New Order (Indonesia)
The New Order is the term coined by former Indonesian President Suharto to characterize his regime as he came to power in 1966. Suharto used this term to contrast his rule with that of his predecessor, Sukarno
Sukarno, born Kusno Sosrodihardjo was the first President of Indonesia.Sukarno was the leader of his country's struggle for independence from the Netherlands and was Indonesia's first President from 1945 to 1967...

 (dubbed the "Old Order," or Orde Lama). The term "New Order" in more recent times has become synonymous with the Suharto years (1965–1998).

Immediately following the attempted coup
30 September Movement
The Thirtieth of September Movement ) was a self-proclaimed organization of Indonesian National Armed Forces members who, in the early hours of 1 October 1965, assassinated six Indonesian Army generals in an abortive coup d'état. Later that morning, the organization declared that it was in control...

 in 1965, the political situation was uncertain, but the Suharto's New Order found much popular support from groups wanting a separation from Indonesia's problems since its independence. The 'generation of 66' (angkatan 66) epitomised talk of a new group of young leaders and new intellectual thought. Following Indonesia's communal and political conflicts, and its economic collapse and social breakdown of the late 1950s through to the mid-1960s, the "New Order" was committed to achieving and maintaining political order, economic development, and the removal of mass participation in the political process. The features of the "New Order" established from the late 1960s were thus a strong political role for the military, the bureaucratization and corporatization of political and societal organizations, and selective but effective repression of opponents. Strident anti-communism
Anti-communism is opposition to communism. Organized anti-communism developed in reaction to the rise of communism, especially after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia and the beginning of the Cold War in 1947.-Objections to communist theory:...

 remained a hallmark of the regime for its subsequent 32-years.

Within a few years, however, many of its original allies had become indifferent or averse to the New Order, which comprised a military faction supported by a narrow civilian group. Among much of the pro-democracy movement which forced Suharto to resign in the Indonesian 1998 Revolution and then gained power, the term "New Order" has come to be used pejoratively. It is frequently employed by them to describe figures who were either tied to the Suharto period, or who upheld practices of his authoritarian regime, such as corruption
Political corruption
Political corruption is the use of legislated powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain. Misuse of government power for other purposes, such as repression of political opponents and general police brutality, is not considered political corruption. Neither are illegal acts by...

, collusion
Collusion is an agreement between two or more persons, sometimes illegal and therefore secretive, to limit open competition by deceiving, misleading, or defrauding others of their legal rights, or to obtain an objective forbidden by law typically by defrauding or gaining an unfair advantage...

 and nepotism
Nepotism is favoritism granted to relatives regardless of merit. The word nepotism is from the Latin word nepos, nepotis , from which modern Romanian nepot and Italian nipote, "nephew" or "grandchild" are also descended....

 (widely known by the acronym KKN: korupsi, kolusi, nepotisme).


As the leader of the Indonesian Nationalists at time of its victory over the colonial Dutch, President Sukarno held immense moral power over the Indonesian public. This eventually translated into great political powers as well, as Sukarno became increasingly autocratic throughout the timespan of his rule.

Discontent with Sukarno

In global politics, Sukarno would embrace rhetoric denouncing the imperialism of Western capitalists, eventually nationalising many sectors of the economy. He would foster alliances with the Soviet Bloc, the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, as well as emerging post-colonial nations. Domestically, this translated to an alliance between Sukarno's Nationalists and the Communist Party of Indonesia.

This produced a number of enemies to the Sukarno regime, both foreign and domestic. These enemies included a substantial, right-wing oriented portion of the Indonesian army, with whom the United States would cultivate ties through military education and equipment sales. Among those in this right-wing camp included Suharto, an officer in the Indonesian Army dating to the time of independence.

When Sukarno cut ties with the United States, including shipments of food (famously telling U.S. officials "To hell with your aid!"), he was forced to adopt rationing measures amidst famine conditions. Taking advantage of this, Suharto and the right-wing camp of the military created elaborate smuggling networks. These networks would eventually create a separate form of government out of its regional command structure, down to the village level. When his role in the scheme was discovered, Suharto would be reassigned to a job at the military college in Jakarta
Jakarta is the capital and largest city of Indonesia. Officially known as the Special Capital Territory of Jakarta, it is located on the northwest coast of Java, has an area of , and a population of 9,580,000. Jakarta is the country's economic, cultural and political centre...

