‘A thousand reasons for the people to love Pak Harto’

Detik.com – August 30, 2006
Launch of 'A Thousand Reasons for the People to Love Pak Harto' (Tempo)
Launch of 'A Thousand Reasons for the People to Love Pak Harto' (Tempo)

Gagah Wijoseno, Jakarta – Eight years after stepping down, former President Suharto still has many fans. A book containing the achievements of the New Order regime has been launched. Interested?

The book, titled “A thousand reasons for the people to love Pak Harto”, is enlivened by testimonies by a number of New Order officials such as former minister of justice Ismail Saleh, former armed forces chief retired General Wiranto and the former finance minister Fuad Bawazier.

And it is not just former government officials. The book of essays by Dewi Ambar Sari and Lazuardu Adi Sage, which was launched at the Taman Ismail Marzuki Arts Centre in Jakarta on Wednesday August 30, was also enlivened by some 300 orphans as well as politicians Sys NS and Mieke Wijaya. The orphans got assistance in the form of money, cloths and food as a sign of thanks for finishing the composition of the book.

As could already be guessed, the contents of the book illustrates the achievements of Pak Harto when he was the president of Indonesia such as the integration of East Timor, the liberation of West Papua, the launching of the Palapa satellite and achieving food self-sufficiency. The book also contains photographs of Pak Harto’s activities, both with his late wife Ibu Tien as well as the times when he received visits from state guests.

The final section of the book is filled with a number of testimonies from ordinary people such as tollgate attendants, workers, teachers and public figures.

In his address at the launch, Saleh questioned the selection of the book’s title. “Why is the title a thousand, whereas there are hundreds of millions of reasons to love Pak Harto”, he asked. Saleh said he is convinced that even eight years after Suharto stepped down there are still groups in society that love Pak Harto. This was demonstrated by the presentation of an award to Pak Harto by the Indonesian Farmers Association.

Wiranto meanwhile praised Pak Harto’s thinking. When he was Suharto’s adjutant, Wiranto admitted to having learnt about how much Pak Harto respected the rights of the little people. “I once asked Pak Harto why he arrived at the Palace at 9am and not at 7am. Pak Harto answered, because at 7am there are traffic jams in Jakarta, so if I leave at 7am there will definitely be work that will get to the office late because of the extra traffic jams. So I would be doing wrong [by the people]”, explained Wiranto. (umi)

[Translated by James Balowski.]