Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners

Indonesia executes six drug convicts, five of them foreigners
Widodo has pledged to bring reform to Indonesia

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions

Ban appeals to Indonesia to stop death row executions
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has pleaded to Indonesia to stop the execution of prisoners on death row for drug crimes. AFP PHOTO

Pope: 'Death penalty represents failure' – no 'humane' way to kill a person

Pope: 'Death penalty represents failure' – no 'humane' way to kill a person
The pope wrote that the principle of legitimate personal defense isn’t adequate justification to execute someone. Photograph: Zuma/Rex

Obama becomes first president to visit US prison (US Justice Systems / Human Rights)

Obama becomes first president to visit US prison   (US Justice Systems / Human Rights)
US President Barack Obama speaks as he tours the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)

US Death Penalty (Justice Systems / Human Rights)
Woman who spent 23 years on US death row cleared (Photo: dpa)


"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pancasila, development top Soeharto's legacies

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The death of Soeharto seems unlikely to change the public's perception of the former leader and his socio-political legacy for the country.

Many Indonesians today seem to perceive Soeharto as a repressive former leader who should be held accountable for numerous wrong doings during his 32 years of rule.

Others, however, have recalled the bright side of Soeharto, especially the long period of political stability under his rule that allowed the country to accelerate development.

Political analyst Muhammad Qadari said Monday during Soeharto's New Order government from 1966 to 1998, Indonesian politics was far from democratic.

NEW ORDER LEGACY: Students from state elementary school SDN Cipete Selatan in South Jakarta raise a flag to half-mast Monday to mark the official mourning period for former president Soeharto. (JP/Arief Suhardiman)

Entities like political parties, non-governmental organizations, labor unions and civil organizations were all repressed and required to embrace the one and only ideology, Pancasila.

"On the other hand, the authoritarian and undemocratic political system that led to state stability was very crucial for the success of the nation's development," Qodari said.

Political researcher Saiful Mujani said the most obvious legacy of Soeharto in Indonesia's political system was the existence of Pancasila as the country's single ideology.

Mujani said although Pancasila was promoted by Indonesia's first president, Sukarno, he had not possessed the ability or determination to make it the one and only ideology for Indonesia.

The strength of the ideology during Soeharto's reign saw the powerful religion-based organization Muhammadiyah accept Pancasila as its core ideology.

"Soeharto succeeded in building the foundation that Indonesia needed at that time," Mujani said.

"That foundation, Pancasila, was needed because without it, the country would emulate the crisis of the 1950s, when frequent regional upheavals and religious conflicts impeded Indonesia's attempts to develop," he said.

Mujani said Pancasila was still relevant now because it could accommodate a potential for the culturally diverse Indonesian people to apply democratic values.

However, he said the stability Indonesia had experienced during Soeharto's term in office was gained at the expense of the people's freedom to think and speak.

"For 32 years, stability was maintained by curbing the people's right to participate in politics by controlling the mass media and by repressing the political parties."

Mujani said when the success of economic development started to make Indonesians realize their political rights, Soeharto should have gradually lessened his government's control toward the public's participation in politics.

"In the early 1980s, when Indonesia's economy reached a stable and high level of growth, Soeharto should have started the succession process from him to another leader," Mujani said. (uwi)

A political timeline during Soeharto's rule

  • 1966 : Indonesian Communist Party is banned based on the March 11 presidential order (Supersemar)
  • 1966 : Communism, Marxism, Leninism is outlawed under a Provisional People's Consultative Assembly decree
  • 1966 : The Indonesian Armed Forces dual function is extended to ideological, social, political, economic and cultural affairs and economic development that requires political stability is introduced during a seminar at the Army Staff and Command School.
  • 1967 : Restriction against Chinese-Indonesians
  • 1971 : Floating mass policy that bans political parties from operating at village level is introduced ahead of the first general election since 1955.
  • 1975 : Simplifies multi-party system into three-party system.
  • 1975 : Invades and annexes East Timor
  • 1978 : Normalization of student campuses, banning students from political activities.
  • 1978 : Introduces mandatory Pancasila proselytization course and single loyalty to Pancasila ideology for parties and mass organizations.
  • 1989 : Launches military operation to crush rebellion in Aceh.
  • 1996 : Approves a splinter group of the Indonesian Democratic Party following a bloody takeover of the party's head office.
  • 1997 : Crackdown on government critics and student activists.

Soeharto ruled like a king: Experts

Blontank Poer, The Jakarta Post, Surakarta

Former strongman Soeharto who died Sunday and was buried at a family mausoleum Monday, ruled Indonesia like a Javanese king, experts said.

Sudharmono, a javanologist from the Sebelas Maret University in Surakarta, said Soeharto was acting as a king when he ruled Indonesia from 1966 to 1998.

He said this saw Soeharto free to do what he wanted and to give anything he intended to anyone he liked.

"During his reign, he perceived himself as the sole owner of Indonesian territory," Sudharmono said.

"He lent the land to the people, who in turn had to pay the rent for the well-being of the king," he said.

Murtidjono, an intellectual from Surakarta, said such an attitude possibly led to his decision to build a family mausoleum on the slope of Mount Lawu, despite his right to be buried at the Kalibata National hero cemetery in South Jakarta.

Murtidjono said the development of the family cemetery followed the royal tradition of building royal cemeteries such as the one in Mangadeg (for Surakarta kings) and in Imogiri (for Yogyakarta kings).

"Soeharto has an obsession to be a king because of his own background from an ordinary family," he said.