. Disrupted momentarily, this regional command structure (including its corrupt and militaristic aspects) would be revived when Suharto took power.

Overthrow of Sukarno

On September 30, 1965, six generals were killed by guards of Sukarno, a group calling themselves the 30 September Movement
30 September Movement
The Thirtieth of September Movement ) was a self-proclaimed organization of Indonesian National Armed Forces members who, in the early hours of 1 October 1965, assassinated six Indonesian Army generals in an abortive coup d'état. Later that morning, the organization declared that it was in control...

. The guards alleged a right-wing plot to kill the president. General Suharto led the army as field general in its retaliation against the alleged perpetrators, the Communist Party of Indonesia
Communist Party of Indonesia
The Communist Party of Indonesia was the largest non-ruling communist party in the world prior to being crushed in 1965 and banned the following year.-Forerunners:...

 (PKI). The violent anti-communist purge
Indonesian killings of 1965–66
The Indonesian killings of 1965–1966 were an anti-communist purge following a failed coup in Indonesia. The most widely accepted estimates are that over half a million people were killed...

 led by Suharto, and aided and abetted by the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, resulted in the deaths of an estimated 500,000 people.

Beginnings of the New Order

After being promoted, Suharto was assigned emergency powers on March 11, 1966 through a presidential decree by Sukarno known as the Supersemar
The Supersemar, the Indonesian abbreviation for Surat Perintah Sebelas Maret was a document signed by the Indonesian President Sukarno on March 11, 1966, giving the Army commander Lt. Gen. Suharto authority to take whatever measures he "deemed necessary" to restore order to the chaotic situation...

. He would then go on to become president in 1967. Suharto would proclaim the New Order, a system of authoritarian rule to reconstruct the country.

Political imprisonment

Under the New Order, surviving members of the Communist Party of Indonesia, as well as those considered sympathizers or fellow travelers, were branded "political detainees" (Indonesian: tahanan politik) commonly appreviated "tapol". During and after the civil war, tapols were often given harsh prison sentences without trial, and their property was either seized or destroyed.

Tapols often served sentences including internal exile to penal colonies
Penal colony
A penal colony is a settlement used to exile prisoners and separate them from the general populace by placing them in a remote location, often an island or distant colonial territory...

 on desolated islands within the Indonesian archipelago. These included the Buru
Buru is the third largest island within Maluku Islands of Malay Archipelago. It lies between the Banda Sea to the south and Seram Sea to the north, west of Ambon and Seram islands. The island belongs to Maluku province of Indonesia and includes the Buru and South Buru regencies...

 island in the Maluku Islands
Maluku Islands
The Maluku Islands are an archipelago that is part of Indonesia, and part of the larger Maritime Southeast Asia region. Tectonically they are located on the Halmahera Plate within the Molucca Sea Collision Zone...

. Among its more famous prisoners included author and PEN Freedom to Write winner Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Pramoedya Ananta Toer
Pramoedya Ananta Toer was an Indonesian author of novels, short stories, essays, polemic and histories of his homeland and its people...

, who was imprisoned there for alleged membership in a Communist Party literary group, LEKRA. In a book of memoirs (The Mute's Soliloquy), Pramoedya made detailed allegations of forced labour, starvation, torture and other abuses within the colony. ("Tapol Troubles" 1999)

Though the New Order released virtually all surviving tapols by 1979, they continued to be social outcasts afterward. All tapols were required to carry an ID card, stamped "ET" for ex-tapol, and have these ID cards renewed every three years. Many, including Pramoedya, lived under virtual house arrest into the 1990s. Spouses, children, and relatives of tapols have often carried a stigma of guilt by association
Guilt by Association
Guilt by Association can refer to:* Association fallacy - sometimes called "guilt by association".* Guilt by Association Vol. 1 - album by Engine Room Recordings.* Guilt by Association Vol. 2 - album by Engine Room Recordings....

 and commonly face discrimination. Elderly tapols have in more recent times sued to win back their right to vote, and for compensation for their losses.

Anti-Chinese laws

While resentment toward the Chinese Indonesians by Austronesian
Austronesian people
The Austronesian-speaking peoples are various populations in Oceania and Southeast Asia that speak languages of the Austronesian family. They include Taiwanese aborigines; the majority ethnic groups of East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, Madagascar, Micronesia, and Polynesia,...

 descended peoples of the archipelago dated back to the Dutch East Indies era, persisting through the Post-Independence era, the events surrounding the 30 September Movement unleashed both widescale violence and a new tide of anti-Chinese legislation throughout the archipelago. Stereotypes of the Chinese as disproportionately affluent and greedy were common throughout the time (both in Indonesia as well as Malaysia), but with the anti-Communist hysteria, the association of the Chinese Indonesians with the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 caused them to also be viewed as a communist fifth column
Fifth column
A fifth column is a group of people who clandestinely undermine a larger group such as a nation from within.-Origin:The term originated with a 1936 radio address by Emilio Mola, a Nationalist General during the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War...


