Think Of History, President Suharto

Indonesian President Suharto, 75, has plenty to boast about. For the past three decades he has overseen unprecedented growth and prosperity in his nation of 200 million. But now he's facing a crucial--if not historic--juncture. Indonesia's economic success has generated strong pressures for a more liberal, pluralistic society. A rising middle class, labor unions, and the disenfranchised are clamoring for a role in a political system dominated by the military. In South Korea and Taiwan, the same economic and political pressures persuaded the military to step aside in favor of civilian government. If the ex-general can lead his nation into democracy as well as prosperity, his place in history will be equal to that of Indonesia's first President, Sukarno. But if Suharto continues to snuff out opposition, he may leave a legacy of violence and economic decay.

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