By building his own mausoleum, Soeharto might have expected people would flock to his tomb to seek his after-life blessing, Murtidjono said.

He cited the tomb of Indonesia's first president Sukarno in Blitar, East Java, as an example of a private cemetery that has attracted ordinary people to visit the tomb.

This happens, Murtidjono said, because people consider Sukarno as a great man according to the Javanese cosmic teaching.

Whether people would seek Soeharto's after-life blessing, would remain to be seen, he said.

A member of the Surakarta royal family who asked for anonymity, said Soeharto's Javanese cosmic beliefs had strongly influenced all of his policies and the decisions he made for his family and the people.

"Soeharto's spiritual life was principally based on the Kejawen Javanese mysticism," the source said Monday.

"That was why his critics frequently likened his leadership with Mataram King Amangkurat IV who dismissed rebellious Islamic regents during his reign."

During his life, Soeharto fasted a lot and visited "sacred places" across the archipelago to fill in and maintain his personal spirituality.

The source said Soeharto became like a part of the Surakarta royal family after he bought a royal house, the Kalitan in Surakarta, and after he built the Astana Giribangun family cemetery at a hill near the royal cemetery of Mangadeg.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Heritage disputes unnecessary: Society

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Culture belongs to everyone and arguments between Indonesia and Malaysia over the ownership of traditional songs and folklore should be avoided, the head of a heritage society said on the weekend.

A recent dispute between the two countries over ownership rights to a traditional song was unnecessary because "culture is for sharing", Endo Suanda, the director of the Indonesian Heritage Trust (BPPI), told a gathering in Jakarta on Saturday.

"If Malaysia believes Rasa Sayange originally came from there, let it be. We don't need to overreact as if we won't be able to enjoy the song anymore," said Endo, who is also the Archipelagic Art Academy director.

Rasa Sayange became the center of a heated debate in Indonesia last year when the House of Representatives protested against Malaysia's use of the song in its "Truly Asia" tourism campaign.

Tensions escalated in Indonesia when rumors circulated that Malaysia had also patented traditional Indonesian handicrafts, including batik and wayang puppets.

National Mandate Party (PAN) legislator Hakam Naja said Indonesia should sue the Malaysian government if it could be proven that the song originated in Indonesia.

While it is believed Rasa Sayange originated in Maluku, where people are believed to have sung it for generations to express their love for the environment, there is no proof as to who wrote the song.

The Malaysian government said Kuala Lumpur had never claimed ownership over the song and promised to drop two Indonesian traditional dances that were also featured in its tourism campaign.

"Culture does not belong to one specific nation. It is yours and ours and it belongs to everyone else too," said Endo.

"Why should we argue about this while everyone is still allowed to enjoy it?"

Endo said he was concerned people had classified culture into certain categories and said no one specific culture was better than another.

"We should not underestimate mixed cultures, which are created as a response to multicultural living, by saying that original cultures are better," he said.

As an example he cited Gambang Kromong music from Tangerang, which is a combination of several cultures, including Betawi, Melayu and Chinese.

Also present at Saturday's event was Hashim Djojohadikusumo, a businessman and art collector who will facilitate the return of the thousand-year-old "Minto" Stone to Indonesia from Scotland by the end of this year.

At the forum, the son of former New Order economist Soemitro Djojohadikusumo called on Indonesian businesspeople to contribute to culture-related philanthropic activities, saying it would help preserve the country's heritage.

"I am concerned that culture-related donations are usually donated by foreigners. Local businesses should be able to take part in this. Contributing our money is not a hard thing to do if we love art."

Also speaking at the gathering, academic Laretna T. Adishakti said philanthropists had contributed a lot to her efforts to revitalize a silver handicraft area devastated by Yogyakarta's earthquake in 2005.

"We haven't received help from the government except for the renovation of mosques in Kota Gede," said the lecturer from Gajah Mada University in Yogyakarta.

She said the revitalization of Kota Gede would take 20 years and would involve a large amount of funds.

"We have received Rp 1 billion (approximately US$106 million) so far," she said. (lln)

Soeharto era comes to a close

Jusuf Wanandi Jakarta, The Jakarta Post

Soeharto died on Sunday after a series of illnesses since stepping down in May 1998. He achieved substantial development and improvements in Indonesia since he reluctantly took over from Sukarno. However, he destroyed his own achievements because he overstayed his time and effectiveness and became isolated, surrounded by sycophants, as so often happened with authoritarian rulers.


In 1965 he was a hero to many Indonesians when he outlawed the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI), which tried to instigate a coup on September 30, 1965, and step by step removed Sukarno reluctantly. In the vacuum of power that ensued, a few hundred thousands members and supporters of the Communist Party were killed, and he did not do much about it.

He rehabilitated the economy that was in tatters due to Sukarno's negligence, and embarked on economic development, which after 20 years made Indonesia one of the tigers of Southeast Asia. However, he damaged his achievements afterwards when he practiced KKN (corruption, cronyism and nepotism). He encouraged bribes and corruption, and the society is still suffering from it today. His poor governance worsened the financial crisis.

In the beginning he did pay a great deal of attention to the farmers and did a lot for the poor through education, basic healthcare and family planning. But the crisis in 1998 erased most of the achievements, as unemployment, underemployment and poverty started to increase again.

He brought political stability following the upheavals in the late 1960s, but his increased autocratic ways became a renewed source of instability, local conflicts and rebellions.

