General Suharto: The Strongman of Indonesia


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General Suharto

1921 – 2008

I know this is kind of late, but I just want to give honor to the man who did the right things to direct his country to move forward. The second president of Indonesia, General Suharto.

Suharto was born in a small village near Yogyakarta, during the era of Dutch colonial control. His ethnic Javanese peasant parents divorced not long after his birth, and he was passed around several foster parents for much of his childhood. After a brief and an unsuccessful stint as a village bank clerk, Suharto joined the Royal Netherlands East Indies Army in 1940. During the Japanese occupation of Indonesia, Suharto served in various Japanese-organised Indonesian security forces. He joined the newly formed Indonesian army during Indonesia’s power struggle where he rose through the ranks to command a garrison against Dutch offensives at the Republican capital of Yogyakarta. Following Indonesian independence, Suharto rose to the rank of Major General.

An attempted coup on 30 September 1965 was repelled by Suharto-led troops. The Suharto-led army blamed the attempt on the Indonesian Communist Party, which was subsequently outlawed, and led a violent anti-communist purge that killed between 500,000 and one million people. Suharto grabbed power from the already weak administration of Sukarno and was inaugurated president in 1968.  During his 32 year reign as president he built a strong militarized centralist government and was popular among the people and the military. Due to his ability to maintain stability over Indonesia and his anti-communist stance, Suharto’s government earned support from the United States during the Cold War. For most of his presidency, Indonesia enjoyed rapid economic growth and industrialization. His administration also lost support from the people after the invasion of East Timor and the alleged embezzlement of Suharto’s family totaling US$ 30 billion.

But despite all these negative remarks, Suharto, thief or not still had the makings of an ideal president. Showing that to rule a country, you must emulate fear to maintain stability as shown by General Suharto.

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