Visitors flock to Soeharto memorial after opening
Slamet Susanto and Bambang Muryanto
The Jakarta Post
Just a day after the opening ceremony on Saturday, people flocked to the Grand Gen. Soeharto Memorial built at the birthplace of Indonesia's late second president Soeharto in Kemusuk hamlet in Bantul regency, Yogyakarta.
The memorial was unveiled by Soeharto's eldest daughter Siti Hardianti Hastuti and her half-brother Probosutedjo on June 8, the birth date of Soeharto, the son of Sukirah and Kertosudiro.
Also attending the ceremony were Coordinating People's Welfare Minister Agung Laksono, Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro as well as Education and Culture Minister Muhammad Nuh.
'This memorial is part of an effort to reappraise history because there have been systematic attempts to erase Grand Gen. Soeharto's services,' Hardianti said at the ceremony on Saturday.
Soeharto was awarded the honorary rank of five-star grand general in 1997.
Built on a 3,620 square-meter plot, the compound comprises a 600 square-meter hall, the house of Soeharto's great grandfather Notosudiro, the house of Soeharto's grandfather Admosudiro, and the 63 square-meter building where Soeharto was born.
The museum is divided into six sections. The first section deals with Soeharto's childhood. The following sections relate to his admission into the military, his military career, his achievement in the international arena, his domestic achievements and his political career respectively.
A brass statue of Soeharto is placed at the museum's entrance facing south. Other collections include photos, historical writings, a slide show and audio visual records describing the life of Soeharto, the so-called 'smiling general'.
Probosutedjo said the memorial was not something that was trumped up. The fact that some 200 Kemusuk residents and 400 others from the surrounding villages were killed by the Dutch soldiers upon learning that Soeharto was born in Kemusuk proved this, he said.
Nuh, said that the memorial was a facility for today's generation to learn more about Soeharto's leadership, which merited examination.
Purnomo said that there were three events in Soeharto's struggle that were inspirational: the March 1, 1949 offensive, the liberation of West Irian (now Papua) and the purge of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) following the coup attempt in 1965.
Soeharto stepped down on May 21, 1998, as a result of the reform movement, after ruling the country for 32 years. Apart from his successes in the country's development, Soeharto was also known for his authoritarian leadership.
A visitor, Nunik Purwanti, 43, of Timuran, Yogyakarta, said that she and her neighbors visited the memorial because she wanted to see it for herself. She said the photo collections and the diorama of Soeharto's life were well arranged, but for her the history was misleading not clarifying.
She pointed to Soeharto's role in the 1949 offensive, in which it is claimed he took the initiative when in fact the initiator was the late Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX of Yogyakarta.
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