. (AFP Photo/Anwar Mustafa)

Tommy Suharto: Court Ruling on Funds Is a Form of Vengeance

AUGUST 11, 2015

Jakarta. Hutomo Mandala Putra, better known as Tommy, the youngest son of Indonesia's former ruler Suharto, has taken to Twitter to criticize a recent Supreme Court ruling that ordered his family to pay $324 million in damages in relation to embezzlement inside a foundation his father once chaired.

Using his twitter account @Tommy_Soeharto1, the late president's son dismissed the ruling as "vengeance," claiming that the court has been complicit in a plot launched by the "old regime," a thinly veiled reference to the Sukarno family, which Suharto replaced following a bloody attempted coup in 1965.

Suharto's rule was known as the New Order.

"Our family has never bothered problems in the old regime [the time of Sukarno's presidency]. Strangely it is the people [with ties] to the old regime who are trying to fan a conflict," Tommy wrote. "This [ruling] is an error motivated by vengeance."

Sukarno's daughter Megawati Soekarnoputri is herself a former president and the current chairwoman of Indonesia's ruling party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

"Many don't realize that during the 20 year rule [of Sukarno] there had been many abuses of power and the following ruler [Suharto] had been trying to fix that," Tommy claimed. "The New Order led [Indonesia] to success."

"It seems [Sukarno's family] is demanding a cut ... Not bad. They can use it to finance the next election campaign."

The Supreme Court has ordered the Suharto family to pay back to the state Rp. 4.4 trillion in funds misappropriated during the late strongman’s lengthy reign.

The court ruled in favor of the prosecution in a civil case against the now-defunct Supersemar Foundation, controlled by the Suharto family.

The court repealed a 1976 government regulation issued by the former president ordering all state-owned banks to set aside 2.5 percent of their profits for the foundation. The court ruled that the funds accumulated since the foundation was established — a total sum of $420 million and Rp 185 billion — were largely embezzled and never used for their stated purpose: education.

The ruling, made on July 8 but not announced on the court’s website until Monday, revised an earlier ruling in 2010 which ordered the family to pay just a tiny fraction of the losses to the state.

The court has now ordered the foundation to pay 75 percent of the funds it had amassed over the years, while the 2010 ruling had ordered the Suharto family to pay $315,000 and Rp 185 million — a small sum for the once-powerful family — instead of the $315 million and Rp 185 billion the Attorney General’s Office had sought. The court claimed this was due to a typo.

Tommy suggested that the ruling had to do with speculations that he might be running for president in 2019.

"Maybe there are people who are afraid of my presence [in politics]," he wrote.

Tommy has not formally announced ambitions to run for president although he has tried and failed to take over his father's former political vehicle the Golkar Party several times, even after establishing his own party, the National Republican Party.

Tommy dismissed the AGO's accusations that the Supersemar Foundation was mostly a front for the Suharto family to steal taxpayers' money and launder ill-gotten wealth, stating that the foundation was all about "providing scholarships to the country's best sons and daughters."

"Even some of your own people are recipients of the [foundation's] scholarships," Tommy wrote in a possible reference to figures within President Joko Widodo's administration.

"Is [the government] ready to face lawsuits from former recipients who are now prominent people? All recipients, dating back to the 70s should now chip in [to pay the damages]."