As a result of this hysteria, Indonesia's hitherto friendly diplomatic relations with mainland China were severed and the Chinese Embassy in Jakarta burnt down by a mob. Several anti-Chinese laws were passed to curtail Chinese culture and civil rights
Discrimination against Chinese Indonesians
Discrimination against people of Chinese descent in Indonesia has been recorded since at least 1740, when the Dutch Colonial Government killed up to 10,000 people of Chinese descent during the Chinezenmoord. In the period since then, discrimination and violence have been recorded both foreign and...

, including laws mandating closure of Chinese language
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

 schools, adoption of "Indonesian" sounding names, and severe limits on Buddhist temple construction. The lasting effects of these laws and anti-Chinese sentiment fostered by the Suharto regime was demonstrated in the organization of anti-Chinese pogroms in 1998.

Political system

The liquidatation and banning of the Communist Party eliminated one of the largest political parties in Indonesia. Along with the subsequent efforts by Suharto to wrest power from Sukarno by purging loyalists from the parliament, civilian government in Indonesia was effectively put to an end by the civil war.

Strident anti-communism remained a hallmark of the regime for its subsequent 32-years.

The new regime that emerged from the upheavals of the 1960s was dedicated to maintaining political order, promoting economic development, and excluding mass participation from the political process. The military was given a strong role in politics, political and social organisations throughout the country were bureaucratised and corporatised, and a selective but effective and sometimes brutal repression was used against opponents of the regime.

A number of seats in the Parliament were set-aside for the military under as part of the dwifungsi
Dwifungsi was a doctrine implemented by Suharto's military-dominated "New Order" government in Indonesia following the removal of President Sukarno...

(dual function) doctrine. Under the system, the military took roles as administrators in all levels of government. The political parties not banned outright were consolidated into a single party, the Party of the Functional Groups (Indonesian: Partai Golongan Karya), more commonly known as Golkar
The Party of the Functional Groups is a political party in Indonesia. It is also known as Sekber Golkar . It was the ruling party during Suharto's regime...

. Though Suharto would allow for the formation of two non-Golkar parties, these were kept weak during his regime.

Rise of Islamism

The purging of two secularist parties, the Nationalists and the Communists, had a notable side effect of having given greater space for the development of Islamism
Islamism also , lit., "Political Islam" is set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system. Islamism is a controversial term, and definitions of it sometimes vary...

 in Indonesia. This included liberal, conservative, and extremist groups practicing Islam in Indonesia
Islam in Indonesia
Islam is the dominant religion in Indonesia, which also has a larger Muslim population than any other country in the world, with approximately 202.9 million identified as Muslim as of 2009....

. It is widely believed by observers of Indonesian history and politics that Suharto's forces whipped up anti-Communist sentiment in part by exploiting conservative Muslims' fears of "godless" Communism to instigate a jihad
Jihad , an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād translates as a noun meaning "struggle". Jihad appears 41 times in the Quran and frequently in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of God ". A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid; the plural is...

 against them during the civil war.

As for more mainstream groups, conservative Islamic groups (called the "Central Axis") became a prop of the regime for some time after the civil war. Liberal Islamic groups, on the other hand, are believed to have defected during the wave of protests before the Indonesian Revolution of 1998
Indonesian Revolution of 1998
Suharto retired as president of Indonesia in May 1998 following the collapse of support for his three-decade long presidency. The resignation followed severe economic and political crises in the previous 6 to 12 months. BJ Habibie continued at least a year of his remaining presidential years,...


Improved ties with the West

The change in regime from Sukarno to Suharto, though brutal, brought a shift in policy that allowed for USAID and other relief agencies to operate within the country. Suharto would open Indonesia's economy by divesting state owned companies, and Western nations in particular were encouraged to invest and take control of many of the mining and construction interests in Indonesia. The result was the alleviation of absolute poverty and famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

 conditions due to shortfalls in rice supply and Sukarno's reluctance to take Western aid, and stabilisation of the economy.

