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So how did Indonesia bury its own much, much worse, dictator?

One of the irritating inane comments against the planned burial of strongman Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is that we would be the laughing stock of the world. Such view only points to the commentators’ astonishing ignorance about the recent history of our neighbors.

Let’s look at what happened to Indonesia’s strongman Suharto, who ruled his country as dictator for 33 years, toppled in 1998 in a people-power kind of revolution. Compared with Suharto, Marcos was a liberal, setting up a legislative body in 1978, though, of course, he controlled it. His dictatorship lasted only 13 years, given that the first part of his rule from 1965 to September 1972 was based on electoral politics.

While I doubt the accuracy of its figures, which are based on newspaper accounts, Transparency International in 2013 ranked Suharto as the most corrupt leader, allegedly embezzling $15 to $35 billion. It ranked Marcos number 2 (and Estrada No. 10) allegedly embezzling $5 to $10 billion. Suharto’s cronyism was incomparable to that of Marcos, and the wealth and monopolies held by his closest crony — Soedono Salim, father of Anthoni who now has a public utility-based empire in the Philippines — were more enormous than those of all of our local cronies combined.

The starkest contrast, though, is in terms of human rights abuses. A study released in July by an international panel of judges concluded that the Indonesian military under Suharto in 1965, when he assumed power through a coup d’état, massacred over 500,000 Indonesians, mostly of Chinese ethnicity, on the pretext that they were communists. Another one million Indonesians were incarcerated, tortured, and/or raped. The report only served to confirm several counts over the years written by scholars.

How many, even by the most rabidly anti-Marcos propagandists’ account, were killed under Martial Law? Some 4,000 “extrajudicial killings” and 40,000 incarcerated after the declaration of Martial law, with only 3,000 remaining in detention centers by 1975, according to an Amnesty International report.

Suharto’s funeral in 2008: full state honors even attended by his enemies, and the US ambassador.
Suharto’s funeral in 2008: full state honors even attended by his enemies, and the US ambassador.

Suharto was buried 23 hours after his death in January 28, because of Islamic teachings that a corpse must be buried within 24 hours after death.

While there were pockets of protest against the state honors given Suharto, the account by the New York Times, I think, entitled “Tributes flow at burial of Suharto state funeral,” describes the more dominant atmosphere at that time. Excerpts:

New York Times account
“SOLO, Indonesia — Suharto, the former strongman of Indonesia, was buried Monday in a family mausoleum near here with a military honor guard, Islamic prayers and an overlay of the Javanese mysticism that, for some people, had given him the aura of a king.

Twenty-three hours after his death in Jakarta following a three-week hospitalization, Suharto’s coffin was lowered into the ground in a crypt on a sacred mountain just outside Solo, beside the tombs of his wife, Siti Hartinah, and of three other relatives.

It was a state funeral fit for a president, or a king, as if Suharto had not been driven from office 10 years ago by rioting, demonstrations and a rejection by his military chief and cabinet ministers.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was one of those military officers, and a roster of the nation’s most powerful people, flew here Monday in a small fleet of government aircraft.

‘We offer his body and his deeds to the motherland,’ Yudhoyono said at the funeral, where he gave a military salute. ‘His service is an example to us.’

He asked Indonesians to ’open our hearts for everything he has done,’ noting that Suharto had ‘made mistakes because no one is perfect.’

No one since (Suharto’s fall) then has so dominated Indonesia, and his death seemed for some people to stir a longing for a strong and even overpowering leader.

‘I feel that Suharto is the king in the hearts of the people, and I also feel that Suharto is different from other leaders in Indonesia,’ said Emha Ainun Najib, a prominent cultural historian. ‘It seemed that Suharto had the aura of a Javanese king.’

As tiny birds swirled around the entryway, a military honor guard delivered the coffin, which was draped in a red and white Indonesian flag and preceded by a portrait of Suharto in the full, medal-laden uniform of a five-star general.

The coffin was opened briefly and then lowered into the grave next to the polished marble tomb of his wife. Beside it was her portrait on a stand, with what appeared to be a warm, welcoming smile. There was quiet background music, a dirge called ‘Falling Flowers,’ about the death of a hero.

Standing at a microphone, their eldest daughter, Siti Hardiyanti Rukmana, offered an apology for what she called her father’s mistakes, as she had, Sunday, when his death was announced at the hospital

Then, addressing him directly, she said, ‘Only God can repay you for your goodness. Farewell, father. We send our prayers.’

She was in tears when she finished, along with the family members who stood near her. One sister, Siti Hediati, raised a tiny camera and took a picture of the grave.

An Islamic prayer was said, a bugler played taps, and the family gathered around the tomb to toss in handfuls of white and pink flower petals.

Outside, behind a cordon of military security, villagers had climbed through the woods to watch from a distance.

The farmers here are beneficiaries of Suharto’s economic policies, and as with some other repressive leaders around the world, the harshness of his rule seems to have faded in their memories.

Standing last week by the bright green rice fields below the hill, a farmer named Sukanto, 50, said he longed for a return to what he remembered as the stability of Suharto’s rule.

