Subject: The Australian: Yudhoyono's Star Shining Bright [+Times on Wiranto]

Also: Indonesia, let me save you, says a war crimes suspect; Wiranto gives protesters the slip

[Note according to the Masters of Terror database: Yudhoyono was Chief of Socio-Political Staff Chief of Territorial Affairs (Kaster) with East Timor responsibilities in 1999. Yudhoyono shared command responsibility for the criminal conduct of TNI forces in East Timor in 1999. After the withdrawal from East Timor he defended the TNI against allegations that it had committed crimes against humanity by presenting what had happened in East Timor as far less serious than Rwanda, Bosnia or the Nazis in World War II. 'There is a conspiracy, an international movement... to corner Indonesia by taking up the issue', he said. He took part in Operation Seroja, the invasion of East Timor, and had several tours of duty there since, including commanding the Dili-based battalion 744 some time in the 1970s. http://www.yayasanhak.minihub.org/mot/Susilo%20Bambang%20Yudhoyono.htm]

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

also: The Times (London): Indonesia, let me save you, says a war crimes suspect

The Australian April 5, 2004

'Statesman of Bali' favoured to have his own day in the sun

The star of former general Yudhoyono is shining bright, reports Jakarta correspondent Sian Powell

AUSTRALIANS who mourned the dead at the first commemoration of the Bali bombings will remember the man who is now the favourite in Indonesia's presidential race.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, then Indonesia's chief security minister, moved many to tears as he stood under the hot Bali sun, and spoke of the tragedy that had ripped apart so many lives.

"They were our sons, our daughters, our fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, our cousins, our best friends, our soulmates," he said. "And they were all innocents. They all had happy plans to spend 'tomorrow' under the sun. They all had families to write and come home to."

It was a statesman-like oration and exactly suited the mood of the mourners. SBY, as he is familiarly called, on Friday became Indonesia's most popular presidential candidate according to two of the nation's most reputable polls.

Today's massive nationwide election, canvassing 147 million voters, will determine whether Mr Yudhoyono's tiny Democrat party follows on his coat-tails. According to Friday's broad-based International Foundation for Election Systems poll, the wily campaigner's support had doubled to 18 per cent and outstripped that for President Megawati Sukarnoputri for the first time.

An Indonesian Survey Organisation (LSI) poll also found Mr Yudhoyono rated as Indonesia's most popular presidential candidate, with 31 per cent support, followed by Mrs Megawati with 21 per cent support. Suddenly the SBY star is shining bright.

It had been eclipsed earlier in the year, when he was forced to offer his resignation as chief security minister in Mrs Megawati's cabinet, ostensibly because he misused public advertisements to sell himself. The ads featured an avuncular SBY calling for a peaceful election. They particularly infuriated the President's husband, Taufiq Kiemas, who called the security minister "childish".

Yet his resignation gave Mr Yudhoyono, a one-time army general, the opportunity to spend all his time campaigning for his tiny Democrat party. The complexities of both today's parliamentary election and the direct presidential election scheduled for July means it is impossible to say with any certainty how the cards will fall, but one thing is clear: SBY is now a force to be reckoned with.

Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) political analyst Mochtar Prabotinggi says that while Mr Yudhoyono is clearly a man of integrity, he fears the former general has yet to shrug off the military influence of years in the army elite.

Although not connected with the Indonesian military's more reprehensible campaigns, Mr Yudhoyono was chief of staff of the Jakarta Regional Military Command at the time of the attack on Mrs Megawati's party headquarters in July 1996. It was a brutal Suharto crackdown on a rival political force and the exact death toll remains unknown.

"That's what I'm worried about with SBY and the Democrat Party -- there's a smell of the military," Dr Prabotinggi says.

Mr Yudhoyono is likely to be popular with Western governments, not least because he has said all the right things about the war on terror. At the Bali commemoration he said Indonesia would spare no effort to hunt down those responsible for the attacks.

"Some are still on the run, but make no mistake: we will hunt them, we will find them, we will bring them to justice."

He is pragmatic, too, about the nature of terrorism in Indonesia. Last year he warned publicly that it was time to abandon the "international conspiracy" theories and admit the Bali bombings and the Marriott blast were the work of Indonesians.

Landry Subianto, a political analyst with the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta, believes SBY already has moved past his military phase. Mr Subianto's concerns are more about the politician's character: Mr Yudhoyono is known to be indecisive, dithering on critical decisions.

"His style of leadership is seen as too cautious, too careful, and that's ingrained in his personality," he says.

The showdown with Mrs Megawati actually became a selling point for Mr Yudhoyono, Mr Subianto believes. He stood up to an administration that has become increasingly disliked by ordinary Indonesians, and managed to do it in a seemingly fair and honest way.

Dr Prabotinggi says it's entirely reasonable for the Indonesian electorate to prefer SBY over the incumbent President. "He is much calmer than her," he says. "Besides, Megawati has disappointed and betrayed her supporters -- that's the real story."

-----------------------------------------------

Sunday Times (London) April 4, 2004

Indonesia, let me save you, says a war crimes suspect

By Michael Sheridan, Jakarta

HAWK-FACED, gravel-voiced and utterly sure of himself, General Wiranto, the retired military chief and indicted war crimes suspect who says he can save Indonesia, is counting on voters tomorrow to send him the call.

