|Subject: Tempo Cover Story: A Pardon for
Suharto? [+Golkar; Editorial; Lee (8 reports)]
8 Tempo Cover Story reports:
- Deadlock at Dawn: A Pardon for Suharto?
- Editorial: Looking for a Way Out [President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would do well to abide by the Constitution in the face of politicians raucously urging the government to forgive former President Suharto.]
- Minister Yudhoyono's Unfinished Assignment
- Beseeching Under the Banyan Tree [People of all kinds, from religious figures to prostitutes, are praying for Suharto to recover. Mass prayer sessions are organized by the Golkar Party.]
- Editorial: A Neighbor's Discordant Note [Lee Kuan Yew declared that Suharto is not receiving the respect he deserves. His propensity to patronize is as strong as ever.]
- Interview: Putu Sugianitri: Bung Karno never got the same medical care as Pak Harto [Not long after she joined the police force, Putu, who is now 60 years old, was assigned to the security detail of Sukarno's family at the Palace. What happened to Bung Karno at Wisma Yaso is still a mystery.]
- Seeking Immunity
- The Fifth-Floor Command Room
- [note: One of the cover story reports - "Two Unwanted Guests" - was inaccessible]
January 22-28, 2008
Deadlock at Dawn
The Suharto family refused to pay Rp4 trillion as an out-of-court settlement in the civil case brought by the Attorney General. The government's response has been to eliminate the option of a pardon for Suharto.
EVERYONE seemed to be racing against time. Almost everyone on the fifth floor of Pertamina Central Hospital, Jakarta, thought that Suharto would soon depart on Friday night, two weeks ago. The condition of the New Order ruler, who had been receiving medical treatment the previous week, was critical.
Two airplanes were readied at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in Jakarta. If Suharto had died that night, his body would have been flown to Solo, Central Java, at 6am on Saturday morning. "Pak Try even asked me to ride in the same plane with him," said one ex-minister, referring to Try Sutrisno, the former Vice President who stayed at the hospital on that critical night.
Approaching midnight on January 11, Suharto's condition became increasingly critical. A number of his former aides were camped out at the hospital. In addition to Try there were former Armed Forces Commander in Chief, General (ret) Wiranto, former Minister of Cooperatives Subiakto Tjakrawerdaya, former Minister of Finance Fuad Bawazier, and former Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Haryono Suyono.
Try took the initiative. He telephoned Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who had just left the hospital. "I ask that a quick and amicable resolution be sought on Pak Harto's case. Please convey this to Bapak President," said Try, on Thursday last week.
According to Try, Jusuf Kalla replied, "Very well, Sir." Kalla then contacted Attorney General Hendarman Supandji. He asked if there was any possibility of settling the legal case quickly. According to someone in Jusuf Kalla's inner circle, Hendarman said that there was one way: an out-of-court settlement for the civil lawsuit.
The government is currently suing the Supersemar Foundation, of which Suharto chairs the board of supervisors. This foundation is charged with illegally collecting funds from 1976 until Suharto's resignation, 22 years later. The case is currently underway at the South Jakarta District Court.
Jusuf Kalla then called President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He reported Try Sutrisno's request and conveyed Hendarman's explanation. According to Cabinet Secretary Sudi Silalahi, the President immediately contacted the Attorney General.
"The President was somewhat shocked at being asked to settle Pak Harto's case that very night," said Sudi Silalahi. "The President then ordered the Attorney General to meet with the family of Pak Harto to inquire about their intentions."
A little past midnight, Hendarman arrived at the hospital. He was taken to Room 537, across from Suharto's room, which was being used as the family's waiting room. He was greeted by Suharto's children: Siti Hardijanti (Tutut), Sigit Harjojudanto, Bambang Trihatmodjo, Siti Hedianti Harijadi (Titiek), Siti Hutami Adiningsih (Mamiek), and Hutomo Mandala Putra (Tommy).
Tutut asked her guest whether he minded if Try Sutrisno attended the meeting. "Monggo, go ahead," replied Hendarman Supandji, as related by a source who was also at the hospital at that time.
The Attorney General said that he was sent by President Yudhoyono to take "rapid measures consistent with the legal corridor." This meant to negotiate for an out-of-court settlement on the civil lawsuit against the Supersemar Foundation. "We need to consult about reaching an agreement," said Hendarman, as told by the same source.
People waiting outside the room observed that the meeting proceeded tersely. Tea served in teacups bearing the presidential palace logo, brought in from the Suharto family residence, went untouched. Hendarman, said the source, proposed a settlement that required the Suharto family to pay Rp4 trillion to the state. This is only a third of the government's original demand, namely US$420 million and Rp185 billion plus non-material losses of Rp10 trillion from the Supersemar Foundation.
Both Hendarman and Try Sutrisno later refused to confirm the amount of the settlement. "I did not follow what was offered. I forgot," claimed Try Sutrisno. Hendarman said, "I wouldn't dare to say what was conveyed."
Reportedly, Tutut and her younger siblings listened silently to the offer made by Hendarman. According to a former minister, Tutut then replied, "Pak Hendarman, this involves the Supersemar Foundation. The oversight council members are the ones with the authority to make that decision. My father happens to be the chairman, but he is in critical condition, and I cannot communicate [with him]. So, we are unable to make any decision."
Try Sutrisno then took over the talks. He said no decision could be reached that night. "Let us continue at the next meeting," said the former Vice President. Hendarman nodded in agreement. It was almost Saturday morning. He took his leave. Fuad Bawazier noted that the meeting lasted about half an hour.
