Biography of Suharto - History

Biography of Suharto - History

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Indonesian Politician

Suharto was born in a village in central Java. He was educated at cadet schools and served in the Army in its struggle for independence from the Dutch. After independence he rose through the army commands, reaching the rank of major general. After an abortive coup against Sukarno in 1964, he became the commander of the Army. The next year, Sukarno resigned and Suharto became acting President. Suharto maintained rule of Indonesia until 1998, when growing protest forced his resignation. The years of Suharto rule were marked by unprecedented cronyism.


Suharto: A Political Biography


The second president after Indonesia's independence, Suharto (born 1921) was a strong anti-Communist who drew Indonesia closer to the West and presided during a period of economic improvement in the country. Notwithstanding, his tenure was plagued with negative publicity regarding suppression of opposition and serious human rights violations, particularly in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony that Indonesia forcibly occupied starting in 1975.

Suharto was born in the village of Kemusu near Jogjakarta, Central Java, on June 8, 1921. His father was a low-ranking agricultural technician, and Suharto's early home environment was quite poor. It also was unstable, alternating between the separate homes of his mother and his father who, having divorced when he was quite young, each had remarried and had additional children. At times Suharto also lived with other family friends and relatives in homes which were typically Javanese.

As Suharto completed high school and took his first job, in a small bank, the Dutch colonial government in Indonesia was hastily trying to build a defense force. Suharto was among the large number of Indonesian recruits to the Royal Netherlands Indies Army. By March 1942 Suharto had spent a year and a half in training and active duty under Dutch commanders and had been promoted to the rank of sergeant but when the Netherlands, already occupied in Europe by Germany, surrendered the colony to Japan later in 1942 after mounting only minimal resistance, Suharto returned to his village.

Suharto's legacy of development and corruption

The Indonesia that marked Suharto's passing with a state funeral Monday has regained some of its lost prosperity and confidence in the nearly 10 years since he was ousted from office amid riots and economic chaos.

Its economy has recovered from ruin. This year, growth is expected to be 6.4 percent, according to the World Bank. Investment has been expanding at 7 percent to 8 percent a year since 2006. Poverty rates, which surged during the economic crisis, have fallen.

Politically, it is also very different from Suharto's autocratic New Order regime, after genuine democratic elections for the legislature in 1999 and direct elections for the president in 2004.

While Indonesia was remaking itself in a more liberal, economically open mold during those years, Suharto's fate was largely a sideshow.

But as his health failed in recent days, and the new guard of democratically elected politicians went to his bedside, Indonesians confronted contradictory feelings for the man the country once dubbed the "father of development."

Until his fall in May 1998, Suharto was at the apex of an oppressive and deeply corrupt state apparatus, in which the hand of the military reached into every level of government from national administration to the village, dissent was quashed violently and human rights were routinely abused.

Yet it was also a time of remarkable progress in people's welfare. By one measure, poverty was cut from almost 60 percent of the population when Suharto took office in 1968 to 13 percent by the time the economic crisis hit in 1997. Infant mortality declined, and access to education and health care improved dramatically.

Robert Elson, professor of Southeast Asian history at Queensland University and author of the most authoritative biography of Suharto, visited Indonesia as a doctoral student in the 1970s and discovered a "pretty awful place."

"Jakarta was a shambles. Streets flooded, nothing worked, there were hardly any buses, a lot of beggars. By the 1990s all that had changed dramatically," he said.

"In terms of the economic legacy, notwithstanding the corruption and diversion of off-budget monies to various projects of fairly dubious quality, the fact of the matter is that poverty did decline in ways that are world historical."

Even when Suharto fell from grace in the midst of the regionwide economic crisis, Indonesians were divided over how he should be treated.

Many were inclined not to blame him for the national malaise, but rather those around him, in particular his avaricious children.

Still, the political legitimacy of Suharto and the New Order was rooted in the promise of rapid economic growth. That was delivered, with only brief interruptions caused by the oil shock of the mid-1970s. Growth was maintained at an annual average rate of about 8 percent in the last decade of his rule.

When the economy collapsed and the remedial policy responses of the government and the International Monetary Fund only worsened the crisis, Suharto was finished.

Despite the emergence of democracy and an economic recovery in the decade since, Indonesia has not replicated the same degree of economic success it enjoyed in the heyday of the New Order.

The decline in poverty that accompanied recovery from the 1997 economic crisis was actually reversed in 2006, when cuts to fuel subsidies sent about 3.5 million people back below the poverty line, before the trend away from poverty resumed.

Economic growth and investment have yet to match the better days of the Suharto era.

In a recent report, the World Bank pointed out that the investment share of the total economy was 23.9 percent in mid-2007, compared with almost 30 percent before the economic crisis. Investment in mining and energy - one of the mainstays of foreign direct investment - and in infrastructure has been weak.

Foreign investors have consistently complained that democracy has increased uncertainty for them, with overlapping and sometimes contradictory laws and jurisdictions. Regional autonomy laws have given more powers and a bigger share of revenues to the provinces, with sometimes chaotic results.

After years of neglect under Suharto, the judiciary and law enforcement agencies also proved ill-equipped for the greater responsibilities thrust upon them.

"Because of the institutional uncertainty created by the massive transition to democracy at national, provincial and also local government levels, you just haven't got the investor certainty," said Hal Hill, an expert on the Indonesian economy at the Australian National University. He warned that low infrastructure investment - running at about half the level as a proportion of the total economy under Suharto - would "put a brake on long-term growth."

Although Indonesians have enthusiastically embraced democracy and newfound freedoms of expression, it has been common since the early days of reform to find people from street peddlers to tycoons who express some nostalgia for the apparently robust economy and stability overseen by Suharto.

"In that period, Indonesia was acknowledged as an Asian Tiger," said Umar Juoro, a former economic adviser to Suharto's successor, Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, and who as a student led protests against Suharto in the late 1970s.

"It is not just nostalgia. There is a living legacy. In economic terms, he will be remembered as the leader that brought the Indonesian economy to a modern level and made it competitive with its neighbors."

As people line the streets of Jakarta to bid farewell, or good riddance, to Suharto this week, some will be in a generous mood. It is one of the traits of Indonesians to forgive their rogues.

But 10 years ago, the same streets were filled with cries from students and the mob to hang him. One of his most profound legacies - and one of the main reasons why the people turned against him - was the naked greed that characterized his regime, especially in its late years.

Corruption was pervasive. At the bottom, petty officials stole nugatory amounts. At the top, the scale of the theft was egregious.

It was also blatant. Suharto's six children, other relatives and his business friends were granted state monopolies over commodity sales, exclusive supply contracts and special tax breaks. Instruments like trade policy were often used not to further the national interest but the business interests of a single wealthy individual, or a handful.

"Under Suharto, corruption was a well-managed franchise, like McDonald's or Subway," said Elson, Suharto's biographer. "Everybody knew how much you had to pay and to whom. Suharto didn't invent the depth and breadth of corruption. What he did was to manage it on a scale that no one had ever been able to do before."

When Suharto published an autobiography in 1988, he began with what he regarded as one of his finest achievements: the doubling of rice production so that Indonesia, once the biggest rice importer in the world, could become sufficient in the production of its staple food. This was especially significant to a man who grew up poor in a rice-growing region of central Java.

But for all his development accomplishments, many analysts think his economic record will be overshadowed by the rampant corruption of his regime. Transparency International still rates Indonesia as one of the worst countries in the world for corruption.

"Indonesians are usually easy to forgive and forget," said Rizal Malik, secretary general of Transparency International in Indonesia. "But all the economic success under Suharto was wiped out in the economic crisis in 1997. There was clearly something wrong, and what was wrong was corruption."

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Some elements within the U.S. government had been trying to undermine or overthrow Sukarno, Indonesia's anti-colonial independence leader and first president, far before 1965. In 1958, the CIA backed armed regional rebellions against the central government, only calling off operations after American pilot Allen Pope was captured while conducting bombing operations that killed Indonesian soldiers and civilians. Agents reportedly went so far as to stage and produce a pornographic film starring a man wearing a Sukarno mask, which they hoped to employ to discredit him. It was never used. Then for years, the United States trained and strengthened the Indonesian army. After John F. Kennedy's death derailed a planned presidential visit to Jakarta and relations worsened with the Johnson administration, Sukarno strengthened alliances with communist countries and employed anti-American rhetoric in 1964.

In 1965, when General Suharto blamed the military purge on a PKI coup plot, the CIA supplied communications equipment to help him spread his false reports before moving into power and overseeing the industrial-scale slaughter, as previously released government documents showed. Several of the documents released this week indicate that the U.S. embassy had reliable information that placed blame on rank-and-file PKI members—information that was entirely inaccurate, but nevertheless had encouraged the army to exploit this narrative.

It has long been known that the United States provided Suharto with active support: In 1990, a U.S. embassy staff member admitted he handed over a list of communists to the Indonesian military as the terror was underway. “It really was a big help to the army,” Robert J. Martens, a former member of the embassy's political section, told The Washington Post. “They probably killed a lot of people, and I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that's not all bad.”

Much of the American press at the time did not take a radically different view. In a June 1966 column in The New York Times, entitled “A Gleam of Light in Asia,” James Reston wrote that “The savage transformation of Indonesia from a pro-Chinese policy under Sukarno to a defiantly anti-communist policy under General Suharto is the most important of these [hopeful] developments. Washington is being careful not to claim any credit . but this does not mean Washington had nothing to do with it.”

It should not be entirely surprising that Washington would tolerate the deaths of so many civilians to further its Cold War goals. In Vietnam, the U.S. military may have killed up to 2 million civilians. But Indonesia was different: the PKI was a legal, unarmed party, operating openly in Indonesia’s political system. It had gained influence through elections and community outreach, but was nevertheless treated like an insurgency.

Earlier this month in Central Java at the Sekretariat Bersama 1965, one of Indonesia's main organizations for the remembrance of these events, I met a survivor of the 1965 massacre. “I believed in President Sukarno and our revolution. At the time our country had the official ‘NASAKOM’ ideology, which meant that Nationalists [NAS, from Nasionalisme], Muslim groups [A, for agama, or ‘religion’ in Indonesian] and Communists [Komunisme] were all supposed to work together to build the country,” he said. “Yes, I worked on the left side of politics, broadly under ‘KOM,’ and there was nothing wrong with that.”

