Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Soeharto Legacy

For a general background – see Suharto - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia or Suharto killer file

An impatient obituary

Like many dictators Soeharto was good at staying in power but lacked the intellectual skills to provide decent government. His ministers were worse, to ensure they were not a direct threat to him.

As a pro-business president he provided extensive red tape to ensure the business of corruption ran smoothly and profitably. Supply and prices of key commodities were controlled by his henchmen and his family. It was a case of divide and profit.

Soeharto did not pay his ministers a liveable wage. He expected them to take bribes to survive. He allowed officials to pillage Pertamina, the state-owned oil company. His brutal subjugation of East Timor was an effort to control the rich Timor Gap oilfields.

Foreign investors soon found out that the road to success of an application was to have a member of Soeharto's family as a local partner. They used a system of "carried interests" to circumvent the West's anti-corruption rules. Corporations would give the Soeharto family a 10% stake without any upfront payment but that was supposed to be paid for from a project's future earnings.

The family connection

Soeharto is to be buried in a plot near his late wife, Siti Hartinah Soeharto, known as "Madam Tien", who dies in 1996.

He is survived by sic children and other extended family members. The children:
Siti Hardiyanti Hastuti (Tutut, born 1949)
Sigit Harjojudanto (born 1951)
Bambang Trihatmodjo (born 1953)
Siti Hediati (Titiek, born 1959)
Hutomo Mandala Putra (Tommy, born 1962)
Siti Hutami Endang Adiningsih (Mamiek, born 1964)

While the surviving family might be mourning their elder they will also be concerned about the spotlight turning on them:

"According to our civil law, debts will never be settled unless they are paid. So, Soeharto's burden will be inherited by his family members once he dies," prosecutor Yoseph Suardi Sabda said in an anti-corruption workshop.

The government is seeking to recoup $US 240 million and $US 19.67 million in state money allegedly misused by his foundations. All of Soeharto's children are believed to be billionaires and own companies ranging from media outlets to banking and automotive companies.

Although data is still difficult to verify, Soeharto is listed in the UN's StAR (Stolen Assets Recovery) initiative document, as having wrongly appropriated between $15- and $35 billion-worth of public assets during his 32 years in power.

Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, seems to be the most hapless of the spawn. So far he is the only member of the clan to be prosecuted for corruption and investigated for the murder of a judge.

'Tutut' is the most politically ambitious; her father has once made her a member of his Cabinet. 'Bambang' is one of the 10 richest men in the country with a personal fortune estimated at more than $US3 billion.

Indonesia is in the process of recovering $100 million worth of assets belonging to Tommy stashed in an account at the London branch of Bank Nationale de Paris Paribas. This is just a portion of the loot Soeharto’s family and cronies have planted around the world.

Some Soeharto Quotes

"Suharto brought improvements. He brought the World Bank, and first and foremost, the culture and practice of planning to Indonesia. But the planning was soon dominated by exceptions, given to his cronies and family, and the power was used against the people and not for them." Political analyst Thang D. Nguyen

"Suharto is responsible for the human rights violations that started in 1965 and for the systemic corruption that occurred during his administration," she said. "I think his totalitarian administration is unforgivable." Human right activist and member of parliament, Nursyahbani Katjasundkana

Suharto's killings of 1965 and 1966 were what Chomsky and I called “constructive terror,” with results viewed as favorable to Western interests. His mass killings in East Timor were “benign terror,” carried out by a valued client and therefore tolerable. Pol Pot's killings, in contrast, were “nefarious terror,” done by an enemy and therefore appalling and to be severely condemned. Pol Pot's victims were “worthy,” Suharto's “unworthy.” Edward Herman

Then Suharto looked at [James] Wolfensohn. "You know, what you regard as corruption in your part of the world, we regard as family values."

Soeharto Kill tally: Up to two million killed following an alleged coup attempt in 1965 (most reports estimate the number at around 500,000). Over 250,000 deaths following the invasion of East Timor in 1975. Thousands more killed in various Indonesian provinces.

Previous related posts

Pardon me Soeharto or Suharto

Remembering Soeharto / Suharto

The terror of corruption

This was an impatient post. I might post more as the mood takes me…


enigma4ever said...

really really welldone....

And may his Karmic Destiny be revealed....

I hope he comes back as a bug...and can be properly stepped on....

( Enigma- bad Buddhist...tsk tsk...)

Cartledge said...

Thanks enigma. I'm not sure how karma works, but righting cosmic wrongs, or willing that, can't be all bad.