Sunday, August 16, 2009

Soekarno, the first President of Indonesia

Sukarno, born Kusno Sosrodihardjo (6 June 1901 – 21 June 1970) was the first President of Indonesia. He helped the country win its independence from the Netherlands and was President from 1945 to 1967, presiding with mixed success over the country's turbulent transition to independence. Sukarno was forced out of power by one of his generals, Suharto, who formally became President in March 1967.
The son of a Javanese primary school teacher, an aristocrat named Raden Soekemi Sosrodihardjo and his Balinese wife named Ida Ayu Nyoman Rai from Buleleng regency, Sukarno was born as Kusno Sosrodihardjo in Blitar, East Java in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia). Following Javanese custom, he was renamed after a childhood illness. He was admitted into a Dutch-run school as a child. When his father sent him to Surabaya in 1916 to attend a secondary school, he met Tjokroaminoto, a future nationalist. In 1921 he began to study at the Technische Hogeschool (Technical Institute) in Bandung. He studied civil engineering and focused on architecture.
Atypically, even among the colony's small educated elite, Sukarno was fluent in several languages. In addition to the Javanese language of his childhood, he was a master of Sundanese, Balinese and of Indonesian, and especially strong in Dutch. He was also quite comfortable in German, English, French, Arabic, and Japanese, all of which were taught at his HBS. He was helped by his photographic memory and precocious mind. Sukarno once remarked that when he was studying in Surabaya, he often sat behind the screen in movie theaters reading the Dutch subtitles in reverse because the front seats were only for elite Dutch people.
In his studies, Sukarno was "intensely modern," both in architecture and in politics. Sukarno interpreted these ideas in his dress, in his urban planning for the capital (eventually Jakarta), and in his socialist politics, though he did not extend his taste for modern art to pop music; he had Koes Plus imprisoned for their allegedly decadent lyrics despite his reputation for womanising. For Sukarno, modernity was blind to race, neat and Western in style, and anti-imperialist.
In early 1929, during the so-called Indonesian National Revival, Sukarno and fellow Indonesian nationalist leader Mohammad Hatta (later Vice President), first foresaw a Pacific War and the opportunity that a Japanese advance on Indonesia might present for the Indonesian independence cause. In February 1942 Imperial Japan invaded the Dutch East Indies quickly overrunning outmatched Dutch forces who marched, bussed and trucked Sukarno three hundred kilometres to Padang, Sumatra. They intended keeping him prisoner, but abruptly abandoned him to save themselves.
The Japanese had their own files on Sukarno and approached him with respect wanting to use him to organise and pacify the Indonesians. Sukarno on the other hand wanted to use the Japanese to free Indonesia: "The Lord be praised, God showed me the way; in that valley of the Ngarai I said: Yes, Independent Indonesia can only be achieved with Dai Nippon...For the first time in all my life, I saw myself in the mirror of Asia."

Subsequently, indigenous forces across both Sumatra and Java aided the Japanese against the Dutch but would not cooperate in the supply of the aviation fuel which was essential for the Japanese war effort. Desperate for local support in supplying the volatile cargo, Japan now brought Sukarno back to Jakarta. He helped the Japanese in obtaining its aviation fuel and forced labor conscripts, called sukarela in Indonesian and Romusha in Japanese. Sukarno was lastingly ashamed of his role with the romusha. He also was involved with Peta and Heiho (Javanese volunteer army troops) via speeches broadcast on the Japanese radio and loud speaker networks across Java. By mid-1945 these units numbered around two million, and were preparing to defeat any Allied forces sent to re-take Java.
On November 10, 1943 Sukarno was decorated by the Emperor of Japan in Tokyo. He also became head of Badan Penyelidik Usaha Persiapan Kemerdekaan Indonesia (BPUPKI), the Japanese-organized committee through which Indonesian independence was later gained. On 7 September 1944, with the war going badly for the Japanese, Prime Minister Koiso promised independence for Indonesia, although no date was set. This announcement was seen, according to the U.S. official history, as immense vindication for Sukarno's apparent collaboration with the Japanese. The U.S. at the time considered Sukarno one of the "foremost collaborationist leaders."