In the end only his foreign policy was a success. He ended Konfrontasi, the confrontation with Malaysia, in August 1965 despite Sukarno's opposition. ASEAN was established in 1967, and with this, he placed Indonesia in a regional structure. He earned the trust of the other members, and as Lee Kuan Yew has acknowledged, it was the leadership of Indonesia that sustained ASEAN.

Despite being close to the West for economic reasons, especially early in his presidency, he managed to stay as free and independent as any non-aligned country. He got a lot of recognition from UN agencies such as the FAO and others.

What legacies has he left behind? He created a middle class which has made democracy a more viable political system in Indonesia, and paired with the decentralization that was introduced following his demise, Indonesia has been kept together following the upheavals after the crisis of 1997-98.

He created a more balanced foreign policy, which had become highly adventurous during the Sukarno presidency. This was more in accordance with Indonesia's free and independent principles laid down by the Founding Fathers, especially Mohammad Hatta and Sutan Syahrir. In other areas, he started well, but then it became disjointed because of his authoritarian rule and for staying in power for too long. He opened the economy, but he also introduced KKN into the system, which has become a curse until today.

He was unwilling to prepare a new generation of leaders, and as a result all the four presidents after him were not up to the task.

Soeharto's reign was indeed a very mixed blessing for the country and society. Our feelings for him are at best very ambivalent. On the one hand he was a hero, but he overstayed in his job and a created a lot of excesses that were unacceptable and could not be condoned. That is why strengthening state and society institutions should be our main focus in the future, and the country should no more rely so heavily on strongmen and charismatic leaders.

The writer is vice chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Jakarta

Indonesia has lost its best son: president

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Indonesia had lost its best son with the demise of former president Soeharto, and called on the people to honestly appreciate his services to the state and nation.

"We have just lost our best son, a stalwart freedom fighter, a true soldier and a highly respected statesman," the president said at the former strongman`s funeral at the Astana Giribangun graveyard, Karanganyar district, Central Java, on Monday.

He said Indonesian people who had a clear heart and mind had to acknowledge that the Late Soeharto had contributed much to the state and nation.

The president said the Indonesian people should also be aware of the fact that as a human being and as leader of a nation, Soeharto was not free from mistakes and shortcomings.

"Nobody in this world is perfect. On this important occasion, I would like to appeal to all Indonesian people to pray for Soeharto so that his soul will rest in peace and be accepted at Allah`s side in accordance with his good deeds, dedication, struggle and sacrifices," he said.

Yudhoyono said that during his life, Soeharto had built up long careers in the military, in politics and the overnment.

When he was till young during the 1945-1959 physical struggle for independence, Soeharto consistently fought the colonial forces in defense of the state and nation`s sovereignty.

History had also recorded a number of monumental struggles he had waged together with other freedom fighters such as the General Attack of March 1, 1949 in which colonial troops were driven out of Yogyakarta city.

"This important event added enormous weight to Indonesia`s diplomacy to uphold its sovereignty," he said.

After the revolutionary period, the Late Soeharto was in 1962 assigned as commander of the `Mandala" Military Command to liberate West Irian through military operations, the president said.

He said, when Indonesia was paralyzed by a communist coup attempt in 1965, Soeharto once again stepped forward to safeguard the state and nation`s integrity, and restored order and security.

Yudhoyono also said that since he was installed as Indonesian president on March 27, 1968, Soeharto had consistently implemented national development on the basis of a trilogy - stability, growth and equitable distribution of the fruits of development.

Soeharto died on Sunday of multi-organ failure at Pertamina Hospital in South Jakarta at the age of 86 after being medically treated for 24 days. He was admitted to the hospital with anemia and severe edema.

World leaders praise stability Soeharto gave Indonesia

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - World leaders on Sunday praised the late Indonesian president Soeharto for the stability and growth he brought to the region but said serious rights abuses marred his long rule.

The former general, 86 when he died on Sunday, ruled with an iron fist for 32 years, allowing rapid development and holding together the diverse nation.

But his time in power, which ended in 1998 after mass protests, also witnessed corruption, massacres and human rights abuses, particularly in separatist hot spots such as Papua and East Timor.

"Former President Soeharto was one of the longest-serving heads of government of the last century and an influential figure in Australia's region and beyond," Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was quoted by Reutersa as saying in a statement.

"The former president was also a controversial figure in respect of human rights and East Timor and many have disagreed with his approach," said Rudd, who praised Soeharto for modernising Indonesia and his efforts to forge a united region.

"Singapore would like to convey our deepest sympathies to the Indonesian people for their profound loss," a spokesman from Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said via email.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia, another Muslim nation in the region, said Soeharto's death was a great loss to both countries.

"We pray to Allah to bless Pak Harto's soul and to place him among the blessed," Abdullah told reporters, using the popular name for Soeharto.

Stability, suffering

Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, 82, whose time in office overlapped Soeharto's for nearly two decades, told the Bernama state news agency: "I regarded him as a friend of Malaysia and as a personal friend.

"Even though Indonesia was not an ideal democracy during Soeharto's time, the fact remained that he brought stability to Indonesia. Of course, there is a price to be paid," Mahathir said, acknowledging that some people had suffered under Soeharto's administration.

Mahathir said his country was indebted to Soeharto for his role in ending the Indonesian "Confrontation" against Malaysia.

Sukarno, Indonesia's first president, had declared a "Confrontation" against Malaysia in 1964, which then included Singapore along with the Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak.

Sukarno believed all of Borneo belonged to Indonesia and announced his intention to arm a million leftist peasants and workers to do battle with Malaysia.

Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen said: "Under Soeharto's rule, Indonesia experienced a period of relative stability. The economy grew strongly, notably in the 1980s.

After he stepped down, Indonesia democratically chose a new leader. That confirms that Indonesia is a democratic country where the people have the last word."

The Netherlands is Indonesia's former colonial master.

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda offered condolences via a telegram. Japan invaded and briefly overthrew Dutch rule during World War Two and is now a key investor in the nation.

Bangladesh described Soeharto's death as "the end of an era" but also noted the inconsistencies in his rule.

"Soeharto leaves behind a mixed bag of legacies, while his supporters see him as the father of development, his opponents describe him as dictatorial," said Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, adviser on foreign affairs to Bangladesh's interim government.

UN chief expresses condolences after Soeharto death

United Nations (ANTARA News) - United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon on Sunday expressed his condolences after the death of former Indonesian president Soeharto, saying he led the country during an "important period."

"The secretary general expresses his condolences to the government and people of Indonesia on the death of former president Soeharto," was quoted by AFP as saying in a statement by Ban's spokesperson.

"President Soeharto's 32-year leadership of Indonesia was both an important period in the country's history and a time during which Indonesia played a significant role in international affairs."

Soeharto died on Sunday at the age of 86 from multiple organ failure after a three-week fight for his life as he battled heart, lung and kidney problems.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

President Yudhoyono visits late Soeharto

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Sunday afternoon visited late Soeharto who was being laid in state at the former president`s residence on Cendana Street, Central Jakarta.

The head of state in the company of Vice President Jusuf Kalla left directly from the Presidential Palace for the residence of late Soeharto whose remains would be buried at the Astana Giribangun grave yard in Solo, Central Java, on Monday (January 28).

On the occasion, the president and the vice president expressed deep sympathy to late Soeharto`s family over the loss of the former president.

President Yudhoyono was scheduled to attend the funeral of late Soeharto, during which he would serve as the inspector of the funeral ceremony.

The head of state was slated to leave the Halim Perdanakusumah Air Force base in Jakarta at 6.30 a.m. on Monday for the Adi Sumarmo airport in Solo, Central Java.

Astana Giri Bangun cemetery ready for Soeharto

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post) : Authorities at the Astana Giri Bangun cemetery, Karanganyar, Central Java are stepping up their preparation Sunday for the burial of former president Soeharto, who died at 86.

Metro TV station reported in a rainy and strong windy weather at the cemetery that Soeharto's body will be flown from Jakarta to his home in Kalitan, Surakarta on Monday morning.

Later on Monday, his body will be brought to the Astana Giri Bangun cemetery for burial.

Soeharto's wife, Tien Soeharto, who died in 1996, was also buried in the cemetery.

Soeharto's Kalitan residence is reportedly able to accommodate up to 5,000 people, while the Astana Giri Bangun cemetery 2,000 people.

Soeharto: Demise of a master

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post) : The father of development is dead.

Venerated for much of his 32-year tenure as the liberator he appeared to be after more than two decades of authoritarian rule under his predecessor, Sukarno, and vilified near its end for his authoritarian rule and for the corruption he appeared to condone in his later years in office, Indonesia's second president, Soeharto died quietly Sunday aged 86 at Pertamina Hospital.

A complication of illnesses had sapped the former military strongman of his vitality during the last years of his life. He leaves behind the partially grown seeds of an ambitious industrial modernization plan and a legacy of sectarian strife and unbridled corruption.

Soeharto's rise to the peak of executive power began in 1968, in the wake of the abortive communist coup three years earlier. The ascension of the unassuming, quietly smiling general, the polar opposite of the charismatic and hugely popular foundingpresident Sukarno, took many of his countrymen by surprise, many of whom believed Sukarno had a unassailable hold over the nation.

And yet, given the country's political makeup and power constellation of the day, Soeharto quickly established he was more than enough equipped for the post he was to assume, despite humble beginnings and earlier frustrations.

Some confusion regarding his origins aside, the official accounts record that Soeharto was born on June 8, 1921, to a poor but not unimportant farmer's family in Kemusuk, about 15 kilometers northwest of Yogyakarta. His father, Kertosudiro, was a village irrigation official in charge of overseeing the allocation of water to irrigate the different fields in the village. His mother, Sukirah, was a village woman from a neighboring hamlet.

The marriage broke down just a few weeks after Soeharto's birth and the child was entrusted to the care of his paternal great aunt, from where he returned to live with his mother only after she remarried. And although schooling began when he was only four years old -- a most unusually early age, especially forIndonesian village children of that time -- his formal education was disrupted several times because the young child's frequent shuttling between relatives in his extended family.

From this troubled, itinerant youth, Soeharto was later to remember with special fondness and gratitude the time he spent with the family of one of his paternal aunts, the wife of a senior agricultural official, Mas Ngabei Prawirohardjo. It was here at Wuryantoro that Soeharto appeared to have spent his most formative period. It was here too, through his relationship with the Prawirohardjos, that he was to meet his future wife, Siti Hartinah, the daughter of the district chief of nearby Wonogiri, RM Soemoharjomo.

After completing his secondary schooling in 1939 at the age of 17, Soeharto left a troubled childhood behind and started work as a clerical assistant at a local bank in Wuryantoro. The job didn't last long. Soon after he started work, his banking career was terminated after he tore a piece of his clothing, which he said he could not afford to replace.

