Suharto Leaves Complex Legacy

Corrupt, cruel--and fondly remembered
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 28, 2008 11:20 AM CST
Indonesian soldiers carry the coffin of Suharto's body during the funeral at Astana Giribangun cemetery in Karang Anyar, Central Java, Indonesia, Monday, Jan. 28, 2008. Suharto who died Sunday, was mourned...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The death of Suharto, Indonesia's ferociously anti-communist dictator for more than 30 years, leaves islanders ambivalent: On the one hand, he created economic prosperity; on the other, he enriched himself and his cronies, and brutally suppressed opponents, leaving hundreds of thousands imprisoned or dead. "He was 50% good and 50% bad," a historian tells the Christian Science Monitor.

"Rice was cheap, streets were peaceful, but people were scared," a clerk said. Having evaded criminal charges for siphoning off $600 million in state funds because of poor health, Suharto has been forgiven even by many Indonesians who were victims. "As a man, I forgive him," said a Muslim leader imprisoned by Suharto, "but not his system of power."