‘Suharto is the only president I admire, among them all,’ he said, leaning on a motorbike and smoking a clove cigarette. “He’s the one who gave us a better life. He gave us rice seed to plant, and he developed our country.”

On a street in Solo, a parking attendant named Gio, 45, said, ‘I know that people got wealthy in Suharto’s time, but we are only small people, and that is not our business.’ (end of the New York Times article)

I’m sure that the Yellow Cult, in our case, would be shocked when the Ilocano-speaking Filipinos crowd the Marcos funeral, and more so when they cry their hearts out at their idol, as is likely to happen.

And if you think that Indonesians are so backward as to have adulated a mass murderer, consider these figures: our neighbor country’s GDP per capita in 2015 amounted to $3,834 (in constant 2010 US dollars), bigger by a third than our $2,635. During all of Marcos’ time, our GDP per capita was bigger than that of Indonesia. Indonesia overtook us in 1989, after four years of the first Yellow Regime.

One more intriguing point: Does the Indonesians’ forgiving attitude find its root in intense nationalism — the need to unify the nation — or from their Islam faith?

We have neither of those.

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This Post Has 23 Comments

  1. Verano Cervantes

    Now I know why I don’t read the Manila times. Mga loyalists pala Tao dito.

  2. dee

    It is not about how, where and when you buried former head of state. It is all about the “culture” of the whole nation and its people. Dark days of Martial–so is called from some sectors, and the important questions–do we or do they learned from it and has move for the better in all facets of Marcos rule to where PHL now. Nothing at all–even worse than 30 years ago, and worst Filipinos still debating for what? for non-sense, not relevant to present “problems” and the atrocious social injustices and or inequalities of PHL society. For Ninoy Aquino–how would you compare his achievements (good or bad), (tangible or intangible), (concrete or abstract) to Marcos and yet International Airport been named after him, monument been built at Makati, all because he was regarded as hero (by some) in voicing his disagreement (ideology), going against Marcos–see how distorted Filipinos are. A true “trade mark” of who Filipinos are really know for, (same thing happened between Rizal and Bonifacio) that until now, there is still debate of who really ought to be the national hero. Bottomline–Filipinos should put an end on this. Why not for administration to change the name LNB, to Philippine Memorial and for Marcoses to be buried along his mother with full military honor and national holiday the actual date of burial proceeded by weeks of mourning. This is my personal thoughts!

  3. mikvital

    The communist/sympatizer, the oligarch lead by the Lopez, Osmena, Aquino/Cojuanco, et al. and journalist where their newspaper/TV/Radio were closed are the people only against the Anti-Marcos burial.

  4. Peter Jer Frisco

    Sad to say Philippines is a land with a majority hypocrites. This country is leading to nowhere and how much time do we need to let Filipinos learn to think right!

  5. rvrna

    Sukarno was ousted by the CIA similar situation to Marcos he was ousted by the CIA .

  6. Benj

    This is another milestone in objective journalism! Thank you master TIGLAO for enlightening Filipinos of past and present events!

  7. N. Baliwag

    you cite one example – how about other thieves ??????/ Hitler and his fellow Nazi officials who plundered Europe ! they had to shoot or hang themselves himself or be publicly humiliated like Gaddafi ! you want that ? shall we go to the streets and start tearing the clothes of thieves’ corpses ? even the corpse of the US ambassador in Benghazi was raped by a mob ..you want that or would you prefer a private cemetery in Ilocos…THINK ! you cannot control an angry group of thousands ! not even the US can !

  8. jr

    Suharto was given burial honors, but this did not go without challenge as well. I would rather cite the sentiments of the late Lee Kuan Yew, who had much fondness for Suharto. LKY, on the other hand, had no good things to say about one Ferdinand Marcos. to quote him, “Only in the Philippines could a leader like Ferdinand Marcos, who pillaged his country for over 20 years, still be considered for a national burial. Insignificant amounts of the loot have been recovered, yet his wife and children were allowed to return and engage in politics.”

    1. RexO

      OK, we agree that Suharto is worse than Marcos but he is ranked No. 2. Should we believe Lee Kuan Yeu or Tiglao?

  9. dakila

    The SC does not even have the right to hear this petition argument on burial because clearly there is no existing jurisprudence that hinders FEM to be buried in LNMB. FEM has met all the qualifying conditions on who is to be buried in LNMB, Beside, LNMB is under the control and supervision of the AFP and Pres DU30 as President is the CIC of the AFP so in essence this is purely an Executive department affair. I cannot understand why these petitioners have to drag SC in this issue and likewise the SC should have just ignored this petition.

  10. ddd

    We had long been fooled by the Aquinos using as disguise the misdeeds of the Pres. Marcos. Do we want to be fooled again by the Aquinos. Lord God please enlighten those yellow cults to understand the truth and be forgiving. The Aquinos and their fooled loyalists are thinking that they have the monopoly of this country. Ano sila sinusuwerte. Pres. Duterte must stand firm on his decision to bury Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, not at the whims of the Aquinos. Sobra na

  11. Debbie prejoles

    Hindi ba mabigat s dibdib kapag may kinikimkim tayo s puot s ating kapwa tao!Kaya nga sabi ni father tuwing nagsisimba tayo magpatawad at ipag-ubaya nlang sa Dios ang lahat?Bakit ang taga- simbahan pa ang isa sa mga naghihimok n huwag ilibing ang isang nilalang na ilang dekada nang namatay sa Libingan?
    Kailan ba tayo mag-move on at tulungan ang ating presidente Digong n maisalba ang ating bayang Pilipinas?Sana marunong tayong magpatawad para makausad nman tayo..Change is coming!

