National Geographic : 1971 Jan
We sat in the comfortable living room in his pleasant Dutch-built house in the suburb of Kebajoran. A frangipani the size of an ancient apple tree perfumed the night. "The signs of improvement aren't dra matic," he continued. "A repainted storefront, a tidied-up ditch, a repaired fence. But they add up to a small retreat from despair. Presi dent Suharto is trying to do things right. He's stopped inflation. He's taking action against the graft and corruption that have become endemic in Indonesia. The nation is still struggling, but thanks to him it has a better credit rating now in the eyes of the world. "Indonesians appreciate this sort of honesty and good will in high places, but they're slow to demand it. So it remains for the upper class to act in the best interest of the people. That has just begun to happen. For the first time, there's hope., At least enough to make a man paint his house." This same point of popular permissiveness drew a sharp comment from Mochtar Lubis, a Djakarta newspaper editor who once spent several years in prison for criticizing Sukarno. "Here the leader is considered a super natural being. He can do anything. He must be believed, and he can never be blamed. Sukarno used this deep-seated attitude crimi nally. Yet even when he fell, it was not he who drew the people's hysterical rage; it was the Communists he had brought to power who were attacked." Cultural Contrasts Mark Sultan's Life I talked next with a man more closely in volved both with mystical leadership and progressive administration than anyone else in Indonesia. He is Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX, ruler of Jogjakarta in mid-Java and a senior member of the thoroughly repub lican government in Djakarta. He manages his diametrically differing roles with gracious responsibility toward both. During his sojourns in Jogjakarta the sul tan lives in regal splendor, served by kneel ing retainers. His person is sacred. But our meeting was in Djakarta. The sultan came out from behind his desk, a tall man, strong-featured. He seated me, then himself, in identical chairs (this would have been an unthinkable condescen sion in the palace at Jogjakarta) and spoke of economic matters. "We are making up for past mistakes, and we have a long way to go. Our task right now is rehabilitation and repair. Our first five-year plan, begun in 1969, aims primarily Cardboard hut with running water-an open sewage canal-is home for this Dja karta family. Such canals serve as bath tub, toilet, and laundry for countless hovel dwelling and houseless poor. Job-training projects have been launched and construction of some public sanitation facilities begun. But the government, still struggling to recover from the extravagances of Sukarno's rule, can offer little immediate relief for the bulk of Indonesia's 4,000,000 unemployed and 14,000,000 underemployed.