Democratization and Political Succession in Suharto`s

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Democratization and Political Succession in Suharto`s
Democratization and Political Succession in Suharto's Indonesia
Author(s): Leo Suryadinata
Source: Asian Survey, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Mar., 1997), pp. 269-280
Published by: University of California Press
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Asian Survey
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DEMOCRATIZATION AND POLITICAL
SUCCESSION IN SUHARTO'S
INDONESIA
Leo Suryadinata
Indonesia has often been described as an authoritarian
state. The military, represented by General Suharto, has ruled the country
since the 1965 coup. However, some observers maintain that in recent years
the authoritarian regime appears to have been softening, evidenced by the
weakening role of the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) in the political pro-
cess. President Suharto appointed fewer military personnel to his 1993 cabinet and selected a civilian to be the general chairman of Golkar, the ruling
party; he also reduced the military composition of Golkar at the national level
and the number of military representatives (unelected) in the forthcoming
Parliament (DPR). The rise of Dr. B. J. Habibie and his Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals (Ikatan Cendekiawan Muslim Indonesia, ICMI)
have also been used to substantiate this point.
Other examples of democratization are the higher frequency of protest
movements by trade unionists and students in recent years, while opposition
political parties have demonstrated more independence. The Democratic
Party of Indonesia (PDI), for instance, was able to elect its own chairperson,
Megawati Sukarnoputri (the daughter of the late President Sukarno), defeating the candidate favored by the government, and Abdurrachman Wahid,
who had been critical of the president, won re-election as chairman of the
Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) despite the government's preference for another candidate. In recent years, numerous quasi-opposition organizations among the
elite have been established, including Persatuan Cendekiawan Pembangunan
Pancasila (PCPP), and Yayasan Kerukunan Persaudaraan Kebangsaan
(YKPK). The most recent addition is the Independent Committee for Moni-
toring General Elections (Komite Independen Pemantau Pemilu or KIPP),
Leo Suryadinata is Associate Professor in the Department of Political
Science, National University of Singapore.
? 1997 by The Regents of the University of California
269
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270 ASIAN SURVEY, VOL. XXXVII, NO. 3, MARCH 1997
which is seen as a pro-opposition organization.' This paper will analyze the
reasons for this "softening" and whether it means the start of a real democratization process.
Reasons for Democratization
There are many views regarding the reasons for the government's acceptance
of democratization. One argument is that 30 years of development-oriented
programs of the New Order government has given rise to a middle class that
wants to participate in the political process and demands democratization or
"liberalism."2 However, a contrary argument sees the middle class in Asia as
illiberal in its political orientation.3 But apart from these contrasting views,
the definition of the middle class is also problematic. Some use the term to
refer to the small Muslim traders, civil servants, professionals, and military
officers, while others insist that the middle class should consist of professionals and entrepreneurs. Under the Western definition, the middle class in Indonesia is still weak. In 1990 Indonesians classified as "professional and
technical" and "managers and administrators" only constituted 3.9% of the
population.4 The concept of middle class is further complicated by the ethnicity factor, as Indonesia's professional/entrepreneurial class has strong nonindigenous (i.e., ethnic Chinese) components. Because the ethnic Chinese
minority is not a discrete element whose economic prosperity is very much
subjected to the mercy of government officials, it is unlikely to demand rapid
political change harmful to its economic interests. The indigenous Indonesian middle class is smaller than that of the Chinese, and many of its mem-
bers depend on government officials for favors-some are sons and daughters
of government servants who have obtained facilities from the regime.
1. For a discussion on this group, see "Komite di Balik Bayang-Bayang Oposisi," Gatra
(Jakarta), 6 April 1996, pp. 22-24.
2. Daniel Lev maintains that the middle class has grown significantly during the New Order
and that this class is politically liberal, while Hans-Dieter Evers even argues that it demands
constitutional democracy. See Lev, "Notes and the Middle Class and Change in Indonesia," in
Richard Tanter and Kenneth Young, eds., The Politics of Middle Class jin] Indonesia, Mona
Papers on Southeast Asia, no. 19, Monash University, 1990, pp. 44-48; Hans-Dieter Evers, "The
Growth of an Industrial Labour Force and the Decline of Poverty in Indonesia," in Southeast
Asian Affairs 1995, pp. 164-74.
