

  • “It was [the concept of] nationalism that Indonesia was established on. Not the Javanese, not the Sumatran, not the Bornean, Sulawesi, Bali or others, but the Indonesian, that together became the foundation of one nationale staat (nation-state).” - speech to the Investigation Agency for Preparation of Indonesian Independence, June 1, 1945

  • “This country, the Republic of Indonesia, does not belong to any group, nor to any religion, nor to any ethnic group, nor to any group with customs and traditions, but the property of all of us from Sabang to Merauke.” - speech in Surabaya, September 24, 1955

  • “A thousand old men can only dream, but a young man is able to change the world.” - from Indonesia Menggugat! (Indonesians Accuse!)

  • “Rose never propagandize its fragrant, but its own fragrance spreads through its surrounding.”

Quotes From the Opening of the Bandung Conference

Sukarno’s Speech at the Opening of the Bandung Conference on April 18, 1955, was a pivotal moment in his presidency and for Indonesia as he addressed the need for peace in order to bring prosperity to the nation.

  • “The political skill of man has been far outstripped by technical skill, and what lie has made he cannot be sure of controlling.”

  • “The result of this is fear. And man gasps for safety and morality.”

  • “Yes, we are living in a world of fear. The life of man today is corroded and made bitter by fear. Fear of the future, fear of the hydrogen bomb, fear of ideologies. Perhaps this fear is a greater danger than the danger itself, because it is fear which drives men to act foolishly, to act thoughtlessly, to act dangerously….”

  • “Not so very long ago we argued that peace was necessary for us because an outbreak of fighting in our part of the world would imperil our precious independence, so recently won at such great cost.”

  • “No task is more urgent than that of preserving peace. Without peace our independence means little. The rehabilitation and upbuilding of our countries will have little meaning. Our revolutions will not be allowed to run their course….”

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Words From World Leaders

These past presidents have given many inspirational speeches and memorable quotes that are just as relevant today as when they first delivered them.