Magazine article Newsweek

Always the Best Revenge

Magazine article Newsweek

Always the Best Revenge

Article excerpt

Suharto's very rich clan will still live well

SUHARTO LOVES HIS COUNTRY, BUT HE LOVES HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS EVEN more. During his 32-year rule, his kids and cronies enriched themselves on a scale that seems grossly excessive, even for Asian despots. Subsidies, monopolies and sweetheart deals brought the Suharto family fortune to an estimated $30 billion or more. Son Bambang has a hand in automobile manufacturing, newspapers, television and radio, petrochemicals and natural gas, and he owns a piece of Jakarta's Grand Hyatt hotel. Suharto's half-brother, Sudwikatmono, holds a monopoly on movie imports and theater chains. Protecting the family's gains, ill-gotten or otherwise, was very much in Suharto's mind as he negotiated his departure from office, Minutes after he quit, Army commander Wiranto announced; "The military will protect Suharto and his family."

Suharto, Inc., began to show some cracks last year. Indonesia's currency collapse and, later, the International Monetary Fund's bailout plan put an end to some of the worst abuses. The oldest of Suharto's three daughters, nicknamed Tutut, lost her energy project. The youngest of three Suharto sons, known as Tommy, lost his clove monopoly and special tax breaks for his own automotive project. Then the Jakarta riots hit home. Looters trashed and burned Tommy's warehouses. They also gutted bank branches and a house belonging to Suharto's closest ethnic Chinese associate, Liem Sioe Liong, leaving behind some angry graffiti that read: THE SMALL PEOPLE HAVE SUFFERED. …

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