Nine Years Ago Today
'Er Indoors came home somewhat traumatised on July 27th 1996. She had been in a taxi which ended up at the front of one of the demonstrations of brute force which culminated in Suharto's ouster.Suharto had decided to replace Megawati as the head of the Indonesian Democratic Party (known by its Indonesian initials, PDI), one of the two political parties officially sanctioned to oppose the ruling Golkar Party. It should have been a simple matter to get Megawati to resign, but Suharto had recently lost his wife Tien, whose skills in Javanese mystical arts were widely thought to have aided Suharto's rise from obscure colonel to virtual monarch and guided his reign. With Ibu Tien gone, Suharto began a string of political misjudgments that culminated in his downfall.
Rather than quietly easing out Megawati, Suharto chose to do it publicly. Even for a self-effacing housewife with no previous political ambitions - but a rich knowledge of Javanese mythology in which power seeks worthy princesses, rather than the other way around - the loss of face was too much for Megawati to accept. Moreover, her ouster, which came in June of that year, provided a rallying point for opponents of Suharto. After more than three decades in power with increasing corruption and nepotism, the no-longer-New Order had no shortage of opponents in search of an excuse to express their dissatisfaction.
This energized opposition movement centered on PDI headquarters in Jakarta, where Megawati and her supporters were occupying the complex in defiance of Suharto's new PDI leadership. On July 27, the military under General Sutiyoso attacked the headquarters to eject the occupiers. Megawati was not present, but hundreds of her supporters were. The attack left five dead, 23 still categorized as missing, and 149 more injured.
to the presidency, a position from which she was able to indulge her taste for shopping and her lack of political savvy as she forged an alliance with Golkar
, the hated Suharto ruling cabal, and made General Sutiyoso
the Governor of Jakarta, a position he still holds.
There was a demonstration
this morning by members of the Victims' Alliance for July 27 incident at the former office of Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) on Jl. Diponegoro in Central Jakarta.
Reportedly, Soeriadi, who was both Megawati's predecessor as chair of PDI until voted out at the party congress in Medan in '96, and successor, courtesy of his mentor Suharto, attended but was chased off by the demonstrators.
The people of Jakarta have long memories and never forgotten that day nine years ago and why it happened. That Megawati failed to meet their aspirations will also not be forgotten, which is why PDI-P is now a marginal political force and until they return to their democratic roots, that is what they will remain.
This is democracy in action and it is not imposed but comes from where it belongs - the people.