Following the Japanese surrender, Sukarno, Mohammad Hatta, and Dr. Radjiman Wediodiningrat were summoned by Marshal Terauchi, Commander-in-Chief of Japan's Southern Expeditionary Forces in Saigon. Sukarno initially hesitated in declaring Indonesia's independence. He and Mohammad Hatta were kidnapped by Indonesian youth groups to Rengasdengklok, west of Jakarta. Finally Sukarno and Hatta declared the independence of the Republic of Indonesia on August 17, 1945. ( )

Sunday, August 2, 2009

RIP former President Cory Aquino, January 25, 1933 – August 1, 2009

Maria Corazon "Cory" Cojuangco Aquino (January 25, 1933 – August 1, 2009) was a President of the Philippines and a world-renowned advocate of democracy, peace, women's empowerment, and religious piety. She served as the 11th president of the Philippines from 1986 to 1992. She was the first female president of the Philippines and was Asia's first female president. Mrs Aquino died on August 1, 2009 after suffering from colon cancer.
A self-proclaimed "plain housewife", Aquino was married to Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. (1932–1983), a leading figure in the political opposition against the autocratic rule of President Ferdinand Marcos. After her husband was assassinated upon his return from exile in the United States on August 21, 1983, Aquino, who had no prior political experience, became a focal point and unifying force of the opposition against Marcos. She was drafted to run against Marcos in the 1986 snap presidential elections. After Marcos was proclaimed the winner despite widespread reports of electoral fraud, Aquino was installed as President by the peaceful 1986 People Power Revolution.

Aquino participated in many of the mass actions that were staged in the two years following the assassination of her husband. In the last week of November 1985, Marcos unexpectedly announced a snap presidential election to be held in February 1986. Initially, Senator Salvador Laurel of Batangas, the son of a former president, was seen as the favorite presidential candidate of the opposition, under the United Nationalists Democratic Organizations. However, business tycoon Don Joaquin "Chino" Roces was not convinced that Laurel could defeat Marcos in the polls. Roces initiated the Cory Aquino for President Movement to gather one million signatures in one week for Aquino to run as president.
Aquino was reluctant at first to run for presidency, despite pleas that she was the one candidate who could unite the opposition against Marcos. She eventually was convinced following a ten-hour meditation session at a Catholic convent. Laurel did not immediately accede to calls for him to give way to Aquino, and offered her the vice-presidential slot under his UNIDO party. Aquino instead offered to give up her affiliation with her husband's political party, the Lakas ng Bayan (LABAN), which had just merged with Partido Demokratiko Pilipino, and run under the UNIDO banner with Laurel sliding down to the vice-presidential slot. Laurel gave way to Aquino to run as President and ran as her running-mate under UNIDO as the main political umbrella of the opposition.
In the succeeding political campaign, Marcos charged that Aquino was being supported by communists and agreed to share power with them, to which she responded that she would not appoint one to her cabinet. Marcos also accused Aquino of playing "political football" with the United States with respect to the continued United States military presence in the Philippines at Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base. Marcos also derided Aquino as "just a woman" whose place was in the bedroom.

The elections held on February 7, 1986 were marred by the intimidation and mass disenfranchisement of voters. Election day itself and the days immediately after were marred by violence, including the murder of one of Aquino's top allies, Antique governor Evelio Javier. While the official tally of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) consistently showed Marcos in the lead, the unofficial tally of the National Movement for Free Elections indicated that Aquino was leading. Despite the job walkout of 30 COMELEC computer technicians alleging election-rigging in favor of Marcos, the Batasang Pambansa, controlled by Marcos allies, ratified the official count and proclaimed Marcos the winner on February 15, 1986. The country's Catholic bishops and the United States Senate condemned the election, and Aquino called for a general strike and a boycott of business enterprises controlled by Marcos allies. She also rejected a power-sharing agreement proposed by the American diplomat Philip Habib, who had been sent as an emissary by U.S. President Ronald Reagan to help defuse the tension. (wikipedia - - -

