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Web-only Exclusives
November 30, 2000

From Our Correspondent: Hirohito and the War
A conversation with biographer Herbert Bix

From Our Correspondent: A Rough Road Ahead
Bad news for the Philippines - and some others

From Our Correspondent: Making Enemies
Indonesia needs friends. So why is it picking fights?

Asiaweek Time Asia Now Asiaweek story


By Megawati Sukarnoputri

Curriculum Vitae

BUNG KARNO WILL ALWAYS live in the hearts of the Indonesian people because as proclaimer of Independence and as Father of the Nation, he gave them pride in being Indonesian. Every attempt to eliminate his role in Indonesia's historic struggle ends in failure. Now, the people and the nation have lost everything and live in physical and spiritual suffering. This is the result of a government that is repressive, undemocratic and which separated Bung (Brother) Karno from people he loved.

My relationship with Bung Karno was not only that of a daughter and father. He was also my friend and my teacher. Although he has long gone, he is still around. This is also the feeling of Indonesians, except those who ousted him. In the midst of the current prolonged crisis, I remember one of his sayings: "Although people live in material adequacy, without liberty, which is mankind's most basic right, they live in very basic defeat." He made me understand why he stressed that "Indonesians love peace, but they love freedom even more."

As a romantic humanist, Bung Karno reminded us that the exploitation of people or nations is the enemy. The wish to free people from all kinds of colonization became his lifelong political work and dream. The 1955 Afro-Asian Conference in Bandung, which raised the idea of non-alignment, was the realization of his love of humanity and freedom. For Asians and Africans, Sukarno, who was so closely linked to the Non-Aligned Movement, will always be remembered.

His idea was to lay down a basic step for a new world order. Creating a balance of power between North and South countries, in which humanity held the most respected position, was a central issue of Indonesian foreign policy under his leadership. His official visits, whether to the West or to the Eastern bloc, showed his neutrality. His openness strengthened his standing as a leader in the Non-Aligned Movement, respected by friend and foe.

Globalization, a popular concept of late, had been part of his thinking long ago. The difference was, his vision involved creating a balance of forces and did not place capitalism as the dominant force moving the wheel of globalization. Concentrating on the power of capital without giving humanity its important role will bring total bankruptcy. The situation in Southeast Asia, especially Indonesia, is the clearest example of a wrong concept about globalization. No wonder suffering Indonesians are again turning to Bung Karno's wisdom.

If Bung Karno could see the uncertainties of my people now, he would surely feel ashamed. He had said: "A government which makes its people dependent on the mercy of others is committing a crime that cannot be tolerated." Yet this is what my country is experiencing. Indonesia has had full sovereignty since August 17, 1945. After half a century, we have become a nation that cannot enjoy its freedom. Bung Karno never objected to accepting foreign aid. But to him, aid that creates dependency is a part of neo-colonialism.

Based on his dealing with the colonialists, he believed when the strong and the weak are at the same table, the term "free" does not apply. Especially when the weak are hampered by ignorance. They do not know how to strengthen themselves, mainly because they have never been given a chance to think and to stand on their own feet. Father always said to learn from Mahatma Gandhi and Sun Yat-sen. He constantly reminded us to follow the fighting spirit of Prophet Muhammad in defending truth and justice.

My father valued and respected history. He learned from it - even until his death, having given up the presidency for the sake of his people's unity. He told me: "The only unlimited power is God's." When a leader tries to cut a thread of history, disaster will occur. This is what is happening to my people now. When they are blinded and removed from their path in history, the people can't fulfill the ideals of Independence. The people let their sovereignty be taken by the authorities, and they become blind to the fact that freedom is mankind's most precious jewel. Meanwhile, those who rule become unable to comprehend that civilization without humanity will lead to darkness.

Bung Karno was not a savvy politician. He was willing to sacrifice his political interests for the sake of unity and humanity. Bung Karno deeply loved "his children" - the Indonesian people, and "his mother" - the land where he was born and raised. His love for them surpassed the love he gave to his family and himself.

As a father, he commands respect.

As a friend, he is warm.

As a man, he is true

As a teacher, he is as deep as the ocean.

Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of Sukarno, is a leading opposition politician in Indonesia.


•Born in 1901, in Surabaya

•A gifted orator, he fueled defiance of the Dutch and declared Independence in 1945

•In 1957, besieged by crises, he instituted "guided" democracy and economy

•Implicated in the 1965 coup, he is forced to hand over power to Suharto

•Died at age 69 of a kidney ailment

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This edition's table of contents | Asiaweek home



U.S. secretary of state says China should be 'tolerant'

Philippine government denies Estrada's claim to presidency

Faith, madness, magic mix at sacred Hindu festival

Land mine explosion kills 11 Sri Lankan soldiers

Japan claims StarLink found in U.S. corn sample

Thai party announces first coalition partner


COVER: President Joseph Estrada gives in to the chanting crowds on the streets of Manila and agrees to make room for his Vice President

THAILAND: Twin teenage warriors turn themselves in to Bangkok officials

CHINA: Despite official vilification, hip Chinese dig Lamaist culture

PHOTO ESSAY: Estrada Calls Snap Election

WEB-ONLY INTERVIEW: Jimmy Lai on feeling lucky -- and why he's committed to the island state


COVER: The DoCoMo generation - Japan's leading mobile phone company goes global

Bandwidth Boom: Racing to wire - how underseas cable systems may yet fall short

TAIWAN: Party intrigues add to Chen Shui-bian's woes

JAPAN: Japan's ruling party crushes a rebel at a cost

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans need to have more babies. But success breeds selfishness

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