The 1998 collapse of the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia

The Australian Labor Party and Indonesia’s dictator Suharto

By Peter Symonds, 31 January 2008

Anyone who harbours any illusion that the current Labor government in Canberra will establish a more enlightened Australian foreign policy should examine the reaction this week of Labor ministers, past and present, to the death of former Indonesian military dictator Suharto.

Government leaders pay tribute to Indonesia’s former dictator Suharto

By Peter Symonds, 30 January 2008

The death of former Indonesian dictator Suharto on Sunday at the age of 86 has elicited a stream of tributes from world leaders and in the international press. There is something both disturbing and ominous about praise for a man who was responsible for the murder of at least half a million people in the 1965 coup that brought him to power and the deaths of another 200,000 following the 1975 Indonesian annexation of East Timor.

Indonesian prosecutors launch limited civil action against Suharto

By John Roberts, 26 July 2007

Indonesian state prosecutors launched a civil suit against former Indonesian strongman Suharto on July 9, claiming $US1.5 billion in restitution and damages for state funds plundered during his regime’s 32-year rule up to 1998.

Proposed Indonesian criminal code enshrines Suharto-era repression

By John Roberts, 23 May 2005

A draft for a new Indonesian criminal code (KUHP) is currently on the desk of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Purported to be an update of existing legislation, the new bill revives or reasserts many of the anti-democratic measures that prevailed under the Suharto military-backed dictatorship.

Indonesia: Trials underway into Suharto-era atrocities

By John Roberts, 24 November 2003

Four trials have begun of 14 current and retired members of Indonesia’s armed forces (TNI) for a massacre carried out nearly 20 years ago, on September 12, 1984. Evidence emerging in the courts has the potential of becoming a political embarrassment, not only for the regime of President Megawati Sukarnoputri, who is closely aligned with the military, but with the American and Australian governments, both of which have moved to re-establish close ties with the TNI.

Indonesian president endorses ex-Suharto crony for re-election as Jakarta governor

By Luciano Fernandez, 8 August 2002

Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has triggered sharp protests inside and outside her own party—the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P)—through her endorsement of the incumbent Jakarta governor Sutiyoso for the same position in upcoming elections in September.

Indonesian president proposes to drop charges against Suharto

By John Roberts, 11 January 2002

Nearly four years after Indonesia’s General Suharto was forced to resign in May 1998, he has not been put on trial for any of his regime’s brutal crimes or for the systematic corruption that enabled his family to amass huge fortunes during his 32 years in office.

Tommy Suharto given kid glove treatment by Indonesian police

By John Roberts, 10 December 2001

After more than a year on the run, Hutomo “Tommy” Mandalaputra, son of the former Indonesian strongman Suharto, was finally “captured” by police at a Jakarta hideout last month. He went underground after being convicted last year of fraud in relation to an $11 million land deal and sentenced to 18 months in jail.

New Indonesian cabinet dominated by pro-IMF bureaucrats and Suharto-era thugs

By Peter Symonds, 10 August 2001

More than two weeks after the Indonesian parliament ousted Abdurrahman Wahid, the newly-installed President, Megawati Sukarnoputri, finally unveiled her cabinet yesterday. Even before any policy has been announced, the new administration’s agenda is clear from its composition. It combines a team of economic ministers committed to implementing the IMF’s economic restructuring, with a group of generals, bureaucrats and politicians schooled in the thuggish methods of the Suharto junta to deal with the opposition such measures will inevitably produce.

Dismissal of Suharto case heightens power struggle in Indonesia

By James Conachy, 7 October 2000

A week after the September 28 Jakarta court ruling that former Indonesian dictator Suharto was “medically unfit” to stand trial, the government of President Abdurrahman Wahid is seeking to have the decision overturned.

A delicate balancing act

Indonesian government moves tentatively to put Suharto on trial

By Peter Symonds, 3 June 2000

In a move taken largely for public show, the Indonesian Attorney General's office announced on Monday that former president General Suharto was now under house arrest. The ex-military strongman, who was forced to resign in May 1998 in the midst of a deepening economic and political crisis, had previously been under “city arrest”. He now has to seek a permit to move about in Jakarta.

Protests continue despite military crackdown in Indonesia

By Peter Symonds, 17 November 1998

On US elections, Indonesia and Iraq

12 November 1998

A few days in Surabaya:

The rich and poor of Indonesia

By a correspondent, 3 November 1998

IMF, Indonesia abolish food subsidies

By Peter Symonds, 17 September 1998

Reader comments on social conditions in Indonesia

8 July 1998

As military threatens repression

Strikes break out in Indonesia

By Martin McLaughlin, 24 June 1998

Tens of thousands of Indonesian workers have joined in strikes and protests against the military-backed regime and the policies of crippling economic austerity imposed at the dictates of the International Monetary Fund and the US government.

The Suharto financial dynasty

By Mike Head, 5 June 1998

Through his wife, sons and daughters and other relatives, Suharto has built vast interlocking billion-dollar empires in property, banking, industry, telecommunications, media and transport.

Reader comments on "The struggle for democracy in Indonesia"

5 June 1998

Amidst deepening social crisis

IMF dictates terms to Indonesia

By Peter Symonds, 4 June 1998

The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Asia Pacific Director Hubert Neiss has just completed a visit to Jakarta for talks with the Indonesian regime and opposition figures such as Islamic leader Amien Rais over the country's ongoing economic, political and social crisis.

