Subject: Suharto Critics Break Silence

- Australian: Suharto critics break silence

- New Zealand leader says Suharto's human rights record "appalling"

- Indonesia's Suharto does not deserve "national hero" title - NGO

The Australian Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Suharto critics break silence

Stephen Fitzpatrick Jakarta Correspondent

THE old general is in the ground and, in theory, Indonesia is marking seven days of mourning, with flags across the nation being flown at half-mast.

But already the scramble to assess Suharto's legacy is producing some rabid results.

Although thousands lined roads in Jakarta and Solo, Central Java, on Monday to farewell the dictator of 32 years, many more are finally saying in the open what was previously kept in the parlour.

And that is that Indonesia's former president was an out-and-out crook, as are his children and the vast network of cronies who profited from his long rule.

Endy Bayuni, managing editor of the English-language Jakarta Post newspaper, put it as strongly as any with an opinion piece yesterday declaring that ``Suharto ... left the country in just as chaotic a condition as when he took over from Sukarno in 1966''.

What's more, Bayuni argued, ``he left the nation with a huge debt our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will have to shoulder -- but not his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who have looted the nation's oil, gas and forestry money''.

Any such assessment during Suharto's time at the helm would have been not just anathema but treasonous: he dealt with opponents by silencing them.

The great Indonesian novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer spent 14 years in the hard labour camp of Buru Island merely for displeasing the regime, but as historian John Roosa pointed out in a biting obituary this week, Pramoedya could find nothing interesting to write about the man who jailed him.

``For him, Suharto was ... a reversion back to Java's colonial-era aristocrats who bullied their subjects for the benefit of European business interests, yet prided themselves on their great cosmic powers, and remained narrow-minded and indifferent to the science and arts of the Europe that had conquered them,'' Roosa wrote in the Australian-produced journal Inside Indonesia.

Independent Indonesian blogger Treespotter, known for often maudlin analysis of his own society, posted within minutes of Suharto's death on Sunday that the 86-year-old had ``symbolised an Asian dream and a lifetime of opportunity for many and yet he took more than we could ever afford to make it happen''.

On criticism that media coverage of Suharto's decline and end was deliberately angled to picture him in a good light, media analyst Effendi Ghazali, from the popular television political satire program Republic Mimpi, noted: ``Suddenly, everyone had amnesia. In the final days, they were like a choir singing for Suharto.''

Commentators noted that the death just hours after Suharto of M.Jusuf Ronodipuro, the soldier who broadcast Indonesia's declaration of independence in 1945, went almost unmarked.

Debate raged yesterday over whether it was too soon to declare Suharto a national hero, with opponents claiming the status would be akin to forgiving him for his transgressions.

In fact, editorialised the national daily Koran Tempo, it was ``extremely important'' that the civil case over the misappropriation of more than 11.5 trillion rupiah ($1.4 billion), as well as investigations into other allegations against his family, continued.

And human rights lawyer Rafendi Djamin warned in Jakarta that since Suharto had now escaped all possibility of criminal charges, the matter should stand as ``a lesson for the Government to settle outstanding cases as quickly as possible, including those suspected of being related to him''.

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Deutsche Presse-Agentur January 29, 2008

New Zealand leader says Suharto's human rights record "appalling"

Wellington - New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said on Tuesday that former Indonesian President Suharto's human rights record was 'appalling' and she would not sign a condolence book for him.

'I haven't signed a book - I have no plans to sign a book,' she told a news conference when asked if she would put her signature to a volume of condolences at Indonesia's embassy in Wellington.

She added, 'And I think his legacy will be considered to be in three areas: One, his human rights record which was appalling.

'Secondly, in the course of his tenure as president Indonesia did grow and develop fast, and thirdly during that time ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) developed to be a significant regional organisation which brought peace between countries in South-East Asia.

'So the legacy is mixed, but from the point of view of human rights it's very clear.'

New Zealand's ambassador to Jakarta Philip Gibson represented the country at Suharto's funeral.

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BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific January 29, 2008

Indonesia's Suharto does not deserve "national hero" title - NGO

Source: Antara news agency, Jakarta, in English, 29 Jan 08

Text of report in English by Indonesian government-owned news agency Antara website on 29 January

The Indonesian Legal Aid Institute Foundation (YLBHI) said the late former president, Suharto, does not deserve the title of "national hero" because a number of legal cases against him have not been resolved.

"In our view, it will be far from right or proper for the government to reward Suharto with the predicate of 'national hero'," YLBHI chairman Patra M Zen said here on Monday [28 January].

He was commenting on Golkar Party legislator Priyo Budi Santoso's proposal to grant the title of national hero to the former strongman.

"Like Sukarno (Indonesia's first president), Suharto is one of the nation's best sons, who deserve the title of national hero because of their services to the state and nation," Santoso said.

Zen said Suharto was one of the parties in the country who had to account for a number of cases of violence and human right violations that had happened during his regime.

The cases that had so far remained unsettled included the slaying of people accused of involvement in the abortive communist coup in October 1965, the mysterious extra-judicial shooting of people suspected of being hardened criminals, the Tanjung Priok affair, the people who became victims of the 'Military Operations Zone' in Aceh and human right violations in Papua.

Apart from the cases of violence, Suharto was also suspected of having committed corruption and misappropriation of state funds, he said.

Therefore, YLBHI called on the public not to be rash in showing their respect or appreciation for Suharto, Zen said.


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