Commemorating 100 years of Pak Harto, Historical trace to the childhood home

(Photo: Freddy Wally)

IO – Born on June 8, 1921, former Indonesian President Soeharto, familiarly known as “Pak Harto”, was a five-star general. In his lengthy term of office, he became known as the “Father of Indonesian Development”, not least because during his three decades of leadership, economic and socio-political stability of the Republic of Indonesia managed to stabilize and prosper. 

Commemorating the 100 years of the birth of Indonesia’s second President in June this year, visiting his childhood home in Kemusuk Village, Bantul, Yogyakarta can be an interesting tourist destination, a place to simply reminisce on the distinctive leadership style of “The Smiling General”. While the Museum is located quite far from the center of Yogyakarta, it can be reached by car in about 45 minutes. 

Set on a 3,620 square meter plot of land, the Museum was inaugurated during the celebration of Pak Harto’s birthday in 2013 by H. Probosutedjo (his brother) and Siti Hardijanti Rukmana, also known as Mbak Tutut (his first daughter). The purpose of establishing the Museum as revealed from the vision and mission nailed in the Museum is to commemorate Suharto’s service and dedication during his lifetime, to become an inspiration for the future generation. 

The Museum, charges no entrance fee, consists of several main buildings: a pavilion, diorama room, and a small mosque to the south. Entering the Museum courtyard, we will be greeted by an enormous statue of Pak Harto, carved by Edhi Sunarso. To the left of the statue is a large granite stone that marks the inauguration of the Museum. 

Inside the pavilion, you will see numerous records of achievements during his reign, displayed through a sophisticated multimedia style. The diorama room is also unique, combining conservative and modern styles, so that it is sufficiently interactive for young visitors. 

The room is made like an installation from a 35mm roll of film which contains documentation of struggle with interactive visuals; visitors can also trace the complete family tree of Pak Harto. 

One of the dioramas pictured the important moment when President Soeharto was invited and awarded by the FAO (World Food and Agriculture Organization), part of the United Nations; the event took place in Rome, on November 14, 1985. The special invitation was acknowledgement of Pak Harto’s success in making Indonesia self-sufficient in food production, after previously always having to import necessities such as rice. 

Another diorama that is just as important marks Pak Harto’s achievement is when he received the highest award in the population sector (UN Population Award) for his success in running the Family Planning (KB) program in Indonesia. The special award was conveyed directly by Secretary-General Javier de Cueller at the UN Headquarters in New York, coinciding with Pak Harto’s 68th birthday. 

The memorial Museum also has an open area containing a statue of a child grazing a buffalo on a fish pond, right in the left corner of the entrance gate. The statue depicts the life of little Pak Harto when he used to live in Kemusuk Village. 

In the Museum area, there is the house of Notosudiro, the grandparent of Pak Harto. This house, with an area of 475square meters, was customarily used for accommodation by the whole family when in Yogyakarta. 

Another attraction is the 600-square-meter open pavilion, which functions as a public area for visitors to enjoy after touring the Museum and wanting to take a break. Last, but not least, there is also a 63 square meter petilasan in the form of the foundation of a sentong or room which is believed to be the birthplace of Pak Harto. Visitors can still see the old well that was used in this house. 

Merchandise on sale depicts Pak Harto’s style, with his famous quotes displayed in various forms, such as printed t-shirts, key chains, and backpacks. Interestingly, these merchandise sellers are locals around the Museum who took the initiative to produce merchandise independently. 

Amidst the ongoing COVID-19, don’t forget to always comply with the applicable health protocol rules while visiting the Museum at Jalan Nulis-Tens, Srontakan, Argomulyo, Sedayu. Have a nice weekend!