Indonesia: Attempt No. 5

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Like Gilbert & Sullivan's John Wellington (The Sorcerer) Wells, Indonesia's President Sukarno is a believer In magic and spells, In blessings and curses And ever-filled purses, In prophecies, witches, and knells.

At a Djakarta diplomatic reception last year, Bung Karno (meaning Brother Karno) showed up in a beautifully tailored white uniform—barefoot. As he padded around the terraces and lawns, Sukarno explained that an electric storm was brewing and "I want to build up my energy. I absorb electric impulses from the ground." Some time ago, Bung was told by his dukun (medicine man and soothsayer) that his life would be in no danger so long as he avoided contact with steel. Sukarno thus decided against the kidney surgery advised by his medical specialists, instead relied for a cure on a team of Chinese herbalists and acupuncturists (practition ers who pierce the bodies of their patients with long silver needles, to relieve pain).

Last week the dukun's stock as a prophet rose even higher with Sukarno. At a prayer meeting in the presidential palace grounds, a Moslem fanatic suddenly rose from the assembled crowd, shouted "Allah is great!", and produced a pistol (steel, of course). He blazed away at the kneeling Sukarno, missed him, but wounded five persons around him. The Indonesians tried to implicate the Dutch in this fifth attempt on Sukarno's life in five years by declaring that the assassin's pistol was "Dutch made." But the ploy was as trans parent as the halfhearted invasion of Netherlands New Guinea last week, in which 40 Indonesian paratroopers dropped into the Dutch colony and were routed by the defenders. Only purpose of the "invasion" seemed to be to keep the Indonesians' minds inflamed against the Dutch—and off their economic troubles at home.

As for the murder attempt, it was organized by the fanatically anti-Sukarno Darul Islam sect, which promised that Bung would need all the good luck his magicians could bring him to avoid assassination in the future. Said one Darul Islam spokesman: "He is a stumbling block to progress, a symbol of failure."