TIME, Oct.8, 1965: AFTER AN EVENING WITH MORNING STAR
When revolt struck Djakarta last week, President Sukarno was in the company of a lovely woman. He was with Morning Star, his most recent wife, a 26-year-old former Japanese bar hostess. Sukarno had left Merdeka Palace to visit her brown-walled bungalow for dinner. As the meal ended, word came of a military uprising in the city. Dismissing his motorcade, Sukarno summoned a helicopter and was lifted up into the night sky—and for four days, the flamboyant, hard-living leader of a nation of 104 million was not seen or heard from.
Rumors flew that Sukarno was dead, seriously ill, in prison or in flight. But Bung Karno has spent a lifetime showing the world how to be a survivor. He has nimbly escaped innumerable assassination attempts by bomb and bullet, grenade and jet fighter. Insurrections against him constantly erupt in the Outer Islands only to be put down or neutralized. What made last week's coups different was that leaders of both the first coup and the one that followed insisted loudly that they were defending Sukarno against the plots of others.
The first revolt was staged by a lowly lieutenant colonel in an army overloaded with generals. His name was Untung, which means "Good Luck," and he commanded a battalion in the palace guards. He launched his troops on a double mission: to round up 20 generals and seize Radio Republik Indonesia. The transmitter was swiftly captured and was soon pouring out communiqués in the name of the "30th of September Movement." It was a thrilling plotline: Untung had uncovered a "generals' conspiracy” to overthrow Sukarno during this week's scheduled celebration of Army Day. Behind the conniving generals, charged Untung, was the wily hand and dizzying wealth of the CIA. Radio Republik Indonesia also announced the formation of a 45-man "Revolutionary Council," including some of the biggest names in the country, along with others that sounded as if they had been picked blindfold from a hat.
Some of the surprise members: Foreign Minister Subandrio, long regarded as Sukarno's heir apparent, and last week absent on a tour of Sumatra; Air Force Chief of Staff Omar Dani, reputedly a Communist; and Admiral Martadinata, whose fleet has been immobilized for months by a strike of 700 junior naval officers.
The restless nation was assured by the rebels that Sukarno was "safe and under protection," and, as an afterthought Untung abolished all military ranks above his own. A new Cabinet was also announced, headed, of course, by Untung.
Untung's good luck began to run out early. As his men rounded up the suspect generals, Army Chief of Staff Ahmad Yani and a quartermaster corps general were said to have been killed. The detachment sent to arrest Defense Minister Abdul Haris Nasution bungled the job: Nasution and his five-year-old daughter were reportedly both wounded.
Was Nasution really wounded? Once free, he apparently rallied the troops on the city's outskirts and sent word to the crack Siliwangi Division at Bandung to move on the capital. General Suharto, commander of the strategic reserve, was placed in charge of operations. At 8 in the evening, Suharto's forward units were moving toward the center of the city and exchanging fire with Untung's palace guards. By midnight, Radio Republik Indonesia had fallen to the attackers, and by the next morning, Untung and his men were in full flight. Their possible destination: a stronghold in central Java, where a colonel of the Diponegoro Division had already announced his support of the coup.
Radio Republik Indonesia now spoke with another voice, proclaiming martial law and placing Djakarta in "a state of war." The revolt was said to be crushed, and Nasution's spokesman derided Untung's charge of a generals' plot as merely a pretext for his own personal coup. Sukarno was reported "safe and well," and rumor had it that the President was waiting out events at his summer palace in Bogor, 30 miles from Djakarta. The army also revealed that some of the names on Untung's Revolutionary Council were imaginary, and that many others had been used without their owners' permission. General Suharto announced an "understanding between the army, navy and police" to eliminate the remnants of Untung's followers. One mystery remained: where were the flyboys and their marvelous MIGs? The absence of the air force from this list made it seem likely that its commander, Omar Dani, had gone over to the rebels.
With all communication lines to the outside world severed, the only source of hard information was the disjointed communiqués served up on Radio Republik Indonesia between intervals of music. Under Sukarno, there have been only two power centers in the country, the armed forces and the 3,500,000 members of the Indonesian Communist Party, led by cagey, cautious D. N. Aidit, who was off on a junket to Red China when the shooting started.
A showdown between the Reds and the nationalist-minded officers has long been expected, and it was tempting to regard last week's skirmishing as the first round in an intra-Indonesian knockdown drag-out. Defense Minister Nasution has long complained of Sukarno's wooing of the Communists, and successfully blocked a Red plan to have arms issued to its own militia.
But Communist headquarters seemed as confused as everyone else. One Red newspaper did come out in support of the 30th of September Movement, but the others were silent.
Observers were also quick to warn that events in Indonesia bore little resemblance to events elsewhere. The Indonesian character is one that shies from reality, hesitates to push things to a conclusion, and has a positive genius for never resolving difficult problems. Whether Untung's coup represented a one-man aberration or was part of a faultily executed Communist plot remained to be seen. The most puzzling factor was the silence of Sukarno. A man who dearly loves the spotlight and who is nearly as happy making a speech as chasing a pretty girl, his behavior was inexplicable, unless he was seriously ill or dead. At week's end, 64-year-old Sukarno proved he was neither. In a live broadcast over Radio Republik Indonesia, the durable President told his people that he was sound and well. "This is my voice," declared the Bung. "I am still alive. This is your President." Calling for "increased vigilance" against his enemies, Sukarno seemed to be suggesting that he was easily back on top again.
TIME, Oct.15, 1965: WANTED: A MAGICIAN
At National Heroes Cemetery, outside Djakarta, the coffins of the six slain generals were draped with the red-and-white colors of the Indonesian flag. Twenty tanks lined the approach road, and an honor guard in bright berets stood at attention. Antiaircraft guns pointed skyward, evidence that the army top brass still does not trust the air force, which has been behaving ambivalently. As a crowd of 10,000 looked on, General Abdul Haris Nasution, Defense Minister and Commander of the Army, hobbled forward on crutches, supported by two aides. Nasution had been a prime target of the assassins and had broken an ankle in his escape. His five-year-old daughter Irma was shot and killed. "We living witnesses know that you were upholding truth and justice," said Nasution, addressing the dead. "In our heart you are the heroes. We believe the truth will win."
The truth is hard to find, especially in Indonesia, where confusion is a way of life, and President Sukarno is the greatest obfuscator of them all. Still unresolved last week was whether the six generals were martyrs slain by Communist-supported plotters or whether they had been killed by Lieut. Colonel Untung and his palace guards to prevent their launching a coup of their own. Those who suspect a direct Communist role recall that about two weeks before the Sept. 30 coup, Djakarta's Reds began preparing a foundation of some sort. Editorials in Communist newspapers, which had long grumbled about the soaring cost of living but never pressed for remedies, suddenly called for "immediate action," and their campaign against "capitalist bureaucrats" was abruptly stepped up.
A few days before the coup, Communist cadremen were issued special orders, and some were given arms. Top leaders were told not to sleep in their homes for a few nights. When the coup came, the official Communist paper came out flatly in support of the uprising.
Yet many an old Djakarta hand is convinced that the Reds were not the masterminds. For one thing, Untung's clumsy and ill-planned coup lacked the slick organization one would expect from efficient Communist Party Chief D. N. Aidit. With 3,500,000 members, plus his large and increasing influence on Sukarno's policies, Aidit was doing well enough as things were.
One theory is that there actually was a plot by the generals to take over control and put an end to the growing power of the Communists. It gains color from the fact that Sukarno did not even appear at the funeral of the slain officers. Next day, as Sukarno called his Cabinet into emergency session at his summer palace in Bogor, Nasution did not show up—but two Communist ministers did, along with Air Force Chief General Omar Dani, a Communist sympathizer.
After 31 hours of closed-door talk, Foreign Minister Subandrio said that President Sukarno had prevailed on the cabinet to 1) regard the Untung affair as an "internal problem" of the army that would be settled by the army; 2) accept the statement by the Communist Party's Politburo that the Reds had nothing to do with the attempted coup; 3) support a return to unity and a revival of "Nasakom"—one of the portmanteau words Sukarno loves to invent. This one is composed of the first letters of the words for nationalism, religion and Communism and is supposed to symbolize the merging of all three currents to carry forward the "revolution."
It was not a line calculated to placate the army, which remained firmly in control of Djakarta. All Communist newspapers were shut down, a dusk-to-dawn curfew was established, the army-run Radio Indonesia and the newspapers headlined charges that the Communists were deeply involved in Untung's coup. Communist leaders were jailed, and there was an intense search for arms.
A huge anti-Communist rally was held at Bung Karno Stadium, and thousands of students paraded in Djakarta's streets shouting "Kill Aidit!" and "Dissolve the Communist Party!" As approving soldiers looked on, the crowd set fire to Communist headquarters, completely destroying the one-story building. Since this was Indonesia, the students left untouched the nearly finished five-story Red headquarters in the next street. To add to the confusion, one group of students marched to the U.S. embassy to shout "Long live America!" while another group chanted the accusation that the CIA was backing the Indonesian Communist Party.
Sukarno is a sick man (kidney and gall-bladder trouble), and it seems likely that the sudden rash of plotting represented maneuvers for position by factions anticipating his departure from the scene. Seven Chinese doctors constantly attend him, and he stayed all week at Bogor. But he didn't look very ill as he paced his palace corridors. In fact, his familiar charm seemed still to have some of its old effect. The army reluctantly called a halt to its roundup of Communists and even anti-Red newspapers were responding to the call for unity. But if, after the murder of the generals, Sukarno can get the infuriated army once again to work in tandem with the Communists, he deserves top honors as a mediator—or magician.
TIME, Oct.22, 1965: JUSTICE IN DJAKARTA
"Gantung Aidit!" demanded the crudely painted slogans on Djakarta's downtown walls. That meant "Hang Aidit!" — the pro-Peking boss of Indonesia's 3,500,000-member Communist Party. The wily Red was nowhere to be found, so the rampaging mob last week had to make do with less. They sacked one of Aidit's four Djakarta homes and burned his furniture, then headed for the offices of his cocky Communist Youth Front. There, at the starting point of many a raid on the American library or embassy, the rioters administered poetic justice: the Red headquarters went up in flames.