Though he worked as a schoolteacher and not as an actual PKI member, he said he was arrested and tortured for days, before watching his cellmates dragged off one by one, never to return. He was spared, for reasons he never understood, and spent over a decade in prison. But it wasn't only communists and leftists who were victimized. Untold numbers of people were tortured, raped, and killed for being accused of being communists, or for belonging to an ethnic minority, or simply being an enemy of some member of the officially-sanctioned death squads.

Another common problem with the framing of Indonesia 1965 is that the mass violence is often couched as coincidental to Suharto's rise to power, rather than serving as a prerequisite for it. Historians broadly agree that the anti-communists in the military could have never taken power without crushing the PKI by some means.

“Suharto could not have come to power without the extermination of the PKI,” said Brad Simpson, the historian at the University of Connecticut who worked with the National Security Archive to digitize and publish U.S. embassy documents this week. He agrees with Roosa that the depiction of the United States as simply a bystander is problematic.

More documents revealing what happened in Indonesia in 1965 are likely to come, Simpson tells me. But they’re unlikely to offer a complete picture of what both governments were up to in 1965—they won’t for instance, include information from the U.S. military and the CIA. The Indonesian government has offered practically nothing. “Literally no Indonesian official records are publicly available anywhere, so we're really reliant on Western archives,” Simpson said.

This is because much of Indonesia's political elite still relies on Suharto's original—and false—narrative for their legitimacy. The country's powerful military leaders fight any investigations that might lay blame on them. Suharto's government produced a crude, wildly inaccurate propaganda film depicting Communists torturing and killing military officers while communist women perform a wild dance.


The Reformasi of 1998 led to changes in Indonesia's various governmental institutions, including the structures of the judiciary, legislature, and executive office. Generally, the fall of Suharto in 1998 is traced from events starting in 1996, when forces opposed to the New Order began to rally around Megawati Sukarnoputri, head of the PDI and daughter of the founding president Sukarno. When Suharto attempted to have Megawati removed as head of this party in a back-room deal, student activists loyal to Megawati occupied the headquarters of PDI in Jakarta. This culminated in Black Saturday on 27 July, when the military broke up the demonstrations.

These actions, along with increasing concerns over human rights violations in Indonesian-occupied East Timor, began to unsettle Suharto's usually friendly relations with Western countries such as Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These further worsened when the 1997 Asian financial crisis hit Indonesia, highlighting the corruption of the New Order.

Economic instability from the crisis affected much of the country, in the form of increased prices for staple foods and goods, and lowered standards of living and quality of life. These touched off riots, many targeting ethnic Chinese Indonesians bolstered by the findings of Parliamentary and independent investigations, it is often theorised that these anti-Chinese riots were instigated or aided by the military to divert anger away from Suharto himself. [ citation needed ]

In West Kalimantan, there was communal violence between Dayaks and Madurese in 1996, in the Sambas riots in 1999 and the Sampit conflict 2001, resulting in large scale massacres of Madurese. [3] [4] [5] In the Sambas conflict, both Malays and Dayaks massacred Madurese.

Growing dissatisfaction with Suharto's authoritarian rule and the rapid erosion of the economy led many, chiefly the younger generation, to renew their protests directly against the New Order. During the period 1997–1998 (mainly at 13–15 May 1998), a massive riot broke out in Indonesia. People were burning everything within the city, including cars, motorcycles, buildings, and monuments in addition to pillaging and looting from stores. This was further worsened when many were killed and raped, most of which were Chinese Indonesians. No action was taken by the army or the police. In 1998, Suharto decided to stand before the parliament for re-election and won. The result was considered so outrageous that students occupied the parliament building. Suharto soon stood down from the presidency and named B. J. Habibie (of Suharto's own Golkar party) his successor. Considered the unseen power behind the throne, General Wiranto of the Chief of Staff over the military that was central to the New Order is believed to have been behind the decision of Suharto to step down. [ citation needed ]

After Suharto's resignation, Vice-President B. J. Habibie was sworn in as president and undertook numerous political reforms.

In February 1999, the Habibie administration passed the Political Parties Law, [6] under which political parties would not be limited to just three as had been the case under Suharto. Political parties were also not required to have Pancasila as their ideology. This resulted in the emergence of many political parties, and 48 would go on to compete in the 1999 legislative election.

In May 1999, the Habibie administration passed the Regional Autonomy Law, [7] which was the first step in decentralising Indonesia's government and allowing provinces to have more part in governing their areas. The press became liberated under Habibie, although the Ministry of Information continued to exist. Political prisoners such as Sri Bintang Pamungkas, Muchtar Pakpahan, and Xanana Gusmão were also released under Habibie's orders.

Habibie also presided over the 1999 legislative elections, the first free election since 1955. It was supervised by the independent General Elections Commission (KPU) instead of an elections commission filled with government ministers as had been the case during the New Order.

In a move that surprised many, and angered some, Habibie called for a referendum on the future of East Timor. Subsequently, on 30 August, the inhabitants of East Timor voted for independence. This territorial loss harmed Habibie's popularity and political alliances.