Monday, July 27, 2009

Nicolas Sarkozy

Nicolas Paul Stéphane Sarközy de Nagy-Bocsa on 28 January 1955 in the 17th arrondissement of Paris) is the 23rd President of the French Republic and ex officio Co-Prince of Andorra. He assumed the office on 16 May 2007 after defeating Socialist Party candidate Ségolène Royal 10 days earlier.
Before his presidency, he was leader of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP). Under Jacques Chirac's presidency, he served as Minister of the Interior in Jean-Pierre Raffarin's (UMP) first two governments (from May 2002 to March 2004), then was appointed Minister of Finances in Raffarin's last government (March 2004 to May 2005), and again Minister of the Interior in Dominique de Villepin's government (2005-2007).
Sarkozy was also president of the General council of the Hauts-de-Seine department from 2004 to 2007 and mayor of Neuilly-sur-Seine, one of the wealthiest communes of France from 1983 to 2002. He was also Minister of the Budget in the government of Édouard Balladur (RPR, predecessor of the UMP) during François Mitterrand's last term.
Sarkozy is known for his strong stance on law and order issues and his desire to revitalise the French economy. In foreign affairs, he has promised a strengthening of the entente cordiale with the United Kingdom and closer cooperation with the United States. His nickname, "Sarko", is used by both supporters and opponents.
President Sarkozy was hospitalized in late July 2009 after he briefly fainted because of an incident of vasovagal syncope. Tests are being run on his cardiovascular system to make sure he remains in acceptable health.

Sarkozy was a likely candidate for the presidency in 2007; in an often-repeated comment made on television channel France 2, when asked by a journalist whether he thought about the presidential election when he shaved in the morning, Sarkozy commented, "not just when I shave".
On 14 January 2007, Sarkozy was chosen by the UMP to be its candidate in the 2007 presidential election. Sarkozy, who was running unopposed, won 98 percent of the votes. Of the 327,000 UMP members who could vote, 69 percent participated in the online ballot.
In February 2007 Sarkozy appeared on a televised debate on TF1 where he expressed his support for affirmative action and the freedom to work overtime. Despite his opposition to same-sex marriage, he advocated civil unions and the possibility for same-sex partners to inherit under the same regime as married couples. The law has been voted in July 2007.
On 7 February, Sarkozy decided in favour of a projected second, non-nuclear, aircraft carrier for the national Navy (adding to the nuclear Charles de Gaulle), during an official visit in Toulon with Defence Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie. "This would allow permanently having an operational ship, taking into account the constraints of maintenance", he explained.
On 21 March, President Jacques Chirac announced his support for Sarkozy. Chirac pointed out that Sarkozy had been chosen as presidential candidate for the ruling UMP party, and said: "So it is totally natural that I give him my vote and my support." To focus on his campaign, Sarkozy stepped down as interior minister on 26 March.
During the campaign, rival candidates had accused Sarkozy of being a "candidate for brutality" and of presenting hardline views about France's future. Opponents also accused him of courting conservative voters in policy-making in a bid to capitalise on right-wing sentiments among some communities. However, his popularity was sufficient to see him polling as the frontrunner throughout the later campaign period, consistently ahead of rival Socialist candidate, Ségolène Royal.
The first round of the presidential election was held on 22 April 2007. Sarkozy came in first with 31.18 percent of the votes, ahead of Ségolène Royal of the Socialists with 25.87 percent. In the second round, Sarkozy came out on top to win the election with 53.06 percent of the votes ahead of Ségolène Royal with 46.94 percent. In his speech immediately following the announcement of the election results, Sarkozy stressed the need for France's modernisation, but also called for national unity, mentioning that Royal was in his thoughts. In that speech, he claimed "The French have chosen to break with the ideas, habits and behaviour of the past. I will restore the value of work, authority, merit and respect for the nation." (wikipedia -