3. Daniel A. Bell, David Brown, Kanishka Jayasuriya, and David Martin Jones, Towards
Illiberal Democracy in Pacific Asia (New York and London: St Martin's Press, 1995).
4. See Abdurrachman Wahid's "Indonesia's Muslim Middle Class: An Imperative or a
Choice?" in Tanter and Young, Politics of Middle Class Indonesia, especially p. 22; Richard
Robison, "The Middle Class and the Bourgeoisie in Indonesia," in Richard Robison and David S.
G. Goodman, eds., The New Rich in Asia: Mobile Phones, McDonalds and Middle Class
Revolution (London: Routledge, 1996), p. 84.
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LEO SURYADINATA 271
Identifying the middle class in Indonesia is even more problematic when
the concept is linked to democratization. William Liddle has commented, not
surprisingly, that "we need to be wary of assigning professionals and entrepreneurs a role as 'middle class' (if they are middle, who are upper) based on
the classic model of how societies function and change. Indonesian society
and its New Order Government ... do not fit that model."5 The main opposition in fact comes from Muslim groups, which do not necessarily belong to
the middle class. These Muslims are urban dwellers who want to improve
their economic position but lack the clout to change the political system.
Nevertheless, their presence is beginning to be felt because of their outspokenness. Their aspirations, if not interests, are being articulated by nongov-
ernmental organizations (NGOs), which have increased in number in the last
20 years to some 7,000 of which 2,800 are located in Jakarta.6 The better
ones are able to articulate major issues in Indonesia and serve as pressure
groups but they are not yet effective in introducing socio-political change.7
Nevertheless, they cannot be completely ignored, especially when the polit-
ical elite in Indonesia is no longer united. Perhaps, Suharto recognizes the
emergence of this potential political force and has begun to make some concessions to the moderate Muslim groups in order to co-opt the Islamic movement and eventually win its support. The government's accommodationist
policy toward the moderate Muslim groups has alienated the mainstream of
the military establishment, which sees it as a threat to the dual role of the
military. Hence, there is a split between Suharto and some ABRI officers
over the president's policy toward Islam. The most conspicuous example is
the tussle between the Suharto-sponsored group and anti-Suharto group
within Golkar.
Golkar and Demilitarization
Indonesian society underwent militarization after the liquidation of the Partai
Komunis Indonesia (PKI, the Indonesian communist party) and the downfall
of Sukarno in 1965, including a process of replacing civilians with military
personnel. The military considered this the concrete manifestation of its
"dual function" (dwi fungsi) doctrine. Not surprisingly, in the 1971 general
election Golkar as the government party had the full support of the military
and bureaucracy, winning 62.8% of the votes. Looking at Golkar's structure
at that time, it was clear that the central leadership was in the hands of the
military, who held key positions. The chief supervisor (pembina utama) of
5. William Liddle, "The Middle Class and New Order Legitimacy: A Response to Dan Lev,"
in Tanter and Young, ibid., pp. 49-52.
6. "Mereka yang ingin jadi agen perubahan," Gatra, 11 March 1996, p. 16.
7. Philip Eldridge, "Development, Democracy and Non-Government Organizations in Indonesia," Asian Journal of Political Science, 4:1 (June 1996), pp. 17-35.
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272 ASIAN SURVEY, VOL. XXXVII, NO. 3, MARCH 1997
the party was General Suharto, who was supposed to play an advisory role
but in reality was the decision maker. Although Golkar has three components-the military, civil servants, and civilians-it is obvious that the military has been the most powerful at both national and district levels. Even the
party's district Advisory Boards were under its domain. One Indonesian
political scientist bluntly commented that Golkar was the political arm of
ABRI.8
Nevertheless, after the Golkar Congress in 1978, the role of the military
appeared to have declined, as those who wanted to hold party positions were
required to retire from the armed services. Golkar thus assumed an image of
a retired generals' party, but in fact the ABRI influence over Golkar did not
decrease. The power of the chief supervisor, unwritten previously, became
official after the 1978 Congress, and in the amended Golkar constitution, the
chief supervisor (Suharto) was given the right to freeze the Golkar central
board.
Under Suharto, Golkar became the "ruling party" and has won a majority
of votes in subsequent Indonesian elections. Throughout the years, its structure has undergone very little change in contrast to the changes experienced
by Indonesian society. A manifestation of the latter was the gradual emergence of the urban Muslim groups, who wanted to participate in politics.
