Monday, January 28, 2008

Australia Day and Suharto


The 26 January was Australia Day, unfortunately the weekend was marred by the cringing, shallow little weasel Australia now touts as a Prime Minister.

Yet again, the left leaning Labor party demonstrated its complete inability to grasp the fundamental differences between right and wrong with its sycophantic little ode to the news of death of Suharto.

Prime Minister Rudd
"On behalf of the Government and people of Australia, I extend to the President and people of the Republic of Indonesia our condolences on the passing of former Indonesian president Suharto," the Prime Minister said.

"Former president Suharto was one of the longest-serving heads of government of the last century and an influential figure in Australia's region and beyond ... The former president was also a controversial figure in respect of human rights and East Timor and many have disagreed with his approach."

You would reckon the leftist loons would have learned a little bit from the hypocritical deeds of the other Labor Loonies that Australia has had to tolerate (Whitlam, Keating) and the shameful debacle of selective blindness during the invasion of East Timor. At the very least, embarrassment at the evils they have supported in the past would have created to need to take a deep breathe before opening the yawing mouth of diplomatic cowardice yet again. Diplomacy would perhaps dictate a certain sensitivity at this time but surely silence would have been a far more measured and correct response.

By the way Prime Minister Crudd, say what you like but don’t presume to be speaking for any at the Stump.

17 comments:

oigal said...

A good point, ANON.. I forgot besides being loonies they can't spell as well..I have now corrected Labour to the US Labor..happy now

Achmad Sudarsono said...

Friend,

I'm just wondering what you think about the state funeral given to Soeharto. It's interesting, Indonesians don't seem to share your opinions about the former President. I wonder what you think about the outpouring of calls to "forgive Suharto," and the expressions of gratitude for his service.

I'm especially curious to know why the tone of outrage from you (and much of the left in Australia) isn't echoed here, where the alleged abuses took place. Any thoughts ?

GJ said...

It think the Krudd label is going to stick. Especially with kruddy comments like that. Less than 3 years to go.
GJ

GJ said...

To much "diplospeak" no leadership.

GJ

treespotter said...

hold on, how's there a respond but no comment yet?

i need to know more about mr crudd.

oigal said...

Hi T/S,

Yea..OOPS I think I pushed the wrong button..Great post the other day..

Mr Crudd..Well he will never offend a neighbour...or say anything of substance

oigal said...

Hey its my Troll Assmad..

Funny I thought the post was pretty mooted about Soeharto and more about attacking PM Krud and his leftist loonies.. and yet I am a leftist and dancing on his grave..well aware you need the meds sport but moderation ok...

oigal said...

Gj..agreed gunna be a long three years tho...

oigal said...

...SNIP...

Sorry Assmad you are gunna have to raise the standard of comment to get a berth here..thanks for dropping by and fertilizing the garden tho

Achmad Sudarsono said...

Oigsy-Poigsy,

There's an article on Kompas p14 about the spread of basic education under Soeharto from the Kompas research department. That's actually someone who might have a clue what they're talking about, instead of an unmentionable place they're talking out, (like you). The article says primary school enrollment went from 53.38 % in 1968 to 93.53 % in 1994.

* I'm betting you'll dispute the statistics. Fine - got any better ones ? The BPS ain't perfect, but it's better than the suppositions of ex pats.

* I'm betting you'll doubt the quality. Well, mate, no kidding, but presumably at least learning readin', 'rightin', 'n' 'rithmatic, is better than an education down at the local kerb smoking kretek. Or not. Maybe once they're educated, they'll be able to give the 'right' answers to questions.

oigal said...

Hey Assmad, Thanks for for popping in, still having trouble sleeping huh...That happens when you lie with vampires.

"I'm betting you'll dispute the statistics" Actually not really..I ain't the one trying to justify the necessary existance of evil..btw what did they learn..what did it lead to? Where was the sustainability? Sorry makes it what 25 years and the education system in Indonesia is reknown for? Bit like the myth of economic growth really..selective and unsustained lasted just long enough to create..

"but presumably at least learning readin', 'rightin', 'n' 'rithmatic, is better than an education down at the local kerb smoking kretek. Or not. Maybe once they're educated" Good point..Mmmm 25years..so therefore we should be awash in highly educated people unless it was just all so much smoke n mirrors.

Point is my gender confused troll despite what is said its pretty hard to see any lasting legacy from the billions thrown around..Infrastructure...Education...public health...do tell..

Its kinda sad watching you squirm...don't tell me you can feel those dark devils nipping at your heels as well..

Achmad Sudarsono said...