Other symptoms of rampant anti-Communism and hatred of Aidit's Peking masters abounded throughout Indonesia last week. A mob of 800 stormed the Chinese-run Respublika University in the capital, wrecked and burned a two-story building, then invaded the dormitory with knives and submachine guns. Chinese shops in East Java were ransacked, and a newspaper editorial ranted ferociously against the "CIA"—meaning the "Chinese Intelligence Agency."
To Indonesians, long accustomed to President Sukarno's friendship with Peking, it seemed odd indeed that Red China could be so viciously maligned. There was nothing really odd about it, for the anti-Chinese campaign simply marked the determination of the army under Defense Minister Nasution to wipe out all traces of Aidit and his Partai Komunis Indonesia. Nasution would probably succeed, for he and his generals seemed in firm command of the country.
This did not mean that the army was broadly anti-Communist or pro-West, since Marxism and Communism remain respectable among most Indonesians, including the military. Indeed, with Nasution's obvious approval, Sukarno last week set about salvaging what he could of his beloved Nasakom—the tenuous blend of nationalism, religion and Communism on which political control in Indonesia has long been balanced.
Part of the salvage plan: formation of a "new" Communist Party based on nationalism and Indonesian self-interest rather than Peking's influence. Aidit, who was believed still hiding out in Middle Java, was branded "a renegade and an outlaw." He would be purged, and the new party would lean toward the Soviet orbit rather than the Chinese. "The President will settle the upheaval," assured a Sukarno aide with typical Indonesian optimism. "If you eliminate the kom from our Nasakom then the balance has been destroyed. That is not practical politics. But you can eliminate the kom that is against you and create another in its place."
Whatever the cast of the kom, Defense Minister Nasution was continuing his purge of Communists in the armed forces. Top Red to topple: Major General Pranoto, who was appointed by Sukarno to succeed the murdered Achmad Yani as army chief of staff. Pranoto's replacement is rightist General Suharto, the tough, Dutch-trained boss of Djakarta's strategic reserve who commanded the anti-coup forces for Nasution. Suharto's elevation promised more trouble for the Reds. One current story has it that Suharto last week approached pro-Communist Air Force Boss Omar Dani in Sukarno's presence at the Merdeka Palace and questioned him closely about the air force role in the coup. When Dani pleaded ignorance, Suharto reportedly slapped his face and ripped off Dani's epaulets. Dani has not been heard from since.
One army officer who has been heard from, though, is Lieut. Colonel Untung, the obscure battalion commander in Sukarno's palace guard who launched the abortive revolt. Untung, whose name in Indonesian means "lucky," pushed nomenclature too far: riding on a bus also named Lucky (Mudjur), Untung was recognized near the Middle Java town of Semarang by two soldiers. Untung vaulted from the bus window but was nabbed by fellow passengers, who took him for a pickpocket and beat him severely before surrendering him to the soldiers. At week's end Untung was back in Djakarta for interrogation and probably ultimate execution. But not before Nasution's inquisitors find out for certain if it was really Peking who put Untung up to it.
There are those who say Sukarno was behind it all. The facts may never be known, particularly in light of last week's disclosure that the events of the coup are being chronicled by that well-known diarist the Bung himself, who is compiling the story from "all groups and sources, including the P.K.I."
TIME, Nov.5, 1965: IN THE MIDST OF MUSHAWARAH
The preferred Indonesian method for solving complex problems is through musharawah—a long, lung-wearying dialectic that arrives, however belatedly, at consensus. Musharawah was everywhere in Djakarta last week. Hardly a day went by without endless powwows in army headquarters, at Merdeka Palace, and in the steaming streets and squares of the capital.
The results were as confused and kaleidoscopic as the process itself. Across from the lavish Hotel Indonesia, a sign showing a jowly Uncle Sam with a dagger at his throat had quietly disappeared. "It was the wind," explained grinning Indonesians. Near the reeking canals off Merdeka Square, Muslim youth groups in straw hats drilled where young Communists once sang their favorite anthem: America, Satan of the World. Through the capital's dusty, palm-studded streets, army patrols quietly rounded up minor Red officials and led them off to secluded firing squads. And on walls, fences and curbstones blazed the angry slogan: "Saté Aidit" (Fry Aidit).
Though D. N. Aidit, Indonesia's top Red, was still at large, it was becoming increasingly clear that Communism—at least of the Peking variety—was finished in Djakarta, for the moment if not for keeps. At every government gathering, hard-faced army officers monitored the overly jolly goings on. Even President Sukarno, puffy-cheeked and perspiring, was forced onto the defensive. Warning against the danger of Indonesia's suddenly becoming pro-Western (and anti-Sukarno), he pursued one of his own quaint theories to its illogical conclusion: "If they didn't try to crush us, the Western powers wouldn't be nekolim" (a Sukarno acronym for neocolonialist imperialism).
But the army has coined its own acronym for the abortive coup d'état that killed six loyal generals and nearly toppled Sukarno. Gestapu—the initial syllables of the 30th of September Movement—is now Indonesia's vilest villain, as Sukarno's heir apparent, Foreign Minister Subandrio, learned much to his dismay. The army was now wondering if he did not have a role in the bloody coup attempt. But last week Subandrio tried to blame it all on the American CIA. "There are indications," he declared in a speech beneath tinkling glass chandeliers at Merdeka Palace, "that several Indonesian newspapers are now financed by the CIA."
Army Commander Suharto, the tough little major general who crushed the Red-led coup, called Subandrio's bluff, demanded proof of any CIA backing for the strongly nationalist newspapers that the army has allowed to publish. After a bugle-blowing mob of 3,000 Muslim youths demonstrated in front of the Foreign Ministry, Subandrio backed down. "I wish to correct my speech," the once cocky diplomat allowed. Headlined an army daily: SUBANDRIO REFUTES HIMSELF!
By then, Subandrio had earned for himself a constant military escort, and it was soon clear that he was virtually a prisoner of the army. When Indonesia's delegation to the Algiers conference of Afro-Asian foreign ministers took off, it was headed not by the Foreign Minister but by a minor official. But just how far could Indonesia's 3,500,000 Communists be pushed? As the army's anti-Red drive continued last week, the Communists began fighting back in Middle and East Java.
Members of Aidit's Partai Komunis Indonesia and its Peasants' Front cut phone lines and blocked roads with boulders and trees; whole companies of the politically doubtful Diponegoro Division deserted their barracks, apparently for the jungle-grown hills around Djokjakarta. Reports said 200 died.
Though General Suharto pleaded for his "children" to return to barracks, it seemed to many that the civil war between Reds and the army was becoming ever more likely. But then again, musharawah had a long time to run. As Defense Minister Abdul Haris Nasution, the real power behind the army, cautiously said last week: "The most important thing at present is that we fully realize the beastly gadding about, the personal and political ambitions, behind the coup."
TIME, Dec.3, 1965: THE LIGHT THAT FAILS
There was a time when Bogor Palace was a fun place. Indonesian President Sukarno would sweep in triumphantly from a hot-lipped harangue in downtown Djakarta, pull the black Muslim cap of leadership from his balding head, toss aside his girdle, and relax in sandals and slacks with his lovely Japanese wife Dewi. The legion of servants, the carefree dinners, the delight of being on top —all of it made Bogor a pleasure dome beyond compare. Not any longer.
Last week at Bogor, a grim-faced Sukarno recalled a dolorous notion from historian Arnold Toynbee. Said Sukarno: "A great civilization never goes down unless it destroys itself from within." Since Sukarno considers him self the embodiment of Indonesia, it was a gloomy quote indeed. Relentlessly, the Indonesian army is tightening its noose around the throat of the Partai Komunis Indonesia, and with every turn Bung Karno's beloved Nasakom—the blend of nationalism, religion and Communism that he believes is the essence of Indonesia—is dying.
Throughout the far-flung archipelago, at least 30,000 proCommunists have been arrested since the Red-led October coup attempt. According to rumors, hundreds of Red leaders have been quietly killed.
In West Java, the Moluccas and the East Celebes district military commanders last week took it upon themselves to ban local Communist parties—a move that Sukarno has been "considering" but has not yet been able to stomach. The Bung, who badly needs the Communists as a balancing force against the military, has been toying with the idea of a new nationalistic Communist Party, free of Peking's influence, that might be acceptable to the army. But many officers reject a "neo-P.K.I." Says Defense Minister Abdul Harris Nasution: "We should destroy the P.K.I., not because we are antiCommunist, but because the Communists have already betrayed the state with slaughter, torture, terrorism and treason."
Nasution and the Army Chief of Staff General Suharto are carrying their struggle to reorganize the nation beyond the mere killing of Reds. Last week the entire Indonesian price-wage structure was shaken up by what could only be army orders. Fuel, postal and railway rates were upped by roughly a factor of 100 to bring the rupiah (currently 22,500 to $1 on the black market) into realistic line. Agents hustled off to other Southeast Asian nations in search of rice for the food-short nation. Wages must still be brought up to meaningful levels, but that much-needed step could well lie in the near future.
Within the Djakarta power structure itself, the army was also cleaning house. Last week the Supreme Operations Command, called Koti in Sukarno's acronymese, was scoured of seven civilian portfolios, and the empty places were filled by soldiers. Left-leaning Foreign Minister Subandrio's seat on the council remained in doubt, but since the army suspects him of sympathy—if not involvement—with the Communists, his power is doubtless stringently curtailed.
Still the Communist Party of Indonesia is the third largest in the world (its 3,500,000 members rank just behind Red China and Russia), and the army bosses are taking no chances. To back up their firm control of military power—including, ironically, Red-supplied MIGs, patrol boats and artillery—they are busy training some 24,000 anti-Communist youths in villages from Bali to West Irian. Most of the trainees are drilling with bamboo sticks, but arms may be supplied later. All of this makes Sukarno very sad. "Other countries in Africa and Asia considered us a beacon of the New Emerging Forces," he remarked at Bogor last week. "But Subandrio has told me that our beacon has been fading recently—the beacon that earlier gave light to the world."