Some observers argue that Suharto, aware of this change, wanted to "demilitarize" Indonesian politics to accommodate this new force. He came into
conflict with the military group that opposed change but the stature and personality of the president often prevailed so that he was able to bring about
change not only regarding the management of Indonesian society but also
over foreign policy. Islamic groups that had been ignored previously were
wooed by him and regulations that favored Islam were promulgated.
The military did not share Suharto's policy on Islam. In 1988, for instance, there was a conspicuous split within Golkar between the military and
civilians over the Islamic Court bill. Some people, mainly civilians sympathetic to Islam, were in favor of the bill but the political and security factions
were opposed, triggering debates within the party. These factions published a
17-page document deploring the bill, saying it violated the principle of Pancasila on the grounds that it allowed dualism within the Indonesian legal sys-
tem.9 General Amir Machmud, the former minister of Home Affairs,
protested against the bill but due to the lack of support for it, General
Manihuruk of the Golkar central board was unable to form a committee to
discuss the bill. Under the leadership of General Wahono, general chairman
8. Juwono Sudarsono's article in Leo Suryadinata and Sharon Siddique, eds., Trends in Indonesia, II (Singapore: Singapore University Press for ISEAS, 1981), p. 141.
9. "Sebuah RUU dengan Lapang Dada," Tempo (Jakarta weekly), 26 June 1989, p. 26.
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LEO SURYADINATA 273
of Golkar, the DPR (parliament) eventually passed the bill without much debate. Many Golkar members were unhappy; the PDI had reservations con-
cerning the bill but the PPP supported it. Apparently Suharto had instructed
Wahono to do his best to get the bill adopted, signifying the growing Islamic
influence within the DPR.
Another symbol of the rise in Islamic power was the establishment of the
Association of the Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI), which has been headed by B.
J. Habibie, minister of Research and Technology and a loyal supporter of
Suharto. ICMI was established in December 1990 in Malang, and was supported, if not sponsored by President Suharto. It was meant to counterbalance the military establishment where support for Suharto was on the decline.
Some Muslim leaders grabbed this opportunity to increase Islamic influence
at the expense of the abangan (liberal Muslims) and non-Muslims. The military establishment, which was dominated by the abangan, was outraged by
the formation of ICMI.
The Continuing Tussle Between Suharto and
a Segment in ABRI
During the presidential election in March 1993, the military was successful in
securing the vice-president's post for General Try Sutrisno, defeating the idea
that a civilian such as Habibie could be vice-president.10 Nevertheless,
Habibie did not disappear from the political arena; on the contrary, Suharto
reappointed him as minister and Habibie's men also occupied key positions
in the new cabinet. Moreover, Habibie had been appointed the daily chair-
man of the Golkar Supervisors' Council whose task it was to form the party's
central leadership in late 1993. The Habibie team succeeded in preparing a
list of Golkar leaders that differed from the one presented by incumbent
Chairman Wahono. It proposed that Harmoko, a Suharto loyalist, be the new
general chairman, while Wahono proposed General (ret.) Soesilo Soedarman,
who was actually the candidate of the Retired Military Officers Association
(Pepabri). In the end, Habibie's candidates were elected because they were
acceptable to the chief supervisor of Golkar, President Suharto. Besides
Chairman Harmoko, the new treasurer of Golkar is Bambang Trihatmodjo,
Suharto's son; Siti Hardijanti (better known as Tutut), Suharto's eldest
daughter, is one of the eight Golkar chairpersons.11 Only three retired mil
tary men remain on the new central board: Ary Mardjono is secretary-gen10. Observers maintain that Suharto did not want Try as he is seen to be too close to the
Benny Murdani group. If this is the case, it shows that although Suharto is powerful he still has
to "give face" to the army, indicating that the military establishment remains a force to be reckoned with.
