Diah Permata Megawati Setiawati Sukarnoputri (Indonesian: [meɡawati sukarnɔputri] ; born 23 January 1947) is an Indonesian politician who served as the fifth president of Indonesia from 2001 to 2004. She previously served as the eighth vice president from 1999 to 2001.

Megawati Sukarnoputri
Megawati in 2001
Official portrait, 2001
5th President of Indonesia
In office
23 July 2001 – 20 October 2004
Vice PresidentHamzah Haz
Preceded byAbdurrahman Wahid
Succeeded bySusilo Bambang Yudhoyono
8th Vice President of Indonesia
In office
21 October 1999 – 23 July 2001
PresidentAbdurrahman Wahid
Preceded byB. J. Habibie
Succeeded byHamzah Haz
Chairperson of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle
Assumed office
15 February 1999
Preceded byPosition established
5th Chairperson of the Indonesian Democratic Party
In office
22 January 1993 – 27 July 1996
Preceded bySuryadi
Succeeded bySuryadi
Member of the People's
Representative Council
In office
1 October 1999 – 21 October 1999
Succeeded byDwi Ria Latifa
ConstituencyWest Java
In office
1 October 1987 – 30 September 1997
ConstituencyCentral Java
Other offices
1st Head of National Research and Innovation Agency of Indonesia Steering Committee
Assumed office
5 May 2021
Preceded byPosition established
1st Head of Pancasila Ideology Development Agency Steering Committee
Assumed office
28 February 2018
Preceded byHerself (as Head of Presidential Unit of Pancasila Ideology Development)
Personal details
Born
Diah Permata Megawati Setiawati Sukarnoputri

(1947-01-23) 23 January 1947 (age 77)
Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Political partyPDI-P
Other political
affiliations
PDI (1986–1996)
Height158 cm (5 ft 2 in)[2]
Spouses
  • Surindro Supjarso
    (m. 1968; died 1970)
  • Hassan Gamal Ahmad Hassan
    (m. 1972; ann. 1972)
  • (m. 1973; died 2013)
Children3, including Prananda Prabowo and Puan Maharani
Parents
Relatives
Alma mater
Signature

Megawati Sukarnoputri is Indonesia's first and to date only female president[3] and the fifth woman to lead a Muslim-majority country. She is also the first Indonesian president and as of 2023 the only vice president to be born after Indonesia proclaimed its independence in 1945. After serving as vice president to Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati Sukarnoputri became president when Wahid was removed from office in 2001. She ran for re-election in the 2004 presidential election, but was defeated by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. She ran again in the 2009 presidential election, but Yudhoyono defeated her for a second time.

Megawati Sukarnoputri was instrumental in creating the Corruption Eradication Commission, an agency task to combatting corruption in Indonesia. She also set up a general election system for the first time, in which the Indonesian people can directly elect the president and vice president, in addition to electing candidates for the legislature. As a result, she was given the title "Mother of Upholding the Constitution".[4]

She is the first and current leader of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), one of Indonesia's largest political parties. She is the eldest daughter of Indonesia's first president, Sukarno.

Name edit

Her name, Sukarnoputri (meaning "daughter of Sukarno"), is a patronym, not a family name; Javanese often do not have family names, similarly Minang living outside of traditional nagari society often do not carry on matrilineal clan names. She is often referred to as simply Megawati or Mega, derived from Sanskrit meaning 'cloud goddess'. In a speech to the students of the Sri Sathya Sai Primary School, she mentioned that Indian politician Biju Patnaik named her at Sukarno's request.[5][6]

Early life and education edit

Early life and family edit

 
President Sukarno, with his children Megawati Sukarnoputri and Guntur, while receiving Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru along with his daughter Indira Gandhi.

