Indonesia ATL: The Presidency of Try Sutrisno (1997-)

4: A Vulture Comes In For The Crown
4: A Vulture Comes In For The Crown

26th December 1997

Still in holiday mode, the Soeharto children sat around a table talking about the political situation. Tommy grumbled about the revocation of his company’s National Car status. Bambang told him to stop complaining because most if not all around the table have taken a hit from the President’s decision to keep the delayed infrastructure projects from going ahead. Tutut said that the real question now was whether things would get worst under Try or not because she did not see why their businesses have to suffer just so the President can prove he is doing something about the economy.

27th December 1997

President Try Sutrisno’s major appointment for the day was with Chairman of the State Audit Agency (BPK) J.B. Sumarlin. The BPK was a constitutionally mandated institution responsible for audit of the state’s finances. Sumarlin came to the President to hand his resignation because he has hit the retirement age of 65. Actually he hit his retirement age on 7th December but he realized that Try is busy.

Try accepted Sumarlin’s resignation and wished him the best of luck. On a whim, however, the President added “You’re still a healthy man, Mr. Chairman and we could still use your help in solving this crisis.”

“I’ve had a long career, Mr. President”, Sumarlin replied.

He was right on that count, Try thought. Sumarlin had been Minister of Civil Service Reform (1973-1983), Vice Minister of the National Development Planning (1983-1988), and Minister of Finance (1988-1993). But he could really do with Sumarlin’s help.

“I’ll tell you what, Mr. President”, Sumarlin said “If you get re-elected, I will help you in whatever capacity that you want me.”

28th December 1997

Try met Minister of Finance Mar’ie Muhammad and Governor of Central Bank Soedrajad Djiwandono to talk about the economy. Moerdiono also sat in the meeting.

On the economy: Economic growth is set to be 4.9% and inflation in the 15-17% for 1997 range. Rupiah in the 4,150-4,200 range. Markets presently waiting if the draft budget to be delivered by the President will adhere to the IMF LOI. The worry right now is that Ramadhan will be around the corner. There will be demand for goods that are not there and this will increase inflation.

On the budget position: The Department of Finance is still going over proposed spending cuts and pushing harder to make them. They will make the 1% GDP budget surplus target but increasingly arriving at the point where they are cutting funds for things such as road maintenance and the repair of leaks in school ceilings.

On the IMF review set for January: The ministers predict that the IMF will ask for more reforms.

Try said rather than waiting for the IMF to come and review the situation, the government should come to the IMF and other donor nations to tell them about the present situation.

29th December 1997

Try receives confirmation that Deputy IMF Managing Director Stanley Fischer will arrive in Jakarta on 3rd January.

Try sends a letter to Prabowo rejecting his request for helicopters to be procured for the Kopassus. Try also wrote to Prabowo to stick to the chain of command and communicate his request via the Army Chief of Staff and the Commander of ABRI.

30th December 1997

At a full cabinet meeting and after presentations by the relevant ministers on the present economic situation and predictions about the economy, Try approves of the draft budget to be proposed to the DPR on 6th January.

President Try today spoke on the phone with Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong of Singapore and Prime Minister John Howard of Australia. He told both prime ministers that Indonesia has fulfilled the conditions of the IMF and more. But if the IMF continues to ask for more conditions, the fulfillment will be at the cost of potential social unrest.

Both Goh and Howard got the message and promised to convey it to the IMF.

31st December 1997

Beginning of Ramadhan. Rupiah at 4,196 to the dollar.

1st January 1998

Try holds a fast-breaking dinner at the Presidential Palace for the Cabinet Ministers. “The Holy Month of Ramadhan is about fasting and fasting has always been about restraint”, said Try “I call on the nation, this year above all years, to show that restraint once again.”

2nd January 1998

The Administrative Court rules in favor of the Government's policy of closing down businessman, and Soeharto brother, Probosutedjo's bank.

3rd -5th January 1998

Stanley Fischer arrives in Jakarta. He immediately goes to the Presidential Palace to meet with Try.

Fischer acknowledged that Try had proven to be serious at implementing the reforms agreed in the October LOI with Soeharto. He said that what Indonesia need right now is for its government to continue its commitment to structural reform.

“The Indonesian government can and has shown its commitment to the reforms, but all this will be for naught if it tends to encourage inflationary pressures and expectations, make the common people worst off, and create the potential for unrest”, Try said.

Thus negotiations between the Indonesian Government and the IMF begins with Minister of Finance Mar’ie Muhammad and Governor of the Central Bank Soedrajad Djiwandono representing Indonesia. Try received regular reports of progress at the end of each day from Mar’ie and Soedrajad.

Over the next few days, the two parties haggled over terms. Indonesia asked for leniency, particularly with regards to the amount of surplus, the cutting of subsidies, and the implementation of reform as a whole. The IMF as predicted pushed for more reforms, particularly with regards to banking and the cutting of monopolies such as the Clove Marketing Board and the Indonesian Airplane Industry projects.

The Rupiah ended 5th January at 4,268 to the dollar.

6th January 1998

At 10 AM, President Try Sutrisno stepped into the DPR building to the applause of its members. Try sat down and looked around at the chamber around him as Chairman of the DPR Harmoko delivered his opening remarks.

The DPR was Indonesia’s legislative branch. Much as in other countries, it functioned to pass bills proposed by the executive into law and provide a check and balance on the executive. But while Soeharto never suspended the DPR the way Soekarno did, the DPR was very much the junior partner in its relationship with Soeharto. It never used its right to propose its own legislation and it never failed to pass the bills put forward to it by Soeharto.

500 members filled the DPR’s seats; 425 members at the legislative elections and 75 appointed by the President. Of the elected members, 325 came from Golkar, 89 from PPP, and 11 from the PDI. The 75 appointed members were chosen from ABRI’s ranks, another symbol of ABRI’s involvement in the nation’s political life.

Try then delivered the 1998/1999 Draft Budget Speech to the DPR. It was an awkward speech to make, being a list of the various economies, savings, and revenue measures taken to ensure that there was a budget surplus.

“This budget surplus functions to lessen the money circulating in our economy, clamp down on inflationary pressures and support our exchange rate. It will also function as a store of revenue that can be used to stimulate the economy if necessary”, Try announced.

7th January 1998

Howard and Goh got on the phone on the IMF on behalf of Indonesia to say that President Try has continued to fulfill the reforms the IMF has asked of it and that it was the IMF’s turn to give way to Try.

The market responds positively to the draft budget, improving to Rp. 4,204 to the budget.

Amien Rais wrote a column about the budget on the Republika Newspaper. He criticized it as a budget that will be revised subject to approval of the IMF and that it is a budget that further puts Indonesia under the thumb of the IMF.

Fischer departs for Washington DC. Says that the next time Indonesia hears from the IMF, it will be from Managing Director Michel Camdessus.

8th January 1998

President Try Sutrisno attends the 40th Day Anniversary of Soeharto’s death at Cendana, a landmark anniversary that is celebrated in Indonesia.

Try met with the Soeharto children again. Amidst the familial and unofficial setting, Tommy dared himself to ask the President for a moment. Tommy told the President to give him some leniency. At the time the President revoked the National Car status, an order of 150,000 cars were in the process of being shipped from South Korea. Tommy asked Try if a special dispensation can be given for this 150,000 vehicles.

Try replied that he could not. “I’m not revoking your business license, I’m only revoking the National Car status. It will be your great contribution to the nation and I won’t forget it”, Try said.

When it was time to leave, the President saw the children again from afar and he could not help but think that they were staring daggers at him.

10th January 1998

Try began his day by meeting with Minister of Research and Technology BJ Habibie. Habibie was not on the appointments’ list today but he had insisted on a meeting.

When the meeting was over, Habibie left in a hurry. State Secretary Moerdiono saw this and walked into the office to see Try massaging his temple with a strange smile on his face.

“What was all that about?” Moerdiono asked.

“A vulture is coming in for the crown”, Try said.

Not long after this, television cameras cut to a press conference Habibie has called in front of his house.

Habibie said that there are one is only afforded a few life changing moments over a lifetime. For Habibie, one life changing moment has been his decision to return to Indonesia in 1974 when he was summoned by Soeharto. Since that time, Habibie said, it has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as Minister of Research of Technology and to be given the trust that he had been given by Soeharto.

“This is a great nation. President Soekarno is making it so, President Soeharto has made it so, President Try Sutrisno is making it so, and we have all in our way made our own contributions towards making Indonesia a great nation.

Yet in recent times, this greatness of our nation is under threat a currency crisis threatens to undo all which we have all worked for. Having seen closely all the work that has gone into building this nation, I cannot allow this to happen.

Therefore, I announce that I, Professor Doctor Engineer Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, will be a Presidential candidate at the MPR Session this March!”
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5: More Contenders
5: More Contenders

11th-14th January 1998

In the immediate days after his announcement of candidacy, Habibie moved about frantically. He attended a breaking of the fast dinner with the Association of Islamic Clerics (MUI) where he spoke that Islam and technological advance were not incompatible and that the combination of Islam and technological progress would be in full display were he elected president.