* * *
Everyone seemed to be racing against time. The President arrived in Jakarta from Kuala Lumpur on Saturday morning at 10:30am. He was immediately given an update by the medical team treating Suharto. Then he held a restricted meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla and a few ministers. The Attorney General was present to report on the meeting which took place the previous night.
Adnan Buyung Nasution, a member of the Presidential Advisory Board (DPP), asked to meet Yudhoyono through State Secretary Hatta Rajasa. But time was short. Instead, Hatta Rajasa sent a text message to the President's cellphone. "It was the first time advice from a member of the DPP was sent by SMS," said Buyung. "I had to do it."
Buyung had two points to make in his text message, which was over 1,200 characters long. First, Suharto should face immediate civil trial, based on the AGO's investigation result. The report specified that Suharto should be declared guilty and given the lightest possible sentence: 24 hours. After that President Yudhoyono would grant him a pardon.
Second, a peaceful solution must be found with regard to the civil lawsuit against the Supersemar Foundation. In order to reach an agreement, the two sides must agree on the appointment of an international auditor to determine the size of Suharto's wealth. Only then can it be determined how much should be returned to the state.
According to Buyung, President Yudhoyono cannot pardon Suharto without a trial. "The President can be impeached if he does that, because it would violate the Constitution and the MPR Decree on the eradication of corruption, collusion, and nepotism," he told Tempo.
The President finally met with Buyung for an hour on Monday last week. According to him, the President considered his advice before coming to a decision. "Even though I was unable to meet you right away, believe me, I took your advice into consideration," said SBY, as quoted by Buyung.
Quite a few people have urged that Suharto be forgiven, including Amien Rais, the former MPR Speaker who is often described as the "engine of reforms." The Suharto family's legal advisors also sent two letters to President Yudhoyono, asking that the civil lawsuits against Suharto and the Supersemar Foundation be dismissed. The first was sent on January 5, signed by six lawyers. The second one was sent on January 14, signed only by lawyer O.C. Kaligis.
The Suharto family also conveyed their hopes directly to President Yudhoyono, who visited Suharto on Saturday three weeks ago. Two hours before he arrived, T.B. Silalahi, a member of the DPP, was at the hospital. Quite a few people asked Yudhoyono's former mentor at the Military Academy to urge the President to quickly resolve the Suharto case.
On seeing Suharto, whose body was covered with tubes hooked up to various medical devices, Yudhoyono was sympathetic. According to someone close to the Suharto family, the President said in earnest, "This is the time when the nation must make an important decision." Titiek immediately shook hands with the President and said, "Thank you, Pak President, praise be to God, at last…"
In the presence of Suharto's children, said the same source, the President called the Attorney General and a number of ministers for a meeting immediately at the Palace. After that he bid farewell. "We could hardly wait for the outcome of that meeting at the Palace," said the source, a former minister.
The news came at about 2pm. Tutut and her younger siblings watched the President's press conference on television. As it turned out, Yudhoyono, who was accompanied by Jusuf Kalla, only said, "After visiting Pak Harto, I received a report from the medical team that he is in critical condition." The long-awaited "important decision" was not forthcoming.
* * *
Everyone seems to be racing against time. But this comes after 10 years of lost opportunity in bringing Suharto to trial. President B.J. Habibie was unable to send his predecessor to court. For four hours on December 9, 1998, prosecutors questioned the five-star general, who was charged with misusing state funds through a number of foundations, the national car program and the Tapos farm.
Near the end of his administration, on October 11, 1999, Habibie said that there was no evidence for the corruption charges against Suharto. The Attorney General's Office (AGO) issued an order to stop the investigation. This order was rescinded during the administration of Abdurrahman Wahid, Habibie's successor, through Attorney General Marzuki Darusman.
The AGO named Suharto a suspect and confined him to house arrest in May 2000. The case was filed at the South Jakarta District Court. The trial began at the Department of Agriculture building at Ragunan, South Jakarta. However, Suharto never made it to court due to health reasons. The judge decided that the charges against Suharto were unacceptable. The Supreme Court upheld this decision because Suharto was considered to be "permanently ill."
During the administration of Megawati Sukarnoputri, Suharto remained untouchable. Attorney General M.A. Rachman did not do anything to resolve the case. Suharto often appeared in public, like visiting the grave of his wife at Astana Giribangun in Karanganyar, Central Java.
Yudhoyono has been President since October 2004. On May 11, 2006, the AGO issued a decree dropping the charges against Suharto. In its place, the AGO filed a civil lawsuit against Suharto and the Supersemar Foundation. Through Supersemar, established May 16, 1974, Suharto stands accused of causing state losses in the amounts of Rp191.8 billion and US$418.6 million-which comes to more than Rp4 trillion, the amount reportedly offered to the Suharto family as part of the out-of-court settlement.
On Saturday two weeks ago, after presiding over a limited cabinet meeting at his Puri Cikeas Indah residence, the President said, "Regarding the civil lawsuit, it is not right to speak about it right now, given the present condition of former President Suharto." He continued, "For that reason, the government is of the opinion that it is not appropriate and not a priority at this time."
-- Budi Setyarso and Dwi Riyanto Agustiar
Tempo Magazine No. 21/VIII January 22-28, 2008
Looking for a Way Out
FIAT justitia ruat caelum. Let justice be done, though the heavens fall.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would do well to abide by the Constitution in the face of politicians raucously urging the government to forgive former President Suharto. The charter does not give him the prerogative to grant a pardon before the current legal process has run its course.
Beset by severe corruption, Indonesia needs a leader capable of guaranteeing equal rights and responsibilities to all its citizens before the law-in the spirit of the abovementioned Latin adage. It needs someone who prioritizes rules, rather than merely keeping a few colleagues and his ex-boss happy. Maintaining this stance is not easy, and invites criticism from those who would like to see Suharto forgiven. Such sentiments will become increasingly vocal with the declining health of the old autocrat, who held power for 32 years.
It is unclear whether the 86-year-old Suharto, lying on the fifth floor of the Pertamina Central Hospital, is sleeping or sedated. He is suffering from various systemic infections. His life is dependent on machines, his weak body pierced by intertwining tubes. It is a pitiful sight to behold.
President Yudhoyono can certainly express his sympathy and make frequent visits to Suharto in hospital, but he must not be trapped into doing something unwarranted. An unconditional pardon, which has not even been asked for by Suharto's family, will only make it more difficult for Yudhoyono and Indonesia.
The President will be accused of failing to implement People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Decree No. XI/1998, which is still in force. It sets out guidelines for the governance of a state which battles corruption, no matter who may be involved, including Suharto himself. None of the post-1998 administrations have implemented this edict, but the strongest calls for action will be hurled at President Yudhoyono because Suharto's final days are likely to occur on his watch.
Granting a pardon without due process of law would be tantamount to closing the door on outstanding cases that implicate Suharto's cronies. When these cronies are put on trial, they could deny all responsibility, maintaining they were only following the ex-President's orders. In the absence of a guilty verdict against Suharto, through a legal or political process, it would be easy for any of his associates to escape the law. This means that justification for their control over several sectors of the economy, either through favorable regulations, presidential instructions or informal notes, could not be re-examined, let alone rendered ineffectual.
Politically, any act of forgiveness would be disadvantageous for Yudhoyono. His popularity in the run-up to the 2009 elections would drop if he pardoned the former President out of hand. Certainly, his closest rival, former President Megawati Sukarnoputri, could not be expected to attach any priority to a pardon. She can not have forgotten the unfortunate circumstances and the suffering experienced by her father, founding President Sukarno, during his last days under Suharto.
Now is the time for Yudhoyono to stand by his conviction that granting a pardon will create the view that any national leader is "above the law." It would set a bad precedent that must be avoided. So, former MPR Speaker Amien Rais, National Mandate Party (PAN) Deputy Chairman Drajad Wibowo, Justice & Prosperity Party (PKS) parliamentary leader Mahfudz Siddiq, House of Representatives (DPR) Speaker Agung Laksono and former State Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra can all clamor for Suharto to be given a blanket pardon, for whatever motives they may have.
From those claiming to be reformers, the people want to hear their defense of victims of human rights abuses, and those who suffered from economic and political fraud under the New Order. As we commented last week, no court can try a sick man. If successive governments have been unable to take Suharto to court when he was healthy, it would be pretentious to try to prosecute him now.
What is more, the current fuss is only about the "small branches" of the "big tree" of alleged corruption which existed during the Suharto years. The main case, in other words the abuses of power and position, which made many of his cronies and children rich, have not been addressed at all by any of the post-Suharto governments.
So let us hear no more of a lightning trial, as proposed by Buyung Nasution, or a trial in absentia. Start with recording and investigating the political and economic scandals of the Suharto years. When all the documentation is complete and witnesses have testified, the government will be on a much sounder footing to decide where to take the Suharto case-legally or politically.
Clearly, experience has caused us to doubt the government's political seriousness in doing this. We hope we are wrong, and that one day the public will suddenly yell and cheer when they hear a surprise announcement from the State Palace-as they did when they heard the news of Suharto's resignation.
Tempo Magazine No. 21/VIII January 22-28, 2008
Minister Yudhoyono's Unfinished Assignment
SUSILO Bambang Yudhoyono is not a newcomer when it comes to trying to resolve the Suharto case. Eight years ago, as Minister of Mines & Energy, he went on a mission of peace from then-President Abdurrahman Wahid to ask the Suharto family to give back some of their wealth. At that time, as now, the attempt created a controversy.
Yudhoyono was reportedly chosen because he was suspected to be close to Siti Hardijanti, better known as Tutut. The two were members of the ad hoc committee in the 1997 General Session of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR). Tutut represented Golkar and Yudhoyono represented the Indonesian Military (TNI). However, Yudhoyono said that they were not close. "Frankly, I don't know the reason for the appointment. I don't have [a history] of being close with Pak Harto or his family," he told Tempo in June 2000.
According to Abdurrahman Wahid, Yudhoyono is a skilled negotiator. He cited the case of environmental damage by the Newmont mining company in North Sulawesi. Yudhoyono was able to urge this American company to pay US$4 million in compensation to the local government. "Who else could do that?" said the former President.
Marzuki Darusman, who was Attorney General at that time, said that the decision to try to reach an amicable settlement-including selecting Yudhoyono as the negotiator-was not discussed in a cabinet session. "That was a sly move on Gus Dur's part," said Marzuki to Tempo on Friday last week. "It's a mystery to me why he chose Yudhoyono."
Yudhoyono says that he received that assignment after a cabinet session on May 24, 2000. Abdurrahman Wahid explained his view about how to settle the case against Suharto. At that time, the former New Order ruler was charged with suspicion of corruption, and the case was being investigated by the Attorney General's Office. Abdurrahman said that settling the case required multiple approaches: legal, political and humanitarian. "I was assigned to convey Gus Dur's view that the [Suharto] family could donate some of their wealth to the state," said Yudhoyono.