"The key word here is that it is a calling," said Wiranto. "Duty? Oh yes. I think you've heard the saying that old soldiers never die, they just fade away. Well, when my country's deteriorating, I have to act."

Wiranto is running for president later this year. He looks to tomorrow's parliamentary elections for proof that the 147m voters of this huge nation yearn for order and security.

Crooning songs like a pop idol at one rally, striking a martinet's pose at the next, Wiranto, a lean 57, the father of four children, behaves as if he is conducting a war game whose outcome depends only on the right degree of discipline.

Wiranto is proud of his record as head of the armed forces and architect of the departure of General Suharto, the former dictator, in 1998. Proud, too, he insists, that he turned down the chance to seize power as a military ruler himself.

Now he is campaigning under the gaudy yellow banners of Suharto's old party, Golkar, which leads in the polls as Indonesians seem fed up with stagnation and graft after six turbulent years of democracy.

Wiranto is portraying himself as a strongman whom America can trust: promising "zero tolerance" of terrorism, and commitment to democracy, while rejecting any idea that the world's most populous Muslim nation could or should become an Islamic state.

Just do not ask about East Timor, human rights abuses, or the deaths of journalists and their helpers at the hands of men in the uniform Wiranto was proud to wear. "This is a political commodity which people are trying to use against my presidential campaign," he said angrily during an interview at his campaign headquarters.

Visibly irritated to be pressed on the subject, Wiranto blamed "indiscipline" and "criminal activity that could happen in any army in the world" for atrocities committed by Indonesian troops and militias in East Timor during its violent secession in 1999.

"I regret the fact there were riots in East Timor at the time, but this is not something that I planned or just let happen," he complained.

An Indonesian human rights tribunal quizzed Wiranto but did not charge him, and acquitted all but four of 15 officers on trial for abuses in East Timor.

But Wiranto and seven other senior figures were indicted for crimes against humanity by prosecutors funded by the United Nations in East Timor in February 2003.

The prosecutors have just released a 92-page brief outlining the crimes that led to at least 1,500 deaths, the deportation of 200,000 East Timorese and the destruction of 70% of the buildings in the territory. But no arrest warrants have been issued.

Among those killed or missing were Sander Thoenes, a journalist on the Financial Times, and Anacleto Bendito da Silva, a translator working for Jon Swain of The Sunday Times. Swain's driver, Sanjo Ramos, lost an eye in a violent attack by uniformed men from which Swain was lucky to escape with his life.

"The evidence proves that Wiranto failed in his responsibilities ... to prevent the commission of crimes against humanity," said the deputy prosecutor, Nicholas Koumjian. It was "beyond reasonable doubt" that Wiranto knew of the crimes, he said.

The general takes a combative stance, arguing that ultimately he got control, secured a peaceful Indonesian withdrawal and prepared the way for Australian led peacekeepers to enter East Timor. "I had given my pledge to God that if I gained a strong position I would seek a peace in East Timor rather than war," he said.

Wiranto, who said he has "a lot of friends and colleagues from the US", vigorously defended himself after the American State Department placed him on a "watch list" of indicted war crimes suspects.

Betraying his years of American military training in a time when the Pentagon was less fussy about its local allies, Wiranto lapses into executive jargon that may be music to the ears of pragmatists in the Bush administration.

"I wouldn't hesitate to enhance relations with the United States and Australia and I can assure you that Indonesia will give 'zero tolerance' to terrorism if I am elected president," he said. "My first priority on day one will be to rebuild Indonesia again as a safe haven for foreign investors."

Wiranto's campaign will need a lot of momentum against the incumbent president, Megawati Sukarnoputri, daughter of Indonesia's founding father, Ahmed Sukarno. The presidential vote will probably go to a runoff in September, by which time Wiranto's unique selling points may no longer seem unique.

For one thing, another retired general called Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who is widely respected for his integrity, has just quit as Megawati's security minister to run against her.

Despite -or because of -terrorist strikes in Bali and Jakarta, militant Islam appears to have receded as a political force. Five contending Islamic parties are bickering over doctrine and are predicted to win only 14% of the vote tomorrow.

Indonesia's gigantic exercise in democracy this Monday morning may be the best proof of all that the days when it needed a strongman are gone.

Across the 17,500 islands of the archipelago, voters will cast ballots for 7,800 candidates from 24 parties contesting 550 seats. It is the second truly democratic election here in 44 years but so far it has been the most peaceful campaign for decades.

Straits Times

APRIL 5, 2004 MON

Wiranto gives protesters the slip

GENERAL Wiranto, a possible presidential candidate from the Golkar Party, gave student protesters the slip in Surabaya on Saturday.

The former chief of the Indonesian military was taping a talk show on the campus of Airlangga University while dozens of students from various groups in Surabaya held a protest in front of the building.

They opposed the appearance by Gen Wiranto, who they accused of involvement in human rights violations in Timor Leste in 1999.

After the event ended, Gen Wiranto exited through the back door to avoid the student protesters. -- Jakarta Post/Asia News Network


Support ETAN, make a secure financial contribution at etan.org/etan/donate.htm

Back to April menu
March
World Leaders Contact List
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu