B. J. HABIBIE Biography - Polititians


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Name: Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie                                                           
Born: 25 June 1936 Pare-Pare, South Sulawesi                                               
Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie (born June 25, 1936), more commonly known simply as             
Rudi Habibie or B J Habibie, was the third President of Indonesia, holding                 
office from 1998 to 1999.                                                                 
He was born in Pare-Pare, South Sulawesi; and studied at the Bandung Institute             
of Technology.                                                                             
In 1950, when Habibie was fourteen, he became acquainted with Lieutenant Colonel           
Suharto. The future Indonesian President was then stationed in Makassar to put             
down a separatist rebellion and lived in a house across the road from the                 
Habibie family's. Suharto quickly became a family friend. He was present during           
the death of Habibie's father and became an intermediary when one of his                   
soldiers wanted to marry Habibie's sister.                                                 
During 1955-1965, he studied aerospace engineering at the RWTH Aachen University,         
Germany, receiving Diploma (Germany's First degree certificate which is                   
equivalent to Master in most countries) in 1960 and doctorate in 1965. He then             
worked for Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm in Hamburg. It might have been due to his           
time spent in Europe that made him interested in the Leica line of cameras.               
In 1974, Suharto sent Ibnu Sutowo to Germany to meet Habibie and convince him to           
come back to Indonesia. Habibie was convinced and returned to Indonesia, taking           
the position of Technological Adviser to the President.                                   
From 1978 to 1998 Habibie served as Minister of Technology and Research in                 
Suharto's Cabinet. He pushed for a leapfrog strategy of development, which he             
hoped would bypass the foundational low-skill technology stages to turn                   
Indonesia into an industrialized nation. Despite national and international               
opposition (which preferred agricultural investments to technological                     
investments) to this;he once famously announced that "I have some figures which           
compare the cost of one kilo of airplane compared to one kilo of rice. One kilo           
of airplane costs thirty thousand US dollars and one kilo of rice is seven cents.         
And if you want to pay for your one kilo of high-tech products with a kilo of             
rice, I don't think we have enough."                                                       
Habibie had considerable power as Minister of Technology. His long acquaintance           
with Suharto combined with Suharto's own desire that Indonesia master technology           
as part of its development meant that Habibie was able to get extra fundings               
from the budget for his projects at the expense of other ministers' project. In           
1989, Suharto increased Habibie's power, putting him in charge of strategic               
When Habibie came back to Indonesia in 1974, he was also made CEO of a new state           
owned enterprise called PT. Nurtanio. By the early 1980's it had made                     
considerable progress, specializing in making helicopters and small passenger             
planes. In 1995, Habibie succeeded in flying a N-250 (dubbed Gatotkoco) commuter           
In developing Indonesia's Aviation Industry, Habibie adopted an approach called           
"Begin at the End and End at the Beginning". In this method, things such as               
basic research became the last things that the workers at IPTN focused on while           
actual manufacturing of the planes was placed as the first objective.                     
In 1985, PT. Nurtanio changed its name to Indonesian Aviation Industry (IPTN)             
and is now known as Indonesian Aerospace Inc. (Dirgantara).                               
By the late 80's, it became apparent that there was a rift between Suharto and             
his main political ally, ABRI. Suharto, who had repressed Islamists in the                 
earlier years of his regime now began to make concilliatory gestures in a bid to           
build a new power base to compensate the one he was losing with ABRI.                     
In December 1990, the ICMI was formed with Habibie as its Chairman. In Suharto's           
eyes, ICMI would become his main weapon in appealing to the Muslim society. ICMI           
was a successful venture, by 1994, it had 20,000 members including future                 
political opponents such as Nurcolish Majid and Amien Rais.                               
Habibie served as Chairman of ICMI for 10 years.                                           
Like all Government officials in Suharto's regime, Habibie was a member of                 
From 1993-1998, Habibie was a Daily Coordinator for the Chairman of the                   
Executive Board.                                                                           
The 1998 People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) General Session was to be held in           
the midst of the Asian Financial Crisis and many were hoping for Suharto to take           
serious steps to take the country out of trouble. In January 1998, after                   
accepting nomination for a 7th term as President, Suharto announced the criteria           
for the person who he wanted as Vice President. Suharto did not mention Habibie           
by name but his suggestion that the next Vice President should have mastery over           
science and technology made it obvious who he wanted to nominate. The market               
reacted badly, causing the rupiah to further depreciate in value.                         
Despite protests and former Minister Emil Salim trying to nominate himself as             
Vice President, Habibie was elected as Vice President in March 1998.                       
By May 1998, the increasing poverty caused by the Financial Crisis and political           
discontent had reached boiling point. On 13th May, the shooting of six students           
at Trisakti University in Jakarta, caused extreme anger which in turn caused               
widespread riots and lootings. There were now explicit calls for Suharto to step           
down as President of Indonesia. Suharto responded by saying on 19 May 1998 that           
if he stepped down, the Vice President would become President and in a not too             
subtle jab to Habibie, said that he was not sure whether the Vice President               
could solve the problems facing the country.                                               
Habibie, who learned of Suharto's comments from TV, was upset with his mentor             
and from then on was increasingly sympathetic to those who wanted Suharto to               
step down. While careful not to oppose him directly or support those who did,             
Habibie left the president in little doubt that he saw himself as Suharto's               
legitimate successor. Suharto, faced with dwindling civilian and military                 
support, even among loyalists like Wiranto and Ginandjar Kartasasmita, decided             
to resign late on the evening of 20 May 1998.                                             
The next morning, on 21 May 1998, Suharto publicly announced his resignation and           
Habibie was immediately sworn in as President. There was mixed reaction to                 
Habibie's assumption of the Presidency. Hardline reformists saw Habibie as an             
extension of Suharto's regime while moderate reformists saw him as leading a               
transitional Government.                                                                   
With the release of his 2006 book, Detik-Detik Yang Menentukan: Jalan Panjang             
Indonesia Menuju Demokrasi (Decisive Moments: Indonesia's Long Road Towards               
Democracy), there is speculation that Suharto had wanted Habibie to resign along           
with him. In Javanese style, Suharto hinted at this intention subtly.                     
Habibie, who isn't Javanese, didn't take the hint and decided to take the office           
of the President. Because of this inability to read his intentions, Suharto               
showed nothing but contempt and never talked to Habibie again.