The first meeting took place in early April 2000 at Cendana in Jakarta, home of Suharto. Yudhoyono conveyed the proposal offered by Abdurrahman Wahid. "It is already common knowledge that the Cendana (Suharto) family has wealth, some of which should rightly be donated to the public," said Yudhoyono. There was no response to the offer. The Suharto family, represented by Tutut, even asked, "What wealth are you talking about?" The second meeting, about two weeks later, proved to be unproductive as well.
After reaching a dead end, the government spun its own story. While in Tehran, Iran, Abdurrahman said that there were signs of an impending agreement between the government and the Suharto family. "Wealth which he wrongfully took from the state will be returned to the state," said Abdurrahman, in a dialog with Indonesians in Tehran, on June 15, 2000.
Tutut denied there were any such indications, as mentioned by Abdurrahman Wahid. She said that she had already met Yudhoyono, but that there was never any commitment to turn over Suharto's wealth to the state. "It was conveyed all along that Bapak does not even have a single cent outside the country. He said that if anyone can find such wealth, go ahead and take it and use it for the public's welfare," said Tutut. M. Assegaf, Suharto's lawyer at the time, said he never received a report regarding this negotiation process.
The negotiations never got anywhere. Five months after receiving his mandate, Yudhoyono confirmed that the negotiation process would not be resumed. "This matter has become a public source of controversy," he said. The government worried that the negotiations would affect the legal process.
-- Abdul Manan
Tempo Magazine No. 21/VIII January 22-28, 2008
Beseeching Under the Banyan Tree
People of all kinds, from religious figures to prostitutes, are praying for Suharto to recover. Mass prayer sessions are organized by the Golkar Party.
A SHORT prayer could be heard at the Gude Jiwan red-light area in Madiun, East Java, on Sunday two weeks ago. "May Suharto be far from the evils of ill health..." was the invocation recited by 120 prostitutes and 25 pimps in the complex.
Suwadji, who manages the local prostitutes' activities, led the prayer for the recovery of the New Order ruler, who has been in critical condition for the past three weeks at Pertamina Hospital in Jakarta. Wearing a black peci cap and a batik shirt, Suwadji led the prostitutes and pimps in a traditional tahlilan, a ritual recital of verses of the Qur'an and prayers, usually recited in unison for the dead or dying.
No snacks or gifts were provided at the event that afternoon, as is usually done when people attend such functions in Madiun. Not even water was provided. "We didn't spend anything for this. The room and loudspeaker were already available. No refreshments were provided," said Suwadji.
This 50-year-old man said that they were praying for Suharto because during the New Order era prostitution "was a safer and more comfortable occupation." At that time, he said, no government officials, military, or gangs of hooligans extorted protection fees. "Now, many ask for payments," he said.
He also said that during the Suharto era the local regent often visited to give them counseling. But after President Suharto resigned, the regent no longer spoke to the denizens of this prostitution complex.
Where did the idea for this group prayer come from? According to Suwadji, it was an order from Andrianus M. Uran, Director of the Bambu Nusantara Foundation. Andrianus is a Golkar sympathizer who informs prostitutes at Gude Jiwan how to prevent HIV/AIDS. "Whatever his situation, Suharto has served his country," said Andrianus.
Golkar Chairman for the Madiun regency, Tomo Budi Haryoso, said that the idea for the prayer came up at a meeting of the Madiun regency Golkar regional leadership board. Tomo asked Golkar cadres to mobilize the prayer activity at the village and district levels. "Andrianus organized the Gude crowd," he said.
Joint prayers for Suharto were also made at the Bele li Mbui Building in Gorontalo on Wednesday last week. Performed during the working meeting of the Gorontalo Golkar Party, the prayer was attended by the party's politicians. Among them were Theo L. Sambuaga and Fadel Muhammad, the latter being the governor of that province. Fadel said that the prayer was initiated by Golkar and the people of Gorontalo. "Pak Harto is a Golkar figure," he said.
In Manado, prayers for Suharto's recovery were made at a number of churches, among them the Pentecost Church, led by Rev. Steven Liauw. "Life and death is in God's hand. We wish Pak Harto a quick recovery," said the pastor.
In addition to church congregations, the Indonesian National Youth Committee (KNPI) of North Sulawesi also prayed for Suharto. "This is also Christmas worship,'' said Olan Krisen, interim secretary of KNPI of North Sulawesi.
The prayers for Suharto by Golkar, the party with the banyan tree logo, were made on the night of 1 Sura, the first month on the Javanese Saka calendar. Almost all the high-ranking party officials arrived at the official residence of Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Jalan Diponegoro, Jakarta. The prayer was attended by 120 Golkar administrators and the Majelis Dzikir of the Islam Propagation Council (MDI). "Pak Harto is in ill health. Praying for the sick is highly recommended," said Kalla.
In the same spirit, students and kiai of the Al-Barokah Islamic Boarding School, in Ngepung village, Patianrowo, Nganjuk, East Java, recited Islamic remembrances of God in Arabic for Suharto. At that time, Suharto was in very critical condition. This school belongs to Harmoko, the former Minister of Information who once led Golkar. The school's caretaker, KH Rosyidin, led the recitation of Chapter 36 of the Qur'an.
Prayers were also made for Suharto at his Jalan Cendana residence and at Pertamina Hospital. At Cendana, Habib Husein Abu Bakar from the Al-Fahriyah Islamic Boarding School, Lenteng Agung, Jakarta, prayed when Suharto was in critical condition on Friday two weeks ago. Seated on a bench on the porch at Suharto's home, this elderly man continued to clutch his string of prayer beads. He was dressed in a long, white shirt which covered his body, and his head was wrapped in a white turban.