In 1999, Abdurrahman Wahid became President of Indonesia. His first cabinet, dubbed the National Unity Cabinet (Indonesian: Kabinet Persatuan Nasional), was a coalition cabinet that represented several political parties: the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), National Awakening Party (PKB), Golkar, the United Development Party (PPP), National Mandate Party (PAN), and Justice Party (PK). Non-partisans and the military (TNI) were also represented in the cabinet. Among Wahid's administrative reforms were the abolition of the Ministry of Information, the New Order's primary weapon in controlling the media, and the disbandment of the Ministry of Welfare, which had become corrupt and extortionist under the New Order. [8]

Autonomy and tolerance toward dissent Edit

Wahid intended to give rebellious Aceh province a referendum on various modes of autonomy, rather than an option for independence like in East Timor. [9] Wahid also wanted to adopt a softer stance towards Aceh by having less military personnel on the ground. In March, the Wahid administration began to open negotiations with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). Two months later in May, the government signed a memorandum of understanding with GAM to last until the beginning of 2001, by which time both signatories would have breached the agreement. [10]

On 30 December 1999, Wahid visited Jayapura, the capital of Papua province (then known as "Irian Jaya"). Wahid was successful in convincing West Papuan leaders that he was a force for change and even encouraged the use of the name Papua. [11]

In September 2000, Wahid declared martial law in Maluku. By now, it was evident that Laskar Jihad, a radical Islamic militia, were being assisted by members of the military and it was apparent that they were financed by Fuad Bawazier, the last Minister of Finance to have served under Suharto. [ citation needed ] During the same month, West Papuans raised their Morning Star flag. Wahid's response was to allow this provided that the Morning Star flag was placed lower than the Indonesian flag, [12] for which he was severely criticised by Megawati and Akbar. On 24 December 2000, a series of bombings were directed against churches in Jakarta and eight cities across Indonesia.

In March of that year, Wahid suggested that the 1966 Provisional People's Consultative Assembly (MPRS) resolution on the banning of Marxism–Leninism be lifted. [13]

Relations with the military Edit

When he ascended to the presidency, one of Wahid's goals was to reform the military and to remove its dominant socio-political role. In this venture, Wahid found an ally in Agus Wirahadikusumah, whom he made Commander of Kostrad in March. In July, Agus began uncovering a scandal involving Dharma Putra, a foundation with affiliations to Kostrad. Through Megawati, military members began pressuring Wahid to remove Agus. Wahid gave in to the pressure but then planned to have Agus appointed as the Army Chief of Staff to which top military leaders responded by threatening to retire and Wahid once again bowed down to pressure. [14]

Wahid's relations with the military deteriorated even further when in the same month it was revealed that Laskar Jihad had arrived in Maluku and was being armed with what turned out to be military weapons, despite Wahid's orders to the military to block their entry into the region. The militia had planned earlier in the year to go to the archipelago and assist the Muslims there in their communal conflict with the Christians. [15]

In 2000, Wahid was embroiled in two scandals that would damage his presidency. In May, the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) reported that US$4 million was missing from its pension fund. The missing cash had been embezzled by Wahid's own masseur, who claimed Wahid sent him to Bulog to collect the cash. [16] Although the money was returned, Wahid's opponents took the chance of accusing him of being involved in the scandal and of being aware of what his masseur was up to. At the same time, Wahid was also accused of keeping a US$2 million donation made by the Sultan of Brunei to provide assistance in Aceh.

Impeachment Edit

By the end of 2000, many within the political elite were disillusioned with Wahid. The most prominent was Amien Rais who regretted having supported Wahid for the presidency the previous year. Amien attempted to rally opposition by encouraging Megawati and Akbar to flex their political muscles. Megawati surprisingly defended Wahid while Akbar preferred to wait for the 2004 legislative elections. At the end of November, 151 People's Representative Council (DPR) members signed a petition calling for the impeachment of Wahid. [17]

In January 2001, Wahid announced that Chinese New Year was to become an optional holiday. [18] Wahid followed this up in February by lifting the ban on the display of Chinese characters and the importing of Chinese publications. In February, Wahid visited Northern Africa as well as Saudi Arabia to undertake the hajj pilgrimage. [19] Wahid made his last overseas visit in June 2001 when he visited Australia.

In a meeting with university rectors on 27 January 2001, Wahid commented on the possibility of Indonesia descending into anarchy. Wahid suggested that he may be forced to dissolve the DPR if that happened. [20] Although the meeting was off-the-record, it caused quite a stir and added to the fuel of the movement against him. On 1 February, the DPR met to issue a memorandum against Wahid. Two memorandums constitute an MPR Special Session where the impeachment and removal of a president would be legal. The vote was overwhelmingly for the memorandum, and PKB members could only walk out in protest. The memorandum caused widespread protests by NU members. In East Java, NU members attacked Golkar's regional offices. In Jakarta, Wahid's opposition began accusing him of encouraging the protests. Wahid denied it and went to talk to the protesters at the town of Pasuruan, encouraging them to get off the streets. [21] Nevertheless, NU protesters continued to show their support for Wahid and in April, announced that they were ready to defend and die for the president.