  12. jack reacher

    Indonesia overtook us in 1989, after four years of the first Yellow Regime.

    While we are basking in this so called “Democracy” our ASEAN neighbors have overtaken us… even in Singapore .. Lee Kuan Yew held his country in tight control .. Freedom of the Press — wala yan; In fact this most revered founding father of modern Singapore have a disdain on US type of Democracy

    From the Atlantic website
    As a Russian proverb declares, it is better to be healthy, wealthy, and safe than sick, poor, and insecure. Who can disagree? On these criteria, how has Singapore performed over the course of its first five decades versus the United States; or the Philippines (which the U.S. has been tutoring in democracy-building for a century)

  13. Ferdie

    Let’s do what the Indonesian’s did. They Buried Suharto in Solo Indonesia not at Kalibata Heroes Cemetey. Let’s buried MARCOS at Ilocos where he is well loved, like Suharto not at Libingan ng mga bayani. Thank you TIGLAO you just made a very good comparison.

  14. nimrod

    Thank you Mr. Tiglao for publishing this column. ….. …

  15. J.Reyes

    FEM must be buried @ the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Let’s not be like PNoy who is indicative! Let’s be a nation of forgiveness and not of hatred! It was the sign of the Time when FEM ust rule the coubtry with an iron hand. Pinoys must be scared to be obey order. See what’s happening with D30 time. People are scared so they’re following him. Let FEM be buried @ the Libingan.

  16. Naldo

    All these figures and facts presented in the article, is what Filipinos need to see to embody a nationalistic point of view, we have long been led to believe that everything under Marcos and the martial law era was evil, which was an effective narrative during the late 1970’s up to the later part of 1990’s when Filipinos only rely of mainstream media controlled by a few oligarchs and rumormongering elites, both selfish in their personal interest, were the only source of information, thanks to the world wide web some of us Filipinos are able to diligently dig for more reliable information out there that help us to assess and discern the situation or issue more factually.

    Unfortunately though that we can still see and count a few remaining remnants of this old world social demagogue, who wish remain in control and dictate upon the rest of us Filipinos their desires for us to remain their manservants.

    For the country to rise from the ashes of ignorance, the younger generation should and must effectively use this tool to open up their knowledge, to fight against the spread of false information brought about by lobbyist and propagandist.

  17. litocruz

    May I ask Mr. Tiglao if in his view that there is an early attempt to destabilize the Duterte administration as early as this point in time by same forces that plunged our country into deep corruption, drug disease, unimaginable poverty, criminality and all the bad things just to control power again all over the country?

  18. ELY

    Former President Ferdinand E. Marcos is one of the TRUE HEROES of the Philippines not somebody who was killed because of his VERY OWN PERSONAL INTEREST.

    I hope the Supreme Court would decide to allow The Greatest and The most Intelligent President ever had , to be buried in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani …The Philippine Constitution says so.

  19. Ramon

    We will not accomplish anything by allowing the divisive issue of not burying Marcos. I think we should be more concerned about our economic outlook rather than blaming leaders for their shortcomings. When Marcos abdicated in favor of Aquino even though he won the election, he just wanted to unite the country. We should not resort to name calling and character assassination of our past leaders. Let whoever is the President do what he can to advance our country. And let us forget his shortcomings when a new President is elected. But the Aquino is not interest in the unity of the people. They just want to destroy the Marcos legacy because they are a serious threat to their dictatorial ambitions. And they are determined to do this by lies and even by breaking the law.

  20. elfieda g maddara

    May the yellowtards led by the former president and his buddies chew and savor this RDT column. I do feel educated each day I read the Manila Times. Paging the Education Secretary: wouldn’t it make more sense if textbooks and workbooks use REAL stories rather than fiction as tools in teaching English grammar, sentence syntax, reading comprehension, reasoning and logic, etc. In the advent of borderless economy, educating our students from the grade school must pan around the countries nearby. After all, we Filipinos, are descended from the Aetas, Indonesians, Malaysians, so therefore, we are made up of the same stock, How true is it that there was “5k each” involved in that rainy Saturday Luneta rally but only “2k each” reached each recipient? Surely, the yellowtards aren’t bobo not to know contemporary history, but their selfishness bring about soul callousness. That the PDU30 of 16 million Filipinos has chosen to lay the Apo at the LNMB, is by logic, pleasing to our Father in heaven. Vox populi, vox Dei. Do listen, Yellowtards. Do wake up! Aren’t you slumbering too long!

  21. Olan Arellano

    Thanks Mr RD Tiglao for publishing this article of yours.

  22. Migs Doromal

    We have to PURGE all the Yellows in our midst – Gestapo style.

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