As Chairman of ICMI, Habibie reinstated Amien Rais’ ICMI membership. This was a reversal of Habibie’s decision from a year before when he, under Soeharto’s orders, expelled Amien for his critical stance towards the government. Habibie also recruited Amien to become an advisor.

In another part of Jakarta, Harmoko weighed what his next move should be. He itched to put his name as a presidential candidate at the MPR Session but his supporters tended to see him as a vice presidential candidate and told him to approach both Try and Habibie to consider a possible partnership. Harmoko did not see it like that. He thought that there was no better time than now to strike. If Try was allowed to get re-elected or if Habibie got elected, who knows how long they would hold on to the presidency and who knows if another opportunity would ever arose for Harmoko.

Though there was a cautious optimism in the economy’s reaction to the 1998/1999 Draft Budget, it had to deal with the reality that the economy was not in a good shape. A drought towards the end of 1997 put a dent in agricultural production and placed inflationary pressures on the price of food which in turn places inflationary pressures on the economy.

Shops and supermarkets were beginning to run out of their present stock and, if some or all parts of the goods that they are selling were imported, struggling to replenish them. Companies and factories which can no longer handle the crisis laid off workers and/or closed down, in turn these laid off workers held tight to their money and did not spend them while those who were more fortunate also held tight to their money as the value of their savings were being wiped out. That the short term private debt was due at the end of January did not help matters. The demand for dollars meant that the value of the Rupiah dropped again.

The Rupiah was 4,479 to the dollar in the week after the budget.

14th January 1998
IMF Managing Director Michel Camdessus arrives in Jakarta. In a meeting with President Try, Camdessus outlined the IMF’s response to the Indonesian government’s request for new terms. After hearing Camdessus’ speech, Try asked for some time to study the offer with Minister of Finance Mar’ie Muhammad and Governor of the Central Bank Soedradjad Djiwandono.

The terms which the IMF had offered, with consideration towards Indonesia’s present economic position includes the following:

-Fiscal policy settings are amended from a budget surplus of 1% of GDP to a balanced budget. Spending programs to stimulate demand in the economy ought to be off-set by savings and efficiencies.

-The timing and phasing of fuel and electricity subisidies cuts to be determined by the government.

-Monopolies that still exists such as the IPTN and the Clove Marketing Board (BPPC) to be targeted for abolition as soon as possible.

-The establishment of an Indonesian Banking Restructuring Agency (IBRA) to be put in charge of managing banks which were in trouble.

The abolition of monopolies were to be expected from the IMF but the changing in fiscal policy parameters including the timing of subsidy cuts were unprecedented from the IMF. The proposed establishment of IBRA was fortunate timing given that Soedradjad was busy at work looking for a solution for the banking sector that would not involve the mass closing of banks and causing the people and the market to lose more confidence in the Indonesian economy.

The President indicated to Camdessus that he was willing to accept the terms on offer.

15th January 1998
President Try Sutrisno and IMF Managing Director Camdessus signs an agreement to make official the amendments to the terms the government had agreed to do in the LOI signed by Soeharto in October 1997. Both men sat down at the table to sign the documents. Camdessus thanked Try for the sitting down arrangement. “I normally don’t know what to do with my hands if I have to stand up”, Camdessus said.

After Camdessus left, Try held a press conference. Here are some of the highlights:

-On the agreement has just been signed: “It represents the government’s commitment to economic recovery and the efforts necessary to make that recovery.”

-On criticism that Indonesia is under the IMF’s thumb: “Whether or not it is wrong to ask for the IMF’s assistance is a moot point. What’s important now is that we all work together towards economic recovery.”

-On Habibie’s candidacy: “I congratulate him on his willingness to put his name up for nomination. Looking forward to hear what ideas he has for the future.”

-On his own candidacy: “I hope I don’t sound like a broken record, but I’m just looking to work towards economic recovery right now.”

Rupiah up to Rp. 4,430 to the dollar in reaction to the signing of the IMF Document.

16th January 1998
A Cabinet Meeting to discuss latest developments. The President instructs the Minister of Finance to review again all the proposed spending projects that had been previously rejected in order to get a budget surplus of 1% of GDP. If the projects are labor-intensive, has a low import component, uses local contractors and is ready to go, it should be approved for immediate start. Any longer-term projects should be inserted in revisions of the draft budget.

Now being halfway through Ramadhan, Try instructs Minister of Agriculture Sjarifuddin and Minister of Food to begin injecting the government’s buffer stock of rice into the market to increase supply and counter as best as possible the inflationary pressures in the food sector. Also instructs Minister of Public Works to fix the roads that will be busy during the “Migration”, an Indonesian tradition where people living in cities will return to their villages to visit their family during the Eid’ L’ Fitr Holiday.

Commercials begin airing on RCTI and TPI television channels highlighting the contributions of the Soeharto Childrens’ companies to the Indonesian economy.

17th January 1998
Try met with Harmoko and had a wide-ranging discussion that could only come with someone who held three offices.

As Chairman of the DPR, Harmoko promised that he will give safe passage to the draft budget bill and any amendments contained in it. Try thanked Harmoko for the guarantee.

As Chairman of the MPR, Harmoko said that the MPR has the mechanisms necessary to deal with single or multiple presidential candidates.

As Chairman of Golkar, Harmoko said that Habibie has only announced his candidacy as an individual and that officially, Golkar has no presidential candidates. Try said that Golkar should have a mechanism to allow for its members to put forward multiple candidates.

The two ended the meeting with Harmoko asking Try about his candidacy. Try turned it around on Harmoko and asked about Harmoko’s candidacy. Harmoko would not be drawn. But asks what if they run together at the MPR Session. Try as a presidential candidate and Harmoko as a vice presidential candidate. Try does not commit.

19th January 1998
The President lunched with Minister of Defense and Security Edi Sudradjat and Chief of BAKIN Ari Sudewo. Sudewo says that the political situation will start heating up soon as candidates begin to throw their hats in the ring. If the economy continues to deteriorate, it will also become a problem.

Try discusses conducting a command shuffle with Edi. Edi says that it’s the President’s prerogative to conduct a command shuffle of ABRI. The question is how extensive the command shuffle would be. The President replied that it will be a surgical strike lest it provokes commanders who are hostile to him into action. The only condition in which he would shake ABRI’s command up as a whole was if he got re-elected.

Later in the evening, the President visited Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama Abdurrahman Wahid who suffered a stroke that day.

20th January 1998
Habibie also came to visit Abdurrahman Wahid.

Tutut held a public event where she donates basic commodities such as rice, cooking oil, kerosene, instant noodles, and salt to the poor. She says that she hopes things will get better.

21st January 1998
The President finalized his first ABRI Command shuffle with the following highlights.

-Commander of ABRI Gen. Feisal Tanjung will end his term as commander and will be replaced by Gen. Wiranto. Wiranto will continue to hold to his present position as Army Chief of Staff in the mean time.

-Maj. Gen. Agum Gumelar, presently Commander of the Sulawesi Regional Military Command, will be promoted to lieutenant general and appointed as ABRI Chief of General Staff, where he will assist the commander of ABRI with operations, personnel, and intelligence matters.

-Maj. Gen. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will be promoted to lieutenant general and appointed as ABRI Chief of Social-Political Staff from where he will be in charge of formulating ABRI’s political stance and mobilizing ABRI’s delegation in the MPR.

(The full list of ABRI's most important officers, along with how they line up after his command shuffle may be found as the attachment to this post. The officers' name is based on a regular update on the line-up in Indonesia's military top brass provided by Cornell University's Indonesia Journal. The link may be found at

Edi Sudradjat saw the list and asked if this would be enough.

“For the moment”, Try replied “I need control of the ABRI Headquarters first. The Jakarta Regional Command and the Kopassus don’t belong to me but that’s offset by the fact that Wiranto controls all the other regional commands in Java.”

“Your call, Mr. President”, Edi said.

There was silence.

“You’ve done it. You’ve delivered the draft budget, you got a deal with the IMF, and you’ve conducted a command shuffle. It’s about time to declare that you’re going to run for re-election.”

“Not yet. I’m the President. I'm going to be the last to declare that I’m running”, Try replied.

22nd January 1998
In a short ceremony, President Try Sutrisno swears in Wiranto as the new Commander of ABRI. As the press crowded around him, Wiranto said that his priority in the short term is to ensure that the MPR Session goes smoothly.

In the background, as Try leaves the ceremony, the cameras pick up Harmoko intercepting Try and talking about something urgently with him. Try could be seen nodding in understanding at something and patting Harmoko in the shoulder.

That night, Try broke fast privately with Edi Sudradjat, Harsudiono Hartas, Ari Sudewo, and Sugeng Subroto. They watched the television which was broadcasting Harmoko breaking fast at his house and then giving the host’s welcome.

Harmoko said that throughout his career as journalist, as Minister of Information for 14 years and now as Chairman of the DPR, MPR, and Golkar, he has met a lot of people through his travels.

“Interacting with the Indonesian people, listening to their thoughts on the world around them and finding solutions to their problems has always been an inspiring and reinvigorating thing for me, even through this economic crisis.