TIME, Dec.10, 1965: THE BUNG STANDS ALONE
No one has been more tolerant of the Communists in Indonesia than Peking-leaning Foreign Minister Subandrio. But last week Subandrio abruptly changed his tune. To the amazement and shock of an audience of university students in Djakarta, he declared that the Communists' involvement in the Sept. 30 coup was "treasonous" and "unmasked the true character of the party."
A couple of days later, he told Peking to stop meddling in Indonesia's internal affairs, declared his nation neutral in the Sino-Soviet feud and brushed off Peking's protest over sackings of Chinese shops in East Java with the remark that Indonesians had a right to be angry with the Red Chinese.
By his sudden switch, Subandrio served notice that he was through with President Sukarno and ready to side with Defense Minister Abdul Haris Nasution and the rest of the military brass, who are consolidating their hold on the country. Whether his move will be successful is in doubt. Many officers still suspect Subandrio of sympathy with—if not complicity in—the coup attempt, and the army shows no willingness to settle for anything less than a clean-broom housecleaning of all Reds and Red sympathizers. Stepping up its campaign' to discredit the Communists, the army last week made public the confession of the country's sixth-ranking Communist, a labor leader named Njono who was arrested two weeks ago. According to his confession, the Communists not only planned and executed the attempted coup, but also intended to assassinate President Sukarno if he opposed the council that the Reds intended to set up to rule the country.
The defection of Sukarno's top sidekick, plus the revelations of what the Reds had in store for him, would be enough to make a lesser man quake. But not Bung Karno. Though now standing virtually alone, he continues to resist the army's demands that he outlaw the Communist Party.
TIME, Dec.17, 1965: SILENT SETTLEMENT
In Djakarta last week, President Sukarno continued to resist the demands of military leaders that the Communist Party be outlawed for its sponsorship of the Sept. 30 coup attempt. Meanwhile, outside the capital in the hundreds of islands that form the Indonesian archipelago, individual army units and bands of violently anti-Communist Muslims were reportedly working to make the argument academic.
According to accounts brought out of Indonesia by Western diplomats and independent travelers, Communists, Red sympathizers and their families are being massacred by the thousands. Backlands army units are reported to have executed thousands of Communists after interrogation in remote rural jails. Muslims, whose political influence had waned as the Communists gained favor with Sukarno, had begun a "holy war" in East Java against Indonesian Reds even before the abortive September coup. Armed with wide-bladed knives called parangs, Muslim bands crept at night into the homes of Communists, killing entire families and burying the bodies in shallow graves.
Resentment against Communists that swept the country after the coup attempt heightened the Muslims' fervor and persuaded the army to turn its head as the holy war spread quickly to western Borneo and Sumatra. In Central Java the army even gave military training to Muslim youths. The murder campaign became so brazen in parts of rural East Java that Muslim bands placed the heads of victims on poles and paraded them through villages.
The killings have been on such a scale that the disposal of the corpses has created a serious sanitation problem in East Java and northern Sumatra, where the humid air bears the reek of decaying flesh. Travelers from those areas tell of small rivers and streams that have been literally clogged with bodies; river transportation has at places been impeded.
TIME, Dec.24, 1965: THE CUTTING EDGE OF KOTI
"I don't want to be ignored," moaned President Sukarno last week. All but ignored he was, as Indonesia's high-riding soldiers relentlessly pressed their campaign to sweep Communist sympathizers out of positions of power and to reshape the nation's rickety economy.
A victim was pro-Communist Foreign Minister Subandrio, who held key positions not only in the Djakarta Cabinet's presidium, but in the Supreme Operations Command (Koti) as well.
Abruptly last week the army bounced Subandrio out of Koti, stripped him of control over Indonesia's intelligence network. Suddenly it became clear that Koti was emerging as the key controlling body of the country, with powers in every field from economics to education. And into Koti's key post stepped General Abdul Haris Nasution, Defense Minister and No. 1 military strongman.
Then came an effort to cope with Indonesia's chaotic currency. Since the coup attempt, the rupiah's black-market price has soared from 10,000 for one U.S. dollar to a still-climbing 30,000. Rice prices rocketed from 310 rupiahs per liter last summer to the current high of 2,000 rupiahs. The generals announced that over the next six months, all old rupiahs would be withdrawn from circulation and replaced by new rupiahs at a rate of one new rupiah for each 1,000 old. The move would have limited value, since the lopping off of three zeroes was a mere invitation to shopkeepers to adjust their prices accordingly, for all the government's admonitions against such action.
Koti's cutting edge would at least reduce the bulk of bank notes Indonesians have had to lug around with them. But far more was needed to revamp the entire price-wage structure and provide incentives to restore production to decaying plantations and mines. Though the peasantry survives happily enough on bananas, breadfruit and barter, few city dwellers today can make ends meet without handouts of rice, free housing and cash from their employers.
One way to aid the economy would be to end the "confrontation" with Malaysia and Singapore, a Sukarno fancy that took 20% of Indonesia's 390 billion rupiah budget last year. That the generals are thinking of terminating the expensive program of armed hostility came out fortnight ago, when the Foreign Ministry casually offered to negotiate with the states of Malaysia and with newly independent Singapore.
TIME, Mar.4, 1966: THE BUNG’S BOUNCE
"Here I am, Sukarno, President and Great Leader of the Revolution. I will not retreat one step or even one millimeter!" There he was indeed, full of bombast and braggadocio, munching cake and sipping orangeade — and apparently back on top of the heap. After five months of submission to his anti-Communist generals, Indonesia's President last week demonstrated the reasons behind his reputation as Southeast Asia's most durable politician.
Almost as if his own position had never been in jeopardy, Sukarno blithely fired Defense Minister Abdul Haris Nasution, leader of the anti-Red forces that put down last October's Communist coup. He also installed a new Cabinet, some of whose members — though avowedly non-Communist — were far to the left of the generals. Nasution took the demotion quietly, but it was an ominous silence. Still loyal to him are Army Chief Suharto and the crack Siliwangi Division, elements of which moved into Djakarta last week. "We are ready to move the second Nasution gives the signal," claimed the Siliwangi's commander.
Sukarno man aged his comeback subtly. Outwardly he appeared submissive, while secretly calling in junior officers for sessions ripe with flattery and promises. The seeds of rivalry were quick to sprout. At the same time, he wooed and won Muslim groups long neglected by the government. All the while, the Bung was practicing the traditional Indonesian musjawarah, a catharsis by conversation that ultimately leads to consensus. Last week Sukarno felt it had been reached.
Whether or not Nasution's ouster sticks, it will be some time before Sukarno again feels free to court the Chinese-backed Partai Komunis Indonesia as ardently as he did before the October coup. In the first place, P.K.I. ranks have been severely depleted by anti-Communist slaughter, and surviving party members are lying low. Secondly, Sukarno knows that a return to the pro-Communist past would trigger an army coup, Nasution or no Nasution. Indonesia has accepted the decline of Communism to such an extent that even Sukarno's beloved acronym Nasakom (a combination of nationalism, religion and Communism, on which his policy is based) has been amended to Nasasos (for socialism).
Even at that, Sukarno's balance is precarious. Last week mobs of angry anti-Red students stormed through Djakarta, blocking entrances to Merdeka Palace with stolen trucks and forcing Sukarno to send helicopters to pick up his Cabinet ministers for the swearing-in ceremony. Nervous guards fired into one group, killing three students. That brought on a second mob scene, with 100,000 students—led by yellow-shirted members of the Indonesian Student Action Command (KAMI)—lining the five-mile funeral route. Sukarno retaliated by outlawing KAMI, declaring a curfew, and forbidding groups of five or more to meet in Djakarta. With that, he retreated behind machine guns to Merdeka Palace to await developments.
TIME, Mar.18, 1966: NOW YOU SEE HIM ….
Things are seldom what they seem in Indonesia. After last October's coup, rumors flew through Djakarta that President Sukarno was either dead, seriously ill, in jail or in flight. But up he bounces, like a kid's bell-bottom toy, and last month he was back issuing decrees, making speeches, and being the same old Bung. Then last week, once again, Sukarno was shoved aside by the military. Or was he?
Certainly, the generals had plenty to complain about. Indonesia's economy is a mess, proCommunists are back in the Cabinet, and Sukarno even had the effrontery to dismiss Defense Minister Abdul Haris Nasution, 47, leader of the anti-Red forces that thwarted the Communists' October coup.
When the generals let matters ride, thousands of Djakarta students—with tacit approval from the military—went on a wild, three-week rampage, sacking government ministries, pillaging the Red Chinese consulate, and clogging the streets with their demonstrations.
Through it all, the cocky, flamboyant Sukarno held to his view not to "retreat an inch or even a millimeter." He vainly outlawed all demonstrations or gatherings, banned student groups, even closed down the University of Indonesia. To keep the generals in their place, he played on military rivalries.
Yet somehow the generals came together under one man: Lieut. General Suharto, 45, who became army chief of staff last October after the attempted coup. Suharto was always personally devoted to Sukarno, though disagreeing with him on his left-leaning politics and catch-as-catch-can statesmanship. Last October, Suharto's disagreement deepened into bitterness when he saw the bodies of six anti-Communist generals killed during the coup attempt. In recent weeks, Suharto and Nasution had been huddling with ranking officers in Bandung and Djakarta, and all agreed that Sukarno had to knuckle under once and for all. Finally, last week, Suharto told the Bung that it was all over. Sukarno gave in and transferred full political power to Suharto.
Suharto moved swiftly, banning the Partai Komunis Indonesia and booting out Sukarno's pro-Communist Cabinet members. Yet at week's end, there was Sukarno, once again meeting with the military leaders. This time he was listening far more than he was talking—but he was still talking.
