A memoir-type story about my own experience as a freelance journalist covering the abortive communist coup attempt in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Sept 30, 1965.

Meanwhile, Dewi gave birth to a baby girl she named Kartika Sari a few days before the MPRS sessions began. News reports said she was not going back to Jakarta with the baby but would raise her in Tokyo instead. Soekarno, now in total isolation and about to lose his presidential power completely, was not likely to be allowed to see his youngest child by the military. He gained a daughter but would soon lose his presidency to General Suharto.

In effect, Soekarno was being impeached during the weeklong MPRS sessions. The impeachment began right after the country’s top legislators voted to legalize the power transfer document into a decree. But he was never present at all. The assembly considered him incapable of running the country and stripped him totally of his presidency. General Suharto, holder of the power transfer document now turned into an MPRS decree, to whom Soekarno had virtually handed over his presidency by virtue of the cleverly-worded document, was unanimously appointed as acting president.

The general who crushed the coup attempt would hold that position until the next MPRS sessions in 1968. The assembly would elect a new president on that occasion. On the last day of the assembly’s sessions Suharto was sworn in as Indonesia’s acting president. That was the beginning of his New Order government. I don’t think many of us newsmen thought at the time it was going to last for more than three decades.

CHAPTER 4

Lunch With the President

As I mentioned in Chapter 2, in early 1966 President Soekarno instructed General Suharto to restore security and order throughout the country in the aftermath of the October 1965 abortive communist coup attempt. Five top army generals were slain in the unsuccessful attempt to grab power allegedly masterminded by the PKI (Indonesian Communist Party). The short-lived putsch, which actually began just before midnight on September 30, was quashed by crack commando troops led by none other than Suharto himself the following day, October 1.

Suharto dissolved the PKI, at the time the largest communist party outside the communist bloc that claimed to have five million card-carrying members. The party’s demise was at the top of the three-point demand pressed by university and high-school students. They took to the streets every day demonstrating against the government, still legally led by Soekarno. The general also disbanded Soekarno’s highly-controversial 100-member cabinet. A number of left-leaning ministers suspected of complicity in the coup attempt were arrested.

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