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Indonesia’s strongman

General Suharto is senior partner in the world's biggest family business-Indonesia. The economic crash has exposed the weakness of that business, says Charles Glass, which could now be on the brink of political turmoil

By Charles Glass   March 1998

General Suharto, Indonesia’s leader for almost 30 years, is the most successful dictator of modern times. As a soldier, he uses violence without apology; as a businessman, his family fortune exceeds that of former Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos; as a politician, he has eliminated all potential rivals. Presiding every five years over a ceremonial election, he has won six terms of office since 1968. Despite the country’s economic crisis, Suharto, 76, plans to renew his term when it expires in March.

He is often likened to a king of ancient Java. The death of his queen, Siti Hartinah, known as…

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