TIME, Mar.25, 1966: EMERGENCY TIME
Ever so politely, yet ever so firmly, Lieut. General Suharto, 45, the new strongman of Indonesia, was stripping President Sukarno of his last vestiges of power. It had to be done politely because that is the way things are done in Indonesian politics, and because Suharto still needs Sukarno as a figure head. But it had to be done firmly because the generals were now determined once and for all to oust Sukarno's strongest ally, crafty Foreign Minister Subandrio, and the rest of the pro-Communist Ministers, from the 96-man Cabinet. So day after day, the delicate minuet continued as Suharto alternated between public assurances that Sukarno was still top man and private pressure on him to give in to the army's demands.
The pressure was being applied at the Bogor summer palace, 40 miles south of Djakarta, where Sukarno, Subandrio and some 20 of the suspect Ministers were kept tightly penned in by the tanks and armored cars of the green-bereted Siliwangi Division and the tough R.P.K.A.D. paracommandos (comparable to the U.S. Special Forces). As the generals patiently shuttled back and forth to Bogor, Sukarno held them off with his celebrated command of musjawarah, the cerebral Javanese equivalent of blarney.
Out of range of his voice, however, were Djakarta's rampaging student hordes, whose loathing of Subandrio makes the generals look like his fans by comparison. Growing restive, the students hit the streets in swarms, from aging undergraduates of 26 and 27 to ten- and twelve-year-old girls, storming through pro-Communist ministries and homes, singing savage, and frequently bawdy, songs. "There is a little Peking dog called Subandrio, and he barks, gug, gug, gug," ran one of the tamer refrains. The demonstrators finally threatened to attack Sukarno's gleaming white Merdeka Palace in Djakarta, where Subandrio and some of the other Ministers had been trans ferred. There they would cut off the Ministers' heads and impale them on the spiked walls outside the palace.
Even for Indonesia, things were getting a bit out of hand. The generals decided that the time for tact was past. Machine-gun-toting troops crossed the lush lawn of the Merdeka to arrest Subandrio and 14 leftist Ministers, reportedly flung them into the grimy guardhouse at Djakarta garrison headquarters. Then Suharto announced over the Djakarta radio, which he had also seized, that he had done it "in the name of President Sukarno," to prevent the Ministers "from becoming the victims of the Indonesian people, who are becoming restless and uncontrolled."
To be on the safe side, Suharto also ordered extra troops into Djakarta's sun-baked streets, briefly closed its airport and cable office, disconnected telephone links with the outside world. Djakarta operators responded to queries with a singsong "Circuit not operating, emergency time."
Only the students continued to enjoy their customary freedom from military interference. Sukarno's third wife, beautiful Japanese Ratna Sari Dewi, 26, left her luxurious mansion for another house after students raided it and dumped garbage into her swimming pool.
At week's end Suharto named the first appointees to "Sukarno's" new half-military, half-civilian Cabinet. As senior civilian and first Deputy Premier, he chose the respected Hamengku Buwono IX, 54, Sultan of Djokjakarta in Central Java, who was a leader in Indonesia's struggle for independence while Sukarno was in jail during the late 1940s. Possibly due for a prominent post was General Abdul Haris Nasution, 47, whom Sukarno fired as Vice President just last month, and who has been acting as Suharto's behind-the-scenes adviser.
The new Foreign Minister was Adam Malik, 48, a former newsman, chief of the leftist-inclined Antara News Agency, and former ambassador to Moscow. Though a Marxist, Malik is author of a book criticizing Soviet police-state methods. Under his ministry, the new regime will most likely pursue a neutralist foreign policy somewhat to the right of Sukarno's, but probably not much warmer to the West. To be called a "pawn of the Nekolim"-Sukarno's acronym for Western imperialists-is still an insult in an Indonesia so largely shaped by Sukarno.
TIME, Apr.8, 1966: A GENERAL AT THE PALACE
It was dinner time at Merdeka Palace. There, at the round table, was President Sukarno, glaring nervously around him. There was his charming young Japanese-born wife, Ratna Sari Dewi, the hostess with the mostest in Indonesia. And there was quiet, almost shy Army Lieut. General Suharto, Indonesia's apparent new strongman, sitting on Dewi's right. As photographers clicked away, the dinner guests sipped their soup in icy silence. Not until Dewi coaxed a smile, and then a laugh, from Suharto did everyone relax.
There was reason for strain. The dinner was intended to smooth the way toward an agreement between the President and the general. But only hours earlier, Sukarno had been forced to go along with the appointment of a new military-civilian government whose key figures were picked by Suharto. A face-saving compromise, not unusual for such Javanese drama, had saved a few Sukarno associates for minor roles. But the men who would call the shots were Suharto, in charge of defense and security; brainy former Ambassador to Moscow Adam Malik, in charge of foreign affairs as well as social and political matters; and widely respected Hamengku Buwono IX, the Sultan of Djokjakarta, in charge of economic, financial and developmental affairs.
Back in the government, though not in the top rank, was General Abdul Haris Nasution, dumped by Sukarno as Defense Minister in February in a move that set the Indonesian political pot aboiling. With Suharto, impassive in open-necked khaki uniform, at his side, Sukarno himself announced the new presidium, claimed the new government would operate strictly on his direction.
One clue to where the power lay came when General Suharto took to radio and television to declare that "the people are fed up with fake leaders" and to plead for patience in the struggle for a new political and economic order. The Cabinet shakeup, Suharto said, was only the first in a series of steps "which will lead to our ultimate victory." The general's emphasis was on doing things gradually, and his plea was primarily directed toward Djakarta's restive students, who would have liked to see a bigger shake-up and who had recently begun clamoring for a cleanup of Parliament, for "social justice" and for elections.
Their demands may well be met. For the moment, however, Suharto's associates were more concerned with finding means to ease Sukarno from the scene, perhaps even into exile. Already the new government is looking for a quiet way to re-enter the United Nations, which Sukarno quit in 1965, and is sounding out other countries on the possibility of aid to strengthen Indonesia's economy. The hope is eventually to slide the island republic from its leftist posture into a genuinely non-aligned position.
All of which Indonesians seemed to like. Crowed one Djakarta paper: "The people are behind Suharto." Said another: "A new Cabinet—yes. A new program—by all means. But above all, a new way of life. To sanity."
TIME, Apr.22, 1966: REDUCING THE AURA
When President Sukarno decided to pester Malaysia with his konfrontasi, a kind of demi-war in which feints are more important than fighting, he little imagined that he would one day be the victim of his own tactic. Yet konfrontasi is just what Sukarno is experiencing at the hands of Indonesia's new triumvirate, headed by Army Lieut. General Suharto. The triumvirate still feels that Sukarno is too powerful to be openly challenged, but it is systematically reducing the aura that once surrounded him. Last week the aging (65) dictator could not pick up a newspaper, or even glance from the windows of Merdeka Palace without being exposed to new evidence that his policies were being reversed, his pet construction projects shelved, his confidants jailed, and his own reputation openly attacked.
Indonesia's relations with Sukarno's old cronies in Peking, for instance, have rapidly gone from bad to worse since last October's at tempted Communist coup. Rampaging anti-Communist students have forced so many Chinese merchants to close down and have seized so many Chinese schools that Red China last week complained to Djakarta that Indonesia stands by while "hoodlums" drag Chinese nationals to "forcible interrogations at secret torture chambers."
The only response in Djakarta was more anti-Peking outbursts—this time by Indonesians of Chinese descent who were trying to fend off the students' attack by showing where their loyalty lay. Chanting anti-Peking slogans, 40,000 of them paraded through the city. As the demonstrators cheered them on, a mob of about 2,000 broke down the heavy gate to the Chinese Embassy and stormed into the grounds. They smashed windows, tossed books and furniture onto a bonfire in the courtyard, gulped down Chinese wine and wiped the perspiration from their faces with Chinese flags. In a new protest, Peking likened the rioters to "Hitlerite hordes."
In the trial of alleged participants in the abortive Communist coup, several witnesses last week implicated Sukarno as party to the plot, in which one aim was to kill off all the military brass. The judge ordered passages concerning Sukarno suppressed, knowing full well that they would seem more credible when they leaked out. The government next month will bring to trial ex-Foreign Minister Subandrio, whose evidence, say examining army officers, will openly link Sukarno to the Communist conspiracy.
As part of a campaign to discredit Sukarno further in Indonesian eyes, an Army newspaper ran sections from his latest autobiography, which Sukarno did in collaboration with his adoring chronicler Cindy Adams, under such true-to-text headlines as I LOVE ART, I LOVE WOMEN, BUT MOST OF ALL I LOVE MYSELF.
The most telling indictment of Sukarno was made on the grounds of his past economic policies by Deputy Premier Hamengku Buwono IX, the Sultan of Jogjakarta, who is the third man in the triumvirate with Suharto and Foreign Minister Adam Malik. Indonesia owes $2.4 billion to foreign creditors, said the sultan, and faces economic collapse unless it receives foreign aid. Its economy is so inflated that prices may rise 1,000% this year.
The sultan reversed Sukarno's socialism by inviting new foreign investment and a strengthening of the private sector, also called for a halt to grandiose building projects. Taking him at his word, workers walked off their jobs at the $27 million skyscraper complex that was to house Sukarno's Committee for Emerging Forces, a sort of United Nations of the underdeveloped countries.
While the actions are clear enough, the words coming out of Indonesia are still often contradictory, partly because Sukarno continues to boast that he is boss and partly because the triumvirate has to indulge in a doubletalk as long as he is around.
Last week Foreign Minister Malik announced that Djakarta would recognize Singapore, adding that it was "a measure to intensify konfrontasi with Malaysia"—even though it is clearly a gesture in the opposite direction. Malik says that Indonesia will rejoin the United Nations; Sukarno insists that "Indonesia will never go back until the U.N. is changed." Nonetheless, the triumvirate seems willing to let Sukarno keep talking as long as he does not interfere, hoping that he will finally become so discredited that he can be eased into exile.
TIME, May 27, 1966: TIGHTENING THE NOOSE
Sukarno was looking more and more like the old Bung (brother). At a press conference, he playfully tweaked the nose of a reporter, tried on another correspondent's sunglasses, fiddled with a photographer's camera, and ordered General Abdul Haris Nasution, whom he had fired as Defense Minister last February, to help a female reporter down from a railing. "There is no new light in Indonesia," Sukarno beamed with all his old familiar wattage. "There is the same light." Strolling out of a meeting of his Crush Malaysia Command, he shrugged off the army's talk of peace and snapped that "confrontation will continue with Malaysia, both political and military."
