During Soeharto's 32 years in power, a small number of privileged business tycoons were able…
Soeharto left office in 1998 with a reputation as one of the most corrupt leaders in the world. He and his family are estimated by some to have accumulated between US$15 billion and US$35 billion during his 32 years in power. Twenty years after Soeharto stepped down as president and 10 years after his death, the Soeharto family has still only repaid a small portion of assets owed to the state – and even that was only after state prosecutors seized the bank accounts of the family’s now defunct Supersemar Foundation. Prosecutors claimed that the foundation was not used for charity, as intended, but as a political slush fund for Soeharto.
From the 1980s until he stepped down, Soeharto’s children were granted monopolies to enable them to make their fortunes. Siti Hardijanti Rukmana (Tutut) won a contract to build toll highways, Hutomo Mandala Putra (Tommy) became one of Indonesia’s top exporters for the national clove industry, Bambang Trihatmodjo was given a fleet of oil tankers, and Sigit Harjojudanto benefited from the privatisation of Jakarta’s water. Most of the children have been involved in the formation of other major conglomerates that together cover a wide variety of industries.
Each of Soeharto’s six children, now aged between 53 and 65 years, continue to live prosperous lives, and have in fact acquired further wealth – despite the fall of their father and, in Tommy’s case, a prison sentence. In fact, Tommy, Bambang and Tutut were each named in Globe Asia’s list of the 150 richest Asians in 2016.
They may be rich, but the vibrant press of the democratic era has not had much to say about the Soeharto family in recent years. In fact, the public record is rather light on specific details of the extent of the Soeharto children’s business interests. What follows is a brief summary of what is known.
Siti Hardijanti Rukmana (Tutut)
Tutut, Soeharto’s oldest child, was groomed by her father as a politician, frequently accompanying Soeharto as de facto first lady after the death of his wife. Soeharto even appointed Tutut as Social Minister in his Development Cabinet VII, his last, ill-fated cabinet.
Tutut remained active in Golkar for some time but stood as a presidential candidate for the Concern for the Nation Functional Party (PKPB), in 2004. This was a party formed as an offshoot of Golkar, and it received Soeharto’s blessing. However, it never won seats at a general election and eventually fizzled out. Tutut is now rumoured to be considering involvement in Tommy’s new party, the Working Party (Partai Berkarya).
Tutut is a principle shareholder (with shares valued at $1 million) in the Citra Lamtoro Gung Persada group, a company with interests in construction, trade, agriculture and handicrafts. She has also been involved in the media business, leading to her long running dispute with Hary Tanoesoedibjo over ownership of Televisi Pendidikan Indonesia (TPI), which became MNCTV. Although the Supreme Court has ruled in favour of Tutut, she has struggled to enforce the decision and the ownership remains contested.
Of Soeharto’s six children, Tutut and Sigit are the only ones who remain married to their original spouses.
Sigit, Soeharto’s second child, is generally considered one of the more reclusive of the six children. With Tommy, he is a major shareholder ($22 million) in the Humpuss Group, which has about 60 subsidiaries and interests in oil and gas, shipping, property, and petrochemical and agricultural products. In his younger years, Sigit was known to be a gambler, like his brother Tommy, and at one point was reportedly prevented from travelling abroad to stop him from gambling. He founded the Arseto Football Club in 1983, which was eventually dissolved in 1998 following riots in Solo, where it was based.
Sigit has been back in the media over the sale of the grounds of the former Kadipolo Hospital – once used as Arseto’s headquarters – to property developer Sekar Wijaya. The developer claims Sigit sold the property knowing that several buildings on the site were heritage-listed, meaning that the purchaser’s development plans could not go ahead. Sekar Wijaya has filed a civil complaint demanding the return of its down payment. Sigit, his daughter Retnosari Widowati Harjojudanto (Eno Sigit), and grandson Haryo Putra Nugroho Wibowo have also been reported to the Solo Police over the case.
Bambang, Soeharto’s third child, and two former school friends founded the massive Bimantara Citra group in 1981. At one point it had dozens of subsidiaries, in a wide variety of sectors, including trade, insurance, real estate, television and communications, hotels, transport, agriculture, fisheries, the automotive industry, food industry, chemical industry and tourism.
Bambang famously also developed the luxury Plaza Indonesia mall and founded Indonesia’s first private television station, RCTI. He reportedly sold part of his stake in Bimantara Citra to Hary Tanoesoedibjo’s MNC at a markedly discounted price and eventually left the firm in 2012. He is no longer a publicly listed shareholder and reportedly plays no direct management role in the television business.
Bambang is a gun fanatic, and heads the Indonesian Sports Shooting and Hunting Association (Perbakin). The organisation was in the media in 2017 for importing hundreds of guns and millions of bullets. Rumours had circulated suggesting that the weapons were imported illegally.