In March, Wahid tried to counter the opposition by moving against dissidents within his own cabinet. Minister of Justice Yusril Ihza Mahendra was removed for making public his demands for the president's resignation while the Minister of Forestry Nurmahmudi Ismail was also removed under the suspicion of channelling his department's funds to Wahid's opposition. In response to this, Megawati began to distance herself and did not show up for the inauguration of the Ministers' replacement. On 30 April, the DPR issued a second memorandum and on the next day called for an MPR Special Session to be held on 1 August.

By July, Wahid grew desperate and ordered Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), the Coordinating Minister for Politics and Security to declare a state of emergency. SBY refused, and Wahid removed him from his position. Finally, on 20 July, Amien declared that the MPR Special Session would be brought forward to 23 July. The TNI, having had a bad relationship with Wahid through his tenure as president, stationed 40,000 troops in Jakarta and placed tanks with their turrets pointing at the Presidential Palace in a show of force. [22] To prevent the MPR Special Session from taking place, Wahid then enacted a Decree disbanding the MPR on 23 July despite had no power to do so. In defiance against Wahid's decree, the MPR proceed with the Special Session and then unanimously voted to impeach Wahid, and to replace him with Megawati as president. Wahid continued to insist that he was the president and stayed for some days in the Presidential Palace but bowed down and left the residence on 25 July to immediately fly to the United States for health treatment.

Under Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Indonesia's founder and first president Sukarno, the process of democratic reform begun under Habibie and Wahid continued, albeit slowly and erratically. Megawati appeared to see her role mainly as a symbol of national unity, and she rarely actively intervened in government business. Under her tenure, the Mutual Assistance Cabinet (Indonesian: Kabinet Gotong Royong) helped govern the country. It included Megawati's successor, the retired General SBY. The military, disgraced at the time of Suharto's fall, regained much of its influence. Corruption continued to be pervasive, though Megawati herself was seldom blamed for this.

Some Indonesian scholars explained Megawati's apparent passivity in office by reference to Javanese mythology. Megawati, they said, saw her father, Sukarno, as a "Good King" of Javanese legend. Suharto was the "Bad Prince" who had usurped the Good King's throne. Megawati was the Avenging Daughter who overthrew the Bad Prince and regained the Good King's throne. Once this had been achieved, they said, Megawati was content to reign as the Good Queen and leave the business of government to others [ citation needed ] . Some prominent critics such as Benedict Anderson jokingly referred to the president as "Miniwati." [23]

Although the economy had stabilised and partly recovered from the 1997 crisis by 2004, unemployment and poverty remained high. The Indonesian Constitution was amended to provide for the direct election of the president, and Megawati stood for a second term. She consistently trailed in the opinion polls, due in part to the preference for male candidates among Muslim voters, and due to what was widely seen as a mediocre performance in office. Despite a somewhat better than expected performance in the first round of the elections, she was defeated by SBY in the second round.

Two months after SBY assumed office, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami struck Aceh and other countries along the Indian Ocean coastline. Three months later, an aftershock of the earthquake triggered a tsunami in Nias Island. In 2006, Mount Merapi erupted and was followed by an earthquake in Yogyakarta.

Indonesia also suffered a small outbreak of bird flu and endured the Sidoarjo mud flow. In 2007, severe floods struck Jakarta. SBY allowed Jakarta governor Sutiyoso to open the Manggarai watergate with the risk of flooding the Presidential Palace. [24]

On 1 October 2005, suicide bombings occurred on the island of Bali. The attacks bore the hallmarks of the militant Islamic group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)—a group linked to Al-Qaeda—though police investigation was underway. The group was also responsible for the 2002 Bali bombings. SBY condemned the attack, promising to "hunt down the perpetrators and bring them to justice.". [25]

In 2005, economic growth was 5.6% [26] which decreased to 5.4% in 2006 [27] Inflation reached 17.11% in 2005 [28] but decreased to 6.6% in 2006. [29]

SBY also allocated more funds to decrease poverty. In 2004, 11 trillion rupiah was set aside, increasing to 23 in 2005 and 42 in 2006. For 2007, 51 trillion was allocated. [30] In March and October 2005, SBY made the unpopular decision to cut fuel subsidies, leading to increases in fuel prices of 29% and 125% respectively. [31] The poor were somewhat compensated by the Direct Cash Assistance (BLT), but the cutting of subsidies damaged SBY's popularity. In May 2008, rising oil prices contributed to SBY's decision to cut fuel subsidies once more, which were the subject of protests in May and June 2008.

In 2009, SBY was elected for a second term along with Boediono, the former Governor of Bank Indonesia. They defeated two candidates: Megawati Soekarnoputri - Prabowo Subianto and incumbent vice-president, Jusuf Kalla - Wiranto. The SBY-Boediono ticket won the election with more than 60% votes of nationwide in the first round.

In 2014, constitutionally barred from running for a third term, SBY was succeeded by Joko Widodo (Jokowi) with Kalla returning as vice president, defeating Prabowo and Hatta Rajasa. Jokowi is the first president without a high-ranking military or political background. [34] During his 2014 election campaign, Jokowi promised to improve economic GDP growth to 7% and to end the bagi-bagi kursi (giving government positions to political allies) policy, although these promises are yet to be fulfilled. The Indonesian rupiah hit its lowest level record in 20 years during his administration. [35] [36]

A controversial remark by his former deputy governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) led to divisions in the country's Muslim population amid a gubernatorial election. Protests were held in response to Ahok's remark by Islamist groups in November and December 2016 in Jakarta. [37] [38] [39] The Jokowi administration responded by banning the Indonesian chapter of Hizb ut-Tahrir.