For all his bluff and bluster, Sukarno was increasingly out of date. Already overruled by Indonesia's new chiefs was the konfrontasi that Bung Karno invented. Last week Foreign Minister Adam Malik, who has the army's backing, agreed to meet in Bangkok with Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Razak. Malik's purpose: to end the foolish fight with Malaysia. Though Sukarno angrily advised Malik not to go abroad, Malik seemed set on his course. "The confrontation of the people's stomachs," he said, "is more important than any other confrontation."
Sukarno, in fact, was being overruled on all sides. Day by day, Indonesia's tough little Army General Suharto was picking up the threads of government and weaving them into a noose that could eventually drag Sukarno into retirement or exile—once Suharto consolidates his strength.
With tacit but clear approval from the military, Indonesian students continued to roam Djakarta's hot, humid streets, chanting shrill slogans, waving signs, and daubing threats on walls, shop windows and automobiles—demanding that the long-postponed Provisional Peoples Consultative Congress convene by June 1. The students want Congress to strip Sukarno of his President-for-life title, call new elections, and provide for a return to parliamentary rule.
After several stormy days in the streets, one group of students called on the Sultan of Jogjakarta, Suharto's economics chief, and learned that Congress would likely convene in July, well before Sukarno's customary Independence Day policy speech on Aug. 17.
If new elections are called, Sukarno might suddenly find a lot of old enemies running for parliamentary seats. Last week the military released 15 top political prisoners who had been jailed four years ago, and more were expected to follow. Last week's group included two onetime Foreign Ministers, the former chairman of the anti-Communist League of Democracy and the editor of Indonesia Raya, a hard-hitting newspaper that was banned in 1958 after revealing a series of government scandals. No sooner was Editor Mochtar Lubis free than he announced plans for reopening the paper. "It is more true now than ever before," he said, "that the country needs a good, honest, critical press."
TIME, June 3, 1966: MISSION TO MALAYSIA
They were ranking members of Indonesia's "Crush Malaysia" Command, and their C-130 Hercules turboprop was speeding toward the capital of their enemy. But it was not another act of war in the three-year konfrontasi with Malaysia. Instead, the Indonesian officers came on a mission of peace. Stepping from the plane at Kuala Lumpur, they exchanged embraces with waiting Malaysian officials, then were driven to meet Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Razak for breakfast and talks. Declared Razak after the meeting: "The visit has created a very congenial and happy atmosphere. You can begin to see the ending of the confrontation."
Thus last week Indonesia's military seized the initiative in ending the costly demiwar with its neighbor. The mission to Malaysia, which had been kept secret in Djakarta, further undercut President Sukarno's already weakened position. Sukarno had apparently hoped to persuade the military to reverse the policy of Foreign Minister Adam Malik, who has been openly demanding an end to konfrontasi. But the fact that the "Crush Malaysia" commanders themselves undertook an independent peace mission seemed to demolish that hope. The military's action, in fact, buttresses Malik's position as he leaves this week for Bangkok to begin formal talks with Abdul Razak for bringing peace between the two countries.
On other fronts, there was equally bad news for the fading Sukarno last week:
¶New Economics Boss Hamengku Buwono IX, the Sultan of Jogjakarta, flew to Tokyo to make his bid for $100 million in emergency loans and credit, announced that the new regime had decided to rejoin such Sukarno-hated institutions as the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund.
¶In West Java, political-action groups representing Indonesian students and other civic organizations joined forces to demand that the Provisional People's Consultative Congress fire Sukarno as the nation's lifetime President, call elections to replace him.
¶In Djakarta, 35,000 students demonstrated for two successive days against Sukarno, returned to their classrooms only when Deputy Premier Lieut. General Suharto promised that the Consultative Congress would be called into session this month—and hinted broadly that it would indeed sharply reduce the President's powers.
TIME, June 10, 1966: AN UPROAR OF PEACE
Champagne glasses clinked in Bangkok last week. At long last, Indonesia's konfrontasi with Malaysia was over. It had taken the Deputy Premiers of the two Muslim nations only three glowing days together to resolve most of their differences, agree on "practical steps to restore friendly relations," and call off the three-year war that had given all of Southeast Asia the jitters. "It is a moving spectacle," beamed Thailand's Foreign Minister Thanat Khoman, who had sponsored the talks, "to see estranged friends shake hands again and even embrace."
What Indonesia's Adam Malik and Malaysia's Abdul Razak actually signed last week fell considerably short of the official peace treaty for which Malaysia had hoped. It was, rather, a limited declaration of intent—which, at Indonesian insistence, would have to be ratified at home before it became official. This, Malik was frank to admit, was merely to avoid agitating President Sukarno, who has lost most of his former power but still holds out against peace with his old enemy. Besides, Malik explained, "our people have been led to crush Malaysia for the past three years by the former regime. It takes time for us to prepare them to accept the new situation."
Impressed by Malik's obvious good will, the Malaysians accepted his reasoning without question. At a press conference, Razak waved off the doubters with a single sentence: "You may think it a strange way of doing things, but it is our way—the Asian way." And, in fact, there was every indication that his faith was justified. In Djakarta, the Indonesian government suddenly called a halt to its long propaganda barrage against Malaysia, followed that up by recalling its Fifth Mandao Brinof Brigade from the Malaysian border with the explanation that the "physical and technical" confrontation against "a foreign country" had ended. It was an expensive affair while it lasted. Britain alone spent $1.7 billion and was forced to send 50,000 troops and 70 warships to defend her former colony from the incursions of Sukarno, and the war all but wrecked Indonesia's stagnant economy.
The end of konfrontasi was cause enough for celebration, but its side effects were almost miraculous. Suddenly last week an uproar of peace noises echoed all over the Far East. In addition to its agreement with Malaysia, Indonesia unexpectedly announced recognition of Singapore. In Manila, the Philippines suddenly dropped its claims to Sabah in North Borneo, established diplomatic relations with Malaysia. In Tokyo, Japan agreed to an emergency $30 million loan to Indonesia, offered to bring all her international creditors together in a "Tokyo Club" to ease the pressures on Indonesia's economy. In Bangkok, Foreign Minister Thanat even hinted that Thailand was anxious to end its long-festering feud with Cambodia.
Amid the peace talks came the first tentative steps toward establishing an Asian common market. As long as Sukarno was free to play the spoiler, not even smaller regional organizations such as the proposed "Maphilindo" union of Malaya, the Philippines and Indonesia had any chance at all of getting off the ground. But last week Indonesia's Deputy Premier Malik was openly courting an invitation to join the newly revived Association of Southeast Asia, which could link the economies of Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines. Next week the foreign ministers of nine Far Eastern nations will gather in Seoul to hammer out a wider economic compact. What did Sukarno think of it all? Under the watchful eye of Army Strongman Lieut. General Suharto, the Bung had little to say. "I remain silent in a thousand tongues," he told a nationwide radio audience.
TIME, July 1, 1966: THE UNMAKING OF A PRESIDENT
Trumpets blared. President Sukarno entered the Bung Karno Sports Palace and strode down the red-carpeted aisle with an honor guard of military police. He wore one of his crisp white uniforms with gold braid. On all sides of him, applauding ceremoniously, stood the 546 members of the Provisional People's Consultative Congress, his nation's highest legislative body. Ratna Sari Dewi, his lovely young Japanese wife, smiled down from the diplomatic box. When he mounted the platform and took his seat, three military aides appeared with orange juice, tea, and his eyeglasses. When he rose to speak, they popped up behind him to hand him his text a few pages at a time.
The Congress had once been Sukarno's rubber stamp, but it was in session last week for the purpose of formalizing the destruction of his power. Presiding over the assembly when the Bung got up to speak was General Abdul Haris Nasution, whom he had fired as Defense Minister only four months before; Nasution had just been unanimously elected chairman of the Congress. Seated next to the podium was Lieut. General Suharto, to whom Sukarno had been forced to relinquish emergency powers in March. Suharto had just been unanimously confirmed by the Congress as the effective head of the government. About all that was left before the Congress was whether to strip Sukarno of his title, which was about all he had left.
In the sports palace which bears his name, Bung Karno stood listlessly onstage. His speech had been censored by the military, and he read it off in a monotone. He admitted that Congress could call elections to decide whether he remained President for life, or President at all. "For almost 40 years I have dedicated myself to the service of freedom," said the Bung, clutching the microphone stand. "I continue praying to Allah to be given the strength to continue serving the nation." Sukarno's speech got just five seconds of polite applause, for the delegates were anxious to get on with their business. After Sukarno left the podium and was whisked away in his motorcade, member after member took the microphone to urge Congress to reconsider all its previous decisions "deviating from the Constitution." The Constitution, they pointed out, does not entitle anyone to be President for life.
TIME, Aug.5, 1966: STREAMLINED CABINET
For weeks, President Sukarno had resisted the new regime's efforts to replace his unwieldy, 100-man Cabinet in favor of a smaller body with lots of new faces. Day after day, the discussions dragged on as the Bung struggled to retain some vestige of his former power. If General Suharto wanted the premier ship of the new Cabinet, argued Sukarno, he would have to resign as the army commander, and on no account was the foreign ministry to remain in the hands of Adam Malik, the ardent advocate of an end to Sukarno's beloved confrontation with Malaysia.
Last week Sukarno finally announced the new Cabinet — and it was clear that Suharto had once again had his way. The streamlined model had 29 members, and Suharto was not only chairman of its powerful, five-man inner presidium, but also army boss and defense minister. Malik was in the presidium, together with the third member of the reigning triumvirate, Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX of Jogjakarta. Suharto's quiet triumph had not been with out its compromises. Two of Sukarno's most ineffectual and most obsequious plin-plan (yes) men had been dropped from the presidium, but as a face-saving gesture to Sukarno, it still included two politicians who, while less resented, are nonetheless supporters of the Bung. These two, together with the Sultan, who is economics minister, will oversee 15 Cabinet ministries in charge of trade, economic development and welfare — all of which desperately need far more expert guidance than the com promise appointees are likely to provide.