Bambang’s first marriage was to the daughter of a diplomat, Halimah Agustia Kamil, who he controversially divorced in 2007 to marry a well-known singer, Mayangsari, who had given birth to their child the previous year.
Siti Hediati Hariyadi (Titiek)
Titiek, Soeharto’s fourth child, has been the most politically successful of all his children. She remained faithful to Golkar, her father’s political vehicle, and in the 2014 election was elected to the House of Representatives (DPR) for the period 2014-2019, representing Yogyakarta District. She has participated in Commission IV on farming, fishing, agriculture and food. As part of this Commission, she called for Indonesia to become self-sufficient in meat production. In March 2018, it was announced that Titiek would become the deputy head of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), a “consolation prize” for not being selected as head of Golkar.
Titiek was once married to former general Prabowo Subianto, who stood as Gerindra candidate against President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in 2014. Although Titiek and Prabowo have been divorced since about 1998 and she is a Golkar supporter, she has nevertheless accompanied him on a number of his political campaigns. Conservative Muslim groups have called for them to remarry, so that if Prabowo becomes president, he will have a first lady. Neither Titiek nor Prabowo have so far shown much inclination to do so.
Titiek has a multi-million dollar private art collection and, partnered with her former brother-in-law, Hashim Djojohadikusumo, in a number of businesses, including energy (oil and electricity) and the upscale Plaza Senayan mall. Titiek was on the board of Surya Citra Media (which owns the television stations SCTV and Indosiar) from 2005 to 2015.
Recently Titiek has been concerned with restoring her father’s legacy, supporting a range of activities such as cultural performances and a mass circumcision ceremony, all funded through the Soeharto family’s Damandiri Foundation to commemorate “Soeharto Month” in March.
Hutomo Mandala Putra (Tommy)
Tommy, Soeharto’s fifth child, is chair of the Working Party he launched in July 2016.
The Working Party has been cleared by the General Elections Commission (KPU) to participate in the 2019 General Elections. Like Golkar, the Working Party uses a banyan tree symbol against a yellow background as its logo. The party has an eclectic mix of policies. Its education policies, in particular, are very unusual – it advocates internet learning, with children staying at home and learning through the internet. It is also not in favour of intensive spending on infrastructure, advocating for “village funds” to be spent on people’s welfare programs. It wants to abolish direct elections of provincial governors, advocating that the president should select them from a list submitted by provincial legislatures. Its policies therefore range from giving more power to the lower echelons of society to being more authoritarian.
Tommy, however, will be unable to stand as a presidential candidate, as Law 7 of 2017 on Elections states that presidential candidates must not have been involved in corruption and must never have been sentenced to jail for more than five years. Tommy fails these requirements on both counts. In September 2000, he was convicted of corruption and sentenced to 18 months in prison by Supreme Court Justice Syafiuddin Kartasasmita, who was then assassinated. Tommy went into hiding and was subsequently found guilty of paying two men to kill the judge. As a result, his sentence was extended in 2002 to 15 years for murder, fleeing justice and possession of weapons and explosives. However, Tommy was released on parole in 2006, after serving only four years.
Tommy was also implicated, though not convicted, in a plot to plant bombs in the Attorney General’s Office, the Trade and Industry Ministry and the Directorate General of Taxation in 2001. Tommy is not the only convicted murderer in his party. Pollycarpus Budihari Priyanto, who served eight years of a 14-year prison term for the 2004 murder of human rights activist Munir, has also joined the party.
Tommy has also had numerous business ventures – a number of which have ended up in court. Tommy, together with Sigit, is the founder and major shareholder in the Humpuss Group. He reportedly holds 60 per cent of shares in the firm, at a value of $33 million.
Tommy was named in the Paradise Papers as director and board chairman of a Bermuda-registered company that closed in 2000.
Siti Hutami Endang Adiningsih (Mamiek)
Mamiek, Soeharto’s youngest child, keeps a relatively low profile.
She has set up a popular 3,000 hectare agricultural estate and recreation park, Mekar Sari, in West Java. She has also been listed as the main shareholder of the Manggala Kridha Yudha group, and owns agricultural, transport, warehouse and tourism businesses. Manggala Kridha Yudha was granted a contract to develop one of the islands in the controversial Jakarta Bay reclamation project.
Mamiek’s wealth is estimated at about $47 million and, like Tommy, she was named in the Paradise Papers in connection with companies registered in Bermuda in the 1990s.
Succeeding to power
Despite their political aspirations, it seems unlikely that Soeharto’s children will ever climb to the heights of that other famous presidential offspring, Megawati Soekarnoputri. Of them all, only Titiek is likely to continue to enjoy a successful political career.
However, their indisputable wealth means the Soeharto children not only enjoy extremely comfortable lifestyles but are certainly capable of wielding power behind the scenes that might well influence the course of politics in the future.