Indonesia: The New Order

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At long last, after months of delays and confusion, Indonesia's Sukarno was removed as his country's chief of state. The People's Consultative Congress, Indonesia's highest legislative body, stripped him of his presidential powers and turned them over to General Suhar to, the strongman who already exercised them in fact.

Indonesia reacted with unexpected calm to the fall of Sukarno, who declared Indonesia's independence from The Netherlands in 1945 and has reigned as sole ruler for 22 years. The golden presidential flag no longer flew from his Bogor Palace outside Djakarta, to which Sukarno retired last week to await the return of his Japanese wife Ratna Sari Dewi, 27, from Tokyo, where she recently gave birth to a daughter. Almost overnight, his picture disappeared from government offices. Sukarno will henceforth be referred to only as "Doctor Engineer" Sukarno, in deference to his academic training, will not be allowed to travel inside or outside the country without Suharto's permission.

Foreign Minister Adam Malik explained why Sukarno must move out of the ornate, white Merdeka (Freedom) Palace in Djakarta: "It is like a former government servant staying in a government house." But General Suharto, who does not want to give Sukarno's backers reason to rebel, is in no rush to go too far in punishing him, himself prefers to continue living in his modest one-story house. "Let him keep his ornaments," says Suharto. "What harm does it do?" As he was sworn in as Indonesia's new chief executive last week, Suharto continued that note of reasonableness and compromise: "Winners are we all. Neither group has been defeated in this Congress, nor has one been victorious. It is the people's interest that has won. The winner is the New Order."

Severe Damage. The first task of the New Order is to clean up the incredible economic mess that Sukarno has made of Indonesia. As a Dutch colony before World War II, Indonesia supplied one-fifth of the world's tea, one-third of its rubber and palm oil, two-fifths of its kapok and four-fifths of its pepper. Scattered throughout Indonesia's 3,000 verdant islands are rich mineral deposits —gold, tin, bauxite, tungsten—and oil reserves. "Indonesia is rich in natural resources," says Suharto, "but the damage done to our country's economy has been severe."

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