There have been concerns of declining freedom of expression during this period, evidenced by the arrest, detainment, and imprisonment of many people for their social media activity being interpreted as an "insult" to the president. [40]

Several disasters, such as earthquakes (In Palu, Lombok, and Banten) and a haze due to deforestation in Borneo and Sumatra occurred during this period. ISIL-linked bombings have also occurred in Jakarta and Surabaya.

Central Statistics Agency reported in March 2018 that the poverty rate in Indonesia was 9.82 percent, down from March 2017 which was 10.64 percent. This was the first time that poverty levels in Indonesia had been reduced to below two digits. Previously, the poverty rate was always above 10 percent, even reaching 23.4 percent in 1999 after the 1997-1998 crisis. [41]

On 17 April 2019, Indonesia held a general election. For the first time, eligible voters chose the president, the vice president, members of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), and members of local legislative bodies simultaneously. [42] The election was described as "one of the most complicated single-day ballots in global history". [43] Jokowi and his vice presidential candidate Ma'ruf Amin won the election against Prabowo and his running mate Sandiaga Uno. [44] It was followed by protests and riots in May rejecting the re-election during which at least 8 protesters were killed. [45] On 16 August 2019, forty-three Papuan students in Surabaya, East Java were arrested by police following reports that an Indonesian flag was damaged outside the building where they lived, [46] leading to protests in Papua and other parts of Indonesia. [47] A series of mass demonstrations led by students took place in major cities of Indonesia in September 2019 to protest against new legislation that reduces the authority of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), as well as several bills. [48] The protests subsequently developed into the largest student movement in Indonesia since the 1998 demonstrations that brought down the Suharto regime. [49]

An ongoing worldwide pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a novel infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was first confirmed to have spread to Indonesia on 2 March 2020. [50] As of 5 November 2020, the coronavirus has killed more than 14,000 people in Indonesia. [51] In late 2020, the pandemic has caused the economy to fall into a recession for the first time in 22 years. [52] In October 2020, protests erupted throughout Indonesia after the DPR passed the controversial Omnibus Law on Job Creation. [53]

Later Years, Death and Legacy

Lee resigned as prime minister in November 1990 but remained the leader of the PAP until 1992. After 14 years away, Lee&aposs family took its place at the head of the Singapore government once again in the summer of 2004, when Lee&aposs son Lee Hsien Loong took power.

In early 2015, Lee Kuan Yew was hospitalized with pneumonia. By early March, he was on a ventilator, in critical condition, and he died soon after, on March 23.

Lee has left behind a legacy of an efficiently run country and as a leader who brought prosperity unheard of before his tenure, at the cost of a mildly authoritarian style of government. By the 1980s, Singapore, under Lee&aposs guidance, had a per capita income second only to Japan&aposs in East Asia, and the country had become a chief financial center of Southeast Asia.

In the early morning of October 1, 1965, a group of soldiers claiming to be supported by the Indonesian Communist Party killed six generals in the army and one assistant because they thought he was a seventh. Many friends and supporters of Suharto claimed they were members of the communist party itself. The people of Indonesia then started killing anybody they thought was communist with Suharto's tacit approvement. Estimates range around half a million. Suharto then seized power from his predecessor, the first president of Indonesia Sukarno. For this, he used some force, but also took some political maneuvers. At the time, there was instability and unrest inside and outside of Indonesia. This helped him come to power. He took three decades to change the regime to work along militarist lines, with a strong central government. His movement was known as "Orde Baru". As he took an anti-communist position which he could defend, several Western governments supported him both in economic and political matters. This was during an era that is known as Cold War. For most of his three-decade rule, Indonesia experienced significant economic growth and industrialization. [2] His rule, however, led to political purges and the deaths of about half a million of suspected Indonesian communists many of them Chinese-Indonesians. [3] He also made some laws against communist parties and ethnic Chinese. [4]

His New Order administration's authoritarian and increasingly corrupt practices led to much discontent in the 1990s. Suharto's almost unquestioned authority over Indonesian affairs slipped dramatically when the Asian financial crisis lowered Indonesians' standard of living. People inside the military and other institutions no longer supported him. There were some problems inside the country during the early 1990s. Suharto became more and more isolated, in a political way. After mass demonstrations in 1998, Suharto was forced to resign. Suharto had been the face of Indonesia for over 30 years. After retiring, he lived in seclusion. There were people who wanted to try him for genocide. This failed however, because he had a very bad health. His legacy remains hotly debated and contested both in Indonesia and abroad.

Like many Javanese, Suharto has only one name. In contexts where his religion is being discussed he is sometimes called Haji or el-Haj Mohammed Suharto, but this Islamic title is not part of his formal name or generally used. The spelling "Suharto" has been official in Indonesia since 1947 but the older spelling Soeharto is still frequently used.

