Suharto endorses 'red scare' and rules out political reform

Thirty years after anti-Communist pogroms left half a million of his countrymen dead, President Suharto of Indonesia yesterday warned that the country was still at risk from left-wing insurgents and rejected any possibility of reform after violent pro-democracy demonstrations in Jakarta last month.

Mr Suharto was giving his "state of the nation" speech, an annual address marking the 51st anniversary of Indonesia's independence, which is celebrated today in parades and ceremonies across the country.

Despite three decades of unchallenged rule, the President has never been noted for his powers as an orator. Apart from endorsing the "red scare" started by his generals three weeks ago, yesterday's speech was significant mainly for the subjects it failed to address: corruption, political uncertainty and economic inequity which, many Indonesians believe, lie at the root of the present unrest.

Above all, he failed to mention his plans for the next few years. Aged 75 and dogged by rumours of ill health, he is in the second half of his sixth unopposed term. Presidential elections will be held in 1998, and Mr Suharto has given no firm indication of whether he will stand.

The uncertainty about his intentions, and the lack of any obvious and credible successor, appear to be at the heart of simmering tensions which boiled over on 27 July in riots that left at least four people dead and a dozen buildings gutted. They were triggered by police raids on the headquarters of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), and the arrest of followers of Megawati Sukarno-putri, the PDI's popular leader who is campaigning for a reform of Indonesia's highly constrained political system.

Within days of the riots, officers in the powerful Indonesian armed forces (Abri) were blaming them on the People's Democratic Party (PRD), a small left-wing organisation, which they liken to the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). The PKI was persecuted into oblivion after an alleged coup attempt in 1966 in the aftermath of which Mr Suharto came to power. In the last fortnight, the police and Abri have arrested dozens of PRD members on suspicion of the capital crime of subversion.

"The imposition of one's will and changes by force, the destruction and burning of buildings and public facilities are acts of anarchy, undemocratic and irresponsible," Mr Suharto said yesterday. "These riots had nothing to do with democracy. Their perpetrators and participants will be held accountable for their actions before the law ... We are determined never to allow the recurrence of a PKI rebellion in our homeland.

"If we are not yet satisfied with the role played by the three forums of our political forces, let us improve the existing forums," he said. "And not by establishing a new forum where the support of people is still entirely unclear."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - 3-4 Month Fixed Contract - £30-£35k pro rata

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a 3-4 month pro rata fi...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £26,000+

£16000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map