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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?

AsiaweekTimeAsia NowAsiaweek

MARCH 3, 2000 VOL. 26 NO. 8

'I am a Loyal Soldier'
Prabowo the evil schemer presents activists with a malleable adversary and politicians with an easy scapegoat

    ALSO IN ASIAWEEK
Cover: The Scapegoat?
Blamed for the riots surrounding the fall of Suharto, controversial ex-general Prabowo Subianto tells his story
- Investigation: No single "mastermind" was behind the May 1998 turmoil. There were many players, and many plots
- Insight: Re-examining Prabowo's record in East Timor
- Insider: How the general and son-in-law benefited - and was compromised - by being part of the First Family

Editorial: The Internet is the most compelling agent of economic reform
Editorial: A good year for Kim Jong Il - but watch out

Malaysia: The real campaign for national leadership heats up
- Anwar: A decision on Mahathir's testimony is put off again
- Shadows: A play looks at Malaysia's troubled political soul

Hong Kong: The former colony is starting to trust the motherland

Taiwan: Beijing demands unification talks - or else

Japan: Obuchi raises (but doesn't fire) the starting gun for polls

Cambodia: A culture of violence and impunity undermines justice

Fashion: The spirited new styles suit Asia's mood
- Accessories: The rule is - there is no rule
- Menswear: Casual, chic - and inspired by womenswear
- Kenzo: The Japanese couturier bids farewell to the catwalk

Tom.com: Investors rush for a piece of a Hong Kong company with no history, few employees and lots of hype

Kosdaq: Korea's over-the-counter stock market soars

Scandal: Can Manila recover from the BW Resources fiasco?

Investing: Betting on the New India

The Net:
The freebie formula gets tested in Singapore

Cutting Edge: A keyboard you can fit on your Palm

Newsmakers: Japan's crown prince vents his anger

Viewpoint: To fight corruption, reform China's politics
    RELATED STORIES

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Munshi Ahmed for Asiaweek
Prabowo Subianto was initially reluctant to have his picture taken. He had not slept the night before, so there were dark circles under his eyes. He was also concerned about how he might look: a few years older, a few pounds heavier. In Singapore to see friends and business partners, he would make a four-hour car journey back to Kuala Lumpur, then leave for Europe, with perhaps a short stop in an apartment he keeps in Amman, Jordan - one more trip out of many made for his younger brother's countertrade business.

This is Prabowo: a work-worn Indonesian businessman in his late 40s, away from his family, eternally in transit. There is another Prabowo: the torturer of innocents in East Timor, the kidnapper of pro-democracy activists, the mastermind of Jakarta's May 1998 riots and rapes, the foiled coup plotter who tried to hold an Indonesian president hostage.

The first Prabowo is flesh and blood, the other made up of news clips and rumors. The former lives outside Indonesia largely because the latter has taken his place. Prabowo the evil schemer presents journalists with better copy, activists with a more malleable adversary and politicians with an easier scapegoat. Every now and then, someone clamors to bring Prabowo back home for trial. Yet one wonders what has been the bigger obstacle to justice in Indonesia: the reality - or the myth?

To get to the reality, Asiaweek's Jose Manuel Tesoro not only held in-depth interviews with Prabowo, the first with an international publication since May 1998, but also carried out his own investigation. The result is a highly nuanced account of dramatic events in which a number of individuals contend, driven by ambition, self-interest, loyalty and fear. Is Prabowo guilty of the 1998 violence? Not by his account. But he doesn't say who is. World events are rarely in black and white - although, judging by the perception of President Wahid and Gen. Wiranto's recent power struggle, this is something that is continually forgotten.

Today, there are demands to reopen old cases: attacks, atrocities and other incidents of the past. Perhaps Indonesians, after decades of no accountability by leaders, want to get to the truth and take control of their politics. By telling his story, Prabowo, of all people, is helping begin that process.


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