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Jakarta Post

Soeharto tops favorite Indonesian presidents survey: Indo Barometer

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, February 24, 2020   /   07:00 am
Soeharto tops favorite Indonesian presidents survey: Indo Barometer Former president Soeharto (left) reads out his letter of resignation at Merdeka Palace, while then-vice president B.J. Habibie (second left) looks on. Soeharto officially transferred his post to Habibie on May 21, 1998, before then-chief justice Sarwata, journalists and several Cabinet ministers, including his eldest daughter Siti Hardijanti Rukmana (right), who was the minister of social services, minister of security and defense/Armed Forces commander Gen. Wiranto (second right), minister of justice Muladi (third right) and minister/state secretary Saadilah Mursjid (fourth right). JP/Alex Rumi (JP/Alex Rumi)

Late president Soeharto scored .4 percentage points higher than Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in a survey of the country’s favorite presidents by Jakarta-based pollster Indo Barometer.

Conducted from Jan. 9 to 15 involving 1,200 participants across 34 provinces, the survey found that 23.8 percent of respondents are most fond of Soeharto, followed by current president Jokowi with 23.4 percent of the vote and first president Sukarno with 23.3 percent.

“Soeharto may be regarded as the most well-rounded president throughout the country’s history. In the education sector, for example, he is remembered as the founder of Inpres elementary schools,” Indo Barometer executive director M. Qodari said during a presentation in Jakarta on Sunday, referring to schools established in remote areas for children from low-income families.

“In the health sector, he was known for the establishment of the Puskesmas [community health centers], as well as the development of public housing complexes [Perumnas] across Indonesia. He was also relatively able to maintain the availability and price stability of important commodities.”

He went on to say that Soeharto had left an indelible mark on the development of national infrastructures, such as roads, bridges and dams across.

“However, freedom and democracy were lacking [under Soeharto],” Qodari said.

Soeharto, a former Army general, ruled the country for 32 years before being forced to resign following massive protests and rioting in 1998. His New Order regime was marked by widespread corruption and political repression. Graft watchdog Transparency International ranks him as the most corrupt leader in history, estimating he embezzled between US$15 billion and $35 billion during his rule.

Nevertheless, Soeharto remains popular in many circles of Indonesian society. T-shirts and other paraphernalia bearing a smiling portrait of the former president and the Javanese slogan Piye kabare, isih penak jamanku, tho? (Miss me, yet?) are still widely available for sale.

Despite the Soeharto's still favorable public reception, Qodari noted that his popularity had declined somewhat over the years, citing previous Indo Barometer polls.

Around 32.9 percent of respondents surveyed in 2018 said Soeharto was their favorite president, while 36.5 percent had picked Soeharto in a similar poll held in 2011. (rfa)