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January 28, 2008

INDONESIA/OBITUARY
Ex-dictator Soeharto dead
The death of former Indonesian president Soeharto, who is also one of the founders of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) which consists of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, The Philippines and Vietnam, is a great loss to the regional grouping.

Expressions of loss came among others from Malaysian foreign minister Syed Hamid Albar, as AFP quoted him saying on Sunday.

Soeharto (86) passed away on Sunday (Jan 27) at 13:10 local time after suffering from multiple organ failure at the Pertamina Hospital in South Jakarta.

The Indonesian second president had undergone intensive medical treatment for 24 days since he was admitted to the hospital on Friday, January 4, 2008, for anemia and severe edema.

Expressing his sadness about Soeharto`s death, Albar said the former Indonesian strong man had contributed a great deal to the economic development of Indonesia, and Asean in general.

According to him, Malaysia on Monday will send Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and former Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammad and Musa Hitam to concey their last respects and condolences on Soeharto`s death.

Recalling Soeharto`s success to help create political stability in the Asean region, Albar said that apart from Indonesia, Malaysia and Asean also became a grief-stricken region over the second Indonesian president`s death.

Malaysia and Indonesia enjoyed friendly relations after Soeharto and former Foreign Minister Adam Malik put an end to the confrontation between the two neighboring countries.

Singapore`s Prime Minister Lee Shien Loong arrived in Jakarta on Sunday evening to pay his last respects to the former Indonesian president.

Earlier, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei Darussalam, Deputy Prime Minister of Cambodia Sok An, some other former Asean leaders such as Mahathir Mohammad and Norodom Raharidh (son of Cambodian King, Prince Norodom Sihanouk) had visited Soeharto while still under treatment at the Pertamina hospital.

Apart from that, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo expressed condolences over the death of former Indonesian president Soeharto on Sunday, saying he "will never be forgotten."

Arroyo hailed Soeharto for his leadership in the South-East Asian region and contributions to building peace in the Philippines` troubled southern region of Mindanao.

Top state officials and foreign dignitaries are expected to attend the state funeral, including Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, former prime minister Mahathir Muhammad, former East Timor president Xanana Gusmao, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his deputy S Jayakumar, and former Philippine president Fidel Ramos.

In addition, all foreign ambassadors to Indonesia are expected to attend the state funeral at the Astana Giri Bangun graveyard in Karanganyar about 30 km southeast of Solo, Central Java.

Courtesy Antara

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