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Suharto, and Before

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Iftekhar Sayeed
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Suharto Recalled   '

'What people want, what I want, is a return to Suharto's time. Life is bitter now compared to then.'' 

 The speaker was a man named Boan, a peasant struggling to feed three children, toiling in fields owned by wealthy farmers. ''This government doesn't care about us,'' he continues.  Amad (31) makes $1.60 a day; he was more worried about feeding his pregnant wife than bringing Suharto to trial. ''Now we cannot afford anything,'' he said ''It was better then than now.'' 

''If you go to the village level, they prefer a dictatorship to what they see, at times, as a chaotic democratic system,'' said Dewi Fortuna Anwar, head of research at the political think tank Habibie Center.  In June last year, where ten years ago thousands had demanded his resignation,  dozens of supporters unravelled banners wishing him a happy birthday at the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070826/ap_on_re_as/longing_for_suharto). 

Nostalgia for an imagined past? That's not what the history books and the statistics say.  

Life expectancy at birth (years)

Infant mortality per 1,000 live births [1960 / 1993]

Adult Illiteracy (%) [1960 / 1993]

Population per doctor [1960 / 1990]

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Iftekhar Sayeed teaches English and economics. He was born and lives in Dhaka, ├ éČ┼ŻBangladesh. He has contributed to AXIS OF LOGIC, ENTER TEXT, POSTCOLONIAL ├ éČ┼ŻTEXT, LEFT CURVE, MOBIUS, ERBACCE, THE JOURNAL, and other publications. ├ éČ┼ŻHe (more...)
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