The habib arrived close to midnight. Had the Cendana family asked him to pray for Suharto? "No. I came on my own initiative," he said. So why didn't he just go to Pertamina Hospital? "The Almighty gave me a sign to come here," he said. He stayed there for half an hour, although he was not allowed inside Suharto's home.
Prayers for Suharto could also be heard in his birthplace of Kemusuk, Argomulyo, Sedayu district, Bantul, Yogyakarta. Since his health became critical on that Friday night, residents of the rural community began arriving at the home of the late Notosuwito, Suharto's younger brother. Aryo Winoto, Notosuwito's oldest child, said that residents of Kemusuk held a joint prayer session.
Some of them conveyed verbal initiations. About 100 people showed up. That night's prayer was the third since Suharto was taken to Pertamina Hospital, three weeks ago. Led by KH Dasiman, they sat in a circle on the porch. All of them solemnly recited the 35th chapter of the Qur'an, prayers upon Prophet Muhammad, and various remembrances of God in Arabic.
On Monday last week, a group prayer for Suharto also took place at Dalem Kalitan Solo, Central Java. This home is owned by the family of Suharto and his late wife, Siti Hartinah. Here, in 1996, the body of Tien Suharto was laid in state before being taken to her final resting place at Astana Giri Bangun, Karang Anyar. Still in Solo, followers of Javanese mysticism also held a ceremony for Suharto.
Amid the prayers being made around the country, Lestari (not her real name), a prostitute at the Gude Madiun locale, lamented. She claimed to be praying for Suharto because her pimp ordered her to do so. Coming from Tulungagung, East Java, she cannot even remember the last time she prayed on her own.
She is unable to pray for her parents, not even once a year, she said. But she hopes to receive some "blessing" for taking part in the group prayer for Suharto, even though, afterwards, "I still have three clients a day," she said frankly.
-- Sunudyantoro, Anton Septian, Dini Mawuntyas (Madiun), LN Idayanie (Yogya), Bernarda Rurit (Solo), Verrianto M. (Gorontalo), Dwidjo Maksum (Nganjuk)
Tempo Magazine No. 21/VIII January 22-28, 2008
A Neighbor's Discordant Note
Lee Kuan Yew declared that Suharto is not receiving the respect he deserves. His propensity to patronize is as strong as ever.
A GOOD guest should first of all understand the norms of being a guest. This saying applies to all cultures and relations between people. A good guest must not only be careful of his conduct and actions, but also watch his tongue and be polite to avoid giving the impression he is interfering in "domestic" affairs in an offensive way.
In the two weeks that former President Suharto has been treated for his illness, there has been a stream of visitors, including VIPs from several countries, both former and current leaders. To mention just a few, former Prime Minister of Malaysia Mahathir Mohamad, Sultan of Brunei Hassanal Bolkiah, and Singapore's Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.
The arrival and concern of these guests are to be treated with respect, as courtesy calls for. Mahathir, who came with his wife, stopped by a Padang restaurant in Jakarta to enjoy his favorite food. Sultan Bolkiah brought the Grand Mufti of Brunei Darussalam, especially to pray for Suharto's health.
They did not say much. Sultan Bolkiah did not say a single word. Outside the hospital, Mahathir Mohamad made a brief statement expressing his sadness at the condition of his old friend and hoping for the former President's speedy recovery. There was nothing in Mahathir's statement that reopened the dispute that benefits neither nation.
It was different with Singapore's former Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, who is also the former Senior Minister and now Minister Mentor of the island state. In Jakarta, Lee also said very little, but when he returned to his country two weeks ago last Sunday, he babbled to the press, saying he was sad to see that Suharto was not receiving the respect he deserved.
The author of the book Lee Kuan Yew, Alex Josey, quoted a British diplomat who portrayed Lee as "a most brilliant man, but rather crafty." In another part of the book, Josey wrote, "In his personal habits, he has a tendency to be fickle." Craftiness and fickleness are generally speaking inseparable traits. But there are also parameters that can be used to measure the civility of a person at a certain level and age.
If Lee really did say that "Suharto is not receiving the respect he deserves," there are two questions that need to be asked. First, who is Lee blaming because, according to him, Suharto is not receiving respect? And second, what does Lee mean by the "respect he deserves"? Will this comment not offend the leaders and senior officials of this nation, who for the two weeks of Suharto's treatment have been giving extraordinary and special concern?
Perhaps the comments by Lee are aimed at the people of his own country, so they know what stance to take when the 85-year-old faces his "final trial." If that is the case, why did he have to "take advantage" of a situation in a neighboring nation that is currently facing problems? More than once, Lee has sounded a "discordant note" in the relations between the two countries. Therefore, it is respectfully recommended that he refrain from being so 'patronizing.'
Tempo Magazine No. 21/VIII January 22-28, 2008
Interview: Putu Sugianitri: Bung Karno never got the same medical care as Pak Harto
A CHANCE assignment placed a young woman to witness the last days of President Sukarno. Putu Sugianitri, graduated from the Police Women's Brigadier School in Sukabumi, West Java, on the very same day that the September 30, 1965 conflict exploded. At that time, Putu was naïve and apolitical.
Not long after she joined the police force, Putu, who is now 60 years old, was assigned to the security detail of the president's family at the Palace. The political situation had become very tense. Bung Karno was under attack for protecting the rebellious Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).
