The final and binding ruling by the Supreme Court against the Supersemar Foundation led by former president Suharto is historic and crucial because it is the first legal decision against the former dictator and serve as a legal justification of how corrupt the regime he led was.
The foundation under Suharto’s decree received part of state-owned banks’ profits since 1976 until he was unseated in 1998. We can only imagine how much money the foundation collected during the period. The money was supposed to help poor families with scholarship. Instead, the money, went to his cronies and families.
While the Rp 4.4 trillion ($323 million) fine ordered by the court to the foundation seems peanuts, it carried another more crucial ruling. Suharto, who had been untouchable until he died and remained so up to this court decision, was declared guilty of misusing the state’s money allocated to the foundation.
So, the ruling can become an entry point for the state to go after other corruptions done by the general and his cronies while unveiling misconducts and crimes the regime committed during its 32-year reign.
For now, it’s his foundation. But with a little bit of more courage, the state can move forward to directly charge the former strongman for other power abuses and extrajudicial killings.
It’s time for the truth and break the myth of placing Suharto as a hero. He has damaged the nation almost beyond repair.
His regime has created an embedded corrupt behavior, collusion and cronyism, producing a nation without critical thinking and creativity. He is also responsible for making a corrupt and lazy bureaucracy and in general a high-cost economy full of rent-seeking businesses.
It’s safe to say that every bad thing we have now is just a legacy from the regime.
Indonesia will not be able to move forward unless it can gradually release itself from the legacies of the darkest period of the nation’s history. Jakarta Globe editorial