Umar Wirahadikusumah : biography
Umar Wirahadikusumah was born on 10 October 1924 to Raden Rangga Wirahadikusumah and Raden Ratnaringrum. Umar was of noble birth and completed his education under the Dutch Colonial Government.
In 1943, with Indonesia now under Japanese Occupation, Umar enlisted with youth groups operating under the supervision of the Japanese Occupational Government. These youth groups provided some physical training which Umar undertook. This was followed in October 1944 by PETA, an auxiliary force consisting of Indonesian recruits which was intended to assist the Japanese in fighting the Allies. When Indonesia declared its Independence, Umar, like many other youths of similar age joined the TKR (The People's Security Soldiers), the forerunner to the TNI.
Umar Wirahadikusumah was the uncle of Agus Wirahadikusumah, a reformist military officer who himself became Commander of Kostrad.
After the Indonesian National Revolution in which the fledgling nation successfully prevented the Dutch from reoccupying them, Umar served in the Army. Umar served for a long time in Kodam VI/Siliwangi (Siliwangi Division) which was stationed in his native province of West Java. He worked his way up the ranks, participating in a crackdown of the Communists in 1948 as well as fighting the PRRI rebellions in Sumatra. He was also at one time, the adjutant of AH Nasution when the latter held the position of Kodam VI/Siliwangi Commander.
In 1959, Umar was trusted as the Commander of Kodam V/Jaya and he was now in charge of security around Jakarta.
Cracking Down on G30S
On the morning of 1 October 1965, six Generals were kidnapped from their houses. As the Commander of Kodam V/Jaya, Umar went around the city to check its security. After hearing about the kidnappings and seeing the unidentified troops occupying the Merdeka Square, Umar sent word to Kostrad Commander, Major General Suharto of the events which had just unfolded and requested his assistance.
Umar accepted Suharto's decision to assume command of the Army and supported him in his efforts to crack down on the attempted coup. Towards midday, Umar received a summon from President Sukarno who was suspiciously at Halim, the place where the six Generals were taken. Suharto was worried that this was an attempt to get Umar to Halim and have him killed. Suharto firmly rejected the order.
As Suharto retook control of the situation in Jakarta, Umar further consolidated it. He declared a curfew between 6 pm and 6 am and placed watch on all of the city's newspapers.
When blame for the incident was beginning to be put on the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), Umar approved of the formation of Union of Action To Exterminate The 30 September Movement (KAP-GESTAPU), leading to the mass killing of an estimated half a million people in 1965–1966.
Although he was not part of Suharto's inner circle, Umar won great trust from Suharto for the assistance and support given in putting down G30S. As Suharto began a rise which would see him end up as President of Indonesia, Umar's career also skyrocketed. In 1965, Suharto entrusted Umar to replace him as Commanderof Kostrad. In 1967, Umar became Deputy Army Chief of Staff before finally becoming the Army Chief of Staff himself in 1969.
In 1973, his active military career came to an end and he became the Chairman of the State Audit Board (BPK), a position which he would hold for 10 years. As Chairman of BPK, Umar was responsible for making sure that Government Departments, Ministries, and Agencies were using their money properly. During his tenure as Chairman of BPK, Umar made the grim assessment that not even one Government department was free from corruption.
Umar died on 21 March 2003 due to heart and lung problems.
Post Vice Presidency
In May 1998, on the eve of Suharto's fall, Umar, together with Sudharmono and Try Sutrisno visited Suharto at his residence to discuss possible options.
Umar was married to Karlina and had two daughters.
In March 1983, Umar reached the pinnacle of his career. Suharto, who had been elected for a 4th term as President by the People's Consultative Assembly(MPR) selected Umar to be his Vice President. This was considered to be a rather unexpected choice as Umar's stature in Indonesian politics paled in comparison compared to his two predecessors, Hamengkubuwono IX and Adam Malik. Despite being a low-key personality, Umar had a good reputation and was widely respected.
As Vice President, Umar became one of the very few in the Suharto regime who chose to combat corruption. As a religious man, Umar had hoped that religion can be used to turn corruptors to do the right deeds. Umar also conducted surprise inspections (sometimes incognito) to regional towns and villages to monitor how Government policies were affecting the People. During his Vice Presidency, Umar also held prayer services at the Vice Presidential Palace.
Umar's term as Vice President ended in March 1988 when he was replaced by Sudharmono. Many were disappointed to see him not continue for a second term as Vice President. It was a testament to his good reputation that Sudharmono wanted to be sure of Umar's acceptance to not continuing as Vice President for another term.
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