Tommy Suharto reenters politics with the National Republic party

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 father’s three-decade, military-led rule.

“The people don’t believe in the government,” said Yus Usman Sumanegara, a businessman who is one of the founders of National Republic. “Thirteen years of ‘reform’ hasn’t made people’s lives better,” he said, referring to the introduction of democratic changes since Mr. Suharto’s resignation in 1998. “We’re just running in place.”

The party did not want to turn the clock back to authoritarianism, Mr. Yus said, but simply to return to what he called “Indonesia’s glory” — the era of stability and rising prosperity presided over by Mr. Suharto, before it was all undone by the 1997 Asian economic crisis.

“We don’t want to be grandiose about it,” Mr. Yus said, while outlining the new party’s goals. “How do we fill the bellies of the people? How do we get kids to school? How do we ensure people’s health?”

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 — despite annual economic growth of more than 6 percent and rising incomes — 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.

“If he’s interpreting the public’s disappointment with how things are now as them wanting Suharto or his family back in power, then he’s wrong,” Mr. Qodari said. He said he doubted that Tommy was making a serious bid.

Source: New York Times

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