While staying publicly coy, Tommy has become chairman of the board of a nascent political party, National Republic, that plans to contest national elections in this country of nearly 240 million people in 2014.
Its rallying cry: disaffection with democracy and the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and longing for the predictability and steady economic growth of his fatherâ€™s three-decade, military-led rule.
â€œThe people donâ€™t believe in the government,â€ said Yus Usman Sumanegara, a businessman who is one of the founders of National Republic. â€œThirteen years of â€˜reformâ€™ hasnâ€™t made peopleâ€™s lives better,â€ he said, referring to the introduction of democratic changes since Mr. Suhartoâ€™s resignation in 1998. â€œWeâ€™re just running in place.â€
The party did not want to turn the clock back to authoritarianism, Mr. Yus said, but simply to return to what he called â€œIndonesiaâ€™s gloryâ€ â€” the era of stability and rising prosperity presided over by Mr. Suharto, before it was all undone by the 1997 Asian economic crisis.
â€œWe donâ€™t want to be grandiose about it,â€ Mr. Yus said, while outlining the new partyâ€™s goals. â€œHow do we fill the bellies of the people? How do we get kids to school? How do we ensure peopleâ€™s health?â€
There are plenty of indications that Indonesians are fed up with the politics of today. High-profile corruption scandals are a staple of daily news, and there is a widespread perception â€” despite annual economic growth of more than 6 percent and rising incomes â€” that life is not getting better.
But even by Indonesian standards, Tommy is damaged goods, said Muhammad Qodari, the director of Indo Barometer.
Indonesians indeed feel let down by a corrupt and grasping political class, Mr. Qodari said, and they are frustrated with a perceived lack of firm leadership by Mr. Yudhoyono. But they have no real desire to turn back the clock to the repression of the Suharto era, he said.
â€œIf heâ€™s interpreting the publicâ€™s disappointment with how things are now as them wanting Suharto or his family back in power, then heâ€™s wrong,â€ Mr. Qodari said. He said he doubted that Tommy was making a serious bid.
Source: New York Times