National

Sukarno's children vie
for father's heritage


JAKARTA (JP): Amid the media hype and public adulation marking the 100th anniversary of Sukarno's birth on Wednesday, the occasion has in many respects been clouded over by arguments and recriminations over who are the true inheritors of the former president's legacy.

While Sukarno's courage personified Indonesia's independence struggle and remains an example to be emulated, his teachings have been relegated to no more than a footnote in modern Indonesian history.

With the demise of the Soeharto regime, Sukarno's name has enjoyed renewed popularity and political significance in recent years. This has been especially true since the ascendance of Megawati Soekarnoputri, Sukarno's second eldest daughter, to the vice presidency.

But nowhere is the debate on the true legacy of Sukarno more apparent than between the Sukarno children themselves.

Few would doubt that Megawati's popularity is in no small part due to her father's name.

In a thinly veiled attack on Megwati's party -- the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) -- Rachmawati here on Wednesday chided the abuse of Sukarno's legacy for political purposes.

Speaking during a graduation ceremony at the Bung Karno University which was held to coincide with the centenary of Sukarno's birth, Rachmawati criticized the PDI Perjuangan -- which she referred to obliquely as ""a certain party which won the most votes in the 1999 election"" -- for adopting attributes associated with Sukarno but having little understanding of his teachings.

Rachmawati, who chairs the Bung Karno Foundation, charged that the party had been successful in the general election in large part due to superfluous use of the Sukarno name along with campaign placards and flags bearing the former Indonesian president's image.

""Carrying around pictures of Bung Karno does not guarantee that those people understand the teachings of Sukarno,"" she said at the ceremony, which was held at the Jakarta Convention Center and was also attended by President Abdurrahman Wahid.

Contriving terms such as ""de-Sukarnoization"", Rachmawati lamented the various misinterpretations of her father due to numerous manipulations of his teachings.

Rachmawati, three years Megawati's junior, remarked that the members of the political elite had lost their sense of camaraderie and brotherhood and were instead resorting to violent measures to pursue their individual interests.

While she herself lamented the political exploitation of Sukarno's name, Rachmawati could not refrain from commenting that there were certain groups who were again trying to launch a coup, such as experienced by her father in 1965 and 1966, in the name of the constitution and democracy.

""Bung Karno always said ""if you want to catch the rats, there's no need to burn down the house.""

Rachmawati is known to have taken a less combative political stance than Megawati in accepting Abdurrahman's embattled presidency.

Abdurrahman himself in his address called for the Bung Karno University to straighten out the history on Sukarno.

Megawati, who was also in the building at the same time to preside over another ceremony, did not stop by the hall to attend her sister's event.

Likewise, later in the afternoon Rachmawati was absent during a large commemoration at the Bung Karno sports complex which was attended by Megawati.

Guntur Soekarnoputra, Sukarno's eldest offspring, said later in the afternoon that the reason why his sisters did not attend the same events was due to their tight schedules.

""There are so many celebrations that we have to attend that we have decided to split up so that every event can be attended by a family member,"" explained Guntur while refusing to comment on the possibility of a family feud. (dja)

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