Suharto was admitted to hospital on January 4 on 23 January, Suharto's health worsened further, as a sepsis infection spread through his body. His family consented to the removal of life support machines if his condition did not improve and he died on 27 January at 1:09 pm. He died at Pertamina Hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia of congestive heart failure. [5] He was taken off life support. [6] He was buried at a family mausoleum near Solo town.


Suharto (Javanese: ꦯꦸꦲꦂꦠ [2] Gêdrìk: Suhartå O-Javanese: Suharta pronunciation ( help · info ) 8 Juin 1921 – 27 Januar 2008) wis the seicont Preses o Indonesie, hauldin the office for 31 years frae the oostin o Sukarno in 1967 till his resignation in 1998.

Suharto wis born in a smaw veelage, Kemusuk, in the Godean aurie near the ceety o Yogyakarta, in the Dutch colonial era. [3] He grew up in hummle circumstances. [4] His Javanese Muslim paurents divorced nae lang efter his birth, an he leeved wi foster paurents for muckle o his bairnheid. In the Japanese occupation o Indonesie, Suharto served in Japanese-organised Indonesie siccarity forces. Indonesie's unthirldom struggle saw his jynin the newly formed Indonesie airmy. Suharto rose tae the rank o major general follaein Indonesie unthirldom. An attemptit coup on 30 September 1965 allegedly backed bi the Indonesie Communist Pairty wis coontered bi Suharto-led truips. [5] The airmy subsequently led an anti-communist purge that the CIA descrived as "ane o the worst mass murthers o the 20t century" [6] an Suharto wrestit pouer frae Indonesie's foondin preses, Sukarno. He wis appyntit acting president in 1967, replacin Sukarno, an electit Preses the follaein year. He then muntit a social campaign kent as De-Soekarnoisation in an effort tae reduce the umwhile Preses' influence. Support for Suharto's presidency wis strang ootthrou the 1970s an 1980s. Bi the 1990s, the New Order's authoritarianism an widespreid corruption [7] war a soorce o discontent an, follaein a severe financial creesis, led tae widespreid unrest an his resignation in Mey 1998. Suharto dee'd in 2008 an wis gien a state funeral.

The legacy o Suharto's 31-year rule is debated baith in Indonesie an abraid. Unner his "New Order" admeenistration, Suharto constructit a strang, centralised an militar-dominatit gorvenment. An abeelity tae mainteen stabeelity ower a sprawlin an diverse Indonesie an an avowedly anti-Communist stance wan him the economic an diplomatic support o the Wast in the Cauld War. For maist o his presidency, Indonesie experienced signeeficant economic growthe an industrialisation, [8] dramatically improvin heal, eddication an leevin staundarts. [9]

Plans tae awaird Naitional Hero status tae Suharto are bein conseedert bi the Indonesie govrenment an hae been debatit vigorously in Indonesie. [10] Accordin tae Transparency Internaitional, Suharto is the maist corrupt leader in modren history, haein embezzled an alleged $15–35 billion in his rule. [11]

History of Indonesia: Politics and the Economy under Sukarno

By the mid-1960s, politics and the economy of Indonesia had turned into disaster. After Independence in 1945 (and the cessation of hostilities with the Dutch in 1949), the young nation was plagued by hostile internal politics in which several political forces - consisting of the army, nationalists, Muslims, and communists - opposed each other. For over a decade, Sukarno, Indonesia&rsquos first president, had reasonable success in keeping these forces in check by the force of his own personality. However, by the mid-1960s his failure became evident.

After the Dutch colonial power - burdened by international pressure - had ceded control of all Indonesian territories in 1949 (except for the western half of New Guinea), the young nation faced the difficult task of governance and nation-building through a parliamentary system. Soon it became clear that the nation contained various groups that all competed for political power and wanted to impose their views upon the new nation.

Previously, during the colonial period, these groups had already been present. However, they had one common enemy - the Dutch colonizers - which meant that they somewhat set aside their differences. After Independence these differences came to the fore. Through his Pancasila concept (referring to the five principles or the official philosophical foundation of Indonesia), introduced in 1945, Sukarno tried to unite these different forces within the new (and highly pluralistic) nation.

Indonesia&rsquos Pancasila is a fusion of elements of socialism, nationalism and monotheism and functioned as the common denominator of all ideologies that were present in Indonesian society (in fact Sukarno&rsquos successor Suharto would use this Pancasila concept as a powerful tool of repression during his authoritarian New Order government). The only group that objected to the Pancasila as formulated by Sukarno were the stricter Muslims. They wanted to add the provision that Muslims should implement Islamic Law (Shariah), which was not agreed upon by Sukarno as it would jeopardize the unity of the nation. Although containing the world&rsquos largest Muslim population, there are millions of Christians, Catholics, Hindus and Buddhists as well as a large group of nominal Muslims in the country (who would not support the introduction of Islamic Law).

The lack of consensus among the various groups about what sort of nation Indonesia should be meant that governing the vast archipelago was a hazardous undertaking. Other issues were problematic as well. For example, the Outer Islands (blessed by an abundance of natural resources) resented the political and economic dominance of the island of Java. As a result, a series of regional rebellions occurred in the 1950s. These were the Darul Islam in West Java, a secessionist movement in the South Moluccas, and the PPRI/Permesta rebellions.