Desperate for work but not very successful in finding a suitable job, Soeharto enlisted with KNIL (Royal Netherlands Indies Army), where he began service on June 1, 1940, and it was there that he received his basic military training. But although he reportedly did well and was later accepted to the KNIL officer training school in Gombong, Central Java, in December of that year, his real opportunity for a solid military career came in March 1942, with the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies and the subsequent proclamation of Indonesia's independence on Aug. 17, 1945.

After the establishment of the BKR (the People's Security Body) and subsequent TKR (People's Security Army) -- both forerunners of the Indonesian National Army, or TNI -- in which he took an active role, Soeharto's military star steadily rose.

Promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel in 1945, he distinguished himself during the Dutch military occupation of Yogyakarta, the new Republic of Indonesia's war capital. 

Despite some controversy over the exact role he played in the renowned March 1, 1949, daytime assault on Dutch strongholds in Yogyakarta, his leadership as commander in the field at the time remains undisputed and the attack served its purpose of convincing the world that the Indonesian Republic continued to exist and had not succumbed to the superior Dutch military might.

The same tactical and strategic mastery that Soeharto had displayed during the war for independence served him well during and after the traumatic days of October 1965, following the alleged communist coup in September. And those who have ever wondered how Soeharto had managed to wrest the seemingly absolute powers from the hands of his predecessor, Sukarno, and go on to become a near-absolute ruler himself, will have to admit that Soeharto's tactical and strategic mastery in politics was virtually unrivaled for his time.

With patience, skill and resolve -- and a philosophical world view that he conceivably acquired from his troubled childhood and his typically Javanese upbringing -- Soeharto always remained true to the Javanese saying alon-alon waton kelakon (slowly but surely) and never made a move, in war or in politics, until he was certain that the victory would be his. Given the right moment, however, he could strike swiftly and with the ruthlessness of a Javanese potentate of old. With that skill and patience, he moved to gradually unseat Sukarno from the presidency, defying protests that he was moving too slowly.

On March 11, 1966, while still only a commander of the Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) leading the fight against the coup's plotters, he sent four of his generals to Bogor, Sukarno's sanctuary, to wrest from the president the authority to take whatever action he thought was necessary "to restore orderand protect the president." Mysteriously, the original document has since disappeared.

With that mandate in hand, however, Soeharto quickly moved to outlaw the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), dismiss and arrest 15 of Sukarno's cabinet ministers, and appoint a new cabinet with Soeharto himself as head of the presidium.

From that point on, history proceeded quickly.

Soeharto undid all of Sukarno's left-leaning policies. He stabilized the economy, restored good relations with Malaysia and foreign investments were welcomed. Appointed Acting President as a stand-in for the now socially and politically isolated Sukarno, Soeharto was named full president on March 27, 1968 by a People's Consultative Assembly whose members were, discreetly, handpicked by Soeharto.

Like his predecessor Sukarno, left, Mr. Suharto, right, worked to forge national
unity in a fractious country of 200 million people comprising 300 ethnic groups
 speaking 250 languages and inhabiting more than 17,000 islands spread over a
3,500-mile archipelago (The New York Times

Under Soeharto's New Order, old roads were repaired and new roads constructed, irrigation ditches were built, factories rose across the country and the banking industry seemed outwardly to flourish. A master in translating complicated issues into a language the common people could understand, he regularly captivated audiences of peasants in the villages. A picture of rising wealth and growing prosperity was painted for the people to refute the increasing grumbles of hardship, earning him the designation of Indonesia's "father of development."

To govern effectively and to carry out his economic programs without disruptions, however, political stability was needed. Therefore, open dissent was suppressed. For the purpose of keeping political parties -- and the legislative bodies, the House of Representatives and the People's Consultative Assembly(MPR) -- in rein, a machinery, was created in the form of Golkar to make sure that Soeharto, the president, won the majority of votes in support of his policies every time.

Within the judiciary and throughout the entire bureaucracy, the same policy was pursued: to make sure that officials toe the government line while preserving an outward facade of democracy, all the state institutions were revamped and peopled with New Order supporters. But while in this way political stability was indeed ensured, at least for the time being, those policies provided a fertile breeding bed for corruption, which, indeed thrived and blossomed beyond imagination and, over those three decades under the New Order, quickly came to infest nearly all walks of life.

In the end, however, the 1997 Asian financial crisis burst to expose the ersatz glitter and, combined with the discontent that had been simmering domestically among the oppressed masses, proved too much for even Soeharto to handle. In May 1998, Indonesia's longest-ruling president was forced to resign amid riots and popular protests the extent and ferocity of which the nation had seen only a few times before.

Mr. Suharto after he was forced from office. He managed to escape criminal
 prosecution for embezzling millions of dollars, possibly billions, by having himself
declared too ill and mentally incapable to stand trial. A civil suit against him
was pending at the time of his death. (The New York Times)

The father of development is dead. But as for Indonesia, Soeharto's demise, and that of the New Order he founded, marks not only the end of the remarkable life and the loss of a great if controversial leader, but hopefully the end of an era of extended autocratic presidencies as well.

Related Articles:

Yudhoyono cancels visit to Bali on Soeharto`s death

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has cancelled a planned visit to attend the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) meeting due to the death of former president Soeharto at Pertamina Hospital in South Jakarta.

Former President Soeharto (86) died on Sunday (Jan 27) at 13:10 after he was treated for 24 days at the Pertamina Hospital in South Jakarta.

Andi Mallarangeng, presidential spokesman said here on Sunday that Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Widodo AS will represent president Yudhoyono in the international meeting.

A total of 29 officials at ministerial level have confirmed participation in the UNCAC meeting in the Indonesian tourist resort province of Bali on January 28 - February 1, 2008.