Indonesia’s greatest asset is its people and the solution to this nation’s economic recovery lies with them. It does not lie in international institutions and it certainly does not lie with technology projects and airplanes.

This March at the MPR Session, I will be a presidential candidate. And if elected, I pledge myself to put the Indonesian people first.”

Try turned the TV off.

“Harmoko took a pot shot at you”, said Harsudiono “At least he’s considering you competition. Habibie praised you as though you’ve decided not to run for re-election by allowing him his candidacy.”

“This is it right?” Sugeng Subroto asked “Habibie and Harmoko’s the only ones declaring their candidacy.”

“There are a few dark horses but the only ones with real institutional backing are Habibie, Harmoko, and the man standing before us”, Ari Sudewo said.

“There is another one, right?” Edi asked “You said you’ve been thinking about this possible candidacy.”

“I’m not sure about whether or not it will actually happen. Each day I’m picking up different chatter”, Ari said.

22nd-26th January 1998
Habibie and Harmoko, along with their supporters, get into a mud-slinging match with each other, even going as far as arguing through newspaper columns. The Rupiah continues its slow decline as inflationary pressures continued to bite into the economy. This time the culprit are private bus operators and distribution companies raising their transportation prices because maintaining their vehicles, which involved imported spare parts, were becoming more expensive.

Economic activity continues to slow down, only 60-70% of the number of those making the end of Ramadhan trip to their home towns will be doing so, and brawls at rice distribution queues were beginning to be reported. More companies continue to lay-off employees. This adds to unemployment, especially in cities.

The first of the labor-intensive projects being given approval by the President to go ahead begins to get underway taking the form of repairing potholes in streets and leaks in the roofs of primary schools.

27th January 1998
With the Rupiah hitting 4,722 to the dollar, President Try officially signs off on the formation of an Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency and announces a deposit guarantee on all savings in banks across the nation. He also announces a temporary moratorium on the payment of private debt until a private debt settlement between Indonesian private companies and their creditors can be agreed to. The Rupiah strengthened to 4,698 in response to the policy announcements.

30th January 1998
Eid’l Fitr Day. The President hosts a luncheon for the political elite at the Presidential Palace and stood at the entrance to the reception hall to welcome his guests. The cameras snapped the most when he welcomed Habibie and Harmoko. Try looked inside the reception hall. Habibie and Harmoko were courteous towards each other, even as their supporters were huddled in different parts of the room no doubt talking political strategy. Try smiled when he saw his own supporters huddled as well

“Here comes the Soehartos”, the First Lady told him to bring his attention back.

The former First Family came in their finest garb. But Try should have known something was up when Tutut walked ahead of the group and the rest fell behind as though giving her the space required. Try shook hands with Tutut and exchanged cheek kisses. Then Tutut went on to what she needed to say to which Try nodded his head.

“I wish you the best of luck in this venture”, Try said.

31st January 1998
Unlike Habibie and Harmoko, Tutut was not zealous enough to announce her next step on the same day. Instead she waited until the next day. Unlike Habibie’s press conference or Harmoko’s breaking of the fast, Tutut’s announcement was perfectly scripted. Using the RCTI Network which Bambang owned, Tutut got herself a primetime slot and sat on a sofa in a living room which had been choreographed for the purpose. A photograph of Soeharto and Tutut hugging each other stood on a coffee table.

Tutut spoke about Indonesia’s present state of affairs. She said that much has been argued about how to get out of the present crisis. Personally, Tutut said, the nation can begin by stopping the “recent bikering” about what needs to be don, remember what Soeharto had done to develop the country, and use the steps Soeharto had taken to guide the nation to economic recovery.

“I’m a relatively successful businesswoman and I’m pretty active in social organizations. But my late father, being the stern toughmaster that he was, always told me that this is still not enough; that the true test for me will be whether I can serve my country in a public office.

Nearly five years ago when my father was forming the present cabinet, he asked me to become a minister but I rejected the opportunity to service my country. And it is his face when I told him that I cannot become a minister that has stuck with me in my mind, especially after his death two months ago.

Now I am ready, willing, and able to serve the nation. I want to do this; if not out of a sense of responsibility for the nation, then at least for the memory of my father. That is why I will be a candidate for president at the MPR Session in March.”


Oh goddamnit.

Don't let the damn Suharto family back into Indonesia again, they already screwed up Indonesia bad IOTL, dont need to do it again....
Oh goddamnit.

Don't let the damn Suharto family back into Indonesia again, they already screwed up Indonesia bad IOTL, dont need to do it again....
That bad, Huh?

In OTL, there is speculation that Soeharto was grooming Tutut to be his successor. And there's plenty of reason to believe that that's the case. Harmoko was most definitely out of favor by this point and only waiting for his term as Chairman of Golkar to be ending while Habibie's influence was fading by this point (When he became Vice President OTL, he failed to secure more appointments for his allies).
That bad, Huh?

In OTL, there is speculation that Soeharto was grooming Tutut to be his successor. And there's plenty of reason to believe that that's the case. Harmoko was most definitely out of favor by this point and only waiting for his term as Chairman of Golkar to be ending while Habibie's influence was fading by this point (When he became Vice President OTL, he failed to secure more appointments for his allies).
Yes. Suhartos family and himself were estimated to have stole 35 billion US dollars from Indonesia's economy, about $52 billion in today's money. And much of that money has never been recovered.

Also, his regime fostered a societal and epidemic disease of corruption that continues to this day, and frankly that is the worst damage his regime ever done, because corruption has infected every part of Indonesian society, and only know IOTL with the KPK it is going somewhere.

And this corruption all started with Suharto and his family. Plus cronies and partners.
6: See Things Through
6: See Things Through

1st February 1998:

President Try Sutrisno fiddled with the copy of the 1945 Constitution that lay hidden in the drawer of his desk and used it to fill in the time that was left until the broadcast. Maybe it was just the situation that he was in, but certain passages of the constitution now spoke out more clearly to him.

Article 1:

(1) The Indonesian State is a Unitary State, taking the form of a Republic.

(2) Sovereignty is in the hands of the people, and exercised in full by the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR)

Thus was the basis of the MPR’s authorities. That it was a constitutional body responsible for exercising sovereignty on behalf of the people. The MPR itself is an institution that rarely meets. It goes into session only once every 5 years normally on the final days of a presidential term with the final day of the session coinciding with the inauguration of the president and vice president. Its authorities are very broad: to determine the constitution and amend it (if so required), to determine the broad guidelines of state direction (in practice a policy wish list which is very broad and unspecific in nature), and most importantly to elect the president and vice president.

Article 2:

(1) The People’s Consultative Assembly shall comprise of members of the People’s Representative Council (DPR) with the addition of delegates from the regions and groups, in accordance with regulations stipulated in laws.

(2) The People’s Consultative Assembly shall be in session at least once in five years at the nation’s capital.

(3) All decisions of the People’s Consultative Assembly are decided with a majority of votes.

Now this was important, Try reminded himself. The MPR comprises of 1,000 delegates, half of whom doubled as members of the DPR. The remaining 500 delegates fell into 4 categories:
-149 were Regional Delegates. These were delegates which are elected by the 27 Provincial People’s Representative Council (DPRD) across the nation (4-8 delegates per province, depending on size) to represent them at the MPR Session. By convention, these delegates were the province’s governor, military commander, chief of police, along with other prominent persons of the province.

-100 were Group Delegates. So-named because they represent the various interest groups in society. The groups represented in these delegates include civil servants, businessmen, religious officials from all religions, the press, teachers, academics, and labor.

-38 were ABRI delegates. Additional representatives for ABRI in addition to the 75 in the DPR, bringing ABRI’s total representation in the MPR to 113. By convention usually includes members of the top brass such as the Commander of ABRI, the Army Chief of Staff, the Navy Chief of Staff, the Air Force Chief of Staff, and the Chief of Police.

-213 were delegates representing Golkar, PPP, and PDI in addition to their existing members in the DPR. 45 delegates will represent PPP, 163 will represent Golkar, and 5 will represent PDI.

Try continued to read the constitution.

Article 6:

(1) The President shall be a native Indonesian

(2) The President and Vice President shall be elected by the People’s Consultative Assembly by a majority of votes

1,000 votes are thus on the line: 149 Regional Delegates, 100 Group Delegates, 113 ABRI Delegates, 488 Golkar Delegates, 134 PPP Delegates, and 16 PDI Delegates.

Soeharto had been elected unanimously to his six terms as president by the MPR and had claimed the unanimous elections as proof that he has mandate. A critical observer will note, however, that most of the MPR delegates owe their positions to Soeharto and is thus not in a position to not vote for Soeharto. As an example, the Regional Delegates consists of governors and regional military commanders whose appointments Soeharto approved and Golkar’s MPR delegates comprises of cabinet ministers.

Figures close to the regime also have their seats in the MPR. The MPR which will go into session in March will consist of 4 out of Soeharto’s 6 children, Soeharto’s brother, and Soeharto’s cousin along with a sizeable amount of wives, brothers, sons, and daughters of various ministers, generals, and officials.