I 1. In the last 10 years or so, Siti Hardijanti has been active in social, political, and economic
fields. For an interesting account of her activities, see the special report and a rare interview in
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274 ASIAN SURVEY, VOL. XXXVI, NO. 3, MARCH 1997
eral and Mochtar and Abdul Gafur are among the eight chairpersons. These
three are regarded as marginal figures by the military; many do not even
remember that Gafur was a military man.12
The erosion of military influence in Golkar has generated discontent
among officers, and there evidently is a split within ABRI. Some opposed
the new central board while others accepted it. The strongest opposition was
voiced by Major General R. K. Sembiring Meliala, former commander of the
Cendrawasih Division and a member of Parliament representing ABRI, who
was supported by Rudini, former army chief of staff and home affairs minis-
ter (1988-92). Nevertheless, the ABRI faction in Parliament attempted to
distance itself from Sembiring. Although the composition of the new Golkar
central board is evidence of a demilitarization process in the party, 78% of
Golkar branches are still under military control as indicated by their initial
disagreement with the nomination of Harmoko as general chairman.13 Thus,
"demilitarization" has only taken place at the national level.
Many Indonesians see demilitarization as the necessary step for democracy
to prevail, but that can be a long process with many obstacles along the way.
For one thing, the dual-function-of-the-armed-forces concept, which became
law in 1982, is still considered the cornerstone of Indonesian politics. One
also has to observe the relationship between Golkar's central and district
boards to judge whether or not they will be able to co-operate in order to
achieve political stability. Apart from the dichotomy between national and
district levels, the most interesting factor is the role of Suharto. The 1993
Golkar Congress gave a clear indication that the chief supervisor was
supreme and was the real decision maker. While there has been a "demilita-
rization" process on the one hand, there has on the other been a concentration
of power in the hands of Suharto. Under his instruction, Golkar began to
purge individuals who were close to the military group, and this appears to be
quite successful. Even Sembiring, the general who was critical of the "demilitarization" of Golkar, was reported to have been removed. Suharto has been
able to control the military as evidenced by his measures to weaken the
Benny Murdani group and the reorganization of the Military Intelligence
Unit.14 And as noted earlier, he has reduced the number of appointed miliForum, 23 June 1994, pp. 20-31. When she was asked whether she would be willing to be
president in five or ten years time, her answer was evasive. "Let's wait," she said.
12. The leading Jakarta daily commented that the three men were considered as "civilian" in
their orientation and activities. ("Selamat Berjuang Kepemimpinan Baru," Kompas, 26 October
1993, p. 16.)
13. During the 1988-93 period, 21 out of 27 Golkar District Boards were led by retired mili-
tary officers. During the current period (1993-98), the military is equally dominant. (Tempo, 23
October 1993, pp. 30-31.)
14. General Benny Murdani, a Catholic, was commander of the armed forces and a confidant
of President Suharto until dissension arose and Murdani was removed in 1988. He was made
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LEO SURYADINATA 275
tary MPs (from 100 to 75) who will serve after the 1997 election. Nevertheless, the "demilitarization" of Indonesia's politics has just begun.
The Supreme Leader and Islam
Rather than democratization, the term used in Indonesia which is more accurate in reflecting the situation, is keterbukaan (openness). And it is Suharto
who has been in control of the process. After 30 years in power, Suharto and
the presidency have become synonymous. Under the 1945 Constitution, the
Indonesian president has tremendous power; he is the supreme commander of
the armed forces with the authority to promote and demote military officers.
In his long tenure, Suharto has been able to move the military around without
much difficulty, and he is now a source of legitimacy with seemingly limitless patronage to disperse, given his access to Indonesia's abundant resources.
Since the 1970s, Suharto has been able to establish numerous foundations
(yayasan) which control Indonesia's resources. He and his wife founded at
least seven major foundations that raise funds for socio-cultural and political
purposes: Yayasan Dharma Sosial, Yayasan Supersemar, Yayasan Amal
Bhakti Muslim Pancasila, Yayasan Dana Abadi Bakti (Dakab), Yayasan
Purna Bakti Pertiwi, Yayasan Harapan Kita, and Yayasan Dana Gotong
Royong Kemanusiaan.15 Members of his family are the office holders of
these foundations, which have provided Suharto with enormous funds for his
personal and political activities. The president has even offered monopolies
to certain Indonesian conglomerates in return for enormous contributions to
these funds. He has been able to do this because he has looked after the
interests of military officers; even retired high-ranking officers will enjoy
some benefits so long as they are not in opposition to the president.
There no doubt has been a significant shift in Suharto's policy toward the
Muslims, reflected in the reduction of the number of Christians in Parliament
and as cabinet ministers in the 1990s and creation of the ICMI. In early 1995
Suharto made Hartono, a general with a santri (strict Muslim) background
who was known to be sympathetic to Muslims (especially the ICMI), chief of
the army staff replacing the president's brother-in-law, General Wismoyo.
