Monday, January 14, 2008

Please Explain

The achievements and works that he carried out were not small things, especially like national development, even though as a human being, and like other leaders, Pak Harto had some deficiencies and made some mistakes,” President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said Saturday, referring to Mr. Suharto by a common name of affection.

“This will not stop us from thanking him for his contribution and achievements, and service to our nation,” he said, after cutting short a trip to Malaysia to visit the former president’s bedside....

On Sunday, an old friend, Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore, flew to Jakarta to visit his bedside. On Monday, another member of the old guard, former Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad of Malaysia, paid a visit.

Mr. Suharto was asleep or unconscious when Mr. Lee arrived, but his visitor approached his bedside and touched him, said former State Secretary Murdiono, who like many Indonesians uses only one name and is a confidant of Mr. Suharto. In his autobiography, Mr. Lee described Mr. Suharto as “a quiet man, courteous and punctilious on form and protocol.” He added: “He is not an intellectual, but he has the ability to select able economists and administrators who are his administrators.”

-Indonesia Watches an Ailing Suharto

For Discussion: Here's someone who has embezzled huge amounts (15 to 35 billion) of money from state coffers, still loved by the people? Does it really truly reflect the view of the Indonesian people? What lesson can development practitioners learn from it?

Excessive Anti-Corruption Drive Hurting the Economy?


Anonymous said...

You quote 3 presidents (or dictators) admiring a 4th one and you wonder if it reflects the views of the indonesian people ?

On the other hand, what about the indonesian people judging things in relative terms.. what if they now remember the stability or the growth of the suharto area and feel like they were getting their share then more than now ?

Maynard said...

"Here's someone who has embezzled huge amounts (15 to 35 billion) of money from state coffers, still loved by the people? "

The difference between Suharto and, say, Sani Abacha, is that while money was acquired by him and his family, it was invested in Indonesia, rather than in European property and a Swiss bank account. The end result was a Suharto family that owned a lot of a rapidly growing Indonesia, rather than an Abacha family that owned some small fraction of Europe.

As this shows, there are important differences in this type of presidential corruption. Morally they may be the same, but the practical effects on the rest of the country are very different.

Marshall Jevons said...

May be it has to do with culture as well-- being taught to respect elders and leaders (even when they are wrong)!