On Suharto their position cannot be trusted, instead read John Pilger’s piece here. To see the problems with the BBC coverage got to the Medialens message board here and put Suharto in the search messages box.
Jonathan Head of the BBC writes– I knew perfectly well what kind of response
: my piece would receive from people who focus
: exclusively on human rights, and I have got
: plenty of them. But I can assure you I know
: very few Indonesians who share your view of
: Suharto, and as I wrote I believe their
: views, wrong-headed or not, are what count.
As one poster responds– Well my wife is from Indonesia and I’ve chatted extensively to her – and her family back in Indonesia – about Suharto. The fact of the matter is that Suharto is indeed held in high regard by many Indonesians, principally because the price of rice remained relatively stable (and low) throughout his rule (it has sky-rocketed since 1997).
What’s also evident, however, is that very few Indonesians are aware of the scale of the atrocities committed against, inter alia, the “communists” and the East Timorese. I recently showed my wife Pilger’s “Death of a Nation” (re East Timor) and her mouth literally hit the floor. She had no idea. If I recall correctly, she said something like: “Well they didn’t tell us anything about that. All we were taught was that Suharto was a good man who wanted to keep Indonesia together.”
So, Head’s retort that he is simply reporting the views of ordinary Indonesians is naive (or even disingenuous) since it doesn’t take account of the fact that Indonesians were exposed to massive amounts of propaganda (mostly through omission). In addition, the fact that so many Indonesians are now struggling with increased rice and fuel prices means that the Suharto era is invariably viewed through rose-tinted spectacles.
And very glaringly no mention is made of American & British support and profiting from the slaughter, perhaps they are ashamed the BBC was used by the FCO to spread propaganda at the time. Although surely the best reaction to that is to come clean and make up for past mistakes. Did the BBC report that Saddam Hussein was a good man because it only found propagandised and terrified Iraqis to talk to? No of course not but then its criticism of him did suit powerful interests, accurate criticism of Suharto goes against those interests (and in fact would reveal direct alliances with him) hence the hagiography currently dirtying up the BBC’s reputation via it’s website , Head’s legacy piece is better even as he seems to be saying it was somewhat a ‘professional’ job
: My personal belief is that it is very
: damaging for indonesia to leave the
: brutalities of Suharto’s rule uninvestigated
: and unpunished. But I am a reporter, and it
: is my job to reflect what I find here, not
: to tell Indonesians how they should react to
: the death of a man who shaped their country.
But… ‘ I knew perfectly well what kind of response my piece would receive from people who focus exclusively on human rights,’ Yes you dirty freaks with your insistence on not being tortured and killed, get a fucking life! After all-
They passed laws allowing foreign companies to own 100 percent of theise resources, handed out “tax holidays,” and within two years, Indonesia’s natural wealth – copper, nickel, hardwood, rubber and oil – was being divided up among the largest mining and energy companies in the world.
Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine, pp. 69.
He was good for imperial business you bloody hippies! Ahem. Although Head used to be a human rights activist according to his BBC bio-
He graduated from Cambridge University in 1982 with a degree in History, and from the London School of Oriental and African Studies in 1985 with an MA in South East Asian Studies. In the Eighties he worked as a human rights activist on Indonesia and East Timor.
But now professionalism is what pays the bills and it is probably unfair to focus on one reporter, something institutional has decreed our support for a tyrant is best left in the memory hole. Is it silly to expect better from the BBC (in this post Hutton deference to the Labour establishment time). Hilariously (& insultingly) they do mention the CIA on his obit, in that they link to the CIA world factbook, such loyal deference to power.