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Monday, January 28, 2008

Soeharto passed away

On Sunday 27 January 2008 around 13.15 Angie and I entered a food stall selling chicken noodle and meatballs somewhere on Jalan Suyudono Semarang, not far from my dwelling place. Before both of us sat down, a child around five years old entered the food stall, running while yelling, “Soeharto tutup usia …. Soeharto tutup usia…”

He must have referred to Soeharto the second president of Indonesia who had been ailing now and again since he stepped down of the presidency on May 21, 1998. But still I was a bit surprised to hear that.
“Soeharto, our ex president?” I mumbled, meaning to talk to Angie.

She shrugged her shoulders, showing disinterest.

Meanwhile, the seller, a man around in his mid thirties, didn’t show any shock or surprise. He smiled widely, somewhat laughed, saying, “Entar malem melek-melek nih?” (“We will stay awake tonight?”)

An adult man in the food stall showed his doubt with that news, so he quickly went out of the stall, entering a small house behind the stall, where there was a television set in the living room. I could see it clearly from where I was sitting.

The seller said again, jokingly, “Perlu layat ga nih?” (“Will we go visit to show condolence?”) without showing any mournful expression on his face.

Since I had poor eyesight, I couldn’t see clearly what I saw on the television set from my seat. Still almost disbelieved in what I heard, I told Angie, “Honey, please watch that television and sharpen your ears, is it right what that little child said? Soeharto, the ex president passed away? Eventually?”

Angie seemed astonished to hear me saying so. “Don’t you think that he will die anyway, Mama? He has been ailing for some time, right?”

“I know he will die anyway, honey. But I also always thought that he would still be alive for some more time, to protect his children. You know what I mean? People say that Indonesian government will not really daringly do any legal action towards his family as long as he is still alive. And he had sort of power, in my opinion, that he would protect his offspring.” I explained.

“He has passed away now Mama.” Shortly Angie commented.

“Yes, he has. And I will be waiting for what will happen to our beloved country after this. I sometimes think that you are luckier than me living in an era where you can ‘undergo’ to have different presidents. Since I was born, until more than 31 years afterward, there was only one president, Soeharto. When I was attending school, until I graduated, I only underwent under one president to rule this country.”

Angie smiled widely to hear that.

After we finished eating our meal, hurriedly Angie and I dropped by at our ex dwelling place, not far from the food stall. Once in a while we visit this house since no one lives there anymore.

After Angie turned on the television set, I watched clearly the report given by many television stations about the death of Soeharto, making me talk to myself, “He has really gone now. At last …”


Monday 28 January 2008 in the fitness center, after doing aerobics for about 50 minutes around 08.30am, I did some more exercise in the fitness area. There was one television set there. You can guess it showed the process of Soeharto’s burial. However, nobody there but me seemed interested in what was shown on television.

“Apparently, the grass root people don’t find it a big event.” I talked to myself.

I looked at the sky which was cloudy. The weather seemed mourning but not all people showed the same thing.

Although listening to some songs from my MP, I still tried to listen to the television, while doing some exercise there. However, not long after that, someone talked to the clerk of the fitness center, “Mbak, please play some songs, house music, to accompany us to do exercise.”

It was complete then. Nobody seemed interested in watching the television. The sound from it couldn’t be heard either.

Although some television stations aired programs showing so many people mourned Soeharto’s death, from what I saw in my surrounding, no one seemed to care about it.

Anyway, all human beings will drift away to the following kind of life. No one can avoid it.

PT56 12.40 280108

P.S.: My workmates felt intimidated by the programs related to Soeharto all the time for these past two days, 27-28 January 2008. And they also said, "Why were we forced to raise the flag? Why were we forced to show that we were mourning while in fact we are not?" LOL.


johnorford said...

another great post.

isn't great that ppl don't care about suharto's death? i mean if he was in power right up to 2007, people'd be worried as hell about a coup, or civil war or something.

good sign for indonesia!

A Feminist Blog said...

Hello John,
I have been observing the percentage of people sending sms to some local as well as Jakarta newspaper saying whether Soeharto is a villain or a hero. I really have no idea how one big local newspaper in Semarang published more sms voting for Soeharto's heroic attitude, while in some other newspapers they published around 50%-50% (for his being a hero or a villain).
For the local newspaper in Semarang, no matter what, it signs that Soeharto still has big power so that to me the paper seems like to bribe his family.

johnorford said...

well i think readers realise this. journalistic corruption results in less credibility and less readers :)

A Feminist Blog said...

However, John, oftentimes I think that many Indonesian people are not alert enough to recognize journalistic corruption. :(