Thu, 13 Oct 1994

Honor history, look ahead: Soeharto

JAKARTA (JP): Glorify history by all means, but get on with life too.

That's the message from President Soeharto to a group of bygone student leaders who played a prominent role in defending the state ideology Pancasila against the onslaught of communism in the mid-1960s.

"We should not remain as mere admirers of history, no matter how great it was," Soeharto told the former student leaders."But we have to rise and start working for today and tomorrow."

"We don't only inherit history. We have to make history," he said to some 400 participants of the opening of the three-day congress of the Ikatan Keluarga Besar Laskar Ampera Arief Rachman Hakim, an association of former student activists of the 1960s.

"We don't want to be entrapped by past history. We have to learn and gain inspiration from history...but...our task now and tomorrow is to continue our development effort," Soeharto said.

The group mobilized massive street demonstrations in 1966 against then president Sukarno to demand that the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) be outlawed. The party was blamed for the plot to take power on Sept. 30, 1965.

The party was banned on March 11, 1966, at the initiative of Soeharto, then still a young Army general, after he was given power by Sukarno to undertake steps to restore peace and order.

Soeharto told the former activists yesterday that theirs was a movement in defense of the state ideology Pancasila against communism's growing influence in the country.

The association, according to Soeharto, "was born as the guardian of the mandate of the new Order."

The association grabbed the limelight recently following a senior columnist's allegation that their anti-sukarno demonstration in 1966 was funded by American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

The association pledged last week that they would file suit for slander against Manai Sophiaan, whose book Kehormatan Bagi Yang Berhak (Honor for the One Who Deserves It) exempted Sukarno from any involvement with the communists.

Manai was reported by Tiara magazine to also have said that the students' yellow jackets were "made in Hawaii" and that their street demonstration against communism were "mere parades".

The association's complaint was filed this week.

One former activist, Minister of Public Housing Akbar Tandjung, said last week that the students' movement, which eventually toppled the old regime and ushered in the New Order era, was "pure and spontaneous, solely to defend Pancasila".

Soeharto said in his speech yesterday that Tritura, three demands against Sukarno's regime made by the students at the time, "holds a special place" in the nation's heart.

The three demands were the abolition of the PKI, the sweeping out of communist elements from Sukarno's cabinet, and the reduction of prices of basic commodities.

Soeharto said the demands reflected the students' wish to defend Pancasila, to build a government which was loyal to the state ideology, and for economic reforms.

"Tritura was born because of the youths...proving yet again how great was the role of the youths in the nation's struggle, development and growth," he said.

Soeharto said the true essence of development is the development of the people and society. "This means that Indonesian people are both the actors and the products of development," he said.

"Through development, we keep on striving to increase the quality of life of our people," he said. Therefore, "We need discipline, self confidence, skills and professionalism in managing our resources, as well as the society's initiative and creativity."

Soeharto also said that to build the future, the youths should develop their self confidence, "spirit of professionalism", self- reliance and creativity. (swe)