January 30, 2008

A Tribute to the late President Soeharto

Sunday, 27 th of January 2008, at 01:10 pm, the founding father of modern Indonesia passed away after more than 3 weeks of hospitalization and undergoing multiple organ failures. Great 5-Star- General Soeharto is one the best sons of the Republic of Indonesia. Regardless of your stand toward him and your opinion about him, he still stands out of the crowd among more than 250 millions citizens of Indonesia. For most Indonesians, he still deserves the right to hold the title of “Father of Development”. He does have some weaknesses as a human being (Who does not anyway?). But if you are an objective person, you have to see him and rate him from all aspects and sides of his life. He used to be a prominent figure for the last fifty years of Indonesia until his downfall in 1998.

For many present day poor citizens of the Republic of Indonesia, being under Soeharto’s regime prior to the economic crisis which led to his downfall, feel a lot better than being poor citizens of the present day reformed era. There must be a reason why they feel so. The reasons which may be too many to describe here lead them to compare his leadership with that of his successors’. When the so called era of reformation began, they had expected that they were facing a lot brighter future ahead of them. But then what happened? They have to face a long decade of struggle which shows no clues of betterment. Life is not getting easier, corruption is still rampant, and to make the situation even worse is that Indonesia has been constantly undergoing natural disasters for the last five years . Being in that situation, you cannot blame them for regretting the so-called era of reformation. “What has been reformed for the better?” they keep asking. Can any one give a satisfactory answer to this question asked by many uneducated Indonesians?

Pak Harto has deeply impressed many people not only for the length of time of his presidency but also for many outstanding achievements he achieved during his 5 terms. Outsiders might call him a dictator but they could not liken him to other leaders who were granted the same title, because Pak Harto had many exceptions that others did not. Some people do not mind having a dictator for their leader if the title has many positive values, especially in terms of quality of leadership. People need a strong leader whom they can rely on in all situations. Leading a big country with great potential of disintegration sometimes one needs strong hands. That may explain some of the decisions he made and the actions he took.

I was about to start my elementary school when Pak Harto began leading this big country. So it is quite natural if I feel like many other Indonesians of my age that Pak Harto has become part of my life, my education, my destiny, and later on my history. I feel the loss which many Indonesians who admire and love him feel. That explains why I shed tears when I watched his funeral on tv and even when I wrote this tribute.

May Allah bless you Pak Harto. Millions prayers have been said for you by people who admire and love you.