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Report Names Suharto as Most Corrupt Politician - 2004-03-26


A group that monitors global corruption has ranked the top most corrupt politicians from the last two decades. Transparency International puts Indonesia's former President Suharto in the lead, for stealing up to $35 billion from his countrymen, followed by the late Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, was third.

In its report, Transparency International says corruption undermines prosperity and stability in developing countries. Nowhere is that more clear than in Indonesia.

It is a country with abundant natural resources: oil, gold, copper and timber to name a few - and an educated population. But almost six years after President Suharto was thrown out of office, the country still ranks near the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index.

Of the top 10 embezzlers listed by Transparency International, who together stole somewhere between $24 and $58 billion, not one has been punished for corruption.

Both Indonesia and the Philippines will hold elections in the next few weeks, and some candidates are using their affiliations with politicians on the Transparency International list to further their campaigns.

Mr. Suharto's daughter, Siti Hardijanti Rukmana, is running her own party and has rechristened herself as "sister Tutut." Her campaign advertisements use pictures of her father.

In the Philippines, the backers of Fernando Poe Jr., who is seen as the only serious challenger to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, are to a large extent the same people who backed President Marcos.