Tuesday, 17 September, 2019

Indonesia's Habibie, president during transition to democracy, dies at 83

Indonesians bury former president Habibie at state funeral BJ Habibie, who oversaw Indonesia’s transition to democracy, dies
Patty Aguilar | 13 September, 2019, 02:23

Former Indonesian president B. J. Habibie, who came to power during the country's transition to democracy, has died.

Habibie died Wednesday at Jakarta's Gatot Subroto army hospital, in which he had been going through treatment method for heart troubles considering the fact that September 1.

Habibie was a trained aerospace engineer who had been working in Germany for almost two decades when then-President Suharto convinced him to come back home in 1974 and lead an effort to industrialize Indonesia's economy.

His time in power was marked by his decision to allow a referendum on independence for the people of the former Portuguese colony of East Timor, which had been annexed by Indonesia in the 1970s.

PRIME Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has conveyed his condolences to the people of Indonesia and family of Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie over the death of the republic's former president yesterday.

President Joko Widodo expressed deep condolences, and the government called for a period of national mourning until Saturday.

Islamic prayers have been explained, and as his physique was reduced, mourners tossed flower petals into his grave, along with that of his spouse of 48 decades, Hasri Ainun Habibie, a healthcare health practitioner who died in 2010. After all, it was not the first time Habibie had entered a hospital for treatment.

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Indonesian soldiers carry the picture and casket of Habibie during his funeral ceremony at Kalibata Heroes Cemetery complex in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Habibie became the science and technology minister and used his proximity to Suharto to pursue pet projects, including a state aircraft maker, a steel refinery and various defense-related industries. Despite his reforms, his presidency ended after only 17 months in October 1999, when he withdrew from contention in the presidential election.

Responding to worldwide criticism of Indonesia's occupation of Portugal's former colony of East Timor, Habibie surprised Indonesians by announcing in January 1999 a plan to hold a referendum under United Nations supervision on self-determination, offering a choice between special autonomy and independence, but East Timorese voted overwhelmingly to split from Indonesia.

During his term, Dr Habibie apo-logised for past human rights abuses, dismantled restrictions on the media and reformed politics to allow for free elections.

Former Indonesian President Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie. Born June 25, 1936, in the South Sulawesi town of Parepare, Mr Habibie was the fourth of eight siblings.

In the meantime, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) had earlier affirmed that the country would always hold the late BJ Habibie in high regard for his lifelong dedication.

Habibie, concurrently ex-research and technology minister, is survived by his two sons: Ilham Akbar and Thareq Kemal.

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