One might say that the MPR was built to continually re-elect Soeharto as president, Try thought. But another would argue that it was built to re-elect Soeharto only. How Try, Habibie, Harmoko, and Tutut would fare is a different story altogether. Not all will vote for Try, but not all will vote for Habibie, Harmoko, or Tutut either. The MPR now seemed more like a pit of jockeying factions eager to see their candidate sit in Soeharto’s throne rather than a body to exercise sovereignty on the people’s behalf. Golkar delegates, not to mention all the other delegations, are sure to be divided in who they vote.

“It’s nearly time, Mr. President”, Moerdiono’s voice interrupted.

Try put away the Constitution in the desk drawer and looked up at a teleprompter. Habibie had conducted a press conference, Harmoko had used his position as host, and Tutut had set up a nice little scene in her lounge. Try, on the other hand was going to use the full force of the presidency. He was dressed in the suit, tie and peci, he sat at the Presidential desk, and he had the Indonesian flag beside him. The cameraman counted down from 5, the red light went on at 0, and Try began his speech.

The President began by speaking about recent developments in the economic situation and by pledging once again that he and the Cabinet will work their hardest even as the MPR goes into session and until the election of a president, whoever that might be.

“My fellow countrymen, in recent times there have been developments in our political system. Our political system, which has thus far delivered sole candidates to be our nation’s leaders, has for the first time offered to us multiple candidates. The system which had elected President Soekarno in 1945 and President Soeharto in 1967, has now produced three candidates in Prof. Dr. Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie, Harmoko, and Siti Hardijanti Rukmana.

This marks a progress in our political system and I commend the Minister of Research and Technology, the Chairman of the DPR/MPR, and the eldest daughter of our esteemed President Soeharto for daring to take this step.

It will not just be the constitutional, but also the important, duty of the MPR to elect the president and vice president. For our economic recovery or our economic ruin lies in the next president.

My fellow countrymen, it has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as president of this country for the past two months. But in the two months that I have been in office, the biggest thing that I’ve learned is that it will take some time for this nation to make its economic recovery.

We have taken the right steps and set this nation in the right direction towards economic recovery, but it is another thing entirely to see things through. There is still the possibility that we can be wavered by demagoguery and the possibility that those of us whose interests are contrary to the national interest can still impose the agenda. And if these things happen, it will be to the detriment and ruin of all.

In the two months that I have been President, I have taken the right steps and set the nation in the right direction. And now I intend to see things through.

I hereby announce that I will be a presidential candidate at the MPR Session.”

Just a single event in the post this time so I can both explain the presidential election system used during Soeharto's New Order regime and also have Try declare his candidacy.

For those who are wondering, when Try is referring to Tutut as Siti Hardijanti Rukmana, that's not a typo. Tutut is the nickname and the name everybody knows Soeharto's eldest daughter as. Her real name is Siti Hardijanti Rukmana.

The passages from the Constitution is my translation. For comparison's sake there is also this ( translation that can be found on the internet.
7: Countdown to the MPR Session Part 1
7: Countdown to the MPR Session Part 1

2nd February 1998:

The Rupiah had gotten as low as Rp. 4,804 to the dollar after Tutut’s announcement that she will be a candidate but was bouncing back to Rp. 4,778 to the dollar after President Try Sutrisno’s announcement that he will be the running.

Newspapers had Try’s address to the nation on the front page with some variation of “The President Wants To See Things Through” as the headline. The other three candidates, Minister of Research and Technology Habibie, Chairman of DPR/MPR Harmoko, and Soeharto daughter Tutut were the definition of decorum, all welcoming Try’s candidacy. Their supporters on the other hand were beginning to sling mud at the President calling his policies “the surrender of Indonesia’s independence to the IMF”.

The President lunched with his campaign team. This comprised of Minister of Defense and Security Edi Sudrajat as the Campaign Chair along with Try’s close circle Harsudiono Hartas, Ari Sudewo, and Sugeng Subroto. Other participants in the meeting were State Secretary Moerdiono, Minister of Finance Mar’ie Muhammad, Minister of Transmigration Siswono Yudohusodo, Minister of Environment Sarwono Kusumaatmadja, and Minister of Youth and Sports Hayono Isman.

Ari Sudewo began by reporting that right now, with 4 candidates, it will be difficult to gain an absolute majority in one round of voting at the MPR. The key here will be to consolidate the support of MPR delegates who will vote for Try and woo those who have not committed their votes to vote for Try. The rest will be a game of anticipating who will vote for Try in the event that their candidate is eliminated in the vote.

The meeting agrees to appoint Harsudiono Hartas and Sarwono Kusumaatmadja to spearhead the lobbying effort of the MPR delegate. The former, on account of his past experience as ABRI Chief of of Socio-Political Affairs (1988-1993) and the latter, on account of his past experience of Golkar’s Secretary in the DPR in the seventies.

That night Try made his first effort at lobbying an MPR delegate. He called his son Isfan Fajar Satriyo and asked him if he could count on his support. “Of course, Dad”, said Isfan who found himself appointed as one of South Sumatra’s Regional Delegates.

3rd February 1998:

President Try Sutrisno appoints Bambang Subianto, Director General of Financial Institutions at the Department of Finance, to be the Head of the Indonesian Banking Restructuring Agency.

Try meets with Commander of ABRI/Army Chief of Staff Wiranto, ABRI Chief of General Staff Agum Gumelar, and ABRI Chief of Socio-Political Affair Staff Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The President bluntly asks if he can rely on ABRI’s support throughout the coming month and at the MPR Session. Wiranto said that ABRI’s stance is that Try is the constitutional successor to Soeharto and that ABRI will support Try.

Yudhoyono spoke next, saying that the dynamics inside ABRI’s delegation to the MPR is constant: The majority is ready to vote for Try, a group led by Feisal Tanjung will cast their vote for Habibie, and a still smaller group will look to vote for Tutut.

Try then asks about security arrangement for the MPR Session. Wiranto said that they will be using “loyal units” to secure the MPR Session and that Agum will be in overall command of securing the MPR Session.

Agum said that the strategy will be to use “loyal units” to guard the MPR Session. At present the forces of two units are being covertly assembled in Jakarta: Kostrad’s 1st Infantry Division and the Marine Corps’ 1st Brigade.

“We’re not using the Jakarta Military Command or the Kopassus?” asked Try.

“We’d rather not, Mr. President”, Wiranto interrupted “We’re not sure where their commanders’ loyalties lie.”

“Find a way to include them”, Try insisted “Don’t give Prabowo a pretext at trying anything rash.”

4th February 1998:
Harmoko hosted a meeting attended by executives of 27 of Golkar’s Provincial Branches. He talked about Golkar, the present economic crisis, and the international situation. The line between the Chairman of Golkar talking about matters of the state and a Presidential candidate showing off his policy knowledge was blurred.

The President met a guest from Central Java today. Brig. Gen. (ret.) Alip Pandoyo was a former subordinate during the Try’s time as Jakarta Military Commander (1983-1985). Pandoyo is now Chairman of the Central Java Provincial Branch of Golkar in addition being the Chairman of the Central Java DPRD, making him the head of the provincial legislature in Central Java. In addition to all that, Pandoyo will also be an MPR Delegate representing Central Java. Pandoyo came to the President after attending Harmoko’s meeting.

Pandoyo pledged his support to Try and promises to get others to vote for him as well. He also reports that significant amounts of money are being paid out to the chairmen of the Golkar Provincial Branches all around Indonesia from the Dakab Foundation.

Try raised his eyebrow at that. The Dakab Foundation was Soeharto’s way of ensuring that he controlled Golkar’s purse strings. All donations and all the funds raised for Golkar’s political activities were stored in the foundations’ coffers. The President asked Pandoyo how has the reaction been to this “financial incentivizing”. Pandoyo replied that most has taken the money and pledged their loyalty, a minority has rejected it, and others have taken the money but will vote for another candidate.

Try asked Pandoyo what group did he belong to. Pandoyo smiled and said that he has taken the money but will vote for Try.

After Pandoyo left, Try talked to Moerdiono about the money that was being paid out.

“It wouldn’t surprised me in the slightest if Tutut has now assumed the chairmanship of not only Dakab, but all of President Soeharto’s foundations”, Moerdiono said.

“A bit hush-hush, don’t you think”, Try said “No official announcements or anything.”

“President Soeharto’s foundations are not exactly the paragons of transparancy, Mr. President” Moerdiono asked back “I’m the Vice Chairman of Dakab and this is the first I’m hearing about all these funds being dispersed.”

5th February 1998:
Rupiah continues to improve, reaching Rp. 4,711 to the dollar. The smallscale projects the President approved has been largely concentrated in cities and have provided employment for laid-off employees and the young urban poor. When payments in cash are not possible, payments in kind (in rice and cooking oil) have been provided.

Pamphlets were spread throughout Jakarta. It told the story of the Tanjung Priok Massacre in 1984 when Islamist demonstrators calling for the release of 4 members of the community detained for preventing an alleged Mosque desceration was shot at by Army personnel. The pamphlet emphasized the fact that the officer in charge was the then Commander of the Jakarta Military Command, Major General Try Sutrisno.

