In May of 1998, after more than thirty years in power, President Soeharto resigned in the midst of a severe and economic and political crisis. During Soeharto’s tenure as president, Indonesia had grown from a pariah of the “free world” to what was thought to be a successful test case of national development planning. Unfortunately, behind Indonesia’s façade of democratic freedom and infrastructural development stood rampant repression, blatant nepotism, and endemic corruption which, at the time of his departure, threatened to completely undermine the social foundations of the world’s fourth largest country.
From 1998-2002 Lontar conducted research into the major themes of the New Order era as a way of determining what lessons could be learned from the history of the Soeharto government. This involved compiling and charting a composite of news-breaking stories from Kompas,The Jakarta Post, Tempo and other print media, as well as one-on-one interviews and group discussions with some of the nation’s top political observers.
During the process, the Foundation collected more that 1,500 historical photographs depicting news-breaking incidents during the New Order regime, and essays by more than 50 people directly involved in these incidents. The result was the publication of a large-format book, Indonesia in the Soeharto Years: Issues, Incidents, and Images, considered by numerous scholars to be one of the most important books documenting the history of the New Order era.
As digital reproduction rights are obtained, the photographs collected during this research project will be made available for viewing through the Lontar Digital Library.