Saturday, September 16, 2006

Habibie's Decisive Seconds

Former president BJ Habibie is about to launch his memoir titled Decisive Seconds: Indonesia's Long Journey to Democracy. The 549-page book is based on Habibie's diary especially during the transition from Soeharto regime in what he called decisive moments that changed the course of the nation.

"Policies that I made have been very important and couldn't be influenced by anybody. If I followed the noises that try to influence the decisions, may be we have a different nation now, could be a socialist Indonesia or Islamic country, not the united Indonesia republic," Habibie explained part of the book.
He promised the book contains facts and significant events he wrote in details about the early days of reform movement in the country.
Habibie raised to power as Indonesia's third president following Soeharto's decision to step down after months of mass and violent protests. Habibie failed to keep his power after lost the first democratic election in 1999 after decades of authoritarian rules of Soekarno & Soeharto.
Wish Habibie, a tecno-minded personality, publish his full diary in a blog. His book would be a good reading though.
Full of energy, I remember Habibie always said (when I cover technology beat in my early years as journalist) that he admired both Soekarno & Soeharto even though that time no minister would openly stated admiration on Soekarno (Soeharto hate that!).
It was Soekarno, the first president and father of former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, who encouraged him to study in Germany (aerospace) and Soeharto brought him home to be one of his 'golden boy'.
He gained stronger influence on Soeharto's economic policies in early 1990s and credited him for Habibienomics to make a contrast to Widjojonomics (school of liberal economic thoughts) brought in by Prof Widjojo Nitisastro (and his Berkeley Mafia) that ruled the country for many decades.
A colorful personality, a small group of journalist (three of us) used to interview him at his office with desk full of aircraft models. It's difficult to stop him explaining things. He could explain hard-to-digest issues to legislators till 3AM and all of us still love to listen.
But his projects failed to take-off as what he dreamed of. The aircraft industry (IPTN) has been crashed since 1997. We used to make our own version of IPTN as the abbreviation of Industri Penerima Tamu Negara (Industry to Host State Guests) because almost all state guests were arranged to visit the aircraft assembling plant in Bandung, West Java. The shipping industry (PT PAL) also sinked.
But, I think these are not part of the book. And would be more interesting to read the decisive seconds in early days of reform, including how he prevented military coup d'etat.

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