Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Suharto, Wahid and Megawati

Fergus, Carmen and I were meeting for an evening drink at the Gamesman’s Bar, a haunt of expats who like to play pool, watch football and baseball on small TV screens, and eat chips. It wasn’t really my sort of place, but Fergus and Carmen liked it because their squash-playing friends frequented the place.

"The army seems to be causing Suharto some worries," said Carmen with a giggle. She had been reading about President Suharto in the bar’s copy of The Jakarta Post.

"How so?" asked Fergus, as he put down his rum and coke and adjusted his dark glasses.

"You’ve heard of Wahid?" said Carmen.

"The moderate Moslem cleric who runs the biggest Moslem group," I volunteered.

"Suharto sees Wahid as a rival," said Carmen, "but certain generals, such as Sudrajat, are said to be sympathetic to Wahid."

"But Wahid is a Moslem figure and Sudrajat is a nationalist," I said.

"Sudrajat does not want the right wing Moslem faction to gain in power," explained Carmen, "and Wahid is very liberal and moderate."

"What about Megawati?" asked Fergus, referring to the daughter of Indonesia’s first president, Sukarno.

"It’s interesting that she was able to become leader of the PDI party," I commented.

"Now there’s the thing," said Carmen gleefully. "Suharto fears Megawati, but certain generals seemingly helped her take over the PDI."

"Which generals?" I asked.

"Gumelar and Hendropriyono," said Carmen.

"Are you sure?" asked Fergus. "Why would generals want to back Megawati? Isn’t she a radical?"

"If some generals are backing Megawati," said Carmen, "they must reckon she’s sympathetic to the army! And Megawati is a nationalist."

"They say that in the army there’s a Green Faction," said Fergus. "They want to promote Moslems rather than Christians. And there’s a Red and White Faction that’s nationalist and secular."

"Suharto seems to be having problems with the Red and White lot," said Carmen, looking serious. "Things could get difficult if the army becomes seriously divided."