Thursday, August 20, 2009

“Mas Tommy” for President 2014-2019?

The son of the late Indonesian dictator Suharto has launched an attempt to become president, says an aide, despite a "track record on legal matters".

Hutomo Mandala Putra, popularly known as Tommy Suharto, is seeking to become the next leader of the Golkar Party, his father's former political vehicle, which is in turmoil after losing recent elections.

"He surely has ambitions of becoming Indonesian president in future. He will be as good, or even better than his father," Tommy's spokesman, Yusyafri Syafei, told AFP.

Tommy, 46, has a reputation as a flamboyant playboy but has kept a low profile since his release from prison in 2006.

He fought off a $US61 million ($73.8 million) civil corruption case in February 2008, winning $US550,000 in a countersuit, and successfully fought off a $US400 million civil corruption case earlier this year.

Syafei admitted Tommy was "not clean" but said he was no different to other politicians in the country of 234 million people.

He also said ordinary Indonesians hankered after the stability of the Suharto years, in which there was strong economic growth but appalling graft and human rights abuses.

"In the blood of Tommy flows the blood of Suharto. That's natural," Syafei said.

"It's an open secret that during Suharto's era, people didn't find it hard to find food to eat ... He will have supporters."

View full story from the original source:
Sydney Morning Herald Online/AFP, 20 August 2009