Megawati Sukarnoputri was born in Yogyakarta to Sukarno, who had declared Indonesia's independence from the Netherlands 2 years prior in 1945 and Fatmawati, a Minang descended from Inderapuran aristocracy, one of his nine wives. Megawati Sukarnoputri was Sukarno's second child and second daughter. She grew up in her father's Merdeka Palace. She danced for her father's guests and developed a gardening hobby. Megawati Sukarnoputri was 19 when her father relinquished power in 1966 and was succeeded by a government which eventually came to be led by President Suharto.[7]

Education edit

Megawati Sukarnoputri attended Padjadjaran University in Bandung to study agriculture but dropped out in 1967 to be with her father following his fall. In 1970, the year her father died, Megawati Sukarnoputri went to the University of Indonesia to study psychology but dropped out after two years.[8]

Political career edit

Member of parliament edit

 
Megawati Sukarnoputri as a member of the People's Representative Council in 1987.

In 1986, Suharto gave the status of Proclamation Hero to Sukarno in a ceremony attended by Megawati Sukarnoputri. Suharto's acknowledgment enabled the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), a government-sanctioned party, to campaign on Sukarno nostalgia in the lead-up to the 1987 legislative elections. Up to that time, Megawati Sukarnoputri had seen herself as a housewife, but in 1987 she joined PDI and ran for a People's Representative Council (DPR) seat.[7] The PDI accepted Megawati Sukarnoputri to boost their own image. Megawati Sukarnoputri quickly became popular, her status as Sukarno's daughter offsetting her lack of oratorical skills. Although PDI came last in the elections, Megawati Sukarnoputri was elected to the DPR. Like all members of the DPR she also became a member of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR).[9]

Indonesian Democratic Party chair edit

Megawati Sukarnoputri was not reelected, but continued as a PDI member. In December 1993, the PDI held a national congress. As was always the case when New Order opposition parties held their congresses, the government actively interfered. As the Congress approached, three individuals contended for the PDI chair. The incumbent, Suryadi, had become critical of the government. The second was Budi Harjono a government-friendly figure whom the government backed. The third was Megawati Sukarnoputri. Her candidacy received such overwhelming support that her election at the Congress became a formality.[10]

When the congress assembled, the government stalled and delayed attempts to hold the election.[10] The congress faced a deadline when their permit to assemble would run out. As the hours ticked down to the end of the congress, troops began gathering. With only two hours remaining, Megawati Sukarnoputri called a press conference, stating that because she enjoyed the support of a majority of PDI members, she was now the de facto chair.[10] Despite her relative lack of political experience, she was popular in part for her status as Sukarno's daughter and because she was seen as free of corruption with admirable personal qualities. Under her leadership, PDI gained a large following among the urban poor and both urban and rural middle classes.[11]

Split in the party edit

The government was outraged at its failure to prevent Megawati's rise. They never acknowledged Megawati Sukarnoputri although her self-appointment was ratified in 1994. In 1996, the government convened a special national congress in Medan that reelected Suryadi as chair. Megawati Sukarnoputri and her camp refused to acknowledge the results and the PDI divided into pro-Megawati and anti-Megawati camps.[12]

27 July 1996 incident edit

Suryadi began threatening to take back PDI's Headquarters in Jakarta. This threat was carried on the morning of 27 July 1996.[13] Suryadi's supporters (reportedly with the government's backing) attacked PDI Headquarters and faced resistance from Megawati Sukarnoputri supporters stationed there. In the ensuing fight, Megawati's supporters held on to the headquarters. A riot ensued, followed by a government crackdown. The government later blamed the riots on the People's Democratic Party (PRD), and continued to recognize Suryadi's faction as the official party.[14]

1997 legislative election edit

Despite what seemed to be a political defeat, Megawati Sukarnoputri scored a moral victory and her popularity grew. When the time came for the 1997 legislative election, Megawati Sukarnoputri and her supporters threw their support behind the United Development Party (PPP), the other approved opposition party.[15]

Reformasi era edit

1999 legislative election edit

In mid-1997, Indonesia began to be affected by the Asian Financial Crisis and showed severe economic distress. By late January 1998 the rupiah fell to nearly 15,000 against the US dollar, compared to only 4,000 in early December. Increasing public anger at pervasive corruption culminated with Suharto's resignation and the assumption of the presidency by Vice President B. J. Habibie in May 1998, starting the Reformation era (Reformasi). The restrictions on Megawati Sukarnoputri were removed and she began to consolidate her political position. In October 1998, her supporters held a National Congress whereby Megawati's PDI faction would now be known as the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). Megawati Sukarnoputri was elected chair and was nominated as PDI-P's presidential candidate.[16]