As a result of his victory in the civil war, Suharto would come to be seen as a pro-Western and anti-Communist strongman
Strongman (politics)
A strongman is a political leader who rules by force and runs an authoritarian regime. The term is often used interchangeably with "dictator," but differs from a "warlord".A strongman is not necessarily always a formal head of government, however...

 regime, similar to that of Augusto Pinochet
Augusto Pinochet
Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte, more commonly known as Augusto Pinochet , was a Chilean army general and dictator who assumed power in a coup d'état on 11 September 1973...

. An ongoing military and diplomatic relationship between the Indonesia and the Western powers was cemented, leading to American, British, and Australian military, diplomatic, and economic support.

Relations with the U.S. Government

Historically, the United States has been a leading supporter of the Indonesian military. The United States provided over $1,118,000,000 worth of weaponry to Indonesia between 1975 and 1995. The U.S. also provided some for of security assistance virtually every year between 1950 and 1999, including $388 million in grants and loans to pay for U.S. arms.

The U.S. government also provided training under the International Military Education and Training
International Military Education and Training
International Military Education and Training is the title of a United States security assistance program, a type of student exchange program. The policies underlying this program are directed by the United States Department of State's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and the constituent...

 (IMET) program from 1950 to 1992, when Congress prohibited this aid in reaction to severe human rights abuses in during the Indonesian occupation of East Timor
Indonesian occupation of East Timor
Indonesia occupied East Timor from December 1975 to October 1999. After centuries of Portuguese colonial rule in East Timor, a 1974 coup in Portugal led to decolonization among its former colonies, creating instability in East Timor and leaving its future uncertain...

. Because of the widespread human rights abuses that took place under Suharto, many citizens and members of Congress opposed the United States’ role as a source of weapons and military training as well as millions of dollars in economic aid for the regime.

At the time of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975, over 90% of the Indonesian military's arms were made in America. Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 and other human rights groups have estimated that more than 100,000 Timorese out of a population of only 700,000 were killed in the first five years. Between 1980 and 1999, another 100,000 are thought to have been killed or to have died of hunger and disease.

In November 1991, using U.S.-supplied M-16 assault rifles, the Indonesian army opened fire on peaceful Timorese demonstrators. The soldiers killed 50-150 demonstrators who were proceeding to a cemetery in Dili, the capitol of Timor, in a memorial for a man previously killed by the military.

In 1992, because of the massacre in Dili in the preceding November, the Congress cut off further military training for Indonesia. Responding to Congressional and citizen pressure, in 1994 the U.S. State Department banned the sale to Indonesia of small arms, riot gear, and other "crowd control" technologies which could be used to commit human rights abuses.

Height of the New Order

The two decades immediately following Suharto's wresting of power were marked by an expansion of Indonesia's military and economic power, as well as the assertion of Indonesian identity over regional or ethnic identities. Conversely, Indonesia under Suharto had little tolerance for dissent, and is generally thought of as an abuser of human rights.

Economic growth

On economic matters, the New Order tended to rely on a group of American-educated economists, nicknamed the "Berkeley Mafia
Berkeley Mafia
The Berkeley Mafia was term given to a group of U.S.-educated Indonesian economists whose efforts brought Indonesia back from dire economic conditions and the brink of famine in the mid-1960s. They were appointed in the early stages of the 'New Order' administration. Almost three decades of...

," to set policy. Soon after coming to power, Suharto implemented a number of reforms meant to establish Indonesia as a center of foreign investment. Indonesia experienced tremendous growth, with Gross Domestic Product
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 rising threefold between the mid 1960s and 1990. However, members of the military and Golkar Party acted without accountability. Key figures from the military and Golkar were heavily involved as intermediaries between the booming corporations (foreign and domestic) and the Indonesian government. This led to a great deal of corruption in the form of bribery, racketeering, and embezzlement. Funds from these practices often flowed to foundations (yayasan) controlled by the Suharto family.

Unitary state and regional unrest

A key tenet of the New Order was the idea of the "unitary state" and the necessity of territorial gain of "Greater Indonesia" (Indonesia Raya). Suharto acted zealously to stake and enforce its territorial claims over much of the region through both diplomacy and military action.

In 1969, Suharto moved to end the longtime controversy over the last Dutch territory in the East Indies, western New Guinea
Western New Guinea
West Papua informally refers to the Indonesian western half of the island of New Guinea and other smaller islands to its west. The region is officially administered as two provinces: Papua and West Papua. The eastern half of New Guinea is Papua New Guinea.The population of approximately 3 million...