Try meets with Minister of Finance Mar’ie Muhammad and Minister of Civil Service Reform TB Silalahi. He orders for a restructuring of the cabinet so that the size of the ministries will be smaller, there is more efficiency, and there are more funds to be used for economic recovery.

Siswono Yudohusodo reports to Try that State Owned Television (TVRI) is giving noticeably more coverage of Tutut’s activities. Siswono smiles and jokes that it’s probably not a surprise given who Hartono will be supporting at the MPR Session. Try looks tense and unhappy.

7th February 1998:

Wiranto presents the security arrangements for the MPR Session to Try. Holding operational command over all the units which will be in Jakarta at that time will be Agum Gumelar with Prabowo Subianto as his deputy. The following units have also been chosen to provide security for the MPR Session:

-The 1st Infantry Division of Kostrad

-Kopassus’ Group 4 which specializes in counter-terrorism

-The 1st Brigade of the Marine Corps

-The Police’s Mobile Brigade

-The 1st Brigade of the Jakarta Military Command

Further to the units above, Major General Djamari Chaniago, Commander of the West Java Regional Military Command and a Wiranto ally, will also order his men to take up forward positions at the Jakarta-West Java border in case anything happens. The President approves of the arrangement.

Try summoned Minister of Information Hartono. The President dressed down the minister and asked why the TVRI is increasing its coverage of Tutut and if it had anything to do with Tutut’s presidential candidacy. “Absolutely, Mr. President. By being a presidential candidate, Tutut’s activities are now a matter of public interest” said Hartono with a little too much defiance in his tone before smirking and adding “You shouldn’t complain , Mr. President. It’s your activities that the TVRI never fails to cover, after all.”

8th February 1998
Try holds a meeting with his team of supporters. Here are the highlights of the meeting:

-The black campaign going on against Try was probably to be expected now that the President has declared his candidacy.
-The meeting regrets Try summoning and scolding Hartono. The President looks regretful but keeps on insisting “I’m not a big fan of the guy, honestly I’m not.”
-Lobbying of MPR delegates are being carried out in numerous ways. Tutut and Harmoko are vying for the support of the Golkar provincial branches, Harmoko by using his authority and Tutut by outright bribery. Habibie is working the regional delegates and is thought to have most of the regional delegates from his native Sulawesi locked up.
-Harsudiono and Sarwono, acting on Try’s behalf, are working on the Group Delegates and Regional Delegates from Java. They are trying to appeal to them to be conservative and to stick with the President so that he can see the economic recovery through.
-Golkar remains the key because the largest amount of delegates belongs to Golkar. They may not get all of the Golkar votes, but it would be a great help if they can control at least 40% of the Golkar delegates. Siswono says at some point, the President must meet with Minister of National Development Planning Ginandjar Kartasasmita at some point because he’s the chair of the Golkar MPR Delegation.

9th February 1998
At the DPR/MPR building, Ahmad Sumargono, Chairman of the Indonesian Committee for World Islamic Solidarity (KISDI), an Islamist organization leads a crowd of between 500-1000 people to protest at the Presidential Palace against Try. In his public address, Sumargono tore into Try saying that the rise of his government does not a represent a victory for the Islamic people. On the contrary, it represents a tragedy because of the blood of Muslims that Try has spilled 23 years ago at Tanjung Priok. Sumargono calls upon the MPR not to re-elect Try as President or else there will be a revolution in Indonesia.

Harmoko met with Sumargono and promised that he will forward his opinions to the President.

10th February 1998
President Try Sutrisno officially opens the annual ABRI Leadership Meeting today. In his address, Try calls ABRI to fulfill its Dual Function wholeheartedly in the near future. In its defense and security functions, ABRI must provide the most secure environment for the upcoming MPR Session while in its socio-political function, ABRI will take part in voting for the next President. Try calls upon ABRI’s officer corps to do what is best for the nation.

Later that night, while attending a Muhammadiyah function hosted by Amien Rais, Habibie was asked about the President’s comments.

“Well, everyone has got to use the advantage that they have. So the President naturally will use his incumbency and part of that is his status as Supreme Commander of ABRI. No harm done”, said Habibie

“But this means he shouldn’t complain if the other presidential candidates are doing what they can and using what advantages they have to promote themselves as candidates”, Habibie continued “I wouldn’t begrudge Madam Tutut, for example, if she uses her links with Minister of Information Hartono to get more coverage in the TVRI.”

Watching this on TV, Try could only surmise that Habibie and Hartono had been talking to each other.

12th February 1998:
Try, accompanied by State Secretary Moerdiono, met with Minister of Finance Mar’ie Muhammad and Governor of the Central Bank Soedradjad Djiwandono to meet about the implementation of the IMF Reforms since the second agreement a month ago.

The major IMF Reforms implemented thus far are the formation of IBRA the abolition of taxes on the flow of goods across provinces and regencies. The defunding of the Minister of Research and Technology’s Indonesian Aviations Industry, the abolition of the Clove Marketing Board (BPPC) the abolition of plywood cartel and the lowering of various tariffs and import duties remain to be done.

Both Mar’ie and Soedradjad conclude that they are at stage right now where the reforms that may be conducted through their policy areas have been done so. The remainder is something that needs to be consulted with Cabinet and where the implementation will rely on the assistance of the relevant minister.

Try grunted at the idea. The BPPC was a monopoly to market cloves given by Soeharto to his son Tommy. Tommy then becomes a middleman, buying cheap and selling at high prices to get his profits. The program fell under the purview of Minister of Small Business and Cooperatives Subijakto Tjakrawerdaya, a minister who was loyal to Soeharto and his family. Sure, Try could sign on the dotted line that the BPPC has been disbanded. But its implementation will be another story.

“It’s not all bad though, Mr. President”, consoled Soedradjad “You’ve handled the economic crisis very well.”

“I agree, Mr. President”, said Mar’ie “In an alternative reality, we could be doing a lot worst.”

“Thank you”, said Try.

“But we’re not out of the woods yet, we’ve got to see the economic recovery through if you don’t mind my saying”, Moerdiono interrupted “Which is why you have to win at the MPR Session in two weeks’ time.”

“No pressure, right”, asked the Try.

For the Tanjung Priok Massacre mentioned in the TL's 5th February 1998 event, please refer to
Hows the private TV media doing in Indonesia ITTL?

Currently the main private TV networks circa 1998 in Indonesia are RCTI and SCTV.
Hows the private TV media doing in Indonesia ITTL?

Currently the main private TV networks circa 1998 in Indonesia are RCTI and SCTV.
RCTI and SCTV are for Tutut because they are owned by Bambang Soeharto.

There is also TPI (Indonesian Education TV) which is owned by Tutut and will be for her as well.

Anteve is owned by Aburizal Bakrie and its CEO is Agung Laksono. Both are ethnic Indonesian businessman. The latter is an aspiring politician close to both Harmoko and Tutut. Their editorial line in this timeline will be neutral (read: owner and CEO hedging their bets)

Indosiar is owned by Liem Sioe Liong. Ethnic Chinese and close crony of Soeharto. They are neutral as well (hedging their bets).

All of course are mandated to relay the government's TVRI 9 PM news. The TVRI itself is state-owned, but is an agency of the Department of Information. Hartono is subtly subverting it's pro-government stance so that Tutut is getting coverage here as well. Which is why Try got mad at him.

The presidential election is an indirect one though. It's all down to the politicking of the 4 candidates and their supporters, though some attempt to build a media presence will be part of their campaign.
8: Countdown to the MPR Session Pt. 2

13th February 1998:

The units assigned for the MPR Session begin to take up their positions. The Jakarta Military Command under Maj. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin still has military jurisdiction over Jakarta, but it was the units proposed by Gen. Wiranto which guarded the city’s strategic spots, especially in and around the DPR/MPR building.

Lt. Gen. Agum Gumelar, the ABRI Chief of the General Staff and commander of the MPR’s security operation, could be seen walking around donning his red beret. Wiranto smiled when saw the red beret. Prabowo may be the commander of Kopassus and Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin’s background is Kopassus but Agum also has his links to the Kopassus including a stint as a former Commander of Kopassus.

The President today approved of Governor of Central Bank Soedradjad Djiwandono’s proposal that the deposits of those with accounts in the 16 liquidated banks in November 1997 be guaranteed and be restored in presently existing banks.

14th February 1998:
Try met with his “real economy” ministers. The meeting included Coordinating Minister of Production and Distribution Hartarto, Minister of Trade and Industry Tungky Ariwibowo, Minister of Agriculture Sjarifuddin Baharsjah, Minister of Transportation Haryanto Dhanutirto, Minister of Public Works Radinal Mochtar, Minister of Manpower Abdul Latief, and Minister of Tourism, Post, and Telecommunication Joop Ave. The following were the conclusions drawn from the meeting:

-The economy is slowing down again after a spike of activities during the Ramadhan month. The Rupiah is presently at Rp. 4,720 to the dollar.

-People are being laid off, especially in the construction and manufacturing sectors. The effects of the increased unemployment has been absorbed somewhat by the labor-intensive projects launched by both the government and the provincial governments. But more will be unemployed if the economy does not grow.

