Accepting Soeharto's demise wholeheartedly

Blontank Poer, The Jakarta Post, Surakarta

To have been branded a communist was without doubt painful during Soeharto's reign. Socializing with neighbors became not an easy matter; finding employment virtually impossible.

"It's really painful being ostracized by society," Sipon, the widow of poet Wiji Tukul told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

Along with time, she has tried to erase the pain by not thinking about that past.

Not only being cast out, her husband was abducted by security forces in 1997 following a political riot, when the Indonesian Democratic Party headquarters was attacked on July 27, 1996.

Tukul was an activist of the People's Cultural Network (Jaker), an organization affiliated with the People's Democratic Party (PRD).

Although Sipon is a direct victim of Soeharto's authoritarian policy, she said she holds no grudges against the New Order autocrat.

"If it's the right time to be summoned by God, accept it wholeheartedly," Sipon said.

"I can only wish him a speedy recovery."

With regard to the violations against human rights committed by Soeharto, she said she will wait for the enforcement of the law.

"As a victimized family, I have given my testimony," she said.

"It's up to them. Who sows would surely reap."

But resident Winarso, 47, said he demands a probe into human rights violations committed by Soeharto during his 32-year rule.

"Soeharto is responsible for corruption and murdering innocent people, from the abortive coup in 1965 to the Trisakti incident," Winarso said.

Together with some 20 Surakartans, grouped under the People's Alliance for a Prosperous People (AMUK), Winarso staged a rally at the Surakarta Prosecutor's Office on Tuesday.

A close neighbor of the Soehartos in Kalitan near the Central Java city of Surakarta who wished to remain anonymous said he no longer cared about Soeharto's condition.

"Whether he recovers or dies, let he and his family experience the feeling," said the 41-year-old man.

"He has his good sides, even though he also has historical sins."

A different note came from Narti, 39, a T-shirt and souvenir seller at the Astana Giribangun burial site, who wished Soeharto a quick recovery.

"Pak Harto is a nice person. Each time he visits he always greets us," she said.

Narti said she was concerned over Soeharto's ill health and his long-term fate, which she referred to as being "tortured" by the public.

"Since he was ousted, the burial site often lacks visitors," she said.

A fall in visitor numbers, according to Narti, has impacted her family's earnings.

"Previously, I could earn a profit of at least Rp 50,000 daily," she said.

But Narti said Monday she was only able to sell two T-shirts for a profit of Rp 7,500.

From the inner circles of Dalem Kalitan, Soeharto's family residence in Surakarta, caretakers of the Nurul Iman Mosque said they hoped Soeharto could recover from his illnesses.

"However, if God wants to call Pak Harto soon, may he can go in peace and everything will end well," KH Muhammad Washim said.

Chandra, 36, an Indonesian-Chinese resident who lives in Kampong Balong, Sudiroprajan subdistrict in Surakarta, said she wished him well and a speedy recovery.

"He's always in my heart," Chandra said.

I don't hate him, but I also don't admire him.

However, each time I hear that Pak Harto is ill, I always feel strange," she said.


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