The Extent of Nepotism

There is simply no end to the ways that Suharto gave favors to his sons, daughters, cronies, cousins, and fellow businessmen. Four recent examples from the mid-1990s include the decision of B.J. Habibie, his vice-dictator, to design and produce Indonesia’s own jet liner; the ill-fated attempt of Bob Hasan (who’s actually Chinese Indonesian) to create Indonesia’s own car for domestic consumption; the fake discovery of the world’s largest goldmine in Borneo by a Canadian company whose local representative was Suharto’s daughter; and the granting to Suharto’s son Hutomo Mandala Putra (“Tommy”) of both monopsony rights to buy all cloves produced in Indonesia for clove cigarettes and monopoly rights to sell all cloves to clove cigarette companies.

Yes. So basically, Tommy was the middleman on both sides. First farmers had to sell all their cloves to Tommy, who would buy them at below-market prices and create a profit. Then, clove cigarette makers (Djarum, Sampoerna, Galam, etc.) had to buy all of the cloves for their cigarettes from Tommy, who would sell them at above-market prices. When it became clear that Madagascar was producing cloves even cheaper than Indonesian farmers, Tommy managed to become the sole licensed importer of foreign cloves. Nobody could argue cause his daddy was the dictator. It’s funny cause it’s true.