Ordinary Indonesians long resented the way President Suharto and his family used his public office to make private fortunes. Now that he's quit, activists took aim Friday at the business empire of his successor, President B.J. Habibie.
As a member of Suharto's Cabinet for 20 years and later his deputy, Habibie picked plum government contracts for himself and his family, from a state aircraft company to an island export zone."If we really want reform, it's not enough that Suharto be singled out. Habibie should be receiving the same treatment," said Muchtar Buchori, retired head of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences.
Habibie was handed the presidency May 21 after student protests and riots sparked by Indonesia's worst economic crisis in decades forced Suharto from power after 32 years. Indonesians struggling with soaring prices and mass unemployment increasingly have focused their anger on the wealth of the ruling elite.
Democracy activists are demanding an investigation into the Suharto clan's money, estimated at $40 billion, and several of his relatives have lost influential jobs. Under pressure, his son and son-in-law stepped down Friday from top posts at one of the country's biggest conglomerates.
Now, the spotlight is turning on Habibie. Prominent lawyers and human rights activists investigating government corruption said Friday they will look into his dealings and turn over evidence of wrongdoing to the attorney general.
Several members of Habibie's family are involved in joint ventures with Suharto's children. Many of those companies received government licenses, contracts and subsidies.
One of Habibie's two sons, Ilham, is vice president of Industri Pesawat Terbang Nusantara, a state aircraft company that Habibie established as Minister of Science and Technology. The other son, Thareq, runs a company that supplies it and other state-owned firms.