German Chancellor Kohl relays to Suharto his "great respect and approval"

By Ulrich Rippert, 27 May 1998

"My dear friend"--with these words begins the telegram sent by Chancellor Helmut Kohl of Germany to Suharto on the occasion of the Indonesian's president's resignation. Kohl goes on to acknowledge Suharto's decision with "great respect and approval," because it contributes "to avoiding further bloodshed and thereby stabilising the internal situation and security of the country."

The struggle for democracy in Indonesia

What are the social and political tasks facing the masses?

By Editorial Board, 23 May 1998

The formal resignation of Suharto has underscored the fact that the problems of political repression, unemployment, poverty, ethnic and religious discrimination and imperialist domination have far deeper roots than the avarice and corruption of an individual ruler.

US Secretary of State showers praise on Suharto

By Barry Grey, 22 May 1998

At a May 20 speech to the US Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright used the language of diplomacy to increase the pressure on General Suharto to resign. She urged him to "preserve his legacy as a man who not only led his country, but provided for its democratic transition."

How Washington builds its second line of defense

US funding for opposition groups in Indonesia

By Barry Grey, 21 May 1998

At the same time that the American military has been training Indonesian commando units, including Suharto's presidential guard, the State Department has been doling out tens of millions of dollars to support bourgeois reform groups opposed to the regime. But any contradiction here is more apparent than real.

Suharto resigns in bid to preserve Indonesian regime

Hand-picked successor installed by military

By Mike Head, 21 May 1998

In a desperate bid to defuse an intense political crisis, Indonesian dictator General Suharto has resigned and installed his hand-picked successor, vice president B. J. Habibie, as his replacement with the backing of the military high command.

Which social classes support the struggle for democracy in Indonesia?

The lessons of history

By the Editorial Board, 20 May 1998

Also in German and Indonesian

Suharto pledges to quit, but clings to power

Military backs Indonesian dictator's call for 'orderly transition'

By a correspondent, 19 May 1998

In a speech to the nation on Tuesday morning, Indonesian dictator General Suharto refused to bow to demands for his resignation, but instead pledged to stand aside after an indefinite "transitional" period.

Indonesia and the 'second wave' of the Asian meltdown

By Mike Head, 19 May 1998

Many international business commentators are referring to the Indonesian crisis as only the first eruption of the turmoil to be unleashed by the "second and third waves" of a financial meltdown.

Australian media owners urge Suharto to stand aside

By the Editorial Board, 16 May 1998

Expressing the economic and strategic interests of Australian capitalism--which has more than $10 billion in direct investments in Indonesia--daily newspaper editorials in Australia on Friday called on Suharto to stand down and make way for a new government that can restore order.

Students massacred in Indonesia

By the Editorial Board, 14 May 1998

The murder of six student demonstrators Tuesday in Jakarta, deliberately shot down by riot police mobilized by the Suharto dictatorship, marks a new stage in the political crisis in Indonesia. The six young people died of bullet wounds when police opened fire on students who were peacefully demonstrating against price increases ordered by the IMF and against the military dictatorship which has ruled Indonesia for 32 years. At least 16 students and teachers were wounded in the attack.

Six killed in Indonesia rioting

By Gadis Mardai, 9 May 1998

A new wave of demonstrations and riots have erupted in several major cities across Indonesia in the last few days. They have been sparked by the slashing of government subsidies on food, fuel, electricity as part of the IMF bailout package agreement.

Suharto agrees to IMF dictates

By Peter Symonds, 14 April 1998

The removal of government price subsidies on food, medicine, fertiliser, animal feed, fuel and other basic items has been delayed, but just until October. Subsidies then will remain only for rice and soybeans.

Amid signs of widening impoverishment

Student protests grow in Indonesia

By Peter Symonds, 4 April 1998

Student protests against the Suharto regime have spread to universities, colleges and educational institutions across Indonesia.

US trains Indonesia torturers

By our reporter, 18 March 1998

The American military is training Indonesian special forces units.

Behind the Suharto-IMF confrontation

By Editorial Board, 18 March 1998

Underlying the clash between the Indonesian dictatorship and the International Monetary Fund is their common fear of a revolutionary explosion.

Mondale sent to Jakarta

Aggressive US intervention in Indonesia

By Peter Symonds, 5 March 1998

The Clinton administration dispatched former vice-president Walter Mondale to Jakarta this week as part of a campaign to ensure that the Suharto dictatorship fully implements IMF restructuring and austerity measures agreed to in January.

A political vacuum in Indonesia

By Peter Symonds, 20 February 1998

For three decades, since coming to power in one of the bloodiest military coups of the 20th century, the Suharto regime has ruthlessly maintained its grip over Indonesia.

Blunt IMF warning to Suharto

By Peter Symonds, 17 February 1998

In what appears to be a closely coordinated operation, the US administration and the International Monetary Fund have warned the Suharto regime in Indonesia to drop plans to peg the rupiah to the American dollar.

Social unrest undermines Suharto regime

By Peter Symonds, 10 February 1998

The Indonesian junta last weekend staged a huge military parade in the center of Jakarta in a bid to intimidate opposition groups and prevent further demonstrations against Suharto prior to the presidential election set for March 11.

Unrest in Indonesia

By Peter Symonds, 31 January 1998

Plans by the Suharto regime for a voluntary three-month freeze on repayments of more than US$65 billion in private debt received a cool reception at a meeting of international bankers in Singapore on January 27.

Indonesia: Cracks in the Suharto regime 

23 January 1998

The Suharto government has agreed to severe austerity measures after the International Monetary Fund threatened to withhold credits from its $33 billion package, sending the Indonesian rupiah and share prices plunging.