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Megawati Sukarnoputri

Ibu Mega, her popular name, is the daughter of the country's founding president and his second wife Fatmawati. She was Sukarno's second child and first daughter. She dominates the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) with a loyal and growing base of supporters. When she filled in as the country's first woman president from 2001-2004, her term was criticized for indecisiveness.

Dyah Permata Megawati Sukarnoputri was born in Yogyakarta, 23 January 1947, the eldest daughter of the first President who is also proclaimer, Sukarno and Fatmawati. Megawati's childhood life was passed in the State Palace. Since childhood, Megawati was nimble and liked to play ball with her brother Guntur. As a girl, Megawati had the hobby of dancing and was often shown in front of state guests who visited the Palace.

She started her education, from elementary to high school at Cikini University, Jakarta. Later, she studied at two universities, namely the Faculty of Agriculture, Padjadjaran University, Bandung (1965-1967) and the Faculty of Psychology, University of Indonesia (1970-1972). But by other accounts, dropped out of university to be with her father after his fall from grace in 1965. Yet a third account relates that Megawati went to Bandung’s Padjajaran University in 1965 but dropped out in 1967, supposedly due to her father’s fall from power. In 1970, she made a new attempt to gain a degree at the University of Indonesia, majoring in psychology, but dropped out again after two years.

Megawati became a symbol of opposition in the over three decades Suharto was in power. Although she was born from a family of politicians, she was not regarded as expert in the political world. In fact, Megawati was underestimated by her friends and her political opponents. She was even considered a newcomer in politics, which was new in 1987. At that time, the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) placed her as one of their legislative candidates from the electoral district of Central Java.

The entry of Megawati into politics meant she had denied her family agreement not to plunge into politics. Megawati's campaign appeared to be excellent, and sure enough, it worked. The vote for the PDI rose. And she was elected to the house of parliament (DPR / MPR). In the same year, Megawati was elected as Chairman of DPC PDI Central Jakarta.

However, the house of parliament building DPR/MPR did not seem to feel the presence of Megawati. Apparently, Megawati knew that she was still under pressure. In addition to her silent behavior, she also chose not to stand out considering the political situation at that time. So she selected more to lobby political representatives of the people outside the building. Her political lobby, which was a silent operation, whether directly or indirectly, led to a rising political star. In 1993 she was elected as the chair of DPP PDI. This was very surprising to the government at that time.

The process of the rise of Mega was an interesting story. At that time, PDI Congress in Medan ended without producing any decisions. The Government supported Budi Hardjono to replace Soerjadi. Then, followed by the Extraordinary Congress held in Surabaya. At this congress, her name appeared and by a landslide Mega outperformed Budi Hardjono, the candidates who backed by the government. Megawati was elected as general chairman of PDI. Then the status of Mega as general chairman of PDI was boosted again by the National Congress of PDI in Jakarta.

But the government refused, and considered her selection to be illegal. The election of the daughter of Sukarno was seen as a threat to the Suharto regime. Therefore, in subsequent trips, the government supported the strength to pry Mega from the office of general chairman of PDI. Fatimah Ahmad cs, for the support of government, held a PDI congress in Medan in 1996, to raise back Soerjadi. But Mega was not easily conquered. Mega firmly declared herself as the legitimate general chairman of PDI. DPP PDI headquarters on Jalan Diponegoro, as a symbol of the legitimate existence of the DPP, controlled by Mega.

Supporters of Megawati did not want to recede a single step. They still tried to maintain that office. Soerjadi, who was supported by the government, also threatened to seize by force of PDI office. The threat could become reality. On the morning of 27 July 1996, Soerjadi's group actually seized the PDI headquarters from Megawati’s supporters. However, this did not dampen Mega’s step. In fact, she organized resistance to the action. Political pressure against Mega was quite naked, inviting empathy and sympathy from the wider community.

The stand-off with the government continued until a free-speech forum that developed as a protest against the government at the PDI headquarters in Jl. Diponegoro in Jakarta’s suburb of Menteng was attacked by thugs. A number of people are reported to have died in the incident, which sparked rioting for three days that saw considerable damage to the areas of Cikini and Salemba.

Mega continued to struggle, and the PDI became divided - namely, PDI under the leadership of Megawati and PDI under the leadership of Soerjadi. The mass of PDI was more impartial and followed Mega. However, the government admitted Soerjadi as legitimate general chairman of PDI. As a result, PDI under the leadership of Megawati could not joint the election in 1997.

After the New Order regime collapsed, PDI Mega changed its name to Democratic Party of Struggle. The political party managed to win the 1999 elections by winning over thirty percent of the vote. PDIP victory put Mega on the position more worthy to be president than any other party candidate. But it turned out that in the general assembly of the MPR in 1999, Mega lost.

The 1997 outbreak of the Asian financial crisis had a major impact on Indonesia, causing political instability. In May 1998, this led to the resignation of President Suharto after 32 years, and Vice President BJ Habibie took over as president. In October 1999, Indonesia's People's Consultative Assembly (the MPR) elected Abdurrahman Wahid as president, Megawati Sukarnoputri, as the 8th Vice President. On July 23, 2001, a special session removed President Wahid for the crime of dereliction of duty office, and Megawati Sukarnoputri took over as President.

The rise of Megawati as Indonesian President with the full support of the military could not banish concerns that the military might at some point withdraw its support of the civilian regime. Nonetheless, Megawati was able to stay in power until October 2004 and finish the remainder of her presidential term.

In May 2004 President Megawati Sukarnoputri started her month-long campaign for re-election. President Megawati outlined a five-point program for the country in her uphill battle to be returned to office. President Megawati began her campaign with a rare news conference at which she outlined her ambitious five-point program to regenerate the economy, reduce poverty and improve the health and education systems. She said her program was designed to help the weakest members of society, or what she refers to as the 'small people.'

Megawati probably got less credit than she deserves for stabilizing the economy and the country after her predecessor, the unpredictable Abdurrahman Wahid, was forced from office. Megawati ran a lackluster campaign, and was widely seen as aloof and out of touch with an electorate looking for a strong leader who would tackle the country's economic and security problems. She failed to return as president after losing from Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who eventually became the 6th President. This marked the end of the period of post-Suharto civilian regimes before the former military general, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, rose to power in October 2004.

In 2009 Megawati, a notoriously poor campaigner lagged in the polls, and it seemed very doubtful that she could defeat President Yudhoyono who was very popular.

Like her father, she had a complicated romantic life, creating a scandal when she married an Egyptian diplomat, who was ordered out of the country within days of the wedding. Megawati then married pilot Air Force Flight Lieutenant Surendro with whom she had two sons named Mohammad Prananda and Mohammad Rizki Pratama. On a military assignment in 1970 in East Indonesia, Surendro's military plane was missing in action. Three years later, Mega married Taufik Kiemas, from Ogan Komiring Ulu, Palembang, with whom she had a daughter, Puan Maharani. Her third marriage was more long-lasting. The death in 2013 of Megawati's husband Taufik Kiemas, whom she called her “sparring partner”, meant perhaps the only other prominent and counterbalancing voice in the party was gone.

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Page last modified: 06-07-2014 20:20:02 ZULU