A Bit Of An Obit
You're going to be reading loads of articles about how the Father of Indonesian Development has finally snuffed it because his 40 or so doctors couldn't pretend any longer that his multiple organ failure refers to his collection of musical instruments.
This isn't one of those obits because I'd query the whole basis of that particular soubriquet. A mere cursory glance around the archipaelego doesn’t show much development towards a civilized society. His bequest is a nation where his cronies don’t seem to give a damn about the rakyat
. Massive dollops of corrupted cash are lodged in Singapore, for which Lee Kwan Yew popped by to thank Suharto before he shuffled off. Mahatir, Suharto's mate from Malaysia, also flew in to remind us how good S was for this country.
I'm not amused by these bits of condescension; they are totally unwarranted considering the mess Suharto left behind, a mess exacerbated since by all his remaining cronies and the cabals of kallas who also just had to be seen visiting him in Pertamina hospital.
I am somewhat surprised that Suciwati, Munir's widow, and the bereaved mothers of those students 'disappeared' ten years ago also came by to offer prayers. Maybe they were for a safe passage to the other side, heaven or hell who can tell.
Or maybe the prayers were for the media to observe, so they could remind us all what a hypocritical tyrant he was.I went to see Soeharto today, someone in the family is a close friend and came to pick me up. The media circus there was bizarre. I’ve nothing for the old man whatsoever, he should go, one last service to this country, the quicker the better, but the media circus over there was quite simply inappropriate. Forget the senile old tyrant, remember that the hospital also looks after several thousands of other less glamour dying people. What is wrong with our local establishments?
The passing of Suharto has been too protracted. When he gave the vault keys to his sidekick, Habibie, in 1998, 10 years ago, it was the culmination of a very fraught period of rioting, targeted killings and disappearances, massacres and general paranoia.
Up until then, here in Jakartass Towers, with the TV and hi-fi on at full-ish volumes, ‘Er Indoors would still whisper the market gossip concerning the Cendana clan headed by Suharto, and it’s not as if we were living a life of protest or forthrightness. We’d visit the Indonesia In Miniature Park (Taman Mini Indonesia Indah
) and recall the tales of forcible evictions and rumoured killings as Madame Tien grabbed the land. Or drive by the Golden Truly supermarkets and note that they were owned by Madame Tenpersen
as she was popularly known.
I happened to call her that in a business English class I was teaching in the early 90’s and to my horror one of the students leapt to his feet, seemingly apoplectic. Shit, I thought, me and my big mouth, I’m going to get kicked out of the country.
“She’s not Madame Ten Per Cent,” he shouted. “She’s Madame Fifty
Phew, not only did I learn a bit about discretion, but I also learnt how much resentment was lurking, ready to explode.
So, as was said about Caesar
, I’m not coming to praise him but to bury him.
Besides, Suharto doesn't need anyone to praise him as he's built his own memorial, his last great erection
, the Mandala Monument in Makassar.
And this is the dummy which confronts you as you leave. It represents Suharto in his gung ho pomp as the Commander of Operation Mandala - the military operation designed to threaten the Dutch into surrendering control of West Irian.
Dead or alive, real or wax, he still has the power to make us puke.
It's long been time to move on. There is a fear that with him gone his military friends and his business cronies, which include sons, daughters and at least one grandson, will do their damnedest to avoid prosecution for economic crimes. This is the time for SBY and his government, which of course includes at least a couple of ministers whose businesses benefitted from their association with the presidential palace, to put the barriers up by initiating prompt legal actions, to include travel bans.
If the government can show they're serious in breaking from the Suharto era and not only talk but also act outside the box, then we can all breath much easier.
Even though getting rid of the air pollution may take just a bit longer.
Suharto died at 1.10 pm local time today.