Indo’s former leader Suharto passes away…

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Suharto (June 8 1921 – Jan 27, 2008). Indonesia’s Suharto was infamous for blocking currency exchange during the Asian Financial Crisis (亚洲金融危机). Indo lost 13.5% of it’s GDP during the crisis and the inflation in food prices led to riots that ultimately caused Suharto to resign. You many not be as aware that his campaign for power during the late 60’s was responsible for the deaths of many chinese residents of Indonesia, approximately equivalent to the numbers of Pol Pot’s “Killing Fields” in Cambodia. To this day, significant Muslim vs/ Chinese tension exists in Indo. During Suharto’s “New Order” Government (1967-1998):

The New Order targeted ethnic Chinese and enacted several anti-Chinese legislations, banning them from public life. Chinese literature and characters were outlawed, and they were forced to renounce their Chinese ties and adopt Indonesian sounding names. Many Chinese were forced into exile, while others were killed during the anti-Communist purges.

Due to Suharto being vehemently Communist, his reign was supported by the United States, in spite of it’s brutal consequences. I’m curious how Indo’s Suharto compares to Egypt’s Mubarak? Edward S Herman provided this interesting background on Suharto…

Coverage of the fall of Suharto reveals with startling clarity the ideological biases and propaganda role of the mainstream media. Suharto was a ruthless dictator, a grand larcenist and a mass killer with as many victims as Cambodia’s Pol Pot. But he served U.S. economic and geopolitical interests, was helped into power by Washington, and his dictatorial rule was warmly supported for 32 years by the U.S. economic and political establishment. The U.S. was still training the most repressive elements of Indonesia’s security forces as Suharto’s rule was collapsing in 1998, and the Clinton administration had established especially close relations with the dictator (“our kind of guy,” according to a senior administration official quoted in the New York Times, 10/31/95). Suharto’s overthrow of the Sukarno government in 1965-66 turned Indonesia from Cold War “neutralism” to fervent anti-Communism, and wiped out the Indonesian Communist Party–exterminating a sizable part of its mass base in the process, in widespread massacres that claimed at least 500,000 and perhaps more than a million victims. The U.S. establishment’s enthusiasm for the coup-cum-mass murder was ecstatic (see Chomsky and Herman, Washington Connection and Third World Fascism); “almost everyone is pleased by the changes being wrought,” New York Times columnist C.L. Sulzberger commented (4/8/66). Suharto quickly transformed Indonesia into an “investors’ paradise,” only slightly qualified by the steep bribery charge for entry. Investors flocked in to exploit the timber, mineral and oil resources, as well as the cheap, repressed labor, often in joint ventures with Suharto family members and cronies. Investor enthusiasm for this favorable climate of investment was expressed in political support and even in public advertisements; e.g., the full page ad in the New York Times (9/24/92) by Chevron and Texaco entitled “Indonesia: A Model for Economic Development.” The U.S. support and investment did not slacken when Suharto’s army invaded and occupied East Timor in 1975, which resulted in an estimated 200,000 deaths in a population of only 700,000. Combined with the 500,000-1,000,000+ slaughtered within Indonesia in 1965-66, the double genocide would seem to put Suharto in at least the same class of mass murderer as Pol Pot.

It’s is a bit interesting that Pol Pot’s victims were primarily Christian, and so the tragedy in the eyes of American’s was obvious. Meanwhile, most of Suharto’s victims were Chinese — associated with the Communism of Mainland China. Nothing makes friends like a common enemy, so the US vs/ USSR (Capitalism vs/ Communism) dynamic makes the situation comprehendible. The ultimate irony though, is that Chinese are famous as the merchant class throughout South East Asia – the merchant class turning communist seems far fetched… Heck, even mainland China could only pull that trick off for a few years…

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