Islam as a religion has become stronger than ever and even Suharto himself
defense minister, a position with little power, and removed from that office in 1993. The Intelligence and Strategic Center (BIAS) was established by Murdani, and after his removal, was
reorganized and renamed the Military Intelligence Unit or BIA. It was believed that many of
Murdani's men no longer held high positions in the new unit. (Tempo, 22 January 1994, pp.
22-24.)
15. For a detailed discussion of these yayasan, see his autobiography: Soeharto. Pikiran,
Ucapan dan Tindakan Saya, Otobiografi, G. Dwipayana and K. H. Ramadhan, eds. (Jakarta: PT
Citra Lamtoro Gong Persada, 1989), pp. 282-93.
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276 ASIAN SURVEY, VOL. XXXVI, NO. 3, MARCH 1997
went to perform the haj in 1992 just before the general elections. His daughter Tutut also wears Islamic attire to reinforce her Islamic credentials. Nevertheless, Suharto is still far from becoming a santri. He sticks to the state
ideology of Pancasila (five principles), which does not include a state religion. In fact, he has been very harsh toward those who want to change Indonesia into an Islamic state. Nevertheless, his promotion of Islam in the last
few years gives rise to a question: Is he able to control the growth of Islamic
forces? Will he be able to control this force if it is transformed into a strong
political movement? Perhaps he feels quite confident that he is able to do so,
although some generals may not share his view.
Muslim groups, in fact, have taken advantage of the new situation in
Suharto's Indonesia. In the past, politically conscious Muslims attempted to
use "Islamic politics"-gaining power through Islamic parties-in their
political struggle but this strategy failed. In the 1990s, they have adopted a
strategy of "Muslim Politics"-gaining power through Muslim candidates regardless of their party affiliation-and have recorded impressive success.
The Christian groups that were quite influential in cabinets of the past have
been effectively removed. The removal of three Christian strongmen known
as RMS (Radius Prawiro, Adrianus Mooy, and Johannes Sumarlin) is a case
in point.16 Muslim groups have also infiltrated Golkar to the extent that the
party has acquired an increasingly Islamic rather than the abangan image.
The Islamic identity of Suharto. that he is a hadji and has adopted the Islamic
name Muhammad, has been stressed in Golkar's own publications.
Some observers maintain there has been a gradual shift from secularization
to Islamization since the late 1980s, although Suharto has been very firm in
separating religion (read: Islam) from politics. Nevertheless, this shift has
facilitated Islam as a religion. Numerous mosques have been built, even in
remote villages, which creates an impression that Indonesian society has become santri-ized. In the past the Javanese, who constitute approximately
50% of Indonesia's population, were divided between abangan (the majority)
and santri. The abangan are nominal Muslims while santri are pious and
strict in Islamic practice. Political parties were divided along the above
socioreligious lines but the military, especially high-ranking officers, was
abangan-dominated. After the Islamic resurgence of the late 1970s and early
1980s, more and more children of abangan have become santri-ized. Even
the armed forces now have santri generals: Try Sutrisno (vice-president),
Feisal Tanjung (commander of ABRI), and Hartono (Army chief of staff)
come from this background. Nevertheless, it is still too early to talk about
16. RMS is also an abbreviation of Republik Maluku Selatan or the South Maluccan Repub-
lic, a failed rebellion led by Christians in the early 1 950s. Radius Prawiro was the co-ordinating
minister for Economy, Finance and Industry, Adrianus Mooy was the Central Bank governor,
and Johannes Sumarlin was minister for Finance.
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LEO SURYADINATA 277
Islamic influence, if not control over the military. It is quite clear that
Suharto has promoted a few santri to balance the abangan and non-Muslim
generals but it appears that the so-called santri generals are still a minority
and the struggle between the two will continue.
Democratization and Political Succession
If Suharto has initiated the strategy of wooing Muslims, he has also attempted
to broaden his political base by reconciliation with his political opponents. In
the early 1990s, with the help of Habibie, he began to woo the Petisi 50
Group-50 retired senior officers and former politicians who signed a petition in 1980 that was highly critical of Suharto's interpretation of Pancasila.