. Working with the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, an agreement was made to hold a referendum on self-determination, in which participants could choose to remain part of the Netherlands, to integrate with the Republic of Indonesia, or to become independent. Though originally phrased to be a nationwide vote of all adult Papuans, the "Act of Free Choice
Act of Free Choice
Act of Free Choice was an event in July to August 1969 by which Indonesia asserts that the Western New Guinea population decided to relinquish their sovereignty in favor of Indonesian citizenship...

," held July–August 1969, allowed only 1022 "chiefs" to vote. The unanimous vote was for integration with the Republic of Indonesia, leading to doubts of the validity of the vote. Even before that the militant Free Papua Movement
Free Papua Movement
The Free Papua Movement is a militant organisation established in 1965 to encourage and effect the violent overthrow of the current governments in the Papua and West Papua provinces of Indonesia, formerly known as Irian Jaya to secede from Indonesia, and to reject economic development and...

 (OPM) organization has started a campaign of attacks
Papua Conflict
The Papua conflict is an ethnic separatist insurgency in Indonesia, predominantly in the Papua and West Papua provinces on the island of New Guinea. Since the withdrawal of the Dutch colonizers in 1963, the militant Free Papua Movement organization has conducted a low-level campaign of attacks on...

 on government outposts, businesses, and civilians.

In 1975, after Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

 withdrew from its colony of East Timor
East Timor
The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, commonly known as East Timor , is a state in Southeast Asia. It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco, and Oecusse, an exclave on the northwestern side of the island, within Indonesian West Timor...

 and the Fretilin movement momentarily took power, Indonesian troops invaded the territory. On July 15, 1976 Suharto's "New Order" declared East Timor the 27th province of Indonesia. Following Suharto's 1998 resignation from the Presidency, East Timor voted for independence in 1999 and was transferred to United Nations administration. A detailed statistical report prepared for the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor
Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor
The Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor was an independent truth commission established in East Timor in 2001 under the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor and charged to “inquire into human rights violations committed...

 estimated a minimum of 102,800 conflict-related deaths in the period 1974–1999, namely, approximately 18,600 killings and 84,200 'excess' deaths from hunger and illness.

In 1976, the regime was challenged in the province of Aceh
Aceh is a special region of Indonesia, located on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra. Its full name is Daerah Istimewa Aceh , Nanggroë Aceh Darussalam and Aceh . Past spellings of its name include Acheh, Atjeh and Achin...

 by the formation of the Free Aceh Movement
Free Aceh Movement
The Free Aceh Movement , also known as the Aceh Sumatra National Liberation Front , was a separatist group seeking independence for the Aceh region of Sumatra from Indonesia. GAM fought against Indonesian government forces in the Aceh Insurgency from 1976 to 2005, costing over 15,000 lives...

, or GAM, who demanded independence from the unitary state. Suharto quickly authorized troops to put down the rebellion, forcing several of its leaders into exile in Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. Prolonged fighting between GAM and the Indonesian military and police led Suharto to declare martial law in the province, by naming Aceh a "military operational area" (DOM) in 1990.

Underpinning Suharto's territorial ambitions was the rapid development of Indonesia's traditional urban centers. The rapid pace of this development had vastly increased their population density. In response, Suharto pursued the policy of transmigration
Transmigration program
The transmigration program was an initiative of the Dutch colonial government, and later continued by Indonesian government to move landless people from densely populated areas of Indonesia to less populous areas of the country...

 to promote movement from crowded cities to rural regions of the archipelago where natural resources
Natural Resources
Natural Resources is a soul album released by Motown girl group Martha Reeves and the Vandellas in 1970 on the Gordy label. The album is significant for the Vietnam War ballad "I Should Be Proud" and the slow jam, "Love Guess Who"...

 had not yet been exploited.

Politics and dissent

In 1970, corruption prompted student protests and an investigation by a government commission. Suharto responded by banning student protest, forcing the activists underground. Only token prosecution of cases recommended by the commission was pursued. The pattern of co-opting a few of his more powerful opponents while criminalising the rest became a hallmark of the New Order government.