-The effect of the dollar has been increased prices in imports. Agricultural import prices are soaring through the roof while transportation companies are struggling with maintenance because most of its spare parts are imported. This has increased the nation’s inflationary pressures.

-The prospects for exports and tourism for the year looks good because it’s cheaper to buy Indonesian goods and to travel to Indonesia. But the currency reserves earned from these two sectors will be for nothing if the imports are still flooding in at a higher price.

The President ordered the labor-intensive projects to be focused at repairing vital roads to facilitate the distribution of goods, especially rice, across the economy. Regarding expensive imports in agriculture, Try encouraged the consumption of Indonesian agricultural produce. Try said that there ought to be no increase in prices in government-operated transportation because the government has not raised fuel prices or ticket prices. Lastly, Try ordered that high-yielding seedlings should be distributed across the country and its utilization encouraged to boost agricultural production especially in the upcoming planting season.

15th February 1998:
Tutut, accompanied by her siblings and supporters, pay her respects at Soeharto’s tomb in Central Java.

Back at Jakarta, Try spent Sunday lunch with his inner circle watching the news of Tutut’s visit to Soeharto’s tomb. Harsudiono Hartas and Chief of BAKIN Ari Sudewo scribbled furiously to note the faces standing with Tutut.

Try talked about the events of the week, how it seemed the Habibie and Hartono had been in communications with each other and asked what are the prospects of his opponents gathering together in a coalition. Harsudiono said that Hartono on his own might enter into a coalition with Habibie, but Hartono supports Tutut and Tutut does not approve of Habibie.

Edi Sudrajat quipped that that was the beauty of Soeharto’s divide and conquer. Habibie saw Harmoko as a rival for the status of the regime’s most prominent civilian and underestimated Tutut. Tutut resented Habibie’s closeness with her father and does not think much of Harmoko. Harmoko returns Habibie’s feelings for him and detests Tutut for undermining his authority as Chairman of Golkar.

Habibie dined together with the PPP delegation to the MPR and the Chairman of the PPP Ismail Hasan Metareum. Habibie claims that as president, he will take Islam in Indonesia and Indonesian Muslims into a golden age in the 21st Century.

16th February 1998:
Golkar’s DPR Members held a meeting led by its chairman and Harmoko supporter Irsyad Sudiro. The meeting agreed that the budget proposed by the government was in order but the argument was put forward was that it was not fair if the budget, which contains Try’s programs, is passed and a new president elected. That would mean that the new president will be locked to Try’s program for a year. After a vote of 230 to 95, it was agreed that the budget bill would only be passed after the MPR Session.

The news was delivered by Moerdiono to Try on the same day. “I guess the DPR wants to see who will be elected president at the MPR Session”, Try said.

17th February 1998:
Try chairs a security meeting attended by Minister of Home Affairs Yogie S. Memet, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Alatas, Minister of Defense and Security Edi Sudrajat, Minister of Justice Oetojo Oesman, Minister of Information Hartono, Commander of ABRI/Army Chief of Staff Wiranto, Attorney General Singgih and Chief of BAKIN Ari Sudewo.

The security situation in the nation at present is conducive and that is due to the government’s ability to mitigate the effect of the financial crisis. Had the currency been allowed to fall further, the nation would be in real trouble. The provinces are under control with the regional military commanders having been ordered on standby in the lead up to the MPR Session. Local neighborhoods in urban areas are taking initiatives to establish neighborhood watches throughout the course of the MPR Session.

“All efforts are to be made to maintain this situation” Try said “At the first sign of disorder, quick and decisive actions must be taken by the authorities. Tell the populace to be on guard for provocation.”

On the international front, Ali Alatas reports that the IMF is monitoring the situation in Indonesia. They will be back in early April to check the progress of the IMF Reforms signed the previous month.

18th February 1998:
Habibie hosts the MPR Delegates from his native South Sulawesi whether from the Regional Delegates, Group Delegates, and Golkar. Habibie appeals for their support and promises to take the Indonesian economy to pre-crisis levels. He says that the government has no reason to be proud of its achievement because the Rupiah has lost 100% of its value.

Elsewhere in Jakarta, Tutut and the rest of the Soeharto children are handing out basic commodity packages to the urban poor. “There’ll be low inflation, economic growth, and stability when I’m president”, Tutut said “It’ll be just like before.”

At the Palace, Try met with Harmoko. Harmoko forwarded Sumargono’s aspirations from the previous week to Try (“That’s nice”).

Harmoko says that as Chairman of the MPR, there are some administrative matters to attend to. Soesilo Soedarman’s death meant there is a vacancy in Golkar’s North Sumatra Delegation and proposes that Feisal Tanjung be appointed to Golkar’s North Sumatra delegation because he is not Commander of ABRI anymore, Agum Gumelar can take Feisal Tanjung’s place in ABRI’s MPR Delegation, and the DPRD of South Sulawesi has nominated Kivlan Zein to take up Agum’s spot in the Regional Delegates. Try approved.

Harmoko said he mostly came in his capacity as Chairman of Golkar because the matter of who Golkar’s presidential candidate at the MPR has not be settled yet. The President agrees to convene the Golkar Council of Patrons and the Golkar Executive Council, scheduled in two days’ time.

19th February 1998:
Megawati Soekarnoputri visits Abdurrahman Wahid, the latter still recovering from stroke, at his home. Megawati asks Wahid what to make of the politicking and the maneuvering ahead of the MPR Session. Wahid jokes that it’s quite the spectator sport watching Soeharto’s followers tear themselves apart after he’s gone. Megawati looked too serious to joke around.

“We’re both locked out of the political system by Soeharto but we need to do our part to make sure the right person wins”, Wahid finally said solemnly “I’m sure you still got some access into the PDI delegates and there’s a few Nahdlatul Ulama people in the PPP, we both can still do our part”.

20th February 1998:
In a packed house at Teuku Umar Street in Menteng, Golkar’s Council of Patrons and Executive Council had a meeting. Try opened the meeting by saying that this meeting has been convened because Golkar officially still does not have a presidential candidate despite the fact that 4 of its members have announced their candidacies.

There were a few suggestions. Akbar Tandjung, Minister of Housing and Secretary of the Council of Patrons suggests a vote then and there with the winner going on to be Golkar’s presidential candidate.

Ary Mardjono, Secretary of the Executive Council said that Golkar’s presidential candidate should be determined by a consensus as is custom during the New Order. Yogie S Memet, Minister of Home Affairs and member of the Council of Patrons shook his head, the regions will be angered if a vote or an agreement are taken without their participation.

Habibie said that he still prefers a contest at the MPR Session to settle everything, Harmoko countered that it still doesn’t solve who Golkar’s presidential candidate will be and Try asked if there are any mechanisms which can allow Golkar to nominate multiple candidates.

The answer came from Abdul Gafur, who was Vice Chairman of Golkar, Vice Chairman of DPR, and Vice Chairman of the MPR. Gafur said that at present, a presidential candidacy at the MPR must be officially sponsored by a delegation, whether Golkar, PPP, PDI or otherwise. Gafur proposed that rather than the official sponsorship of a delegation, the candidate should go around and collect a certain number of signatures from the MPR members to show that they enjoy a level of support in the MPR. If the candidate reaches this number, then they are officially a candidate. Gafur adds that this falls in the MPR’s jurisdiction and it will be for the MPR to accept this suggestion.

There was unanimous agreement at Gafur’s suggestion from the meeting. Try asked that this issue be addressed at the MPR Session by the Golkar delegation.

Just when everyone thought that the meeting was over Try spoke again.

“Recently, I have received information that money have been transferred from the Dakab Foundation into the bank accounts of the Chairmen of Golkar’s provincial branches. I would like to confirm whether or not this information is correct”, Try said.

Habibie was shocked. Harmoko on the other hand was white with rage. He immediately glared at Bambang Trihatmodjo, Soeharto’s son and Golkar’s Treasurer. Harmoko was about to ask when Tutut spoke up.

“It's true”, Tutut said rather defiantly “I have asked that the funds be transferred into the accounts of the provincial branches to help with their political struggle for the upcoming MPR Session.”

Harmoko shook. All throughout his term as Chairman of Golkar he had faced Tutut’s audacity to undermine him in her capacity as Vice Chairman but never thought Tutut could go so far. He almost wished he could disappear.

“If that is the case, I am invoking my authority as Chairman of the Council of Patrons to veto the activities of the Golkar Executive Council”, Try said while glaring at Tutut “I hereby freeze the activities of Golkar’s Treasury until the end of the MPR Session.”

There being no other business of the Council of Patrons, Try concluded the meeting. As he was about to depart, Bambang approached him.

“You’ve become hostile towards us since becoming president”, Bambang said.

“I haven’t”, Try retorted “I’ve only asked you and your siblings to play your part in the nation’s economic recovery.”

“It seems to me, Mr. President, you’re deliberately picking on us and our businesses so that you can claim that you are doing something about the economy”, Bambang continued.

“Bambang”, Try sighed “I’ve only asked you to play by the same rules as everyone else, without any privileges. But the way you’re talking to me, it’s like I’ve asked you to close down your businesses or declare bankruptcy or something.”

