Britons flee Indonesia mobs

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The Independent Online
PLANELOADS of British citizens joined thousands of other expatriates fleeing the turmoil in Indonesia yesterday, as indications emerged that the family of President Suharto may be planning to escape to Britain.

The Independent on Sunday has learned that Mr Suharto's eldest daughter, Siti Hardijanti Rukmana, was given a multiple re-entry visitor's visa by the British Embassy in Jakarta last Saturday after student protests and riots in the city of Medan which then spread to the capital. Six members of her family and retainers also received visas.

Tutut, as she is better known, is one of the greatest beneficiaries of the president's nepotism, and has been the target of angry denunciations by the mobs which looted Jakarta last week. She has become a millionaire several times over through the lucrative monopolies and trading licences granted to her by her father. Like others among her siblings, Tutut owns a number of expensive properties in London and frequently visits Britain. She has also been mentioned as a potential successor to her father, a possibility strengthened in March when he made her minister of social welfare.

"Suharto is a dog, Tutut is a bitch!" screamed one man last week, as he took a break from throwing stones into a shop in Jakarta's Chinatown district. "End nepotism! Suharto's children are all rotten."

Yesterday, President Suharto made his first concrete concession to those demanding political reform when he promised to reshuffle his cabinet.

Meanwhile, British Airways last night laid on the first of a number of extra flights planned for expatriates wishing to leave Jakarta, including teachers and pupils from the British International School who were forced to sleep in their classrooms on Thursday night when rampaging mobs of looters torched a nearby area. Several students were forced to miss their exams due to the evacuation of their families and an International Baccalaureate in history was held late at night after an earlier sitting was interrupted by the riots. "At one point the mob was approaching the school, and we had to dim the lights and go into the hall," said Mark Cripps, a primary teacher from Hounslow.

Salvage workers removed hundreds more bodies from burned-out shopping centres yesterday, but Jakarta was generally peaceful as Indonesians settled down all over the country to watch the FA Cup Final, an unmissable event in a nation obsessed with football.

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