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A purely analytical perception...


INDONESIA

A STUDY IN NEPOTISM

 

Continued from page 4

LET THEM EAT RICE

El Nino produced draught, the forestry land grabs have resulted in the fires that burned out of control because of a lack of rain, the fires smoke and lack of moisture reduced the harvest of farm goods substantially and now, there is no money to import the most critical product, money could have bought, food. These riots had become an insurrection and Indonesia’s army was hard pressed to control the one thing that can not be assuaged, a starving population. Certainly the world will come to Indonesia’s aid, but we a talking when the population of over 200 million people begins to realize what the crony capitalism of Suharto regime has taken from them, we do not think the country will survive in its present state.

Yet the United States who is violently opposed to funding Indonesia problem without their total cooperation with the International Monetary Fund has readily pitched in to helping Suharto’s military hone their fighting skills. "Under a little-known $10 million Pentagon program called Joint Combined Exchange and Training, United States special forces teach the Indonesians skill s that include psychological warfare and urban combat techniques" (13) Looks to us that they are getting ready for an insurrection to me.

Ex Dictator Sukarno's daughter, Megawati even wrote a letter to President Clinton questioning "Who, in the view of the U. S. government, is the target or enemy for this specialized training?" She further indicated that there is no foreign government that appears ready to invade the islands and no revolutionary group has threatened to overthrow the government. "The U. S. military is providing training in lethal methods of social control at a time when the Indonesian people are trying to build a more democratic system, it is the explicit policy of the Indonesia security forces to meet peaceful and unarmed demonstrators with – force and thus military training from the U. S. directly undermines the democratic movement in Indonesia."

Megawati had good reason to be concerned as it was the army that engineered her fall from power as the chairwomen of the opposition party several years ago. At the same time the army has been accused of making other politicians disappear from the face of the earth. The army’s crowning achievement was the massacre of almost 300 innocent civilians on East Timor which so angered the U. S. Congress that funds were cut of from the International Military Education and Training Fund in 1992. Megawati sees the passing of the Suharto mantel to his crony Habibie as an opportunity to regain control of the country.

THE GUYS IN WHITE HATS ARE RUNNING THE SHOW NOW

Today, Indonesia is run by the International Monetary Fund as their price for assistance and simultaneously closed 16 banks. It was an accepted fact that these banks had been submerged with bad loans for a substantial time but until the IMF came onto the scene it was "inconvenient" to close them. Finance Minister Marie Muhammad stated a news conference, "These banks are insolvent to the point of endangering the business continuity, disturbing the overall banking system and harming the interests of society."

The finance minister’s harsh words were particularly vitriolic as it related to Bambang who along with various other family members seems to own varying interests in many of the closed institutions. "I see this as an attempt to sully our family name in order to indirectly topple my father, so that father won’t be chosen as president again. This is a ‘political movement’ against the family’" says Bambang who didn’t know whether the ban on owners of the shuttered banks not to leave the country applied to him as well, but the rule wasn’t in stone, two bankers had already left.

Reuters on October 23, 1998 reported that Bambang was earlier this month named as a subject in an investigation into abuses at his Bank Andromeda, which was shut down last November. Poor Bambang, if daddy was still President, this never would have happened.

THE FAMILY ORATOR

When questioned about improprieties that had occurred with Bambang owned Bank Andromeda when by lending him substantially more than the law allows they violated Indonesian central bank. Bambang was not lost for an answer, "90% of Indonesian banks were guilty of exceeding central bank limits on lending to a single customer", was his sensitive reply. Sources close to Bambang laughingly indicated that the shy son of President Suharto was thinking of becoming the spokesman for the Indonesian Government because he had become so fast on his feet.

Bambang got even though, they closed him down, but within weeks he reopened the bank under a friend’s license

INDONESIAN UNHAPPINESS WAS SHARED BY ALL

Bambang was not the only family member caught up in the bank closures, Siti Hediati Prabowo; the president’s daughter and Probosutedjo who is Suharto’s half-brother were also unhappy shareholders of some of the banks that were forcible closed. Obviously, there was substantial depression regarding Finance Minister Marie Muhammad's actions among the ruling family. It is also readily apparent that the decision was arrived at almost unilaterally without substantive high-ranking input. The scenario went exactly like this,

Suharto: "Marie, you know we have to make a deal with the IMF and my kids are dead set against it. All of their pet projects will have to go down the drain and it is going to happen just when they were having so much fun. A father loves to watch his children enjoy their toys. I really hate to disappoint them."

Marie: "Pres, you know we have to do this. Your family has been breaking the law for years; the IMF is not going to put up with this stuff any longer. You have been a good father and to that end were are all proud of you, but the country can no longer afford to let your children have the entire Indonesian Infrastructure along with its citizens as their playthings. This is crunch time."

 

Suharto: "Deep down in my heart I know you are right, but I just can’t tell them that we have to do this. You know how whinny they get and when they start to cry I just turn to butter. Let’s do it this way, you tell everyone that it is your idea and I will go to my resort and pretend I have suffered from the strain and can’t communicate. Do this for me and I will forever be in your debt and you know how profitable that can be."

Siti Hardianti Rukmana found out that even in the worst of tragedies there can be a silver lining, during the financial crisis there was an airplane crash which took 234 lives at run-down Medan Airport. In spite of the closing down of many projects because of arrangements agreed upon with the blessing of the International Monetary Fund, Sita’s group got the go ahead to build a new airport that will be safer than the previous one. Suharto’s other daughter Siti Hediati Prabowo told Daddy that even if the country was tightening its belt and going through an imposed austerity it could ill afford not to have enough energy. Daddy Suharto agreed that this was true and certainly he didn’t want to favor Siti over Siti so he awarded her a contract to erect the largest electrical generating facility yet built in Indonesia. Business is as usually says the sign on the door. But alas, with the demise of the Suharto regime, so went the contract.

IMF imposed reforms will bring unemployment, social unrest and rising prices. The rupiah has now sunk to as low as 15,000 to the dollar and has fallen over 75 percent in 1997, while 1998-9 finds the collapse continuing. When the revolution comes, it will have been the finance minister who made the call and not the president. , Bambang has been advising his father and they have come up with the ultimate idea. When the people rise up and want to take revenge, Suharto can easily point to the finance minister and say, "it was his idea".

INDONSIAN ENDNOTES

 

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