[TimorLesteStudies] ABC Foreign Correspondent program Tuesday 31 March 9.30pm on Prabowo for President campaign

Bu Wilson Bu.Wilson at anu.edu.au
Tue Mar 31 09:36:29 EST 2009

Indonesia -The Farmer wants a Country
He'll have you believe he's a quiet goat farmer and a keen horseman who just
happens to think he might make an ideal Indonesian President one day.

But looks can be deceiving and there's little doubt Prabowo Subianto's
pursuit of Indonesia's top job will be ruthlessly efficient and purposeful.
After all this one-time General used to head up Kopassus - the notorious
special forces unit accused of kidnapping and torturing student activists in
1998, and of orchestrating atrocities in East Timor.

Eleven years ago, he was one of Indonesia's most powerful men. Many though
came to suspect he was plotting a coup. In a stunning fall from grace he was
kicked out of the military - ostensibly for his role in human rights abuses
- and he left the country in disgrace.

Now - in a stunning reinvention and a celebrated return to the spotlight -
he's back crowd surfing a growing legion of supporters and with the eager
support of his billionaire brother, planning a tilt at the country's top
job. In little more than a year they have created a new party, the Great
Indonesia Movement (or Gerindra) and grown the membership to more than ten
million. Their campaign promotes Prabowo as a champion of the rural poor; a
strong and decisive leader out to modernise the economy and fight poverty.
As an agent of change, he even compares himself to Barack Obama.

Prabowo is already well acquainted with the trappings of power. He was once
married to the daughter of the autocratic President Suharto, who led
Indonesia for more than 30 years. He also comes from an aristocratic
Javanese family known as 'the Kennedys of Indonesia'.

Next on Foreign Correspondent Geoff Thompson presents an intimate and
revealing portrait of the man who could end up running one of Australia's
biggest neighbours and the world's most populous Muslim nation.

What's he up to? Thompson - one of the ABC's most experienced foreign
correspondents - has been granted unparalleled access to Prabowo, jetting
with him on the campaign trail as well as spending time with him at his

A Prabowo Presidency fills some with dread especially the families of some
of his alleged victims. But there are some very strange twists to this tale
as Thompson reveals.

Bu Wilson
Regulatory  Institutions Network (RegNet) Research School of Pacific and
Asian Studies
College of Asia and the Pacific,
Australian National University 
Canberra   ACT   0200 

T: 02 6125 3194
F: 02 6125 1507
M: 0407 087 086
E: Bu.Wilson at anu.edu.au


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