News / Asia

Golkar Tries to Rehabilitate Suharto Legacy in Indonesia

FILE - Indonesian President candidate from Golkar Party Aburizal Bakrie gestures during an interview in Jakarta, Dec. 12, 2013.
FILE - Indonesian President candidate from Golkar Party Aburizal Bakrie gestures during an interview in Jakarta, Dec. 12, 2013.
Andy Lala
— More than 15 years after being forced from power, Indonesia's Golkar party is trying to rehabilitate the legacy of former dictator Suharto.

As part of the party's campaign for upcoming parliamentary elections, Golkar Chairman Aburizal Bakrie on Wednesday alluded to the success of the former president in leading Indonesia for more than three decades.

"The Golkar party is the only party that once led Indonesia for 32 years. There is no other party that has experience like the Golkar party in leading the country, for 32 years. We know that for 32 years, under the leadership of President Suharto, founder of the Golkar party, who said that Indonesia has to be prosperous," said the chairman.

He said the Golkar party proved it was able to improve the life and livelihood of the Indonesian people during the rule of Suharto.

Former activist Hendrick Dickson Sirait, who was imprisoned during the Suharto regime, told VOA the "re-promotion" of the former president has been tried before and failed.

"This is evidence of Golkar's over-confidence, excessive self-confidence, that people would think backward, longing for the glory of New Order-style development ideology that put an emphasis on economic development and political stability. What in the eyes of the New Order government is thought to be political stability is actually anti-democracy that led to crimes against humanity," he said.

Suharto, who died in 2008 after being forced from power a decade earlier, was frequently accused of human rights abuses against his own people.

(This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Indonesian service.)

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