Sukarno himself lost no time in demonstrating that he still considers himself the voice of Djakarta. After swearing in the new Cabinet at the Negara Palace, he gleefully kicked off his shoes, stepped up to a microphone and reassured 200 diplomats and newsmen that he was still in charge. Suharto, said Sukarno, was merely taking instructions from him; there had been no "transfer of authority." On top of that, "The confrontation against Malaysia will continue." Malik and Suharto listened impassively to the tirade. Afterward, they quietly let it be known that the way would soon be clear for the signing of a formal truce with Kuala Lumpur.
TIME, Sept.9, 1966: WHO’S ON TRIAL?
I WAS INSTRUCTED BY THE PRESIDENT, read the headline in a Djakarta newspaper. The words heralded the testimony of onetime Central Bank Minister Jusuf Muda Dalam, 52, who last week became the first of President Sukarno's former Cabinet members to be put on trial by the new regime of General Suharto.
Jusuf was charged with just about everything, from having six wives—two more than the Islamic law allows—to embezzling $10 million from the country's treasury. But the intent of the trial seemed broader than simply bringing Jusuf to justice. It apparently marked the start of a campaign by Indonesia's new rulers to undermine Sukarno's in fluence by linking him to his ministers' misdeeds. For one thing, the prosecution charged that Sukarno had encouraged Jusuf to use his influence with importers to collect "contributions" for Sukarno's Fund of the Republic, which had financed the construction of prestige projects. And from a witness came testimony that the Bung had ordered him to hand over a luxurious house to a voluptuous film star.
In a sense, Sukarno himself had triggered the trial by becoming so assertive in recent weeks. At last month's Independence Day celebration, Sukarno flatly denounced the new regime's decision to rejoin the United Nations and to end konfrontasi with Malaysia, and called for a return to his old policies. His defiance stirred his followers in Bandung to attack anti-Sukarno student groups, killing one anti-Sukarno youth, and setting off retaliatory riots in Djakarta. Fearful that people-packed Java (pop. 70 million) might erupt in full-scale riots, General Suharto ordered the Djakarta students to cool it and started the trials instead.
Whether the former bank chief's disclosures would tarnish Sukarno's image with the Indonesian masses is questionable. But General Suharto was patient. Scheduled for trial are 14 more former Cabinet members, including onetime Deputy Premier Subandrio, who, say military investigators, masterminded the plot with Sukarno's support—to steer Indonesia into Peking's camp via last October's abortive Communist coup.
TIME, Oct.12, 1966: THE MAN ON TRIAL
It was a year to the day after the abortive coup that was meant to hand Indonesia over to Communism. Now the anti-Communist army officers who put down the revolt were preparing to show the nation just who had been responsible. Before a military court sat a lean little man whose only name was Subandrio. He had been President Sukarno's Foreign Minister, secret-police boss and closest confidant. Last week Subandrio was on trial for his life.
The charge was treason, and the testimony proved fascinating. So nervous that he often mumbled incoherently, the once-glib Subandrio admitted to a secret meeting with Chou En-lai in January of last year, in which the Red Chinese Premier had offered weapons to arm 100,000 Indonesian workers and peasants. He also admitted that he had learned that the Communist coup was in the wind but neglected to tell Sukarno about it. Why? Subandrio assumed that the President already knew. Besides, he confessed, "I have an inferiority complex about telling such things to the President."
As the prosecutor's questions made clear, Subandrio was not the only one on trial. The government's real aim in hauling him before the court, in fact, was to implicate Sukarno in the plot. So far, Subandrio had managed to avoid this, but only barely. "It's only a matter of time," said a top government officer. "If Subandrio gets up and says he was just following orders of the President—well, that's all."
Sukarno had already been tried and convicted by the mobs that clogged Djakarta's streets last week. Once again, the vocal anti-Communist student organizations ignored pleas of the generals to wait for the trial to indict Sukarno. "Court-martial Sukarno!" cried the youngsters. They tried to invade Sukarno's presidential palace three times, were finally driven back only when troops attacked them with fixed bayonets and rifle butts.
The events of the week had a visible effect on Sukarno. Although he still refused to condemn the Communists, he was nervous enough to allow in a speech to his countrymen that, in a general way, what had happened last October had been "treason.”
TIME, Nov.4, 1966: FRIEND IN NEED
“Sometimes, late at night, I phone Subandrio, and I say, "Bandrio, come and sit with me, keep me company, talk to me of silly things, tell me a joke, say anything as long as it's not political. And if I fall asleep, please forgive me."
—Sukarno's autobiography (1965)
The court-martial of the man who spent so many of his nights putting Sukarno to sleep came to its inevitable end last week. After three weeks of testimony, a military tribunal in Djakarta found Dr. Subandrio—who for nine years was the President's closest confidant and Indonesia's second most powerful man—guilty of treason. The specific charges included complicity in last year's attempted Communist coup, subverting post-coup efforts to restore order, and embezzling $500,000 in government funds. The evidence, admittedly, was mostly circumstantial.
"His actions have marred the Indonesian revolution," declared Lieut. Colonel Ali Said, president of the nine-man military tribunal. "The court sees nothing in his favor, no cause for leniency. His testimony was a series of lies." So saying, Said rapped his gavel three times and pronounced sentence: death by firing squad.
Subandrio is not dead yet. Under Indonesian law, he was given 30 days to submit a clemency plea to the President, a title his old friend Sukarno still holds. Despite friendship and title, Bung Karno is not in much of a position to save Subandrio. For the object of the trial, as Indonesians are well aware, was to discredit the Bung himself. Subandrio managed to avoid implicating Sukarno directly in the Communist plot, but his main defense was that his subversive acts were all carried out in the line of duty—and the line had been set by Sukarno. Due to start later this month is the trial of former Air Vice Marshal Omar Dani, chief of the Air-Force. From his testimony may come the answer to an intriguing question: What was Sukarno doing at Halim airbase, headquarters of the plotters, when the coup was launched? With dark suspicions hanging over his head, Sukarno might not be able to do anything more for Subandrio. He can say anything he pleases, and talk of silly things, but he must be very careful about doing anything political.
TIME, Jan.6, 1967: A SENTENCE OF DEATH, A SENTENCE OF ADVICE
When Indonesia's Communists attempted a coup in September of 1965, General Omar Dani was commander of his country's MIG-equipped air force. As a Communist sympathizer, he allowed Halim Airbase near Djakarta to be used as headquarters and staging area for the plot; in turn, he was promised that he would eventually become chief of state. But the plot was smashed by the Indonesian army, and Dani, along with Foreign Minister Subandrio and other top government officials, was put in jail on charges of treason. Subandrio was tried by a military court and sentenced to death in October. On the day before Christmas, Dani got his: after three weeks of testimony before another military court, he too was sentenced to death.
As in the Subandrio trial, much of the evidence against Dani suggested that President Sukarno himself had known about, condoned, and even taken part in the attempted coup. Dani's trial, like Subandrio's, brought renewed demands from Indonesia's anti-Communist professional and student associations that Sukarno himself be removed from his position as President and brought to court. The father of his country, however, seemed unfazed.
Last week, in a brief ceremony at his summer palace in the mountain resort of Bogor, Sukarno calmly swore in one of his old leftist cronies, Suwito Kusumowidagdo, as Ambassador to the U.S. The appointment hardly pleased the military regime, which now claims most of the power in Indonesia, and it raised eyebrows in Washington. The Bung's only answer was a sentence of advice to his new ambassador: "Tell them that Sukarno is still President of Indonesia and that he is the man who sent you there."
TIME, Jan.20, 1967: FINAL DRIVE?
Who should be tried? Sukarno!
Who is our enemy? Sukarno!
Who is the new-style pharaoh? Sukarno!
This taunting tune is the latest hit song in Djakarta, and 6,000 students sang it lustily last week as they marched through the capital's streets in camouflage shirts. They were celebrating the first anniversary of the student demonstrations that thrust General Suharto and his colleagues into power as Indonesia's rulers. The appearance of the song also marked the start of what, his enemies hope, will be a final drive to oust Sukarno, 65, the long-revered bapak (father) of Indonesia's revolution and the country's ruler for 22 years.
Many Indonesians suspect Sukarno of complicity in the abortive Communist coup of October 1965, during which six nationalist, non-Communist generals were murdered. Last week, after six months of scornful silence, Sukarno finally replied to a demand from the People's Congress that he explain his role in the coup. "Why am I the only one who is asked to render an account?" he snorted in outraged innocence. Sukarno tersely blamed the coup on "the wrong way" taken by Indonesian Communist leaders, on "the cunning" of imperialism, and on "the fact that there were persons who were nuts." He lamely suggested that Congress President Abdul Haris Nasution, the former Defense Minister who barely escaped with his life during the coup, should also answer questions regarding responsibility for the October uprising.
Nasution's response was to announce the launching of an investigation of Sukarno's involvement in the coup. The announcement coincided neatly with the capture of a key man in the coup, Brigadier General Supardjo, who was conveniently caught last week near Halim Air Force Base, where the six murdered generals were mutilated and buried. Indonesia's new leaders hope that Supardjo's testimony will link Sukarno to the coup leaders.
If his complicity is proved, what could Indonesia do to Sukarno? One possibility is hospitalization. Already some leaders are suggesting that Sukarno may be mentally ill; during a recent shopping tour, for example, he embarrassed the salesgirls with lengthy inquiries about contraceptives, adding bluntly that "homemade ones are easily damaged." Exile is another; Sukarno's youngest wife Dewi is in Tokyo awaiting the birth of a child next month, and Sukarno might make an exit on the grounds of paternal duty. If he does leave Indonesia, the odds are against his returning.