To maintain a veneer of democracy, Suharto made a number of electoral reforms. He stood for election before electoral college votes every five years, beginning in 1973. According to his electoral rules, however, only three parties were allowed to participate in the election: his own Golkar
The Party of the Functional Groups is a political party in Indonesia. It is also known as Sekber Golkar . It was the ruling party during Suharto's regime...

 party, the Islamist United Development Party
United Development Party
The United Development Party , sometimes translated as Development Unity Party is a political party in Indonesia. It is an islamic party and currently led by Suryadharma Ali.-Origins:...

 (PPP), and the Democratic Party of Indonesia
Indonesian Democratic Party
The Indonesian Democratic Party was one of the two state-approved parties during the New Order era of the late 20th-century in Indonesia.-Origins:...

 (PDI). All the previously existing political parties were forced to be part of either the PPP or PDI, with public servants under pressure to join the membership of Golkar. In a political compromise with the powerful military, he banned its members from voting in elections, but set aside 100 seats in the electoral college for their representatives. As a result, he won every election in which he stood, in 1978, 1983, 1988, 1993, and 1998.

This authoritarianism became an issue in the 1980s. On May 5, 1980 a group Petition of Fifty
Petition of Fifty
The Petition of Fifty was a document protesting then President Suharto's use of state philosophy Pancasila against political opponents. Issued on 5 May 1980 as an "Expression of Concern", it was signed by fifty prominent Indonesians including former Army Chief of Staff Nasution, former Jakarta...

 (Petisi 50) demanded greater political freedoms. It was composed of former military men, politicians, academics and students. The Indonesian media suppressed the news and the government placed restrictions on the signatories. After the group's 1984 accusation that Suharto was creating a one-party state, some of its leaders were jailed.

In the same decade, it is believed by many scholars that the Indonesian military split between a nationalist "red and white faction" and an Islamist "green faction." As the 1980s closed, Suharto is said to have been forced to shift his alliances from the former to the latter, leading to the rise of Jusuf Habibie
Jusuf Habibie
Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie , also known B. J. Habibie, was the third and shortest-serving President of Indonesia, serving from 1998 to 1999.-Early life and career:...

 in the 1990s.

After the 1990s brought end of the Cold War, Western concern over communism waned, and Suharto's human rights record came under greater international scrutiny. In 1991, the murder of East Timorese civilians in a Dili
Dili, spelled Díli in Portuguese, is the capital, largest city, chief port and commercial centre of East Timor.-Geography and Administration:Dili lies on the northern coast of Timor island, the easternmost of the Lesser Sunda Islands....

 cemetery, also known as the "Santa Cruz Massacre" , caused American attention to focus on its military relations with the Suharto regime and the question of Indonesia's occupation of East Timor. In 1992, this attention resulted in the Congress of the United States passing limitations on IMET assistance to the Indonesian military, over the objections of President George H.W. Bush. In 1993, under President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

, the U.S. delegation to the UN Human Rights Commission helped pass a resolution expressing deep concern over Indonesian human rights violations in East Timor.

Downfall of Suharto

Support for Suharto and his New Order government began to increasingly wane in the 1990s with more strident demands for democracy from within Indonesia's legal political parties. Criticism of the New Order's authoritarianism, human rights abuses, and situation of East Timor from Western NGOs and politicians began to isolate the regime diplomatically. The onset of the 1997 Asian financial crisis in Indonesia, and the stubbornness of Suharto in adopting reforms to address the crisis drew greater scrutiny from international lenders to the New Order corruption and lack of transparency. These factors culminated in the Indonesian Revolution of 1998
Indonesian Revolution of 1998
Suharto retired as president of Indonesia in May 1998 following the collapse of support for his three-decade long presidency. The resignation followed severe economic and political crises in the previous 6 to 12 months. BJ Habibie continued at least a year of his remaining presidential years,...

 and the resignation of Suharto as president.

Further reading

  • Watson, C.W. (Bill), Of Self and Injustice. Autobiography and Repression in Modern Indonesia, Leiden 2006, KITLV
    The Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies at Leiden was founded in 1851. Its objective is the advancement of the study of the anthropology, linguistics, social sciences, and history of Southeast Asia, the Pacific Area, and the Caribbean. Special emphasis is laid on...

    , ISBN 997169369-0
  • McGregor, Katharine E., History in Uniform. Military Ideology and the Construction of Indonesia’s Past, Leiden 2007, KITLV
    The Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies at Leiden was founded in 1851. Its objective is the advancement of the study of the anthropology, linguistics, social sciences, and history of Southeast Asia, the Pacific Area, and the Caribbean. Special emphasis is laid on...

    , ISBN 978-9971-69-360-2
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