1) Belief in one supreme God (Ketuhanan yang Maha Esa)
2) Justice and civility among peoples (Kemanusiaan yang Adil dan Beradab)
3) Unity of Indonesia (Persatuan Indonesia)
4) Democracy through deliberation and consensus among representatives (Kerakyatan yang Dipimpin oleh Hikmat Kebijaksanaan, Dalam Permusyawaratan dan Perwakilan)
5) Social justice for all people of Indonesia (Keadilan Sosial bagi seluruh Rakyat Indonesia)

It is interesting to take a look at results of Indonesia&rsquos first legislative election (held in 1955). This election, in which over 90 percent of the electorate casted a ballot, is considered to have been conducted in free and fair circumstances. Given the fragmented society, the outcome of this election was fragmented as well. Sukarno&rsquos Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI) obtained 22.3 percent of the vote, and the two big Muslim parties Masyumi and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) obtained 20.9 percent and 18.4 percent of the vote, respectively. Lastly, the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) obtained 16.4 percent of the vote.

When a country&rsquos political environment is characterized by great uncertainty and instability, it will have serious trouble to foster economic growth as the private sector is hesitant to invest. Although in the early years after Indonesian Independence there was moderate economic growth detectable, this growth soon vanished amid the political unstable context (particularly after regional rebellions and the expropriation of Dutch assets in 1957-1958). In the 1960s the Indonesian economy quickly deteriorated due to debt and inflation, while exports weakened. Foreign exchange earnings from the country&rsquos plantation sector fell from USD $442 million in 1958 to USD $330 million in 1966. Inflation peaked above 100 percent (year-on-year) in the years 1962-1965 as the government simply printed money to fund its debt and grand projects (such as the construction of Monas). Indonesians&rsquo per capita incomes declined significantly (particularly in the years 1962-1963). Meanwhile, much-needed foreign aid stopped flowing to the country after Sukarno refused to accept aid from the USA and pulled Indonesia out of the United Nations (UN) due to Malaysia&rsquos admission to the UN (Indonesia opposed the creation of Malaysia in 1963). Instead he fostered closer relations with China and North Korea.

The Sukarno administration released an Eight-Year Plan in 1960 in a move to make the country self-sufficient in food (especially rice), clothing and basic necessities within a three year period. The next five years would become a period of self-sustained growth. However, the masterplan was abandoned in 1964 as the economy deteriorated and targets could not be achieved. In fact, the economy went into a downward spiral due to hyperinflation, an eroding tax base, as well as a flight from financial assets to real assets. The costly &lsquoconfrontation&rsquo politics against Malaysia also absorbed a significant portion of government expenditures.

Indicators of Indonesia's Economic Development, 1960-1965:

1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965
NDP, 1960 Prices
(IDR billion)
391 407 403 396 407 430
Per Capita Income
(% change)
-1.6 1.7 -3.0 -4.0 0.3 3.2
Money Supply (M1)
(% increase)
37 41 101 94 156 302
% Increase due to
Budget Deficit
19 134 97 115 104 90
Budget Deficit as
% of expenditure
17 30 39 51 58 63
(CPI, % increase)
20 95 156 129 135 594

Source: The Indonesian Economy, Hal Hill

The dangerous political cocktail that Sukarno had made (consisting of communists, Muslims, and the military) proved to be a ticking time bomb. Complete chaos occurred after the mysterious coup on 30 September 1965 and it was the army that came out of the chaos victoriously. Slowly General Suharto managed to take power away from Sukarno during the 1965-1967 period (in 1967 Suharto was officially inaugurated as Indonesia&rsquos second president). One of Suharto&rsquos top priorities was to improve economic conditions in the country. He turned to a team of economists that were trained in the USA to start a period of economic rehabilitation and recovery. In the years 1966-1970, the government managed to control inflation, re-established international relations so that much-need foreign aid could enter the country, started to rehabilitate physical infrastructure, and introduced new laws that made it attractive for foreigners to invest in the country. This would mark the beginning of Suharto&rsquos New Order Miracle.

Different name, same tactics

In December 2000, ABC News reported that the SOA was closing its doors. However, critics say the closure was merely cosmetic, as a new school opened up in the same place, Fort Benning, Georgia, where SOA was moved in 1984. The "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation" (WHINSEC) opened in January 2001, and although it has a fancy new euphemism for a name and its operations were transferred from the Army to the Department of Defense, critics claim it's still up to the same old tricks.

According to The Guardian, the school even added new anodyne-sounding courses on subjects like ethics, democracy, human rights, and peace-keeping to try and add some depth to the semblance of reform it aims to portray. However, the SOA's own documentation reveals that students are still far more interested in subjects such as combat training, military intelligence, commando tactics, and psychological operations. And even though it ostensibly changed its ways, WHINSEC remains as secretive as ever.

The SOA continues to wreak havoc in Latin America, such as in 2009, when an SOA graduate led a military coup to oust Manuel Zelaya, the democratically elected president of Honduras. And, as the Migration Policy Institute reports, immigrants from Honduras — as well as from El Salvador and Guatemala — have increased more than 1,350 percent in recent decades.

Watch the video: Suhartos legacy