January 19, 2008

Generalissimo Suharto is still dying

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Those Fire on the Mountain readers who are (ahem!) senior amongst us will likely recall the agonizingly long last days of Generalissimo Francisco Franco of Spain. And of course, the media coverage of it which reported him either as "still alive" or "not dead." Famously, the media spectacle was parodied by the early Saturday Night Live/Weekend Update skits which which aired in the weeks after the Franco funeral, in which Chevy Chase would intone -- "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead."

Much the same spectacle is being set up in Indonesia, where Suharto the 86-year old 5-star General and former President of 32 years is holed up inside a hospital in the capital, attended to by the finest of Indonesia's doctors. Suharto has been visited by functionaries and dignitaries both foreign and domestic -- most notably his notorious spawn whose dubious achievements included lavish weddings and other conspicuous consumption as the economy of Indonesia went into the tank in the 1990's.

This spectacle only gets weirder today, as Reuters reports that Suharto, corrupt as ever, seems to be cheating death by recovering from the failure of his heart, kidneys, lungs, and brain; conditions ranging from sepsis, low blood pressure, and pneumonia. Suharto does seem to be demonstrating the monstrous trait of fascists of being able to live well past warranty.

Or could in fact there be something more to this story? Buried in Reuters' description of the scene at the hospital is the description of what appears to be the first clash between the student movement and the riot squad across the street. At least one beating was recorded, and one arrest documented -- of course, who knows who is getting shaken down right now by police and/or the military. Might it be that the situation's getting a bit hot down at Petramina Hospital that Suharto will (as he did with his Presidency) escape to his family capital for his final days?

So on that note, let's pull for the comrades in Indonesia who are saying "No" to forgiving a man who never showed one iota of forgiveness for the estimated 1 million Communists killed by his regime, and who never even pardoned his predecessor President Sukarno. Let's hope for street celebrations in the dozens, scores, or even hundreds when Suharto dies. Let's hope that Suharto's inevitable end will, in the end, weigh lighter than a feather upon the Indonesian people.

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