Unlike Bung Karno's other aides, Nitri-as she is familiarly called-wore civilian clothes. She saw how the President's health, which was problem-free when he lived at the Palace, deteriorate drastically after he was moved to Wisma Yaso, the home of Dewi, one of his wives, and which has now become the site of the Satria Mandala military museum.
What happened to Bung Karno at Wisma Yaso is still a mystery. Doctor Kartono Mohamad, who studied the notes of nurses tending to the nation's first president, and interviewed doctors who treated him, concluded that Bung Karno was totally neglected during his last days.
When Bung Karno suffered an acute case of liver infection, he was only provided with B-12, B-complex vitamins, royal jelly and Duvadillan, medication to treat a peripheral tightening of the arteries. Improved medication and dialysis machines were already available then but they were never given to Bung Karno. "Pak Mahar Mardjono (Sukarno's official doctor-Ed.) once said that the prescriptions he gave were never turned into medicine," said Kartono.
Putu Sugianitri remembers the time Bung Karno attended his son Guntur's wedding, looking worn-out, his face swollen. "He looked so different from the time he was living at the Palace," she said.
Last Tuesday, at her home in the area of Renon in Denpasar, Bali, Nitri shared her experience with the former president to Tempo reporters Nugroho Dewanto and Rofiqi Hasan. Excerpts:
As Bung Karno's personal aide, what were your daily tasks?
I was assigned to provide food for Bapak's breakfast. He liked hunkue (a jelly cake) and lemper (meat-filled rice snack), wrapped in young banana leaves and filled with shredded chicken cooked in coconut milk. I bought the hunkue from Pecenongan and the lemper from Cikini.
What other foods were on Bung Karno's breakfast menu?
He liked buttered toast, also honey mixed with organic eggs. He didn't want honey that came in a bottle. He wanted it straight out of the wax and squeezed right in front of him. All this was eaten at 6am while he read a newspaper. He would read it all through. That was his daily routine.
Who supplied the honey?
I don't know where it came from. It was there and there was plenty of it. I would have to squeeze the honey out of the wax in front of him.
What did he usually wear at breakfast?
He would still be wearing a sarong or shorts, at times.
The political situation at that time was quite tense. Was Bung Karno stressed out?
He never felt stressed. Just normal. Bung Karno sat down when he received guests. On Friday afternoons, he would be driven in a Mercedes Benz 600 to visit Ibu Hartini.
Did you accompany him?
We would follow him the next day, because usually on Saturday nights, there would be a keroncong music program. While he was in Bogor, his food and drinks were taken care of by Ibu Hartini. We would return to Jakarta later that same evening, after the end of the program.
What was that musical evening like?
Nothing special. There would be guests, who were served coffee and cakes. He liked traditional cakes. Even his meals consisted of homemade lodeh soup (vegetables in coconut milk), sayur asam (tamarind vegetable soup), fried tofu and tempe. I once asked him, "Don't you get tired of the same dishes?" He replied, "In my speeches, I always tell people to eat tofu and tempe. If I don't eat them myself, what then?"
When did Bung Karno's health begin to deteriorate?
While he lived at the State Palace and the Bogor Palace, his health was fine. Since I began my assignment, after the September 30 affair, I never saw him sick. After all, I was the one who tended to him every day. He would tell me, "Tri, get me my blue capsules." That was all. At the Palace, no doctor was ever around.
Were you with Bung Karno all the time?
I was with him until he was exiled to Wisma Yaso. After that, I worked for his daughters at Jalan Wijaya, Kebayoran Baru in South Jakarta. After he was moved to Wisma Yaso, we were not allowed to see him. Even his own children had a difficult time [seeing him]. Mbak (sister) Mega was the one who used to visit Bapak there. But even then, going in and out, she would be checked very thoroughly.
What would Bung Karno do at the Palace?
He would read newspapers which carried articles cursing and insulting him. I would ask him, "Why aren't you upset reading those articles?" He responded, "If I get upset and react to them, the people would be divided. Do you know the tragedy of a civil war? We are kin. Fighting foreign enemies would not be so complex. Instead of risking a civil war, it's better that I turn inward. Let me be the one to die. And don't tell me to ask for asylum in another country." For at that time, Cambodia's Prince Norodom Sihanouk had sought asylum overseas. I didn't understand politics, so I just listened.
In your opinion, how were relations between Bung Karno and Pak Harto?
After Pak Harto became acting President, he came to visit a few times, along with Ibu Tien. Bung Karno greeted him as usual. Ibu Tien once told me, "Nitri, when you are no longer needed here, come work with me at Cendana?" And I responded, "I will think it over." Bung Karno scolded me, "Why did you respond like that?" I told him, "It was better than saying outright I didn't want to."
When did Bung Karno's family leave the Palace?
After Suharto became acting President, Bung Karno's family was asked to leave the Palace in three days.
What did Bung Karno do after he left the Palace?
He liked to drive around town with us in a VW minibus. He was no longer wearing his peci (traditional black cap) and his sunglasses. Maybe he wasn't allowed to. One day, he said, "Tri, buy me some rambutan fruit." I asked, "Where's the money?" "I don't have any money" he said in Balinese. So I used my own money. He liked the rapiah variety of rambutan, so I asked the fruit vendor I picked on the side of a street, to bring the rambutans to the "bald man in the car." He did, but the situation became chaotic when he recognized Bung Karno and started yelling, "Hey…Bung Karno is here." The next day I got a scolding from my commander.
What did Bung Karno's children do after he left the Palace?
