Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008

Suharto, 1921-2008

Known as the "smiling general," Suharto (single name, like many of his countrymen) served as President of Indonesia for 32 years, one of the longest uninterrupted reigns of power in modern history. He used Western economic principles to turn his nation from poor to prosperous. But he swept into power under a wave of violence, was alleged to be shockingly corrupt (which he denied) and ruled with a heavy hand. He was forced out of office in 1998 in the wake of the Asian financial crisis, and he died in Jakarta, leaving a mixed legacy of increased wealth and long repression.

Gilbert Cruz