The song first appeared as a Nationalist Party song (the party working for independence of Indonesia from the Netherlands) in 1928 and was published in a Chinese Indonesian newspaper “Sin Po” under the title “Indonesia” that same year. The colonial Dutch authorities tolerated the use of the anthem, provided the chorus had the line “Mulia, Mulia” (Hourable, honourable) instead of “Merdeka, Merdeka!” (Independent and free!). During the Japanese occupation in WWII, the anthem was only permitted during the final few months and, after the Japanese occupation ended upon its surrender at the end of the war, it became the national anthem. In 1944, the words were slightly revised (including the restoration of the “Merdeka, Merdeka!” line), and in 1958 it was declared that only the first verse would be official.
Special thanks to: Merlyna Lim for some corrections in the text and to Firdan, Emir Syehsar Tahir and Alutsyah Luthfian for some additional information.