"Twenty nine ministerial level officials have until today confirmed participation in the conference. But we believe that more than the number would attend it," Bali Police Chief Insp. Gen. Paulus Purwoko said earlier.

The Indonesian second president was admitted to Pertamina Hospital on January 4, 2008, for suffering from anemia and severe edema.

National mourning days declared to respect late Soeharto

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Cabinet Secretary Sudi Silalahi announced here Sunday the national mourning days (7 days) of silence to respect late former president Soeharto who died of multiple organ failure on Sunday (Jan 27) at 1:30 p.m. at Pertamina Hospital in South Jakarta.

Indonesians are to observe seven days of silence starting on Sunday (Januray 27) to respect the late former president.

Arts council presents Batak music

The Jakarta Post

The Jakarta Arts Council, in cooperation with the Batak Community Association of Greater Jakarta, will present on Jan. 26 an evening of Batak Toba dance and music titled Gondang Napaso.

Taking place at Rawamangun Stadium in East Jakarta, the show will start at 6 p.m. Admission is free.

Gondang Napaso, which will be performed by youngsters of Batak Toba ethnicity -- originally from the Lake Toba region of North Sumatra -- consists of manortor (dance), umpama (dialogue) and gondang hasapi (music).

Gondang Napaso is a traditional show that is rarely staged in North Sumatra today. In the past, the performance of Gondang Napaso posed an opportunity for youngsters from different regions to come together in search of their "soul mates". --JP

For more information, please phone The Jakarta Arts Council on (021) 3193 7639/316 2780

Indonesia`s former president Soeharto dies

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Former President Soeharto (86) died on Sunday (Jan 27) at 13:10 after he was treated about two weeks at the Pertamina Hospital in South Jakarta.

The Indonesian second president was admitted to the Pertamina Hospital last Friday on January 4, 2008, for suffering from anemia and severe edema.

Soeharto began his New Order government after then President Soekarno authorized him in March 1966 to overcome the chaotic situation in the aftermath of the aborted Communist coup in 1965.

A special session of the provisional People`s Consultative Assembly (MPRS) in March 1967 appointed Soeharto acting president and he was officially sworn in Indonesia`s second president in March 1968.

Soeharto who was born in Kemusuk village, Yogyakarta, on June 8, 1921, ruled the country for 32 years through six consecutive general elections.

Between 1960 and 1965, the national economy grew merely by an average of 2.1 percent annually. The inflation rate reached over 250 percent in 1961-1965 and even jumped to 650 percent in 1966.

After the stabilization and rehabilitation drive carried out by the New Order in 1966 and 1968, economic growth reached an average of six percent.

Thus, in 1969, Soeharto began to implement his ideas to lift up the country from poverty through five-year development plans called "Repelita".

At the start of Repelita I, Indonesia`s per capita income stood at US$70, and Indonesia was rated as one of the poorest countries in the world.

About three decades later, the country`s per capita income went up to US$1,155 and Indonesia was regarded a middle income country. The economy grew convincingly by an average of seven to eight percent a year over a period of 25 years.

Entering the 80s and the 90s, the inflation rate was maintained at an average of 10 percent, and in 1996 it reached 6.5 percent.

The result of Soeharto`s economic programs made Indonesia which had been crippled by poverty in the previous three decades, one of the newly emerging economies in South East Asia.

The number of poor people declined from 60 percent in 1967 to 40 percent in 1980 and 21 percent or 37 million people in 1987. With a population of about 200 million, Indonesia was able to further reduce the number of its poor to 11.3 percent or 22.5 million in 1996.

The success of his economic development earned him the title "Bapak Pembangunan" (Father of Development) which was conferred on him by the People`s Consultative Assembly (MPR) in 1983 in recognition of his success.

Through diversification in the agricultural sector, Soeharto also succeeded in turning Indonesia from a rice-importing to a rice-exporting nation.

In 1980, Soeharto declared Indonesia self-sufficient in rice and traveled to Rome in 1985 to receive a crowning award from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.

The New Order era leader resigned from the presidential post on May 21, 1998.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Fauzi opens new park for jogging

JAKARTA (Jakarta Post) : Governor Fauzi Bowo officially opened Friday a public jogging park located in the heart of Kelapa Gading in North Jakarta.

The 1.6-hectare park on Jl. Bulevar Kelapa Gading features a 500-meter jogging track.

"This is the biggest park Summarecon has ever built. The park forms part of Summarecon's efforts to restore green areas," said Cut Meutia, the corporate public relations manager of Summarecon.

Summarecon built and designed the park with the city parks agency, which owns the park.

"The park, which is open to the public, may function as a place for both recreation and exercise," Meutia said.

Outdated version of history remains today's reference

Angela Dewan, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

At the National History Museum beneath the National Monument (Monas) in Central Jakarta, hundreds of schoolchildren from Central Java were told a particular version of history portraying former president Soeharto as a symbol of strength and benevolence. On the same day, the former president was still lying weakly in a Jakarta hospital.

The museum exhibits dioramas that span from prehistoric Indonesia until 1992, when Soeharto made a plea for peace and stability at the Tenth Conference for the Non-Aligned Movement.

The exhibition glorifies the military in its fight for independence. Of the 13 dioramas that contain information from during Sukarno's presidency, his name is mentioned only twice whereas the military is praised in five of the 13 dioramas.

The museum was founded by Soeharto himself. Founding president Sukarno began construction of the National Monument in 1961, however, it was Soeharto who finished the construction in 1975 and was in the position to then create the museum.