Oigal,

Well. Indonesia was a poor country then, it's a less poor country now.

I think we need to clarify how you measure economic progress, or the lack there of.

It's hard to have a productive discussion unless you have an agreed criteria. Otherwise you'll be talking about different things.

I think ultimately, the way you weigh up the pros and cons of Soeharto is to ask a broad cross-section of Indonesians what they think and feel about his legacy, with questions biased towards the worst-off in society.

I don't buy the brainwashing line, because it's been 10 years since Soeharto stepped down. 10 years of opportunity for activists to set the record straight.

I also think it's helpful to divide the Soeharto legacy up into (1) economy (2) politics and human rights.

Because the poor have said the economy was better under the New Order and Soeharto, I think it's useful to explain why they might think that and work out, from history and statistics, if living standards did improve. Then we can answer why.

Fortunately, there is an industry in measuring living standards. I think the best we can do is the human development index (HDI).

I'd like to know what you think happened to that index from 1968-1995.

Soeharto left alot undone. Institutions not built, a trans-Java highway not built. The PLN issues are more complicated than you're making out - there was no new investment for 8 years after 1997 and power demand kept growing with the population. His worst failing in the economy (leaving aside human rights for a second) was not building institutions, courts, regulatory institutions, etc. It almost certaintly made the Asian financial crisis worse than it had to be.

But ball's in your court.

What do you think happened to:

- Overall life expectancy
- Literacy rates
- Health indices
- Population growth.
- Per capita income
- Comparison to other big developing countries.

If the HDI is crap -- well, that's a different debate.

Go for Gold Australia. Put in the big ones, like Big Mal Meninga tearin' down the field.

oigal said...

Nice long post assmad..and like everything else you post a mostly waste of time..

Sorry no more interest in wasting time with you as you summed it up yourself

"also think it's helpful to divide the Soeharto legacy up into (1) economy (2) politics and human rights."

blood vs dollars ..not much of a legacy

but been fun watching you squirm with sad little justifications..

Achmad Sudarsono said...

Shove this up your filthy, blinkered, over-priveliged rectum, Oigal:

Oh...And go for gold, Australia, not that you'll ever know that honour.

The Sydney Morning Herald
Saturday, February 2 2008

The Nation Builder

By Paul Keating

[Paul Keating was prime minister of Australia from 1991 to 1996]

Australia's postwar history would have been very different but
for the former Indonesian president, writes former prime
minister Paul Keating.

The death of Soeharto, the former president of Indonesia, gives
all Australians a chance to assess the value of his life and the
relationship between Indonesia and Australia.

More than any figure in the post-Second World War period,
including any American president, Soeharto, by his judgment,
goodwill and good sense, had the greatest positive impact on
Australia's strategic environment and, hence, on its history.

In the 40 years since he came to power in 1965, Indonesia has
been the ballast in South-East Asian stability and the
foundation stone upon which ASEAN was built.

Soeharto took a nation of 120 million people, racked by
political turmoil and poverty, from near-disintegration to the
orderly, ordered and prosperous state that it is today.

In 1965, countries such as Nigeria and Zimbabwe were in the same
position as Indonesia then. Today, those countries are economic
and social wrecks. By contrast, Indonesia is a model of harmony,
cohesion and progress. And the principal reason for that is
Soeharto.

We can only imagine what Australia's strategic position would be
like if Indonesia's 230 million people degenerated into a
fractured, lawless state reminiscent of Nigeria or Zimbabwe.

For the past 40 years, we have been spending roughly 2 per cent
of gross domestic product on defence - about $20 billion a year
in today's dollars. The figure would be more like seven to eight
times that, about $150 billion today, if Indonesia had become a
fractured, politically stricken state.

Had Soeharto's New Order government not displaced the Soekarno
government and the massive PKI communist party, the postwar
history of Australia would have been completely different. A
communist-dominated Indonesia would have destabilised Australia
and all of South-East Asia.

So why have Australians regarded Indonesia so suspiciously,
especially over the past quarter-century, when it is evident
that Indonesia has been at the fulcrum of our strategic
stability?

Unfortunately, I think the answer is East Timor and the wilful
reporting of Indonesian affairs in Australia by the Australian
media.

That media have, in the main, been the Fairfax press and the
ABC. Most particularly The Sydney Morning Herald and to a lesser
extent The Age.

This rancour, and the misrepresentation of the true state of
Indonesian social and economic life, can be attributed to the
"get square" policy of the media in Australia for the deaths of
the Balibo Five - the five Australian-based journalists who were
encouraged to report from a war zone by their irresponsible
proprietors and who were shot and killed by the Indonesian
military in East Timor.