“I didn’t really like it that my sister chose to run for the presidency”, Bambang replied with a sad look in his face “But if that is way of things, I will have to support her over you.”

And so we continue the buildup to the MPR Session.

The conversation between Try and Bambang at the end is a point of divergence with the OTL. OTL Bambang is a strong supporter of Try and actually wanted his father to pick Try over Habibie as vice president in 1998.
I would have expected Tommy to go crazy first in the intervening months but it's all plausible.
Who would have thought freezing high-level corruption and pilih kasih would save the economy, right?
I think IOTL rupiah reaches 20,000/$ by this month or the next?
8: Countdown to the MPR Session Part 2
I would have expected Tommy to go crazy first in the intervening months but it's all plausible.
Who would have thought freezing high-level corruption and pilih kasih would save the economy, right?
I think IOTL rupiah reaches 20,000/$ by this month or the next?
Rupiah reached a low of 17,000/$ in the OTL at January 1998 when Soeharto announced that his running mate at the MPR Session will be Habibie.

Actually, I've been wanting to explain something. I've always been of the opinion that the reason the Rupiah got that bad in the OTL was because of political rather than policy reasons. These include:
-Soeharto wavering between sensible policies vs. continuing to give special privileges to children and cronies.
-In OTL, Soeharto's illness in late November-early December was badly managed. He quite literally disappeared for a period of 10 days leading people to speculate that he is dead.
-The OTL Draft Budget delivered to the DPR in January 1998 was a joke with the best measure being "Badai pasti berlalu (this too shall pass)".
-Soeharto wavering between implementing IMF Reforms vs. continuing to give special privileges to children and cronies.

The Rupiah ITTL in the last post is Rp. 4,700ish to the dollar as opposed to Rp. 10,000ish to the dollar OTL because the politics and the policy has been better managed. And this in turn builds its own momentum because Try was able to gain more leverage in negotiating with the IMF and more leeway from the IMF in what he was able to do.
Watching this thread. I'm curious as to whether Tutut's TV ads would change anything. Do they even have any support in the parliament at the time? Debates would be quite tricky too, as all her opponents, people with a much better CV than her could easily dismantle her association with daddy dearest.
Watching this thread. I'm curious as to whether Tutut's TV ads would change anything. Do they even have any support in the parliament at the time? Debates would be quite tricky too, as all her opponents, people with a much better CV than her could easily dismantle her association with daddy dearest.
Tutut at this stage had plenty of support. She's a Vice Chairman of Golkar and her political star is on the rise. But it's a bit of a clusterfuck for Golkar because all of 4 Presidential candidates all claim Golkar as their political home.

The ads are more for publicity rather than for any real political impact because it's we're still in a indirect presidential election system and the real lobbying is to be done among the MPR Delegates. The ads are more for a "Hey look, my company continues to employ people even throughout this crisis" effect.

Keep tuning in. The MPR Session is coming pretty soon.
9: Countdown to the MPR Session Part 3
9: Countdown to the MPR Session (Final Part)
21st February 1998

President Try Sutrisno today invited 3 stalwarts of the New Order to the Presidential Palace:

-Gen. (Ret.) Benny Murdani, former Commander of ABRI (1983-1988)

-Prof. Dr. Widjojo Nitisastro, former Minister of National Development Planning (1967-1983)

-and Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Sudharmono, former State Secretary (1972-1988), former Chairman of Golkar (1983-1988), and Try’s immediate predecessor as vice president (1988-1993).

They had a meeting which carried on through lunch. Try used it to pick their brains on various issues and to ask them to influence their supporters to vote for him at the MPR Session. All three promise to do their part to exert their influence. After the meeting was over, all four posed for the cameras.

Observers of Indonesian politics pointed out that this meeting and photo-op was a masterstroke.

“Try has more than just matched Tutut’s visit to Soeharto’s tomb with this move. While Tutut associated herself with Soeharto, Try has associated himself with the New Order and what it stands for, security and stability (represented by Benny), economic growth (represented by Widjojo), and administrative order (represented by Sudharmono. While Tutut has associated herself with personalities, Try has associated himself with ideas.”- R. William Liddle, Political Science Professor at at Ohio University

22nd February 1998
MPR delegates from around Indonesia begin to arrive in Jakarta. They are allocated to hotels based on the delegation that they belong to. Pretty soon news begin to eke out of lunches, dinners, get-togethers, and chats at plush hotel lobbies as efforts get underway to influence MPR delegates to vote a certain way.

At the Presidential Palace, an interesting meeting was taking place. Try, in his capacity as Golkar’s Chairman of the Council of Patrons was scheduled to receive a briefing from Ginandjar Kartasasmita, in the latter’s capacity as Chairman of Golkar’s MPR Delegation, about the amendments he had ordered at the Council of Patrons two days prior. As it concerned the presidential elections, Try also invited BJ Habibie, Harmoko, and Tutut to the meeting. All candidates were allowed to bring a maximum of two supporters to the meeting.

Try brought Edi Sudrajat and Harsudiono Hartas to the meeting, Habibie brought Feisal Tanjung and Amien Rais, Tutut brought Hartono and Bambang Trihatmodjo, and Harmoko brought Irsyad Sudiro and Fahmi Idris.

Ginandjar explained that what they would like to amend is Resolution 2/MPR/1973 regarding Procedures to Elect the President and Vice President of the Republic of Indonesia.

The nominating process is contained in Article 9 which at present reads:
“Presidential Candidates are nominated by the Delegation in writing and submitted to the Assembly’s Chairman via the Chairman of the nominating Delegation with the agreement of the concerned candidate”.

In the proposed amendment, Article 9 becomes Article 9 (1) and “Presidential Candidates are nominated” is amended to “Presidential Candidates may be nominated.”

An Article 9 (2) is put in, which reads:

“Presidential Candidates may be nominated by individual Delegates and all nominations shall be valid if the Candidates enjoys the support of at least 100 Delegates.”

Try approved of the amendments after asking if the amendment satisfied all the other candidates. He wanted to tell them to relax but it looked like they were not in a joking mod.

Try saw Amien Rais whispering in Habibie’s ear about something. Habibie then said that he would like the meeting to have a look at Articles 15.

Article 15 reads as follows:

"In the event that no candidate have obtained more than half of the votes in the ballot as intended in Article 14 of this Resolution, a run-off secret ballot shall be conducted for the two candidates who have obtained more votes than the other candidate."

“This article implies that after the first round of balloting, the lowest vote getter is eliminated, which is only fair, but only the top two candidates will make it to the run-off ballot”, Habibie said “There are four of us. What happens to the third placed candidate?”

“You see yourself coming third?” Tutut asked in a taunting tone.

Try stopped things before it got out of hand and asked Habibie what he would like to propose. Amien Rais whispered again in Habibie’s ear.

Habibie said that the sentence “a run-off secret ballot shall be conducted for the two candidates who have obtained more votes than the other candidate” be amended to “a run-off secret ballot shall be conducted for the remaining candidates.

Harmoko agreed to the amendments Habibie proposed. Tutut shrugged and agreed as well. Try gave his approval and instructed Ginandjar that the amendments be proposed at the MPR Session.

23rd February 1998
Try was seeing a lot of Ginandjar Kartasasmita. In his capacity as Minister of National Development Planning that day, Ginandjar reported that all the end of term reports from all the government departments and agencies have been received at his department and that he’s handing them over to Moerdiono so that the President’s Accountability Address can start to be written.

Ginandjar Kartasamita is one of Indonesian politics rising stars. Ginandjar’s academic titles (Professor Doctor Engineer) not to mention his civilian postings tended to make one forget that he is an Air Force Vice Marshal. He had spent most of his career in the State Secretariat before Soeharto’s favor guided him to become Minister of Mining and Energy (1988-1993) and Minister of National Development Planning (1993-1998). Had Soeharto’s favor come earlier, Ginandjar would definitely have been contending for the presidency at the upcoming MPR Session. As it were, he was at most a dark horse but one who could definitely play kingmaker because as Chairman of Golkar’s MPR Delegation, he had authority over 488 MPR Delegates.

Try took advantage of the fact that he was meeting with Ginandjar to talk about the MPR Session. He asked how the 4 candidates were looking in terms of support from the Golkar delegates.

Try asked Ginandjar how the candidates were looking in terms of support from the Golkar delegates.

Ginandjar said support “were all over the place” because all four candidates have their pockets of support. Nobody will be getting a majority of the votes from the Golkar delegations, at least in the first round.

“In whose pocket of support are you?” Try asked.

Ginandjar smiled. He revealed that all of the other candidates have come to ask for his support and have offered him rewards for supporting them. Habibie and Harmoko both offered him the vice presidency while Tutut offered him the state secretary’s position. Ginandjar asked if Try can match that offer.

“It’s not that big of a deal being vice president unless you get off on having your official portrait hung side by side with the president’s in public places, I can assure you”, Try said.

Ginandjar said that if Try can match their offers it would be nice. Ginandjar hoped that there will be equal economic opportunities for indigenous Indonesian businessmen to be as successful as their Indonesian Chinese counterparts. He said that he wanted to know where the President stood on the issue but said that there’s no rush.

