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The attitude and actions of Brigadier General TNI (Posthumous) I Gusti Ngurah Rai and his men at the Puputan Margarana battle of 1946 have set the criteria for exemplary leadership for the next generations of TNI soldiers: Lead by example, lead from the front and prove your patriotism by sacrificing your body and your soul. I Gusti Ngurah Rai had the fighting spirit of a true warrior and would rather die than surrender to the enemy. The all-out war (tradition of puputan) that he kindled awakened his troops’ fighting spirit and fought the Dutch to the point of exhaustion. I Gusti Ngurah Rai fought in the field until his last breath.

After the proclamation of Indonesian Independence on August 17 1945, I Gusti Ngurah Rai came to Yogyakarta on his initiative to meet General Sudirman. He asked General Sudirman for a mandate to form an Army of the Republic of Indonesia (TRI) in Bali and Nusa Tenggara, which was referred to as Lesser Sunda (Sunda Kecil).

He then returned and recruited troops and began to carry out attacks on Dutch outposts installed at the end of World War II to reoccupy Bali. Since the Japanese occupation in 1942, I Gusti Ngurah Rai had gathered Balinese youths united in the Anti-Fascist Movement (GAF). By September 1946, the Dutch were on the offensive. And on November 19, 1946, the Dutch managed to attack and surround the troops led by I Gusti Ngurah Rai in Margarana Village near Ubud.

The Dutch had sent an envoy to ask I Gusti Ngurah Rai to surrender. If he surrendered, he and his army were to be spared. The offer came from Dutch Infantry Captain JBT Konig, one of the Red Elephant KNIL Infantry Battalion officers, a Dutch force ordered to occupy Bali. JBT Konig had been close to I Gusti Ngurah Rai.

Konig was one of the KNIL officers who supervised the Officers Opleiding (education of prospective officers) of the Prajoda Corps in Gianyar, Bali before the Japanese arrived. I Gusti Ngurah Rai had joined the Prajoda Corps before the outbreak of the Pacific War.

At one time, I Gusti Ngurah Rai even saved Konig and another KNIL officer by helping them escape to Java when the Japanese began to invade. Nevertheless, I Gusti Ngurah Rai rejected the offer to surrender to the Dutch, although the offer came from Konig, his former boss. To maintain the morale of the Indonesian troops under his command, I Gusti Ngurah Rai did not answer Konig’s letter I Gusti Ngurah Rai’s answer was addressed directly to Konig’s superior, Dutch Lieutenant Colonel Termeulen, on May 18, 1946.

“Merdeka. We have received your offer. We hereby submit the following answer: The security of Bali is our responsibility. Since the landing of your army, the island has become unsafe. Security has been compromised as you betrayed the will of the people who had declared their independence. As for the offer to negotiate, we leave it to the wisdom of the leaders in Java. Bali is not the place for diplomatic talks. And I’m not in a position to compromise. On behalf of the people of Bali, I only want the disappearance of the Dutch from the island of Bali or else I can promise you we will fight continuously until our aim is met. If you choose to stay in Bali, the island of Bali will be a bloodbath between your army and ours.”

That was the answer of I Gusti Ngurah Rai. Such was the firmness of I Gusti Ngurah Rai in facing the Dutch colonialists. His letter reflects his patriotic soul and unwillingness to compromise in his devotion to fight the invaders. He answered the offer from the Dutch to surrender with the shout “Puputan, Puputan”, which means all-out. Therefore this war is called the battle of Puputan in Margarana, or “the all-out war”. On November 19, 1946, in Margarana Village near Ubud, I Gusti Ngurah Rai led the TNI forces (at that time known as TRI) in a fierce battle against the Dutch forces. For several days, the Dutch continued to carry out sieges against the village. CHAPTER I Exemplary Leaders of the Indonesian Armed Forces Lieutenant General TNI (Ret.) Prabowo Subianto 19 Notes From Experience.

Despite facing the Dutch troops whose personnel and weaponry were much more advanced and even supported by tactical bombers, I Gusti Ngurah Rai, the Commander of the Lesser Sunda TRI Regiment (equivalent to the current level of Pangdam / Territorial Commander), and his troops continued to fight relentlessly.

The ferocious battle was started in the morning until finally, no more shots were fired from the Indonesian side in the afternoon. All TRI troops in the battle had been killed, including the Commander of the Lesser Sunda TRI Regiment, I Gusti Ngurah Rai, and the Chief of Staff of the Lesser Sunda TRI Regiment, I Gusti Putu Wisnu.

The attitude and actions of I Gusti Ngurah Rai and his troops have given the next generations of TNI a tradition of military leadership that is extraordinary and inspiring. I Gusti Ngurah Rai led by example, led from the front, and proved his patriotism by sacrificing his body and soul.

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