This event was sheeted back to Soeharto by journalists of the
broadsheet press. From that moment, in their eyes, Soeharto
became a cruel and intolerant repressor whose life's work in
saving Indonesia from destruction was to be viewed only through
the prism of East Timor.

Rarely did journalists mention that Soeharto was president for
almost 10 years before he did anything about East Timor. He was
happy to leave the poverty-stricken and neglected enclave in his
archipelago to Portugal, with its 300-year history of hopeless
colonisation. Soeharto had enough trouble dragging Indonesia
from poverty without needing to tack on another backward
province.

But in mid-1975, communist-allied military officers took control
in Portugal and its colonies abroad were taken over by avowedly
Marxist regimes. In East Timor, a leftist group calling itself
the Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of East Timor, or
Fretilin, staged a coup igniting a civil war.

When Fretilin overran the colony by force, Soeharto's government
became alarmed. This happened at the height of the Cold War.
Saigon had fallen in April of that year. Fretilin appealed to
China and Vietnam for help. Fearing a "Cuba on his doorstep",
Soeharto reluctantly decided on military intervention. In his 33
years as leader, he embarked upon no other "foreign" exploit.
And he would not have bothered with Timor, had Fretilin not made
the going too rough. Indeed, Jose Ramos-Horta told the Herald in
1996 that "the immaturity, irresponsibility and bad judgment of
the East Timorese provoked Indonesia into doing what it did".
Xanana Gusmao also told anyone who would listen that it had been
a "bad mistake" for Fretilin to present itself as a "Marxist"
outfit in 1975.

But none of this stopped a phalanx of Australian journalists,
mostly from the Fairfax stable and the ABC's Four Corners, from
reporting Indonesian affairs from that time such that
Australians could only view the great economic transformation of
Indonesia and the alleviation of its poverty and its tolerance
primarily through the warped and shattered prism of East Timor.

The Herald even editorialised in favour of an Australian
invasion of East Timor, then Indonesian territory. That is,
right up front about it, the Herald urged the Australian
government to invade Indonesia. So rabid has Fairfax been about
Indonesia and so recreant of Australia's national interest has
it been.

Even as late as this week, the Herald claimed the achievements
of Soeharto's New Order government "were built on sand",
nominating Indonesia reeling from crisis to crisis after 1998,
when the Herald knows that Soeharto did precisely the right
thing in calling the International Monetary Fund in to help and
that the IMF, operating under US Treasury prescriptions, kicked
the country and Soeharto to pieces.

The decline in Indonesia, after 30 years of 7 per cent compound
growth under Soeharto, had little to do with Soeharto and
everything to do with the Asian financial crisis and the
short-sighted and ill-informed IMF.

But more than that, Australian journalists knew but failed to
effectively communicate that not only did Soeharto hold his
country together, he insisted that Indonesia be a secular state;
that is, a Muslim country but not an Islamic or fundamentalist
one. In other words, not an Iran.

Wouldn't you imagine that such an issue would be matter of high
and primary importance to communicate to the Australian
community? That on our doorstep there is a secular Indonesian
state and not a religious one, run by Islamic law. And wouldn't
you, in all reasonableness, give Soeharto full marks for keeping
that vast archipelago as a civil society unrepressed by
fundamentalism?

Look what happened to us in Bali at the hands of a handful,
literally a handful, of Islamic fundamentalists. Imagine the
turmoil for Australia if the whole 230 million of Indonesia had
a fundamentalist objection to us. But this jaded bunch of
Australian journalists could only report how Soeharto was
corrupt because his son Tommy, might have elbowed his way into
some carried equity with an American telephone company or his
daughter something with a road builder. True as those
generalisations might have been, in terms of the weight of
Australia's interests, the deeds of Soeharto's public life
massively outweigh anything in his private affairs.

I got to know Soeharto quite well. He was clever and utterly
decisive and had a kind view of Australia. The peace and order
of his country, its religious and ethnic tolerance and the peace
and the order of South-East Asia came from his goodwill towards
neighbouring states and from his wisdom. He was self-effacing
and shy to a fault. One had to tease him out of himself to get
him going, but once got going, his intellectualism took over.

Soeharto lived in what we would call in Australia a rather old
and shabby McMansion in Jakarta. I have been there on a number
of occasions. He lived as simply as anyone of his high standing
could live.

But Time magazine claimed that Soeharto had stashed away $30
billion-odd, as if those ning-nongs would know, presumably so he
could race off to live it up in Miami or the Bahamas. Errant
nonsense. Soeharto was an Indonesian who was always going to
remain an Indonesian. He lived a simple life and could never
have changed that.

