(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): When the Speaker of the Indonesian Parliament, Harmoko, who is also chairman of Golkar, yesterday called for Suharto’s resignation "for the sake of unity and integrity of the nation", there was general expectation that the end was near for Suharto’s 32-year rule as Indonesian President.
Four hours later however, the commander of Indonesia’s armed forces, General Wiranto crushed these hopes when he pledged continued support for the 76-year-old leader.
During those intevening four hours, there was also general expectation that Suharto’s stepping down would cause an "euphoric bounce in Asian stocks", although the markets in the region in the next two to three years are expected to be bearish.
It is an eloquent reflection of the general view that Suharto has overstayed his 32-year presidential rule when there could be general expectation that his stepping down as Indonesian President would cause an "euphoric bounce in Asian stocks".
The Indonesian crisis should be top of the agenda of the Malaysian Cabinet tomorrow, not only in protecting the safety of Malaysians in Indonesia, the possible repercussions to Malaysia in the event of political turbulence and upheavals in Indonesia but also to draw lessons for Malaysia, as to the need for the government to carry out wide-ranging political, economic and financial reforms to restore public confidence and government credibility as in stamping out corruption, cronyism, abuses of power and all forms of political, economic and social injustices which alienate the people from the government.
The government should be more sensitive to the aspirations of Malaysians rather than becoming more and more remote and cut off from popular views and sentiments, as illustrated by more and more instances recently.