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A Political Gadfly Flies Closer to the Flame

Founder's Daughter

Political dissent is an art practiced mainly in private in Indonesia. But the atmosphere of crisis here simultaneously has made it riskier for critics to speak up - and emboldened them to do so. On March 3 Megawati Sukarnoputri stepped forward to criticize President Suharto and his policies.

Ever since the government removed her as head of the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party in June 1996, Ms. Megawati has stayed mainly on the political sidelines. Because she is the daughter of Sukarno, Indonesia's founding father, Megawati can tap vast reserves of inherited popularity.

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Speaking to reporters March 3, Megawati demanded that Suharto do more to account for his personal wealth and the country's situation. "Recent riots prove that the threat to national stability is becoming more evident," she said. "The trust of the people in the government, the judiciary, and legal institutions, has been stifled."

She added that Suharto's handling of Indonesia's economic problems had "created crises in every sector of society...."

She also referred to an estimate of his fortune published by a US magazine. "While the country is almost bankrupt, Suhar- to has personal wealth of $16 billion according to Forbes Magazine. This should be part of his accountability report to the Indonesian people."

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