PDI-P, together with Abdurrahman Wahid's National Awakening Party (PKB) and Amien Rais' National Mandate Party (PAN), became the leading reform forces. Despite their popularity, Megawati Sukarnoputri, Abdurrahman Wahid and Amien Rais adopted a moderate stance, preferring to wait until the 1999 legislative election to begin major changes.[17] In November 1998, Megawati Sukarnoputri, together with Abdurrahman Wahid, Amien Rais and Hamengkubuwono X reiterated their commitment to reform through the Ciganjur Statement.[18]

Result and aftermath edit

As the elections approached, Megawati Sukarnoputri, Abdurrahman Wahid and Amien Rais considered forming a political coalition against President Habibie and Golkar. In May, Alwi Shihab held a press conference at his house during which Megawati Sukarnoputri, Abdurrahman Wahid and Amien Rais were to announce that they would work together. At the last minute, Megawati Sukarnoputri chose not to attend, because she decided that she could not trust Amien.[19] In June, the elections were held and PDI-P came first with 33% of the votes.[20]

With the victory, Megawati's presidential prospects solidified. She was opposed by PPP who did not want a female president.[21] In preparation for the 1999 MPR General Session, PDI-P formed a loose coalition with PKB. As the MPR General Session approached, it seemed as if the presidential election would be contested between Megawati Sukarnoputri and B. J. Habibie, but by late June Amien Rais had drawn the Islamic parties into a coalition called the Central Axis.[19] The presidential election became a three-way race when Amien Rais floated the idea of nominating Wahid for president; but Abdurrahman Wahid did not provide a clear response to the proposal.[citation needed]

1999 indirect presidential election edit

Election of Wahid as president edit

Megawati's PDI-P and PKB coalition faced its first test when the MPR assembled to choose its chair. Megawati Sukarnoputri threw her support behind Matori Abdul Djalil, the Chair of PKB. He was overwhelmingly defeated by Amien Rais, who in addition to enjoying Central Axis support was backed by Golkar.[21] The Golkar and Central Axis coalition struck again when they secured Akbar Tandjung's election as Head of DPR. At this stage, people became wary that Megawati Sukarnoputri, who best represented reform, was going to be obstructed by the political process and that the status quo was going to be preserved. PDI-P supporters began to gather in Jakarta.

B. J. Habibie made a poorly received speech on political accountability that led him to withdraw. The presidential election held on 20 October 1999 came down to Megawati Sukarnoputri and Abdurrahman Wahid. Megawati Sukarnoputri took an early lead, but was overtaken and lost with 313 votes compared to Wahid's 373. Megawati's loss provoked her supporters to revolt.[21] Riots raged in Java and Bali. In the city of Solo, PDI-P masses attacked Amien's house.

Selection as vice president edit

The next day, the MPR assembled to elect the vice president. PDI-P had considered nominating Megawati Sukarnoputri, but were concerned that the Central Axis and Golkar coalition would again thwart her. Instead, PKB nominated Megawati Sukarnoputri. She faced stiff competition from Hamzah Haz, Akbar Tandjung, and General Wiranto.[21] Well aware of the riots, Akbar Tandjung and Wiranto withdrew. Hamzah Haz stayed in the race, but Megawati defeated him 396 to 284. In her inauguration speech, she called for calm.

Vice presidency (1999–2001) edit

Tenure edit

 
Megawati's official vice-presidential portrait, BRI 2nd Class featured.