I do not doubt that his rapacious family had the better of him
and got away with lumps of capital they had not earned. Soeharto
was a disciplined leader, but not a disciplined father. But to
compare him with the likes of Marcos is nothing short of
dastardly.

The descriptions of Soeharto as a brutal dictator living a
corrupt high life at the expense of his people and running an
expansionist military regime are untrue. Even Soeharto's
annexation of East Timor was not expansionist. It had everything
to do with national security and nothing to do with territory.

Like all leaders, Soeharto had his failings. His greatest
failing was to underestimate the nature of the society he had
nurtured. As his economic stewardship led to food sufficiency,
education, health and declines in infant mortality, so those
changes gave rise to a middle class as incomes rose. Soeharto
should have let political representation grow as incomes grew.
But he distrusted the political classes. He believed they would
not put the national interest first, had no administrative
ability and were utterly indecisive, if not corrupt. He told me
this on a number of occasions. He would not let the reins go.
Partly because he did not want to lose them, partly because he
really had no one to give them to.

Soeharto's problem was he had too little faith in his own
people, the very people he cared for most.

Whatever political transition he may have wished to have had, it
all blew up on him with the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98.
He had no democratic transition in place and, in the economic
chaos, political forces wanted him to go.

In January 1998, nearly two years after I had left the prime
ministership of Australia, I flew to Jakarta on my own
initiative and at my own expense to see him the day he signed
the IMF agreement with the fund's managing director, Michel
Camdessus.

The IMF had tragically overplayed its hand the previous November
and Soeharto was giving it a chance to dig itself out of a hole.
He had a small window of opportunity. I thought that as a former
head of government who was on friendly terms with him, I at
least owed him advice of a kind I knew he would never get inside
Indonesia: to take the opportunity of the IMF interregnum to say
that he, Soeharto, would contest the next election but that he
would not complete the term. That he would stay long enough to
see the IMF reforms into place and then hand the presidency over
to his vice-president.

Had he taken this advice, the process of political
transformation would have been completely orderly. And a new
administration could have set up the organs of democracy.

I discussed this issue with Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew and Goh
Chok Tong, both of whom had Soeharto's and Indonesia's best
interests at heart. Both gentlemen believed that I was in a
better position to broach this subject with Soeharto than either
of them. For two hours I had the president in his house with his
state secretary, Moerdiano, and his interpreter Widodo. Fifteen
minutes into the conversation, when I was making the case for
him to step down, he stopped Widodo's translation and took my
advice directly, in English. Moerdiano said to me in an aside at
the door, "I think you have got him".

Soeharto followed me to the door, put his arms around my
shoulders and said "God bless you" as I left. As it turned out,
I didn't quite have him, and he hung on thinking he could slip
through one more time.

But the crisis and the behaviour of the IMF and the US Treasury
had marooned him. Completely determined to act constitutionally,
he turned over his singular power, at his own initiative, to his
vice-president to avoid any upheaval of the kind Indonesia had
experienced during earlier transitions.

The new president, B.J. Habibie, then, by all due process,
picked up the reins of government to deal with the continuing
financial reconstruction and the long process of democratisation.

When the acting Foreign Minister, Robert McClelland, and I
arrived in Indonesia for Soeharto's funeral last Monday, we
drove the 30-odd kilometres from the airport at Solo to the
mausoleum where he would be buried alongside his wife. For not
one metre of those 30-odd kilometres, was there no person
present. In some places they were six and eight deep, all
holding their baskets of petals to throw at his cortege. They
all knew they were burying the builder of their society and all
felt the moment.

How many Australian leaders would have a million or so people to
grieve for them beside the roadway? Soeharto's funeral was a
tribute to what his life truly meant. I felt honoured to have
been there but more than that, to have known him.

oigal said...

"Shove this up your filthy, blinkered, over-priveliged rectum, Oigal:"

Gee, I was going to delete this, but figured its amusing its own right.
What's wrong little diddums, your sad little defence come apart at the seams did it. I guess its bit like the rest of his legacy and as will happen with those little toadies of his now he has gone..been reading the media lately..Your oft referred and seriously deluded claim the people are with me claim is looking pretty weak as well of late..

"Shove this up your filthy, blinkered, over-priveliged rectum"

Filthy..no I don't think so pretty big on personal hygiene.
blinkered..Subjective..but perhaps you mean like a throughbred..thanks
over-priveliged.. perhaps certainly from some viewpoints but unlike toadies like yourself and the monster minions, I earnt mine fair and square, no govt handouts, no free taxpayer funded education holidays... I can sleep at night can you?

