Internal and external tensions: land reform and confrontation with Malaysia


In April 1964, the PKI launched a policy of direct action (aksi sepihak), especially in the countryside of East and Central Java, to implement land reform laws passed in 1960. There were few large landowners in Indonesia, but small inequalities were often sharply felt. The laws were seldom properly enforced because of obstruction by local landholding elites.In many regions, the PKI action led to fierce clashes between landlords, often linked to the Muslim NU, and PKI-backed peasants. Although the PKI officially disavowed the campaign in December 1964, the scale of violence contributed greatly to the apprehension on either side over what might happen to them if their enemies came to power in the aftermath of Guided Democracy.

Further reading

Dennis, Peter, and Jeffrey Grey, Emergency and confrontation: Australian military operations in Malaya and Borneo 1950-1966. Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1996.

Mackie, J.A.C., Konfrontasi: the Indonesia‑Malaysia dispute, 1963‑1966. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1974.

Mortimer, Rex, The Indonesian Communist Party and land reform, 1959-1965. Clayton, Vic.: Centre of Southeast Asian Studies, Monash University, 1972.

Map number from Cribb, Historical Atlas of Indonesia (2000)


Year span

1960 - 1965