As vice president, Megawati Sukarnoputri had considerable authority by virtue of her commanding many seats in the DPR. Abdurrahman Wahid delegated to her the problems in Ambon, although she was not successful.[22] By the time the MPR Annual Session assembled in August 2000, many considered Abdurrahman Wahid to be ineffective as president or as an administrator. Abdurrahman Wahid responded to this by issuing a presidential decree, giving Megawati Sukarnoputri day-to-day control of the government.[22]

2000 PDI-P National Congress edit

The First PDI-P Congress was held in Semarang, Central Java, in April 2000, at which Megawati Sukarnoputri was re-elected as chair for a second term.[23]

Megawati Sukarnoputri consolidated her position within PDI-P by taking harsh measures to remove potential rivals.[24] During the election for the chair, two other candidates emerged; Eros Djarot and Dimyati Hartono. They ran because they did not want Megawati Sukarnoputri to serve concurrently as both chair and vice president. Eros' nomination from the South Jakarta branch was voided by membership problems. Eros was not allowed to participate in the Congress. Disillusioned with what he perceived to be a cult of personality developing around Megawati, Eros left PDI-P. In July 2002, he formed the Freedom Bull National Party. Although Dimyati's candidacy was not opposed as harshly as Eros, he was removed as Head of PDI-P's Central Branch. He kept his position as a People's Representative Council (DPR) member, but left the party to become a university lecturer.[25] In April 2002, Dimyati formed the Our Homeland of Indonesia Party (PITA).[26]

Rise to the presidency edit

Megawati Sukarnoputri had an ambivalent relationship with Abdurrahman Wahid. During the cabinet reshuffle of August 2000 for example, Megawati was not present for the announcement of the new line-up.[27] At another occasion, when the political tide began to turn against Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati Sukarnoputri defended him and lashed out against critics.[28] In 2001, Megawati Sukarnoputri began to distance herself from Abdurrahman Wahid as a Special Session of the MPR approached and her prospects of becoming president improved. Although she refused to make any specific comments, she showed signs of preparing herself, holding a meeting with party leaders a day before the Special Session was to start.[citation needed]

Presidency (2001–2004) edit

 
MPR speaker Amien Rais congratulates Megawati Sukarnoputri on her appointment as president.

Tenure edit

On 23 July 2001, the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) removed Wahid from office and subsequently swore in Megawati Sukarnoputri as the new president.[29] She thus became the sixth woman to lead a Muslim-majority country. On 10 August 2001, she announced her Mutual Assistance Cabinet.[30]

 
President Megawati Sukarnoputri during her visit to the White House. Beside her is U.S. president George W. Bush.

The rise of an icon of opposition against the Suharto regime to the presidency was initially widely welcomed, however it soon became apparent that her presidency was marked with indecisiveness, lack of clear ideological direction, and "a reputation for inaction on important policy issues".[31][32][33] The good side of slow progress of reforms and avoiding confrontations was that she stabilized the overall democratization process and relationship between legislative, executive, and military.[31]

2004 presidential election edit

Incumbent President Megawati Sukarnoputri was the PDI-P's top nominee, seeking to become the first woman elected in her own right as president of a Muslim-majority country. She was joined by vice-presidential candidate Hasyim Muzadi, general chairman of Indonesia's largest Islamic organisation Nahdlatul Ulama (NU). The pair was assigned the number 2 for its ballot.[34] However, she was decisively defeated by Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the second round, by 61 percent to 39 percent,[29] on 20 September 2004. She did not attend the new president's inauguration, and never had congratulated him.[35]

Post-presidency edit

Leader of the PDI-P edit

2009 general election edit

On 11 September 2007 Megawati Sukarnoputri announced her candidacy in the 2009 presidential election at a PDI-P gathering. Soetardjo Soerjoguritno confirmed her willingness to be nominated as her party's presidential candidate.[36] Her nomination for president was announced on 15 May 2009, with Gerindra Party leader Prabowo Subianto as her running mate.[37]

Megawati's 2009 race was overshadowed by her calls to change Indonesia's voter registration procedure, obliquely suggesting that Yudhoyono's supporters were trying to manipulate the vote.[38] Megawati Sukarnoputri and Prabowo Subianto lost the election to Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, coming in second with 26.79% of the vote.[39]

2014 general election edit

 
Megawati Sukarnoputri with Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla (2nd and 3rd from left) in 2016.