The museum usually attracts at least 500 visitors on weekdays and 10,000 visitors during school holidays. The museum records Indonesia's history only until 1992, six years prior to the fall of the Soeharto government, which is given no mention.

The year 1965 is ignored, except for the murder of the seven generals in an attempted coup blamed on the communists. Nothing is mentioned about the alleged massacre of at least 500,000 people, according to the most conservative estimate. Other reports say two million alleged communists and communist sympathizers were killed in the period following the failed coup.

The museum also only mentions the 1966 student movement, while the 1974, 1978 and 1998 student protests against Soeharto receive no mention.

"What content we can use depends on the policies of the government," says Ageng Darimintono, the deputy head of administration at Monas. "The government has power over the museums, especially the National Monument because it is such a powerful source of information."

Indri, a junior high school teacher from Central Java, said, "I think the museum is very useful for my students. I don't think they should talk about killings because it is just a rumor that they happened."

After the 1998 reformasi, the contents of history books for schoolchildren have been the center of an ongoing debate. The contents of the museum, however, remain outdated and inaccurate.

Ageng remains hopeful. "Last year there was a seminar in Bogor aimed at redesigning the dioramas in this museum. It is under the ministers for education, and tourism and culture. They want to give information about what happened in 1965."

Ageng believes that it may be possible to exhibit the information should Soeharto pass away.

As Soeharto lies in the hospital, some students and activists protest about alleged killings throughout the 32 years of his rule, while others continue to visit the National History Museum.

Ageng awaits the opportunity for change. "We would like to make this monument something to be proud of."

Historical bridge ready to charm

The Jakarta Post

While officials had not yet announced the reopening of Kota Intan Bridge in the Old City, many tourists have come to the site to have a look and take pictures.

Security guard Agus Sudarmanto said around 20 local and foreign tourists had been coming to the site daily since last month's renovation.

"They come here to learn about the bridge's history."

Most of the visitors came as part of a school field trip or accompanied by a tour guide, he said.

Visitors have to ask for a letter from the Jakarta History Museum to visit as the bridge isn't officially open, according to Agus.

"We can't let people in who don't have a letter", said the guard, adding that he was sorry to see some visitors littering and defacing walls.

Abdul, a chicken porridge vendor, said the stream of visitors wasn't helping him too much.

"Only school kids buy porridge."

Kota Intan, formerly known as Engelse Brug, was built by the Dutch in 1628 as a gateway for ships entering the capital from Kali Besar and Kali Jelangkeng.

The name was changed to Pasar Ayam Bridge in 1630 and then Juliana Bridge in 1936.

Known as Kota Intan since 1945, the bridge is one of the popular historical sites in West Jakarta's Old City.

Other sites include Fatahillah Square, Glodok, Sunda Kelapa Port, Syahbandar Tower, the Maritime Museum and the Puppet Museum. (ewd)

29 ministers confirm participation in UNCAC in Bali

Denpasar, Bali (ANTARA News) - A total of 29 ministerial level officials have confirmed participation in the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in the Indonesian tourist resort province of Bali on January 28 - February 1, 2008.

"Twenty nine ministerial level officials have until today confirmed participation in the conference. But we believe that more than that would attend it," Bali Police Chief Insp. Gen. Paulus Purwoko said here on Friday.

Paulus said he would field some 1,500 police personnel to maintain security during the conference. Besides the police, hundreds of military personnel will also be deployed to help maintain security.

He said that the United Nations would also send at least 10 security officers headed by Hassan Rahimmy of Germany.

Rahimmy has been in Bali for an inspection of a drill by security groups, along with Paulus on Friday evening.

The UNCAC meeting will be held at Bali`s International Convention Center, Westin Resorts, Nusa Dua.

Thousands of delegates from 140 countries, 284 non-governmental organizations, 21 national and international organizations are expected to attend the conference.

In the meantime, the conference scheduled to be opened by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, will be covered by about 1,300 local and foreign journalists.

Asean agrees to launch tourism joint promotion drive

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - All ASEAN member countries have expressed agreement to the Indonesian proposal to implement the ASEAN tourism joint promotion with a view to increasing the number of tourists visiting the region, a minister said.

Jero Wacik, Culture and Tourism Minister said here on Friday that the agreement was reached in the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) held in Bangkok, Thailand, from January 18 to 22, 2008.

"We have proposed in the forum that the ten ASEAN member countries would launch a joint promotion drive by publishing `Inflight Magazines` and making VCDs in cooperation with the Japan Center. This will be very helpful to Indonesia in promoting our tourism potentials to other countries," he said.

Jero Wacik made the remarks after attending the opening of a 2008 undersea digital photo competition in Jakarta in the company of Freddy Numberi, Maritime and Fisheries Minister.

ASEAN comprises Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, The Philippines and Vietnam.

Minister Jero Wacik said further that the tourism joint promotion drive will strengthen the ASEAN spirit and support the regional grouping`s efforts to develop the region into a single tourism destination.

In the Bangkok meeting the ASEAN tourism ministers also proposed the use of an ASEAN tourism logogram on ASEAN airplanes and the formation of an ASEAN Promotion Chapter for Tourism in several cities in addition to Shanghai, Seoul and Sydney, and stepping up the ASEAN Cruise Promotion.

