Senin, 25 Oktober 2010

POLEMICS ON HERO STATUS FOR SOEHARTO DRAG ON By Fardah

       Jakarta, Oct 25, 2010 (ANTARA) - A public controversy on the nomination of former president Soeharto for national hero status has been heating up over the past one month.
      As pros and cons have continued to drag on, Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf Al-Jufri recently explained that proposals to award the national hero title to certain people had not come from the government but from the people.

       And on Sunday (Oct 24), Hatta Rajasa, chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN), felt obliged to remind the public to concentrate on the national development rather than on the nomination of Soeharto for national hero status.
       "I think we should fully concentrate on the current development and make it a priority. So, the pros and cons on the hero title for Soeharto should not be continued," he said.
       Minister Salim Segaf Al-Jufri said recently that his ministry had already selected 10 names from among many more proposed by the people for recognition as national hero, and submitted them to the Council of Titles, Decorations and Orders of Merit.
       The ten names are Ali Sadikin (former Jakarta Governor, from West Java), Habib Sayid Al Jufrie (from Central Sulawesi), HM Soeharto (former president, from Central Java), Abdurrahman Wahid (from East Java), Andi Depu (from West Sulawesi), Johanes Leimena (from Maluku), Abraham Dimara (from Papua), Andi Makkasau (from South Sulawesi), Pakubuwono X (from Central Java), and Sanusi (from West Java).

Among those oppossing Soeharto`s nomination is the chairman of the People`s Consultative Assembly (MPR), Taufiq Kiemas, who was of the opinion that Soeharto does not deserve the national hero title.

"A president should not be given national hero status, because he/she (president) is much more than a national hero. He is the one who gives the title, should one be given. Principally and personally, the president does not need nor get national hero status," Taufiq Kiemas said at the Parliament building in Jakarta Monday.

He said giving national hero status to Soeharto would trigger endless polemics.

"It`s up to President Yudhoyono now. I think nobody is innocent. There are good people, and not so good people as well. We should not continue the polemics on the national hero issue, it`s an old issue," he said.

In Aceh Province, tens of mass organizations , have sent a letter to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, opposing the nomination of Soeharto for national hero status.

The letter of objection was signed in Banda Aceh, Monday, at a ceremony attended by among others activists of the 1998 movement of university students, and Ghazali Abbas Adan, a former legislator.

"We, from civilian component, object to the plan to give a national hero title to Soeharto, because he does not deserve it," Rahmat Djailani, former university activist, said.

Soeharto had made no achievement during his 32-year administration, instead he had committed so many humanitarian crimes, especially afterng Aceh was declared a military operation zone (DOM), he said.

"Many innocent people become victims of DOM, and up to now they are still demanding justice," he said.

Hendra Fadli, Kontras Aceh coordinator, said Aceh`s civil society could never forget what Seoharto had done during his rule. His policies had ruined the justice and legal order in Aceh, particularly by launching military operations 1989-1998 in Indonesia`s westernmost province.

He said hundreds of people were killed, hundreds of others went missing , some had been tortured and a number of houses were burned fown during the operations.

Ghazali Abbas Adan supported the groups` objections.

"I hope President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will pay attention to the Aceh people`s request for justice by not giving a national hero title to Soeharto," the former MP said.

Those supporting Seoharto`s nomination include Pinantun Hutasoit, a senior Golkar member. Golkar Pary was the ruling party during Seoharto`s administration.

The Golkar politician has urged the public to be honest in judging former president Soeharto in relation with his nomination for official recognition as a national hero.

"There is no need for the people to be torn by pro and con arguments. We just need to be honest about the facts, about whether Seoharto had brought progress for the Indonesian people or not," Pinantun Hutasoit, said recently.

He said under Soeharto`s administration , the country had made progress in the agricultural sector and managed to become self-reliance in rice, a fact that was also recognized by the United Nations.

Soeharto had also developed the country`s communication system by acquiring the Palapa satellite, multiplied school buildings by issuing a presidential-instruction to that effect, built more houses of warship, brought electricity to rural areas and stabilized national security.

"We should not look only at the negative aspects of his government but also at the positive ones. It`s hypocritical to reject his nomination for the national hero title because such an attitude is not comprehensive and unfair," he said.

Former Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Chief Hasyim Muzadi was among the first to support Soeharto.

"He deserves to be named a national hero although he was not free of mistakes. Every era has its outstanding figure, and every such figure was meritorious in a particular era," Hasyim, currently secretary general of the International Conference of Islamic Scholars (ICIS), said recently.

Soeharto`s services to the nation could not be judged based on the values or norms prevailing in Indonesia today, he said.

An academic at Kupang-based University of Nusa Cendana has also expressed his support for proposals to name Soeharto a national hero.

Former president Soeharto had made significant contributions to the nation and the state, Prof. Dr. Alo Liliweri, the university`s communication science dean, said in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, Monday (Oct 25).

"If we talk about whether he deserves it or not, I believe that Seoharto deserves the national hero status," Prof. Liliweri said.

The problems occurring at the end of his administration were the consequence of legal and democratic principles, he said.

"In principle, we have witnessed that during the 32-year Seoharto rule, he had done so many things for the nation. Of course, as a human being he had shortcomings and weaknesses, but his services must be recognized," he said.

In a historical context, Seoharto deserved the hero status because he had made significant contributions to national development, Alo Liliweri said.

Meanwhile, Suhartono, a history professor at Yogyakarta-based Gajah Mada University (UGM), suggested that the nomination should be postponed as today is not the right time.

"With these considerations, I think, it is not the right time now for Soeharto to be given the national hero`s title. The government can still do it later when there is no more rejection by elements in society," Suhartono said.

"A more appropriate time to grant national hero status to Soeharto will be toward the end of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono`s term because then Yudhoyono can no longer be bothered by opposition from anti-corruption and human rights activists," Suhartono said. ***1***

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(T.F001/A/F001/F001) 25-10-2010 16:30:00

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