Wed, 07 May 2003

Soeharto asks Tommy to have faith

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Former president Soeharto visited his son Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra at Nusakambangan prison in Cilacap, Central Java, on Monday, telling his son to face up to the challenges of life and to keep praying.

The head of the Nusakambangan penitentiary, Soemantri, said on Tuesday that Soeharto and his son Sigit Harjojudanto had visited Tommy.

"Pak Harto asked about Tommy's health and other things," said Soemantri, who accompanied the former president during the two- hour meeting with Tommy. "But what he (Soeharto) emphasized most was for Tommy to pray and be patient when facing life's trials," Soemantri told Antara.

Tommy was convicted in a murder case and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He joins his father's former golfing buddy and most trusted business associate Mohammad "Bob" Hasan, who was sentenced to prison for graft in March 2001.

Soemantri said no one among the prison staff knew that the former president was planning to come on Monday.

He described the aging Soeharto as a fragile person, who was having difficulties walking. Soeharto also viewed a fish pond that Tommy made for the prisoners, he said.

It was Soeharto's second visit to see his son, since Tommy was moved from Cipinang prison in Jakarta in August last year.

Last month, members of Tommy's business group Humpuss, visited the prison to carry out some social work, but there were no reports of the management meeting Tommy during the visit.