On 24 February 2012, Megawati Sukarnoputri distanced herself from polls[40] that placed her as a top contender for the 2014 presidential election.[41] As Chair of PDI-P, she appealed to her party at a gathering in Yogyakarta to focus on its current priorities. Nonetheless, a domain name appeared to have been registered in her name.[42] On 27 December 2012, the daily edition of the Jakarta Post hinted at a possible reconciliation in the 2014 general election between the families of Megawati Sukarnoputri and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and their political parties, her PDI-P and his Democratic Party respectively.[43]

For the 2014 general election, the PDI-P and their coalition partners nominated Joko Widodo as their candidate for president. Joko Widodo defeated his opponent Prabowo Subianto in a hotly contested election.[44] Later, the relationship between Megawati Sukarnoputri and Joko Widodo became strained as she pushed for Police Commissary General Budi Gunawan for the post of the Indonesian Police Chief, despite him being investigated for corruption by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). Budi Gunawan was Megawati's Adjutant during her tenure as president.[45]

At the 4th PDI-P National Congress on 20 September 2014, Megawati Sukarnoputri was reappointed as Chair of PDI-P for 2015 - 2020.[46]

Post-presidency appointments edit

 
Megawati Sukarnoputri at the inauguration of the South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol in Seoul, 10 May 2022

So far, Megawati Sukarnoputri is the only former president which somehow retained her influence within the government and even appointed to strategic positions with advisory capabilities. On 22 March 2018, she was appointed as Head of Steering Committee of Pancasila Ideology Development Agency. She also gained position as Head of National Research and Innovation Agency Steering Committee since 5 May 2021, and she was formally appointed on 13 September 2021.[47][48]

Other activities edit

On 4 October 2023, Megawati Sukarnoputri had a meeting with former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in Kuala Lumpur. During their discussion, the two senior politicians covered various topics, including Indonesia's plan to relocate its capital city to East Kalimantan.[49] On 10 January 2024, during the 51th anniversary of PDI-P, Megawati Sukarnoputri made a speech about several strategic issues, such as neutrality of the authorities, democracy, elections and volunteers.[50] She then gave a satirical speech for Joko Widodo, touching on the stigma of the role of volunteers in winning the presidential election and emphasizing that only parties have the authority to nominate president and vice president.[50] At the end of her speech, Megawati Sukarnoputri said that she was confident that the presidential and vice presidential candidates from her party coalition, Ganjar Pranowo and Mahfud MD, would win in just one round in the 2024 presidential election. She added that Ganjar Pranowo and Mahfud MD were energetic, intelligent and cared about the little people.[50]

Personal life edit

 
Megawati Sukarnoputri with husband Taufiq Kiemas and three children.

Megawati's first husband was First Lieutenant Surindro Supjarso [id], whom she married on 1 June 1968. He perished in a plane crash in Biak, West Irian, on 22 January 1970. On 27 June 1972, she married Hassan Gamal Ahmad Hassan, an Egyptian diplomat. The marriage was annulled by the Religious Court less than 3 months later.[8] She then married Taufiq Kiemas on 25 March 1973. He died on 8 June 2013.[51] She had three children, Mohammad Rizki Pratama, Muhammad Prananda Prabowo, and Puan Maharani. The sons are from her marriage with Surindro, while Puan Maharani is the only child from Megawati's marriage to Taufiq.[52][53]

Honours edit

National honours edit

Foreign honours edit

  Kazakhstan:

  North Korea:

  Russia:

References edit

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Further reading edit

External links edit

Political offices
Preceded by President of Indonesia
23 July 2001 – 20 October 2004
Succeeded by
Preceded by Vice President of Indonesia
21 October 1999 – 23 July 2001
Succeeded by
Party political offices
New political party Chairperson of the Indonesian
Democratic Party of Struggle

1999–present
Incumbent
Government offices
New title Head of Pancasila Ideology Development
Agency Steering Committee

2018–present
Incumbent
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Chairperson of ASEAN
2003
Succeeded by