They each had their own activities and businesses. They had many friends. The sons lived with their mother, Ibu Fatmawati, at Jalan Sriwijaya. I lived with his daughters at a rented house on Jalan Wijaya, in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta.
After Bung Karno went to Wisma Yaso, who came to visit Ibu Fatmawati and the children?
No one. They were afraid to. At that time, the situation was quite scary.
Did you feel you were watched when you were at Jalan Sriwijaya or Jalan Wijaya?
No. What for? Bung Karno's children were not involved in political activities.
What was the reason Bung Karno's health deteriorated when he lived at Wisma Yaso?
From outside, people saw Wisma Yaso as something grand. They thought Bung Karno was sure to be happy there. Instead, I heard that he wasn't even permitted to leave his bedroom.
What was his physical appearance like?
When Guntur had his wedding at Jalan Sriwijaya, Bung Karno was present. He looked very confused. His face was swollen. His peci was not put on properly. Usually he had it on so elegantly (pointing to a photograph of herself next to Bung Karno).
Was he able to recognize people?
When his daughter Sukmawati approached him, Guntur asked his father, "Who is this, Father?" Bung Karno answered he "didn't know." When Guntur pointed to me and asked the same question, Bung Karno replied, "That's Nitri."
How would you compare the medical treatments of Bung Karno with that of Pak Harto?
There is a big difference. Pak Harto's is not only better, it is exceptional. Bung Karno never had such treatment. Who at Wisma Yaso could provide him with that kind of medical treatment?
But shouldn't former presidents be entitled to the same respect and honor given to Pak Harto?
All former presidents should be equally honored and respected.
But didn't Pak Harto regard Bung Karno with an attitude of mikul dhuwur mendhem jero (holding him high, with deep respect, a Javanese saying-Ed.)?
No. That was for Pak Harto himself, so that the people would treat him that way.
Are your relations with Bung Karno's children still good?
I still call Guntur often, but not Mega, especially since she went into politics.
Your stint as a policewoman was quite short.
Yes, about three years. I quit suddenly, no letter of resignation. Nothing. So I guess I won't get my pension.
When did you enter the school for policewomen?
In 1964. At the time, I was somewhere about 17 years old and had just graduated from high school. I lied about my age then, telling them I was 18, so I would qualify.
What happened on your graduation?
We were celebrating our graduation on September 30, 1965. The National Police Chief, General Sutjipto, was present. I was getting ready to perform a Balinese dance. Suddenly, the lights went out. We never found out how that happened. Pak Sutjipto went back to Jakarta. And the event was cancelled.
How was the situation the next day?
We were shut in, not allowed to leave the dormitory. We were naïve, not knowing about the complexities of politics of that time. We were allowed out on Sunday but we were expected to be back by lunchtime.
How did you get assigned to be Bung Karno's aide?
Following graduation, I was posted at the Police Academy, as a member of the secretariat of the Academy's governor, Police General Sumantri Saptini. Not long after that, an envoy from the Palace arrived, Lieutenant Ida Bagus Anom Ngurah, looking for me. In Jakarta, I was not immediately assigned to the Palace but to the quarters of the President's Security Unit, at Jalan Medan Merdeka Utara.
You mean Cakrabirawa-the military unit that sided with the PKI?
No, but the Mobile Brigade (Brimob), under the command of Adj. Sr. Comr. Mangil. When I was there, the Cakrabirawa Unit had already been disbanded, but Pak Mangil's unit remained. Not long after that, I was re-posted to the State Palace, with a pavilion next to the Palace. Those were the quarters of policewomen assigned to protect Bung Karno's children.
sidebar: Putu Sugianitri
Place & Date of Birth: Denpasar, Bali, April 1, 1948
Public Elementary School No. 11, Denpasar, Bali (1961) Public Middle School No. 1, Denpasar, Bali (1964) Police Women's Brigadier School, Sukabumi, West Java (1965)
Police Brigadier (1965-1968) Woodcraft Exporter (1987-1995) Balinese Fruit Grower (1995-to date)
Tempo Magazine No. 21/VIII January 22-28, 2008
Resistance to systemic infection will determine Suharto's sustainability.
SUHARTO is suffering from multiple ailments, one after the other. He has kidney failure, his heart is not functioning well, and he has a lung infection, all of which conspire to threaten his life. The medical team is focusing on treating the many ailments of the former President who held power for 32 years.
After three weeks of Suharto's confinement at Pertamina Hospital, the medical team is now saying that this 86-year-old grandfather is afflicted with systemic infection. This condition is rather easy to explain: infection has spread throughout the body. According to Mardjo Soebiandono, head of the Presidential Medical Team, his team has stepped up therapy aimed at fighting this infection.
What has led to this systemic infection? The most severely affected parts of Suharto's body are the lungs, heart and kidneys. Because his lungs are infected, Suharto's immune system is weak, and the infection becomes difficult to cure. The ventilator, used to assist his breathing, opens the way in for fungus and germs, which aggravates the infection in the lungs.
An immune system compromised by infection is difficult to treat. But the problem does not stop there. The infection can spread throughout the entire body by traveling through the bloodstream. If this condition continues unabated, the infection can spread to every organ. This is what is known as systemic infection. "Systemic infection can become a blood infection or septic as a result of complications from severe infection marked by multiple organ dysfunction." This is the opinion of Iris Rengganis, an immunologist from the University of Indonesia Medical Faculty and Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital in Jakarta.
Suharto's multiple organ dysfunction is caused by old age. Because of these natural causes, the left heart ventricle, which pumps oxygenated blood to the body, is not functioning well. Kidney function has been impaired as well.