TIME, Feb.24, 1967: BUILDING PRESSURE
While the world's press reported a flurry of actions aimed at toppling him from power, Indonesia's President Sukarno held court last week in Merdeka Palace like a man who had hardly a worry in the world. Perched on an overstuffed settee and flanked by petite girl reporters, he discoursed for three straight hours before a group of correspondents, including TIME'S Frank McCulloch, the only American present. Posturing, mugging and frequently guffawing, he waxed alternately boastful and coy, intense and nostalgic, recalling at one point his 1956 trip "to that strange land, the United States of America." "I do not need a grand desk to sign important state papers," he announced. "I sign them right here on my knee." Humming all the while, he then signed a paper to prove it.
To a Japanese correspondent who had predicted that Sukarno would soon go into voluntary exile, Sukarno gibed: "Am I in Japan now? I am here and you are here, but soon"—"here he drew his fingers across his own neck—"you may have no throat. I am going to continue to work hard for a socialist society. There is enough here for everyone, but we must learn to share it equally." Did the President have any travel plans? "Yes," snapped Sukarno with a swish of his silver-mounted swagger stick, "I am going to the moon." That drew a wry rejoinder from Foreign Minister Adam Malik, seated near by. "It is impossible," said Malik. "I have not approved his visa." Malik, roared Sukarno, was quite "a jokester."
Malik and the other members of Indonesia's ruling triumvirate, General Suharto and the Sultan of Jogjakarta, have been trying for months to ease Sukarno out of the country. Turn by turn, they have gradually increased the pressure until last week it seemed as if Sukarno could hardly bear it any longer. All 21 parties in the House of Representatives signed a request to make General Suharto, the leader of the triumvirate, President in Sukarno's place. Even Sukarno's own Indonesian Nationalist Party urged him to step down while the stepping was safe, and one military man after another came to the palace to urge the same move on him.
Students, labor unions and other organizations continued to demonstrate against him. Thousands of students paraded silently through Djakarta's streets carrying effigies of Sukarno facing a noose.
In four days of marathon sessions before Sukarno's press conference, the triumvirate had pleaded with him to leave voluntarily. Suharto and his colleagues pointed out that he might have to be brought to trial on charges that he encouraged the abortive Communist coup of 1965. The verdict might well be guilty, and the sentence death. They reminded him that they were already armed with a parliamentary resolution demanding his ouster. At one point, Sukarno broke down and wept, pleading that he be given "a chance to die in my home country." But he recovered next day, presented the triumvirate with unacceptable demands.
The triumvirate is going slow because Sukarno is, after all, the only President Indonesia has ever known, and as such retains a great deal of public sympathy, especially in populous Java and among the tough Indonesian marines. Instead of taking any precipitate action that might cause civil war, the triumvirate has tried gradually to discredit Sukarno and erode his popularity. It would like to avoid a trial, hoping that Sukarno will eventually leave under pressure. Suharto intends to see to it that the pressure continues to build. He himself supervised the preparation of a scalding 120-page document, not yet made public, that reportedly establishes Sukarno's connection with the Communist coup, charges him with corruption and moral turpitude, and accuses him of destroying the Indonesian economy.
TIME, Mar.3, 1967: NOW HE’S GOING NOW HE ISN’T
On the surface at least, it seemed that Indonesia's President Sukarno had finally fallen from power. In a ten-minute session with his Cabinet, the man who had won independence in 1945 for the chain of islands that once were the Dutch East Indies sullenly transferred his administrative powers to Army General Suharto, 49, the anti-Communist leader of the "New Order" force of generals that has brought Indonesia back into the real world. Yet Sukarno, like most Indonesians, is a master of the intricate, interminable puppet play called wayang, which can go on for hours without reaching a climax. Last week it was wayang all the way.
The turnover was obviously a compromise between Sukarno and the ruling triumvirate led by Suharto. Suharto had earlier called together his generals, used charts like a busy board chairman to show how Sukarno had been involved in the unsuccessful 1965 Communist coup and how his policies had damaged Indonesia.
He had a harder time convincing some of his "hawk" generals, who would like to see Sukarno ousted and put on trial, that a gradual easing out of Sukarno is the only way to avoid civil strife. Under the compromise, after all, Sukarno won time to continue his maneuvering, which is aimed at splitting the New Order forces and regaining a measure of power.
Sukarno, in fact, not only retains his title of President but his post as supreme commander of Indonesia's 352,000-man military establishment. That point came through with ominous clarity during the trial last week of Army Brigadier General Mustafa Sjarif Supardjo, a leader of the Communist coup forces who met with Sukarno at Halim Air Force Base outside the capital of Djakarta on the day of the attempted coup. According to the indictment that was brought against Supardjo, evidence from the scene where six anti-Red generals were brutally murdered told of Sukarno slapping Supardjo on the shoulder and warning him darkly: "Beware. If you fail, I'll cut your throat."
Other evidence from such figures as former Foreign Minister Subandrio (sentenced to death last October for his role in the coup) has tied Sukarno to the plot. Many Indonesians, including the militant members of KAMI and KAPPI, the student organizations that originally challenged the Communists, feel that Sukarno should stand trial. A meeting of the People's Congress this week could strip him of his title. But Sukarno still holds the loyalty of many Javanese, along with some elements of the police, marines and navy—and Suharto is willing to let him save face so long as he behaves in his new, underpowered role of President-without-portfolio. Already Suharto has quietly appealed to his associates to find a way of getting the People's Congress to avoid the unpleasant word "remove" in any resolution that it may finally decide to pass about Sukarno.
TIME, Mar.24, 1967: THE NEW ORDER
At long last, after months of delays and confusion, Indonesia's Sukarno was removed as his country's chief of state. The People's Consultative Congress, Indonesia's highest legislative body, stripped him of his presidential powers and turned them over to General Suhar to, the strongman who already exercised them in fact.
Indonesia reacted with unexpected calm to the fall of Sukarno, who declared Indonesia's independence from The Netherlands in 1945 and has reigned as sole ruler for 22 years. The golden presidential flag no longer flew from his Bogor Palace outside Djakarta, to which Sukarno retired last week to await the return of his Japanese wife Ratna Sari Dewi, 27, from Tokyo, where she recently gave birth to a daughter.
Almost overnight, his picture disappeared from government offices. Sukarno will henceforth be referred to only as "Doctor Engineer" Sukarno, in deference to his academic training, will not be allowed to travel inside or outside the country without Suharto's permission.
Foreign Minister Adam Malik explained why Sukarno must move out of the ornate, white Merdeka (Freedom) Palace in Djakarta: "It is like a former government servant staying in a government house." But General Suharto, who does not want to give Sukarno's backers reason to rebel, is in no rush to go too far in punishing him, himself prefers to continue living in his modest one-story house. "Let him keep his ornaments," says Suharto. "What harm does it do?" As he was sworn in as Indonesia's new chief executive last week, Suharto continued that note of reasonableness and compromise: "Winners are we all. Neither group has been defeated in this Congress, nor has one been victorious. It is the people's interest that has won. The winner is the New Order."
The first task of the New Order is to clean up the incredible economic mess that Sukarno has made of Indonesia. As a Dutch colony before World War II, Indonesia supplied one-fifth of the world's tea, one-third of its rubber and palm oil, two-fifths of its kapok and four-fifths of its pepper. Scattered throughout Indonesia's 3,000 verdant islands are rich mineral deposits —gold, tin, bauxite, tungsten—and oil reserves. "Indonesia is rich in natural resources," says Suharto, "but the damage done to our country's economy has been severe."
After the Dutch departure, the riches were left largely untouched while Sukarno pursued what he called "mental investments"—big prestige projects that he built by borrowing or just by having his central bank crank out billions of new rupiahs. Djakarta is a monstrous monument to Sukarno's excesses. The opulent Hotel Indonesia, where a full-sized orchestra sometimes plays to a handful of guests, stands like an ocean liner moored in a cesspool. Thousands of gawking Indonesians stream through the Sarinah department store (named for Sukarno's childhood nurse) to view goods that they cannot afford, including chewing gum at 700 a pack and Ronson lighters at $20. Amid the shacks and open canals, in which the impoverished populace both bathes and relieves itself, stand the rusty skeletons of unfinished skyscrapers and the crumbling concrete shells of uncompleted conference halls—symbols of Sukarno's megalomaniacal dream of turning the city into the capital of the underdeveloped world.
All Sukarno actually accomplished was to bring his once rich land to the edge of ruin and total bankruptcy. His print-now, pay-never policies caused the postwar world's worst inflation, which has sent the Indonesian cost of living up an incredible 80,000% in the past six years. More than 40% of the national airline's planes are unflyable for lack of spare parts.
The country owes $2.3 billion in foreign debts, has no financial reserves and next to no credit. Its exports have plummeted, its industries are operating far below capacity, and unemployment is massive among its 107 million people. Can Indonesia be saved? Suharto believes that, with Sukarno gone, it can. His economic advisers—mostly bright, young, Western-educated men—have already taken such emergency steps as halting all "show building" construction, balancing the 1967 budget to try to rein in inflation, tightening credit and arranging for a stretched-out schedule for the repayment of foreign debts.
But Indonesia badly needs outside technical aid and foreign investments to turn its potential riches into reality. Many foreign firms, including several American ones, are already negotiating with Suharto to come in. Many more can now be expected to follow. To encourage them, Suharto's men have introduced a new tax-exemption law for foreign enterprises, and are beginning to return companies seized during Sukarno's days to their rightful owners.
TIME, Aug.18, 1967: SPORTS-SHIRT DIPLOMACY
The Foreign Ministers of Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore arrived in Bangkok ready to join with Thailand in the serious business of creating a new, five-nation economic alliance. But Host Foreign Minister Thanat Khoman decreed pleasure before business. He whisked the diplomats off to the nearby seaside resort of Bang Saen for two preconference days of golf and conviviality. It was a shrewd move. By the time the ministers sat down last week for their formal deliberations, everyone had done so much private lobbying, a consensus had already emerged. "We'd all been so busy implanting ideas in the minds of others in private conversations," said one delegate, "that we didn't know whether it was finally our idea turning up in another version—or someone else's."