The president has continued to control opposition parties by supporting
candidates who are amicable to the government; however, some government-
supported candidates in recent years have not been successful. For instance,
Abdurrachman Wahid has been re-elected chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama
(NU) despite government reservations, and Megawati Sukarnoputri, Sukarno's daughter, was elected head of the PDI in 1993 but continued to be
undermined by the government. She was finally replaced in 1996 with
Soerjadi, who was more cooperative with Indonesian authorities. Nevertheless, the removal of Megawati resulted in demonstrations and the takeover by
force of the PDI headquarters, eventually triggering the July 27 (1996) riot in
Jakarta. The most serious since the 1974 Malari Incident, the riot reflected
not only discontent among some urban dwellers but also tension among the
Indonesian elite.
Criticism of the Suharto government is tolerated provided it does not touch
on sensitive issues, and the Indonesian media permits programs that criticize
some government officers and policies. "Seputar Indonesia" (around Indone-
sia) is a regular TV program produced by Rajawali Citra Televisi Indonesia
(RCTI), a broadcasting company owned by Suharto's son Bambang, that
often raises critical issues. However, criticism is never directed at the
Suharto group, and when the print media touches on sensitive issues, the
government has not hesitated to ban publications. The best known examples
are the three magazines banned in 1994-Tempo, Editor, and Detik-which
discussed sensitive political issues involving the Suharto government. A new
publication, Gatra, is controlled by a pro-Suharto group and has been given a
permit to replace Tempo. Some observers argue that Suharto is not against
criticism per se but he can only accept it behind closed doors. It is also said
that he favors democratization but taken step-by-step. In other words,
Suharto is not yet ready for genuine democracy, and the so-called democratization process is only allowed as long as it does not affect his power.
Suharto is still the supreme leader who does not allow people to discuss
political succession openly in Indonesia. Although some retired military
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278 ASIAN SURVEY, VOL. XXXVI, NO. 3, MARCH 1997
leaders (such as Sayidiman Suryohadiprojo) have expressed the view that the
president's current term is going to be his last,'7 Suharto has not appointed
any candidate to succeed him. There are many theories for this, including
that of Javanese political culture, which argues that if he were to appoint a
successor, he would lose his mandate to rule. Many are of the view that
Suharto perceives himself as a Javanese king who will make his own decision
when to step down, and no one else should push him around. However, he is
already 75 years old, and some have urged him to appoint a successor for a
smooth transition. He continues to refuse, arguing that when the time is right
there will be an Indonesian who can take over. This creates anxiety and even
uncertainty about the country's stability among foreign investors.
Although some groups have tried to limit the terms of the presidency,
Suharto has resisted, arguing that one should not amend the 1945 Constitution that provides for a presidential election every five years but says nothing
about the number of times a person may be re-elected. In his autobiography
published in 1989, Suharto gave a faint hint of a desire to step down when he
stated that he was too old; his children also noted that the 1988 presidential
ceremony would be the last they would attend.18 But these hints have in no
way been substantiated by any concrete action. In 1993 he became president
again, and there were no indications that this was going to be his last term.
Increasingly, people believe that he will continue to serve as president be-
yond 1997.
However, the sudden death of Mrs. Tien Suharto in late April 1996 raised
some doubt about Suharto's ability and willingness to stay beyond his present
term. Some maintained that Suharto had relied on his wife for "advice, coun-
sel, and support during his more than 30 years in power," and that his loss of
her would significantly affect him and his decision to continue; others argued
that the demise of Mrs. Suharto would have no impact on his pursuit of a
future presidency. In any case, the situation places his eldest daughter closer
to power, as she could step into playing "a more prominent role as a surrogate
First Lady-thus strengthening her own political influence and standing in
the country.19 As no apparent successor is in sight, it has become a guessing
game in Jakarta as to who the next vice-president will be, who may eventually succeed Suharto. In recent months, a few names have been mentioned as
likely candidates for the post in 1998: Try Sutrisno, (the incumbent),
Habibie, Hartono, Harmoko, Ginanjar Kartasamita, and Moerdiono. These
potential candidates all have something in common-no strong political base.