During the ATF meeting, tourism ministers of Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, engaged in the IMT-GT (Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand- Growth Triangle) also agreed to raise the number of tourists visiting the three countries by newly-opened air routes such as the Banda Aceh (Indonesia) - Penang (Malaysia), Langkawi (Malaysia)-Phuket (Thailand), Medan/Padang (Indonesia) - Hat Yai (Thailand) routes.

The three ministers also agreed to boost the tourism business in the regions covered by the IMT-GT by holding tourism events along with a campaign on the start of the Visit IMT-GT 2008-2009.

It was also reported in the ATF meeting that the number of international tourists in ASEAN Plus Three (Japan, China, South Korea) in 2007 reached 99 million.

Apart from that, Jero Wacik also attended the first meeting of ASEAN-India tourism ministers.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Ancient relic to return from Scotland

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

A thousand-year-old stone tablet known as the Sanggurah Stone, or more commonly the "Minto" stone, is expected to be returned to its home in Indonesia from Scotland before the end of 2008.

The return will be made possible thanks to Hashim Djojohadikusumo, who is currently working with high-profile artifact theft from Surakarta museum.

The historical artifact originated from Malang, East Java, weighs around three tons and is two meters tall. It is held in Roxburghshire, Scotland.

It has been part of a family collection belonging to the former British Governor General of India, Lord Minto, after being presented to him by British Governor Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles in the early 19th century.

The primeval stone tablet bears an ancient inscription dated 982 AD along with the name of a Javanese king, Sri Maharaja Rakai Pangkaja Dyah Wawa Sri Wijayalokanamottungga, who ruled over Malang at that time.

"The Minto Stone is an important historical artifact and a crucial source of information. It contains the history of the Mataram kingdom in Central Java and its eventual shift of power to East Java," Culture and Tourism Ministry director general of history and archeology Hari Untoro Drajat announced at a media gathering Thursday.

"Upon the artifact's return to Indonesia, facilitated by the Hashim Djojohadikusumo Foundation (YKHD), it will be placed in the National Museum in Jakarta," he said.

"The government has been attempting to secure the return of the artifact since 2004, but government-to-government negotiations have proven difficult because the relic is currently in the custodianship of Minto Trustees," Hari said.

"So we requested that YKHD step in and facilitate the return, because we recognized that non-state parties would have more leeway in negotiating."

Prominent businessman and arts collector Hashim Djojohadikusumo said YKHD, a charity organization dedicated to the preservation of Indonesia's cultural and archeological heritage, had been involved in negotiations to secure the return of the Minto Stone since early last year.

"In April 2007, we accepted a mission from the state conveyed to us by the Director General and Dr. Soeroso, and have since met thrice with Lord Minto himself in London to negotiate the return of the artifact," he said.

London-based Hashim, son of the late prominent New Order economist Soemitro Djojohadikusumo, was recently linked to a high-profile theft and forgery case involving a number of collections from a Surakarta museum following the discovery of five of the stolen archaeological artifacts at his house in Jakarta.

Hashim is said to have bought the precious ninth century statues, of the country's Hindu-Buddha era, abroad from Hugo Kreijger, a Dutch arts dealer and consultant for Christie's auction house in Amsterdam. (amr)

Garuda to have extra flights on China routes late this year

Beijing (ANTARA News) - Indonesian national flag carrier Garuda is in 2008 to conduct extra flights between Jakarta and a number of Chinese cities to meet highly increased demand for air transportation during a long holiday season in China and the Olympic Games in the Chinese capital.

"We are planning to conduct extra flights on routes between Jakarta and a number of cities in China," general manager of Garuda`s branch office in Beijing, Pikri Ilham, said here on Friday.

He said Garuda was at present serving its Jakarta-Beijing route three times a week, its Jakarta-Shanghai route four times a week and its Jakarta-Gaungzhou route four times a week.

But later this year, Garuda would conduct a total of 30 extra flights between Jakarta and the Chinese cities, namely 12 additional flights on its Jakarta-Beijing route, 12 additional flights on its Jakarta-Guangzhou route and 6 additional flights on its Jakarta-Shanghai route.

Pikri said the extra flights would be provided to meet requests from several travel agents in Beijing who foresee a drastic surge in the number of tourists from China to Indonesia and the other way round later this year.

"We have been asked by many travel agents in China to increase the number of our flights because the number of passengers during the Chinese Lunar New Year and the Olympic Games in Beijing will rise," Pikri said.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Jakarta`s "Old City" being provided with tourist transportation facilities

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Jakarta`s "old city" in the capital`s western part will soon have a minibus service to carry tourists around the area.

"We will operate two minibuses on a route connecting all objects of touristic interest in the area," deputy head of the local transportation office Udar Pristono told ANTARA News on Thursday.

He said the service would be run jointly by his office and the Jakarta branch of the culture and tourism department.

"A complete bus ride starts at the Bank Mandiri Museum, makes a stop at the Puppet Museum and ends at the Mandiri Museum. The route is being discussed with the tourism and culture office," he said.

In the near future, a tunnel for pedestrians would connect the old city with the rest of Jakarta, he added.

"Tourists staying in accommodations on Jalan Thamrin, one of Jakarta`s main thoroughfares, could take a TransJakarta bus to the downtown Kota area where they only need to pass through the pedestrian tunnel to reach the Mandiri Museum. So people do not need to use private cars to reach the old city," he added.

A pedestrian lane along Pintu Besar Utara Street in front of the Puppet Museum and the Fatahillah Museum Park was now under construction.

Work to provide the transportation facilities was started in 2006 as part of a project to revitalize Jakarta`s old city as a tourist attraction.

The old city proper covers a total area of 864 hectares.