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The New Democracy


Megawati needs to reestablish international confidence that Indonesia is a secure and stable country. She has begun by promising to end corruption and strengthen the legal system. "We have no choice but to eliminate the culture of corruption, collusion, and nepotism that existed under Suharto," Megawati told her nation on March 17, 2002. "I'm determined to end all this. Lack of obedience to laws has led the country to the brink of destruction by allowing people in high positions to hinder trials or manipulate evidence as if they are untouchable by law."

She was probably referring to the case against former President Suharto. After he resigned from the presidency, he was indicted for stealing between $500 million and $15 billion while in power, but the case was thrown out of court last year on the pretext that the aging dictator was too ill to stand trial.

Megawati's determination to strengthen the rule of law is being tested in two new criminal cases now under investigation.

The first is the trial of Tommy Suharto, the son of the former president, who has been charged with ordering the murder of a Supreme Court judge who had previously sentenced him to 18 months in prison for corruption. The second case involves Akbar Tanjung, the former Speaker of Parliament and the leader of Indonesia's second largest political party, who stands accused of stealing $8 million in state funds.

If either man is successfully prosecuted, it will be seen as a bold and determined step for Megawati and her ability to reform her deeply troubled country.

Sources:

Delay, Rob. "Indonesian Court Says Suharto Is Too Sick for Trial." BLOOMBERG NEWS, March 8, 2002.

Desker, Berry and Kumar Ramakrishna. "Beyond Afghanistan, Part II." THE WASHINGTON QUARTERLY, Spring 2002.

Elegant, Simon. "Indonesia's Dirty Little War." TIME Magazine, December 17, 2001.

Kotarumalos, Ali. "Indonesia's President Vows to Eradicate Corruption." AP WORLDWIDE, March 17, 2002.

Moreau, Ron. "Indonesia v. Suharto." NEWSWEEK, September 11, 2000.

Shari, Michael. "Jakarta Crackdown." BUSINESS WEEK, March 25, 2002.

U.S. Department of State. "Indonesia Country Report on Human Rights Practices, 2001." Released March 4, 2002.


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Photo of the smiling face of Indonesian president, Megawati Sukarnoputri.

The smiling face of Indonesian president, Megawati Sukarnoputri.
"The first is the trial of Tommy Suharto, the son of the former president, who has been charged with ordering the murder of a Supreme Court judge who had previously sentenced him to 18 months in prison for corruption."

Photo of a mountain
Photo of Indonesia's Muslims engaged in daily prayer and prostrations

Indonesia's Muslims -- a large majority of the population -- engage in daily prayer and prostrations.

© 2002 Educational Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.


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