17. See interview in Panji Masyarakat, 21:31 (May 1994), pp. 63-65.
18. Soeharto: Otobiografi, p. 555.
19. Straits Times, 29 April 1996.
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LEO SURYADINATA 279
Suharto is reported to suffer from kidney stones, but the state of hi
is not known. Should anything happen to him while in office Vice-President
Try Sutrisno will succeed him, according to the Constitution. Whether Try
will be able to maintain power is open to question; some argue that he is a
compromise candidate who is acceptable to both ABRI and Muslims but he is
also known as a rather weak candidate who may not be able to protect the
First Family. Some say he is too close to Benny Murdani and hence not
acceptable to the president. In addition, some Muslims are unhappy with him
because of his record in handling the Tanjung Priok affair (12 September
1984), originating in Muslim resistance to the government's attempt to re-
quire all organizations to accept Pancasila as their sole principle. Agitation
against the government policy led to an investigation and eventually a confrontation between Muslim protesters and security forces in which some
Muslims were killed. In August 1996 at a symposium held by the Young
Generation Islam (Generasi Muda Islam), the participants decided to urge the
government to reopen the case.20 One other factor that does not favor Try is
Suharto's past practice of never appointing a person to serve as his deputy
twice.
The second potential presidential candidate, Habibie, chairman of ICMI
and minister of Research and Technology, is much disliked by many military
officers, although in recent years, it appears that he has managed to establish
links with Armed Forces Commander Feisal Tanjung. However, Habibie's
main strength is his close association with Suharto, although it is not yet clear
whether the president would select him to be his running mate. A third possi-
ble candidate is General R. Hartono, a Madurese who is the Army chief and
close to Suharto's family. Harmoko, the minister of Information and general
chairman of Golkar, like Habibie, has a close relationship with Suharto and is
unpopular among many military officers. Finally, Ginanjar Kartasamita,
head of the National Planning Board and identified as belonging to the
Habibie camp, and Moerdiono, minister of state for the Secretariat who has
worked closely with the president, are often mentioned as potential candi-
dates. The most likely candidate will remain unknown until 1998 because if
that individual rises to prominence now he will be subject to increasing scrutiny, placing him in a precarious position.
Increasingly, many observers believe that Suharto himself is cultivating a
group of successors among his family and relatives. As stated earlier, his
daughter Tutut and son Bambang are already in politics. His son-in-law,
Brigadier General Prabowo Subianto, in December 1995 was named commander of Kopassus, the army's elite special force, and the following May
20. Ummat 2:6 (16 September 1996), pp. 23-24). The military authority, however, has ruled
out a new inquiry into the 1984 riot. (Straits Times, 17 September 1996.)
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280 ASIAN SURVEY, VOL. XXXVII, NO. 3, MARCH 1997
Prabowo conducted a successful military operation that saved nine hos-
tages-including some Westerners-from Irian Jaya rebels. In August 1996,
he was promoted to major-general, making him the youngest in the Indone-
sian army to have attained that rank. Prabowo has also been active in cultivating various groups, especially the Muslims, in preparing for his future
political career. Whether Suharto's family will succeed in taking over depends on the president's health and the economic situation in Indonesia.
Conclusion
Indonesia's top-down democratization approach is aimed at perpetuating
Suharto's power. There is no doubt that significant social and economic
changes have taken place in the 30 years of Suharto's rule., but democratic
forces such as non-governmental organizations remain relatively weak. The
"democratization" process, or "openness," was undertaken by Suharto as a
strategy to cope with the new situation developing toward the end of the
1980s, that is, an apparent split among the military in its support for Suharto.
While retired military officers have been very critical of Suharto, the views of
those on active duty are not obvious as they do not make open criticism.
These developments have forced the president to co-opt the moderate Muslim
groups and widen his support base in order to maintain power. Since the end
of the 1980s, he has modified his policy toward Islam, and has been able to
gain the support of many moderate Muslims, especially in rural areas.
It is interesting to note that while Suharto attempts to reduce, rather than
eradicate the influence of the military and widen his support, he also makes a
concerted effort to concentrate power in his own hands by controlling the
resources that enable him to remain the greatest patron in Indonesia. Never-
theless, internal rift within the ruling elite may affect the power of the state.
Another important factor that hinders the democratization process is the dual
function role of the Indonesian military. As long as this role remains, there is
little possibility of genuine democratization. Last but not least, the political
succession problem shows that democratization in Indonesia is more form
rather than substance, as Suharto has been able to control the discussion on
the succession issue and determine its pace. Thus, real democratization may
come only in the post-Suharto era.
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