Rectum..yep have one, I call it Achmad..but thanks for asking..

Paul Keating...laugh.. you have to be kidding..He was sent to save the Aust Govt the embarrassment of sending a real senior representative..the snub a bit subtle for you huh... Maddog Keating was a well known Monster Toady who lapped up the attention and is thoughly discredited. Don't take my word for it read another ex ALP Prime Ministers opinion of him Ex PM Hayden said of Mr Keating. "The way he's staggered around the gloomy ramparts of memory, like a bitter old man, invoking memories of what should have been and blaming all sorts of spectral problems, makes me wonder whether the gods are readying him for destruction(http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23146962-2702,00.html)

Keating is the best you can do..truely desperate stuff!

"How many Australian leaders would have a million or so people to
grieve for them beside the roadway"

Gee thats just plain silly, 221 million people vs 21 million..lets see based on a more sensible ratio, OZ would need a crowd of 100,000 for that same % of the people..sheesh 100,000 thats not even a good grand final crowd..

However a million people you say..that not half the amount the could come because they had run afoul of his regime....may be THAT EXPLAINS ALL THE DARK SHADOWS ALONG THE ROUTE

"short-sighted and ill-informed IMF" Yep they just caught a plane in on a whim..nothing to do with massive foreign debt, mismanagement, a currency so over valued you couldn't leap over it.

Assmad, are you that big a fool you don't know the history of the ALP and its collective shame at turning a blind eye about what was happening here..not really credible mob to use..we call it arse covering (not something you are not into I know).

Anyway Diddums thanks for popping by..as they say whats wrong little un,,can dish it but can't take it...

Made my day today..so here's a quote that sort of applies to you

"“Right now I'm not seeing a hell of a lot of intelligence, covert, overt or otherwise.”

Thanks for sharing..RFOLMA

oigal said...

Assmad...

SNIP I SNIP 2 SNIP 3..Sorry 'yawn o meter" has tripped in

Rob Baiton said...

Gotta say that it is not too hard to work out where you situate yourself in the Australian political spectrum. is it? I think I would have to be categorized as one of those leftist loonies but that does not mean that I necessarily agree with all the other little leftist loonies running around out there.

Condolences on the passing of the "big fella" were warranted as a matter of common decency and courtesy (the problem here is most obviously that in life Soeharto had very little of either)...The statement should have just passed on the obligatory condolences and left it at that.

Indonesia is going to struggle with the legacy of Soeharto and particular how to resolve the hypocrisy that he was as a human being...Indonesia did experience rapid and long-term economic growth, should this be a plus for the former President? Probably not when one considers that the house of cards that was that economic growth was built on unsustainable public and private debt that unravelled with tragic consequences in 1997 and 1998.

Even if there was generousity in granting the old fella a plus on the economy (financial meltdown aside) this will never be enough to resolve the long-term human rights violations (enforced disappearances, kidnapping, murder, corruption, the list goes on!)...

The new order chapter in Indonesian history books and the legacy of Soeharto is sure to be an interesting read once it is written! Particularly when the debate over 1965 / 1966 still reverberates to this day about what really transpired so many years ago!

But to be sure I do not see the legacy of cult that has become Indonesia's first President's claim to fame developing around Soeharto. Simply, the "Father of the Nation" is always and for eternity going to trump the "Father of Development"!

I watched a Megawati political rally the other week (she is getting better at working the crowds -- but let's hope she does not get another shot at the presidency) and it was the picture of Soekarno that took pride of place in center stage.

It does not say much about Megawati's prospects or that of Indonesia where a political party as large as PDI-P relies on the policies of a bloke that has been dead for more than 35 years and had led the country into such a sad economical and political state that it allowed a dictatorial mastermind like Soeharto to take control and keep it for 32 years!

Keating will always be Keating! I guess if he has not been on the front page for a while he gets a little anxious and says something controversial to get his mug on the front of the daily papers. After all the bloke by his own reckoning was Australia's best ever PM (I would like to see the criteria for that one)...

I would agree that successive Australian governments starting with a Labor government were complicit in the invasion of Timor and this is another apology that the Government must make!!!

Throwing aid money at Timor which probably came into Australian treasury coffers by way of the oil extracted from the Timor Sea anyway hardly makes amends for the past injustices to which Australia was complicit (ohhhh to be a cynic).

Indeed it may be a very long three years for supporters from all sides of the political spectrum! But hey this is the beauty of democracy in action -- you get what the majority vote for even where it is not the person / party you voted for :)