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Long live the will of the peopl
- Subject: Long live the will of the peopl
- From: suriya@xxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Mon, 25 May 1998 07:25:00
Bangkok Post May 24, 1998
Long live the will
of the people
Interesting changes have been taking place at high levels in two
Asean countries. In Indonesia, strong protests by student and
activist groups have forced Pres ident Suharto to give up the
power he had held for almost 32 years.
Students are the future of a coun try. Young and educated, they
will grow up to be the major force in society.
They hold the future of a country in their hands. In practically
every country with quasi-dictatorial rule, students or youth are
usually the major force that eventually brings about radical
In Thailand, the long-ruling dicta tors were forced to step down
when the students took to the streets dur ing the October 14,
1973, incident. And the last thread of dictatorship by the
National Peace-Keeping Council was cut when students and
people alike demonstrated in the streets during the Bloody May
incident of 1992.
Suharto has been in power far too long. Throughout his reign, he
has ruled like an emperor - a dictator in a democratic society -
whom no body can challenge. Indonesians have never enjoyed
more freedom than he would allow. Human rights violations were
rampant and apparent to the eyes of the whole world.
Nonetheless, the outside world was unable to do anything as
human rights have a border in Indonesia in spite of the presence
of the National Human Rights Committee there. Some have
commented that the body is simply a paper tiger and is not
allowed to protect human rights effectively.
A clear example is news of rampant human rights violations in
East Timor, which has spread all over the world. Freedom of the
press has also been curbed in Indonesia. There are no such
things as independent newspapers, radio or TV stations.
Economically, the Suharto family is monopolising the country's
enor mous wealth. His wife and children all own lucrative
businesses and operate concessions. It is not an over statement
to say that their corporate network covers practically every
business in the country.
During my recent trip to Sumatra and Jakarta, I booked and
confirmed a seat on an Indonesian airline which was scheduled
to leave in the evening. In the morning of that day, I went to
collect my ticket but was told that no seat was available. My
travel agency and I insisted that we had made proper
reservations and confirmed them. The employee simply told us
that no seat was available and that if we really needed to fly that
day, we would have to use an other airline. Finally, we gave up
and took the advice.
I learned later that the airline be longed to one of the president's
sons. When I visited a fantastic bird park in Jakarta, I was told
that it belongs to the first lady.
Dictators always give higher priority to their interests than the
interests of the nation or their people. Long-running corruption
and ruling has turned the once-wealthy Indonesia into a poor
country. Another country which is seeing a change in leadership
is the Philip pines. However, the change that may bring Vice
President Joseph Estrada to the top post is democratic. Instead
of tanks and guns, it is the people who will send him to the
presidency. A leader that comes from the will of the people is
much more elegant than a dictator.
The changes that are undergoing in both countries are two
completely different lessons to learn from. In one, it is
commendable while in the other it is disgusting.
Long live the will of the people.
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Last Modified: Sun, May 24, 1998