Suharto's life depends on the recovery of the immune system. However, this cannot be done in so easily and directly. "The poor condition of the kidneys does not allow for the prescription of special medicine to boost the immune system, such as an imunomodulator," said Iris.
The digestive process is the best way to improve the body's immunity. However, doctors must carefully control Suharto's diet, keeping in mind the condition of his heart and kidneys. The wrong food could make things worse. A small mistake could have disastrous consequences to the other organs.
Some time ago, when Suharto received CVVHD (continuous veno-venous haemodialysis) treatment to expel fluid from his body, his hemoglobin level dropped. A transfusion was done to raise his hemoglobin level. However, because his heart muscles were not working in perfect coordination, the blood had to be added slowly. Too quickly, additional fluid could build up in the body. It is some kind of catch-22.
In a statement to the press on Friday last week, the medical team said that Suharto's condition was improving. He was reported to be more aware of his surroundings and could respond to questions from doctors by motioning. But now he is troubled by systemic infection. The old general's immunity will also determine how long he can hold on.
-- Bina Bektiati
sidebar: Three Afflicted Organs
Kidney dysfunction weakens the body's immunity.
The left ventricle is having trouble pumping oxygenated blood to the body.
The functioning of other organs in getting oxygen has deteriorated.
Kidney function is poor, inhibiting the ability to absorb and remove fluids and toxins from the blood.
The body's immune system is also weakened.
The lungs are infected, and getting worse due to germs entering the body via the ventilator.
The lungs are weak, unable to fight off approaching infection.
Germs and bacteria have spread to the entire body by traveling through the bloodstream.
Tempo Magazine No. 21/VIII January 22-28, 2008
The Fifth-Floor Command Room
There is a long table with a white tablecloth in the middle of a 3x5-meter room. Food and snacks are arranged on it. There are scores of chairs with red slipcovers around the table. A large whiteboard hangs on one wall, crammed with words and numbers. This is where the latest condition of former President Suharto has been noted while receiving medical treatment at the VVIP Room on the fifth floor of Pertamina Hospital, South Jakarta.
This is the meeting room for the Presidential Medical Team, which has been taking care of Suharto since January 4. Differences of opinion and medical debates determine what treatment steps they will take. These drawn-out debates between the doctors are often resolved here. Various medical courses of action are spelled out on the board, which the Presidential Medical Team calls the "command center board."
One example took place Thursday two weeks ago as the condition of the New Order ruler became critical when he suffered multiple organ failure. About 25 members of the Medical Team held a meeting. They decided to use cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) to improve the heart function of the man who led Indonesia for 32 years.
The coordinator of the specialists of the Medical Team, Prof Dr Djoko Rahardjo, SpB, SpU(K), asked a cardiologist on their team, Dr Muhammad Munawar, SpJP(K), FACC, FESC, FSCAI, to immediately begin CRT to synchronize the beating of Suharto's heart. But there was a problem. This doctor was attending a symposium in Puncak, West Java.
Djoko finally decided to call Munawar at 11:30pm. However, Munawar had a problem with the decision that was made. "At that time I said it could not be done, because it was outside the [acceptable] limits," said the cardiologist with a sub-specialization in heartbeat, who is also the head of the Arrhythmia Division of the Cardiology Department of the University of Indonesia Medical Faculty and the National Heart Center at Harapan Kita Hospital.
According to Munawar, definitely at that time Suharto's heart condition was out of sync, resulting in the decreased ability of his heart to pump blood. However, he was not convinced that resorting to CRT would provide better results, keeping in mind that the patient's medical condition did not meet the criteria for attaching such a device. "Early Friday morning, at 1am, I went straight to Jakarta, just to explain that to the team," said Munawar.
He said that there are often differences of opinion between members of the Presidential Medical Team. This is because the 40 team members come from different fields of expertise. Although they appear to be a cohesive group at press conferences, they have different ideas about how to treat Suharto.
Djoko said that he often acts as a moderator in the academic debates between doctors. This was not limited to the matter of the CRT, but also occurred when the team was to hook Suharto up to continuous veno-venous haemodialysis (CVVHD) and a ventilator. In the end, Djoko, who has been a member of the Presidential Medical Team for five Indonesian Presidents, had to find middle ground. "I did this by ordering the doctor to submit a recent journal which supported his opinion," said Djoko, who is considered to have seniority on the team.
Differences of opinion also take place over the extensive media coverage on the illness of the five-star general. As each doctor has the right to give statements to the press, differences of opinion among them become apparent.
One example of this took place last week, when a team member, Dr Christian A. Johannes, SpAn KIC, said that he was surprised when contacted by the team's head, Mardjo Soebiandono. "What did you say to the media?" said this man who is better known by his nickname, Christ, quoting Mardjo's question.
As it turned out, Mardjo criticized Christ's statement about the patient's health which he had made in a particular national media. Fortunately, said this doctor who specializes in anesthesia, his statement was not "dangerous." "Being reprimanded is a sign of taking interest, right?" said this head of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Army Central Hospital, with a chuckle.
Christ and Munawar say that they also receive many text messages on their cellphones about publicizing Suharto's medical condition, which is considered inappropriate. The team was angered when they heard they were being admonished by the Indonesian Doctors Association, which took issue with publicizing the patient's medical condition.
However, according to Djoko, who is also the head of the Indonesian Collegium of Urological Surgery, all of the statements given by the Medical Team to the press have already been approved by the Suharto family. "Sometimes we actually receive complaints for giving statements to reporters which are not strong enough," he said.
-- D.A. Candraningrum
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