The combined ideas added up to a determination to create an alliance for trade, aid and economic harmonizing that may eventually lead to a more farreaching customs union of the five. The first joint efforts will include such modest projects as tourist promotion and cooperative fishing and shipping enterprises. The new alliance differs from such earlier Asian nonmilitary groupings as the Asian Productivity Organization, Association for Southeast Asia, and Asian and Pacific Council in that it includes Indonesia—the largest and potentially the richest nation in Southeast Asia. And though South Viet Nam was not included because of the war, the five left the door open for other nations to join, when their desires and domestic conditions permit.
So effective was Khoman's sports-shirt diplomacy that the five's remaining stumbling block was what to call their creation. The logical first choice was SEAARC, for Southeast Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, but Filipino tongues stumbled over the construction. Those agile acronymists, the Indonesians, came to the rescue with ASEAN—and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations was christened.
The contagion of cooperation was not limited to Southeast Asia. Even as ASEAN was being born, Japan met one of the toughest tests of its regional role in the Northwest Pacific, by agreeing to $270 million in credits to finance South Korea's second five-year plan and the purchase of ships and fishing equipment. The Koreans, who still remember long, painful years of Japanese colonial rule, reciprocated in a way that would have been unthinkable a few years ago: they agreed to conduct the talks in Japanese.
TIME, Oct.20, 1967: A FIRMER HAND
Compared with the swaggering Sukarno, whom he replaced last year as Indonesia's top man, General Suharto is a cautious and colorless fellow—which is just what Indonesia needs. He rules Indonesia with such quiet modesty and attention to detail that his advisers have been constantly prodding him to make more speeches and exert more power.
Last week Suharto showed that he can act as forcefully, if not as flamboyantly, as Sukarno. In what he mildly called "a redressing," he announced his first big Cabinet shakeup, a move that consolidated his own power and clearly reflected his confident control of the country.
To end interservice squabbling in the military, which in recent months has even led to armed clashes between units, he stripped the four armed forces chiefs of their ministerial rank and put them under his direct control. In response to talk of corruption, bungling and disloyalty, he replaced several suspect ministers with competent technicians loyal to him. He retained the Sultan of Jogjakarta as economics chief and Adam Malik as Foreign Minister, but dissolved the old inner Cabinet, so that all ministers must now report directly to him. He kept for himself the posts of Acting President and Defense Minister, and he obviously does not consider the jobs temporary: he announced that the general elections scheduled for next July will probably not be held before 1970.
Indonesia's main problems are economic, and in that area Suharto has begun to make a major impact. He has assembled the best men available to doctor the economy and given them freedom to act. They have managed to cut inflation, for example, from 600% in 1965 to 60% this year. Suharto is particularly anxious to open the way for more private foreign investment, as well as to create a climate that will encourage other nations to grant loans.
Japan's Premier Eisaku Sato, the highest ranking official visitor to Djakarta since Sukarno's downfall, found the atmosphere there so encouraging last week that Japan may provide a third of Indonesia's goal of $600 million in foreign credits for next year.
The economic problem is complicated by Indonesian antagonism toward the country's 3,000,000 Chinese, who control some 70% of the country's businesses. After the Peking-inspired attempt to grab Indonesia by coup, the Indonesian public turned on the Chinese in their midst in a bitter pogrom, thus further upsetting the country's frail economy. Outside big cities and district capitals, Chinese may no longer own businesses. Chinese schools have been closed, Chinese organizations ordered disbanded and Chinese papers banned except for two run by the government. "There are too many of them," says Foreign Minister Malik, "so it is impossible to repatriate them." Instead, Suharto has set up a special bureau to deal with the problem, hopes eventually to gain the loyalty of the Chinese.
Pressured by anti-Communist rioting by students, who have attacked the Chinese in Djakarta, Suharto's government is threatening to suspend relations with China. But it has not yet made the move, and neither side really wants to go that far (Indonesia has also kept up its relations with Hanoi). Premier Sato last week urged Suharto to hang on to the present arrangement, which, even if it produces only an exchange of angry notes, at least keeps open the lines of communication.
TIME, Nov.17, 1967: THE BLOSSOMING OF PAK HARTO
Indonesia's students helped put Acting President Suharto into power, and since then have eagerly kept an eye on his government. Relations have been fairly smooth; the students have even taken to calling him "Pak Harto"—Father Harto. Last week, however, several thousand students marched on the President's office for the first time since Suharto took over, bristling with anger about the rising price of rice. Suharto, who has always been considered a shy and reticent man, went out to meet them, listened briefly to their complaints and then told them off much as he would have any of his own six children. "I am responsible for everything," he told them. "I can assure you we are all doing our level best, but running this country is like running a big family that is short of money. Be patient. Never move just because of your passions. If you do so, I will act against you. If shouting alone would bring down the price of rice, I would join you. I would even shout ten times louder, until my voice became hoarse. But the thing we have to do is work hard." Suharto's performance won over the students, who cheered him, joined him in chanting national slogans and then peacefully dispersed.
The street scene was the most dramatic display yet of Suharto's blossoming as a strongwilled, articulate leader. Last month he showed a deft touch at power politics with a Cabinet reshuffle that put the feuding military directly under his control and effectively dissolved the old ruling triumvirate in which he had shared power with Foreign Minister Adam Malik and the Sultan of Jogjakarta. Now Suharto is burnishing his style as well as his tactics.
The general has doffed his bemedaled uniform for casual mufti in order to soften his military image, has abandoned droning prepared speeches for off-the-cuff talks and has even begun to enjoy the political stump. Recently, he articulately plugged Indonesia's "New Order" on a visit to the island of Sulawesi, where he wowed the natives not only by giving pithy explanations of what his government is trying to do but by donning a sarong and the peaked local headdress. Later this month, he goes off to Bali on a similar speechmaking tour.
Suharto's restrained private tastes also please his countrymen. While former President Sukarno continues to live in a palace at Bogor even in exile, Suharto lives modestly in the same suburban Djakarta cottage that he occupied when he was an obscure army officer. He plays an occasional round of golf, spends a day at the seaside or mountains and takes bicycle rides near his home, during which he sometimes scolds neighbors who do not keep their property tidy. Suharto's wife Titi (Sukarno had seven wives in all) often appears beside her husband in public, dutifully entertains diplomats' wives and has exhibited a matronly determination of her own by stripping Merdeka Palace of Sukarno's collection of nude paintings.
By showing a firmer hand, Suharto is gradually becoming strong enough to cope with problems as numerous as Indonesia's 3,000 islands. Corruption remains a blot on Indonesian life, but Suharto is considering a housecleaning to try to root it out. Indonesia's politicians are often restive, but he has managed to keep them in line while also blocking any resurgence of the outlawed Communist party. Though he has broken with Peking, Suharto adheres to a neutralist, if slightly pro-Western, foreign policy, showing a sympathetic understanding of American objectives in Viet Nam while still retaining diplomatic ties with North Viet Nam.
Though inflation still plagues Indonesia, Suharto is working hard to restore the climate for foreign investment, to draft a five-year plan and to win additional aid from Indonesia's nine major non-Communist creditors, who will meet in Amsterdam next week to decide how far they will go along with Suharto. One little example of Suharto's personal impact is the recent proliferation of his portrait throughout Indonesia. About the only place Sukarno's face still shows is on the old rupiah bills that his free-spending ways helped make almost worthless.
TIME, Apr.5, 1968: PRESIDENT FOR REAL
Looking as nonmilitary as he could in blue business suit and Muslim petji cap, the new President of Indonesia stared steadily down at his prepared text. "We will firmly uphold the principles of democracy," he told 828 mem bers of the Provisional People's Consultative Congress. "We are determined to carry out the wishes of the people." General Suharto, 46, had just been elected to a five-year term as President — but the wishes of the people had little to do with it. Despite his promises of popular rule, Suharto last week assumed almost total power over Indonesia's government. With but a few restrictions, he became dictator pro tern.
An obscure army officer three years ago, Suharto took command of the military after putting down a Communist coup attempt in 1965, then slowly began to take charge of the government. Indonesia first regarded his quiet but drastic moves as a necessary antidote to the grandiose, 22-year misrule of Sukarno. Initially diffident even about accepting the title of Acting President, Suharto finally decided that he needed the full title to give him the authority necessary to make reforms. Once decided, he used every tactic he could to get the title—including packing the assembly by replacing 200 old members and creating 102 new ones.
The stratagem worked, but not without a few hitches; assemblymen refused to give their unanimous vote until Suharto promised to call legislative elections within three years and take steps to weed out a corrupt officialdom.
That was a small enough price to pay in return for Suharto's broad emergency powers, but it showed a widespread doubt about the honesty of his government. With a Ford Galaxie for his official limousine and a middle-class bungalow for his residence, Suharto himself is not under suspicion. Some of his top generals, with larger houses and longer cars, most certainly are, including one group in charge of foreign rice purchases that has failed to account for millions of rupiahs. One unpleasant consequence of the government's reputation is that some overseas businessmen are holding back on investments at a time when Indonesia needs all the foreign capital it can get.
As far as the nation's 110 million people are concerned, though, the most desperate need is a stable rice price, which Suharto has so far been unable to produce. Just in the past five months, a liter of rice has more than doubled in price (to 23¢), and prices change from day to day—mostly upward. On the average, rice now costs the workingman 40% of his total income. It was rice, more than anything else, that was on the new President's mind when he admitted in his inaugural address: "The results achieved do not yet meet the wishes of the people at large."
Eight hours after the ceremony, Suharto flew off to Tokyo for his first official visit outside his country. After being greeted by Emperor Hirohito at the airport, he sat down for lengthy business sessions with Premier Eisaku Sato. Indonesia's objective: to persuade Premier Sato to boost Japan's pledge of $60 million in trading credits this year to $100 million, or nearly one-third of the total promised by the non-Communist creditors helping to bankroll Suharto's economic "new order." Whether Suharto gets the full sum—and he will certainly get a good deal more than $60 million—Premier Sato promised "positive help." Suharto is also stopping off this week in Cambodia with assurances of Indonesian nonalignment for Prince Sihanouk, who has taken a cool view of the general's advances to the West. To underscore his seriousness on both trips, Suharto kept his retinue down to a dozen officials, ordered them to stay away from parties, shopping sprees and other frivolous pastimes.