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And what about Guided Democracy, the executive-dominated electoral system he instituted in 1959? Sukarno was President for two decades, but he wielded real power only in the last six years of his rule--the period of Guided Democracy. Why did he create such a system? Perhaps because of his commitment to democracy. By this point, Indonesia had no fewer than 60 political parties and faced the prospect of a new government every few months. Sukarno reorganized the 60 parties into 11--all of which retained their independence. It was a political necessity, he said.

m o r e
America's Unseen Hand
The CIA played a major role in Asia's passage through the last half of the 20th century

Sukarno's critics called it a dictatorship. Yet six years later, when he was removed following a shadowy coup (allegedly a communist uprising gone wrong), he was replaced by a true dictatorship--that of Suharto. Sukarno died in 1970, a man whose dreams of a free and peaceful Indonesia had been hijacked by a violent and stifling military rule.

Lately, Sukarno's reputation has begun to be re-examined. Suharto was ousted in 1998, after three decades in power; earlier this year, Sukarno's daughter Megawati triumphed in the first truly free general election in 44 years. It was, in a way, Bung Karno's triumphant political comeback.

Yet the next months will be crucial for Indonesia. It is time to realize that continuing to rely on military power to "stabilize" the country will only be counter-productive. The solutions to almost all of Indonesia's current ethnic and separatist conflicts--in Aceh, Ambon, Irian Jaya, East Timor--as well as its economic crisis and general political instability all depend on soldiers being just that: soldiers. Indonesia needs no more soldier-politicians. It needs someone who can unite the people, as a charismatic young independence leader did a half-century ago.

Pramoedya Ananta Toer is the author of the Buru Quartet

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THIS WEEK'S TABLE OF CONTENTS




The Most Influential Asians of the Century
August 23/30, 1999

Asians of the Century
A cavalcade of towering individuals and a newly awakened populace

Why Adam Smith Would Love Asia
Asia has been the proving ground for global capitalism

Ending Silence
Asian women are celebrating hard-won triumphs

Viewpoint
Embrace the wisdom of democracy and capitalism

t h e  l i s t

Hirohito
Ho Chi Minh
Pol Pot
Issey Miyake
Daisuke Inoue
Rabindranath Tagore
Sun Yat-sen
Mohandas Gandhi
Sukarno
Mao Zedong
Lee Kuan Yew
Deng Xiaoping
Corazon Aquino
Park Chung Hee
Eiji Toyoda
King Rama
Swaminathan
Akira Kurosawa
Dalai Lama
Akio Morita

v o t e

Tell us who you think are the most influential Asians of the century



AsiaNow


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