Issue: ‘Soeharto to get national hero status?’
Oct. 17, Online: The government has proposed late former president Soeharto and nine other deceased figures get national hero status, Cabinet Secretary Dipo Alam said in Jakarta on Sunday.
Dipo said the proposal, made by the Social Services Ministry, was being assessed by the Honor and Service Council before President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono decides.
“It’s not true that Pak Harto will get national hero status. There are nine others proposed by the Social Services Ministry,” Dipo, who is a former student activist from the 1970s, said as quoted by kompas.com.
Dipo said the nine other figures include noted ulema and former president Abdurrahman Wahid, and former Jakarta governors Ali Sadikin and J. Leimena. Soeharto and nine other figures are part of 18 previously proposed by the Social Services Ministry, he said.
“Let’s think positively. The government will process them in line with proposals from the public by considering their lifetime contributions to the country,” he added.
Soeharto’s era provided a measure of socioeconomic stability much missed during successive governments, especially that of SBY and his Golkar coalition partners.
The many ills of the Soeharto government affected millions. Nevertheless, they benefited millions more, especially the poor. Judging by the state of development in eastern Indonesia we have not progressed but rather gone downhill in terms of basic services such as health, education, clean water and physical infrastructure.
Unfortunately, democracy, at best given lip service under Soeharto, was to develop and strengthen under autonomy.
It did not, while corruption flourished thereby diminishing the expected gains of democratic governance. In fact, under SBY democracy is as much a farce as it was under Soeharto.
In addition, the complete breakdown of the legal system facilitates fringe surrogate groups doing the bidding of those in power resulting in political instability. Such instability was kept under tight control by Soeharto allowing development to take hold benefitting not only those in power and kleptocracy, but also the poor.
Baa, East Nusa Tenggara
If Soeharto is a hero the same can be said of Mao Zedong, Hitler and Stalin, who made a lasting impression in their countries while killing millions of their own people.
Those who do not learn from history are likely to repeat it over and over again. Pity!
Mukesh Raj Dass
Auckland, New Zealand
There is no question that Indonesia is a difficult country to rule. I commend the presidents that came after Soeharto for keeping this country together (even if a few islands have been lost to Malaysia). However, it is about time that the government here faces facts.
It is well over 10 years since Soeharto stepped down, so the current problems can no longer be attributed to the New Order Regime.
Soeharto became president during a time when Indonesia was, arguably, the lowest of the Third World countries in the world, and he left it with this great country almost ready to enter the G20.
Anyone who can create a plan that will feed and clothe 300 million people is a hero. That was accomplished.
He was obviously a man who could see the “big picture,” and in such a varied country as Indonesia, it would have taken great courage to stay the course.
Soeharto is our hero. Our country was at peace when he was in charge. Nowadays, we have chaos, hunger, strikes etc.
Dipo claims that it would tarnish the government if they propose Soeharto as a national hero. So it is safe to assume that Dipo and the rest of the government are against the idea and will do whatever they can to stop it from becoming reality.