Monday, January 28, 2008

RIP: Suharto

My feeling at the first time I heard about his sickness, death, and towards all the media coverages, is at best indifferent. Personally, I am tired of following the controversies surrounding his case since he stepped down in 1998. And I felt that this nation has missed the opportunity bring a closure to his case.

I was born when he was already the president. And he is the only president I knew until 1998. In my last days of the college years, I joined the movement calling him to step down. But when he did step down at May 21st that year, somehow I did not feel joy or relief. A bit, yes, but not as much as I thought when I decided to join the movement a few months earlier. I felt his stepping down -- the way he stepped down -- was an anticlimax for the movement.

And yes, ten years after, it was not wrong after all to consider the 1998 movement as an anticlimax. The failure to bring the criminal and civil charge against Suharto to and end was only reflecting the bigger picture of the reformasi movement. Worse, some fellow students who called for a change even swallowed their words and became the politicians they used to criticize.

But I am not saying that the country isn't progressing. After all, I still chose today than the yesterday. We enjoy more personal freedom and many more. On the other hand, credit should be given to where it deserves. Suharto brought many improvements in the country's economy. Under his reign, poverty declined significantly, health and education has improved compared to the situation he inherited in the late 1960s.

I don't want to be trapped in any sides of overpraising or overloathing him. I believe the government should continue the civil charge against his foundations, as a symbol that this nation is moving forward. Suharto has died without being proven innocent or being prosecuted. But we should continue finalizing the human rights abuse cases happened during his reign. Including, among other things, the kidnappings of prodemocratic activists and student shootings in 1998-99.

Good bye, old man. We should let you rest in peace now. But the country should move on in dealing with the dark past you inherited.

1 comment:

  1. my deepest condolences. to be honest, i'm sad. he's my president all my life before moving here. imagine if he got 5% commission of GDP from the development that he made, deducted by 100% benefit of deaths he ordered (if proven). say 1 life worths Rp3billion.