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Selling Suharto's New Order 'successes' misleading

Kompas - May 25, 2011

Jakarta Ė The tales of the New Order regime's successes, which are being used as a selling point for the Golkar Party, are misleading. Golkar cannot just claim to be an important part of the New Order's successes, but must also concede that it is responsible for the bankruptcy of Indonesia and all of the crimes committed by the New Order regime.

Speaking in Jakarta on Monday May 23, the coordinator of the parliamentary watchdog Forum of Concerned Citizens for Indonesia's Parliament (Formappi), Sebastian Salang said, "The people cannot of course be blamed for missing the New Order era. People are making this assessment based on what is happening today so perhaps they say that Suharto is better than SBY (President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono). But if this is being used as a political selling point it is also misleading. It is an error to use this as a selling point for the 2014 elections".

In a speech commemorating National Awakening Day in the Serdang Bedagai regency in North Sumatra on Friday last week, Golkar Party general chairperson Aburizal Bakrie said that several recent surveys have found that quite a lot of people miss the stability, firmness and fast pace of development in the past, particularly during the New Order period.

According to Bakrie, Golkar understands this longing for the past. "In fact, the Golkar Party is actually an important part of these past successes. Because of this, if necessary, [we] are willing and able to repeat these past successes, by of course absorbing the spirit of the period and accommodating a new development that is better", he said.

Research professor Ikrar Nusa Bhakti from the Indonesian Institute of Science's Center for Political Studies (PPP-LIPI) said that Golkar must also be deemed to have succeeded in bankrupting Indonesia and castrating all of the social organisations during the New Order period. Claiming the successes of the New Order is to completely ignore what actually happened. "Golkar, which considered itself to be a functional group, not a political party, succeeded in becoming the backbone of the New Order and its authoritarianism, and making it impossible for the Indonesian people to be free to assemble and join a trade union", he said.

According to Bhakti, what is even worse, Golkar should take responsibility for the bankruptcy of the Indonesian economy when it was hit by the 1997 monitory crisis, which marked the beginning of the fall of Suharto.

"It has to be remembered that that the [New Order's] political stability was because the military moved into all spheres of political life while the successful economic growth was through the total depletion of Indonesia's natural wealth. The current economic foundations are fragile because [economic growth] was built upon foreign debt from the World Bank and the IMF, who also allowed corruption to proliferate. If the economic foundations of the New Order had been strong, [Indonesia] would not of course have been hit by the flow on from the 1997 economic crisis. Golkar is responsible for the bankruptcy of Indonesia", he said.

Golkar Party General Secretary Lalu Mara Satriawangsa said that regardless of what was said by Bakrie in his speech, it was actually only a desire to take what good from the past and pass this on. "What is inadequate, well yes improve it. That there were good things in the past cannot be denied", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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