“Until then, Mr. President, I will tell you what I have told the other candidates: I haven’t committed to supporting anyone yet”, Ginandjar said.

“Very well”, said Try in a tone that said the meeting is over.

Ginandjar was about to leave when Try began speaking again.

“I’ll consider my position on the equal economic opportunities issue”, Try began “But as far as you’re concerned, you’ll be in the next cabinet, you’ll get a prominent ministerial position, and you’ll get to prove that Habibie’s not the only technologist this government has”.

24th February 1998
Try met with Minister of Civil Service Reform TB Silalahi who came to him with a proposal as to how the next cabinet could be organized along more efficient lines. “Let’s hope I’m going to be there to implement these proposals”, the President said.

Try dined with his campaign team to discuss about the latest developments:
-Siswono Yudohusodo commented that he didn’t realize Ginandjar was such a tough customer but Sarwono quipped at least Ginandjar has not committed to anyone. -When Try talked about Ginandjar’s question of where he stood on the issue of economic opportunity for indigenous Indonesian businessmen, Edi Sudrajat said that’s just Ginandjar being tricky but Harsudiono said that Ginandjar has a legitimate right to ask questions regarding policy. In any case, both agree to continue lobbying for support from other MPR Delegates and return to Ginandjar later.

-Mar’ie Muhammad commented that Ginandjar was not the only prominent non-committal MPR Member. Akbar Tandjung is also still uncommitted. Mar’ie knows this because he lunched with Akbar Tandjung the day prior. Akbar interrogated Mar’ie over who the latter would be supporting but refused to reveal where he stood. Mar’ie said that he had known Akbar from their days as fellow members of the Islamic Students Association (HMI) and that Akbar had the ability to attract other former HMI members in the MPR to support who he’s supporting.

-Another issue which the team wants to bring to Try’s attention is the vice presidency. The vice president will be elected in a separate ballot at the MPR Session but the team would like Try to begin thinking about who he would like as vice president.

25th February 1998
Try meets with Lt. Gen. Sutiyoso, the Governor of Jakarta and asks him how the city is doing. Sutiyoso said that the city is doing well. The unemployed are kept busy with the central government’s labor-intensive projects supplemented by the city’s own labor-intensive projects. Other than that activities in the city will go on as normal but traffic will be diverted from the MPR Building throughout the course of the MPR Session.

In a bid to match Tutut’s visit to Soeharto’s tomb and Try’s fourway meeting with the New Order stalwarts, Habibie visited Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Ibnu Sutowo at the latter’s home. Ibnu Sutowo was a close associate of Soeharto and one-time CEO of Pertamina (1968-1976), the state-owned oil and gas company.

There were strong parallels between the two. Both grew to have influence well beyond their official positions which manifested itself in large expensive projects they believe will add to Indonesia’s stature as a nation. The only difference was that Soeharto kept Habibie on a shorter leash because Ibnu caused a debt crisis in his efforts to finance his projects, a crisis which ended Ibnu’s career.

26th February 1998
Accompanied by Commander of ABRI/Army Chief of Staff Wiranto, Try inspected the units assigned for the duty of securing the MPR Session. The President was also accompanied by ABRI Chief of General Staff Agum Gumelar and Commander of Kopassus Prabowo Subianto who will be holding command over the security efforts at the MPR Session. Try was satisfied with what he saw and wished the personnel all the best of luck.

27th February 1998
Try chaired a full cabinet meeting. The only agenda for the meeting was to hear reports about the state of the nation’s economy as the term approached its end by Coordinating Minister of Economics Saleh Afiff.

The Coordinating Minister reported that economic activity for January-February 1998 is slow compared to January-February 1997 with growth driven by the demand in the Ramadhan to Eid’l Fitr season. The Rupiah has now reached Rp. 4,816 to the dollar on account of rising political temperature ahead of the MPR Session. Inflationary pressures still exist because of more expensive imports and the small-scale labor-intensive projects are only mitigating but not preventing the increase in unemployment.

When the minister had finished, the President spoke his response.

“Well ladies and gentlemen of the Sixth Development Cabinet, that is how things stand at the end of this term. By no means is this crisis over. More decisive action will be required to ensure that the economy recovers, regardless of who is president, at the end of the MPR Session.

We still have slightly less than 2 weeks left to go in the term. But with the MPR Session preoccupying us, it is likely that this will be the last time we are meeting.

I would like to thank all of you for your contributions these last five years but even more specifically these last three months. I know I’m not the president who appointed you to your present positions but I think we have made the best of the situation.

I wish you all the best of luck and may we always continue to serve this nation wherever circumstances puts us.”

Thus was the final meeting of the Sixth Development Cabinet. When the meeting was over, the President and the ministers farewelled each other by shaking hands and the cameras were invited into the cabinet room to record the moments for posterity. There were a lot of flashes when Try shook hands with Habibie.

“Good luck, Minister”, said Try.

“But not too much eh, Mr. President?”, replied Habibie.

At the MPR building, Harmoko was overseeing preparations. The media throng covering him felt cheeky and asked him if he was “going to have a meeting with any past prominent figures from the New Order” the way the other candidates had.

Harmoko said that some are part of the elite and may want to emphasize those links, but the prominent figures of the New Order who he will be associating with are the ordinary people he encountered in his travels. “I associate myself with the Indonesian people and hope that the MPR will acknowledge that by electing me as president”, Harmoko said.

28th February 1998
The President today approved of Minister of Education and Culture Wardiman Djojonegoro’s plan to allow foreign universities to open in Indonesia. Try appreciated the fact that Wardiman was still working till the very last moment even if he knew Wardiman was going to vote for Habibie at the MPR Session. “Whoever the president will be, let’s hope you will get chance to implement the policy”, said Try.

Wardiman was Try’s only official appointment for the day. Most of the day was spent poring over the final draft of the Accountability Address with Moerdiono and the usual presidential paperwork.

That night, he had a meeting with his war council: Edi Sudrajat, Ari Sudewo, Harsudiono Hartas, and Sugeng Subroto.

Edi Sudrajat reported that so far they’ve got about 150ish confirmed votes. The team will try to convince others to vote for Try during the course of the session.

Sugeng Subroto read out his report. Tutut is drawing her support in the MPR mainly from Golkar, the Group Delegates, and a small ABRI Contingent. The bulk of Harmoko’s supporters will be coming from Golkar. On the other hand, Habibie has got a mixture of Golkar, Regional Delegates, a PPP contingent and an ABRI contingent pledged to him.

Try so far has got the broadest support base out of the candidates in the MPR with a mixture of Golkar, Regional Delegates, Group Delegates, and the largest ABRI Contingent pledging for him.

Ari Sudewo said that based on his intel:

-Tutut is trying to win it all in one round by trying to send her spear carriers to target swaying MPR delegates as well as getting Try and Harmoko supporters to switch their votes.

-Habibie is only setting himself the target of making it to the next round and see how his cards fall then.

-Harmoko is trying to broaden his support base to more than just Golkar members.

“Ok then”, said Try “So what’s our strategy?”

“Survive”, Harsudiono Hartas finally spoke “Let’s do that first and then think about winning.”

“In other words, Habibie’s got the right idea about how to approach this?” asked Edi.

“Well, we’re not just going to be satisfied with just getting to the next round”, retorted Harsudiono.

Try watched his friends begin to get into a debate with each other about how best to approach the MPR Session and began to zone out; thinking about the three months that had passed and all that had occurred.

He remembered the conversation he had with Benny Murdani a week into holding office; how Benny said that nation’s economic recovery would only be decided in the next term and how there are those who hoped that Try’s presidency would only be a short one. At the time, Try had been aghast at the idea that he had to begin seeking re-election a mere week after assuming office.

Now, there was a steely determination that Try did not recognize before in himself. A resolution that he was going into a fight with the intention of winning.

I do want to be president, Try thought to himself.

Well the countdown is over. Probably the key moment is Try's conversation with Ginandjar Kartasasmita. OTL Ginandjar was a dark horse vice presidential candidate and there were rumors that he intended to use his position as Chairman of the Golkar MPR Delegation to leverage himself into the vice presidency. When Soeharto announced that he wanted Habibie to be his vice president, he didn't explicitly mention Habibie's name but famously said the new vice president ought to master "Science and technology". Ginandjar thought that that criteria suited him and was thought to fancy his chances. However his candidacy never got off the ground and he was reportedly told by Soeharto back down. OTL Ginandjar is also known for his pro-indigenous Indonesian businessmen stance.
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Shouldn't this be Technocrat ? In any case, this is a great TL !! And it's definitely very very enjoyable to read. Do you have any book recommendations though for politics during Orde Baru ?
I found that it's normally used to refer to Widjojo Nitsastro and Co. rather than Habibie.

As far as book recommendations about Orde Baru politics go, I recommend Managing Indonesia: The Modern Political Economy by John Bresnan. Another I would recommend is Michael Vatikiotis' Indonesian Politics Under Suharto: The Rise and Fall of the New Order. Vatikiotis' book is almost like the prequel to the TL because the book focuses largely on the 1989-1994 period.