What of the Cendana family after Suharto?

Unspun was trying to call an old friend in the wire services tonight and couldn’t get him. When he returned the call the first thing he said was: “Suharto is dying.”All night tonight reporters have been staking out the hospital where Suharto is being treated as news of his faltering condition begans to spread.

This set Unspun thinking about power, the maintenance of power, its mystique and ultimate dissipation.

It has been a decade since Suharto was ousted from power, yet he and his family have remained powerful. No longer in the limelight they nonetheless were, excepting Tommy who was so prominent he had to be put away for a while, almost untouchable.

Seemingly out of power and ill the old man still commanded respect or fear. Some business deals had to have his blessings still or it was a no go.

Now that Suharto is virtually in his deathbed it is interesting to ponder what it was that retained his power even after he had been ousted. Was it the careful use of all those fables richess that he and his family was supposed to have stowed away? Was it the residual mystique of the man? Or did his supporters remained loyal? Or a combination of all these?

Whatever it was his family remained protected. With Suharto’s inevitable passing it is perhaps time to ponder what will happen to them once the old man is gone. Will all the facade of power they have come crumbling down like a pack of cards, or will they still remain influential among Indonesia’s elite?

clipped from news.bbc.co.uk
Suharto ‘suffers organ failure’

Former Indonesian President Suharto (file photo)

Mr Suharto has always denied the allegations against him

Former Indonesian leader Suharto is suffering from multiple organ failure, his medical team says.

He is losing consciousness and having “very bad breathing difficulties”, the Jakarta hospital where he has been since last week said in a statement.

Family members of the 86-year-old have rushed to his bedside, where he remains in a critical condition.

Suharto took power in 1966 and ruled the archipelago with an iron fist for the following three decades.

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2 thoughts on “What of the Cendana family after Suharto?

  1. It’s the $70 billion question, isn’t it? So what will happen? Will the Suharto’s have their day in Court? The only crime bigger than 32 years of extortion and theft would be letting them off the hook because of some misplaced sentiment for a dead president.


  2. Unspun,

    Hmm. I think the power of Cendana as a unified entity is a bit of a myth. There are interests linked to it, yes. People will defend their interests.


    The $70 billion question is not a myth. It’s bullshit. Tell us, please, why, when most of Indonesia’s competent businesspeople, the conglomerates who actually understood finance were bankrupted by the Asian financial crisis, Suharto Inc. wouldn’t lost money as well.

    Four words for you:

    Unhedged US dollar loans.

    Another four words for you:

    Unhedged US dollar loans.

    Currency tanks by 80% against the dollar, wealth disappears. Get it ? Suharto Inc. just like every other enterprise was leveraged to the hilt in the 1997 currency collapse.

    People love the idea of hidden wealth — look at the National Treasure movies. They also love the idea of evil kings. Key device in many stories.

    Reality’s more complicated.


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