top of page



Back to Faculty Chapter 11


Pol Pot  Born 1928. Pseudonym of Saloth Sar. Pol Pot, a communist politician, served as Prime Minister of Democratic Kampuchea from 1976-79. During his tenure, the Communist Party of Kampuchea sought to radically transform Cambodian society. It is estimated that as many as one million people were assassinated or died, due to malnutrition or overwork, during this social revolution. He fled to the Thai border, as head of a guerrilla force, after the Vietnamese invasion of 1979.



Suharto: Born 1921. Second president of Indonesia. The son of a minor village official in Central Java, Suharto pursued a professional military career, joining the Dutch colonial army in 1940 and the Japanese-sponsored PETA in 1943. During the Indonesian Revolution(1945-1950), he became a prominent army commander in the Yogyakarta region (Central Java). He commanded the Central Java Diponegoro Division in the mid-1950s but was removed following allegations of involvement in smuggling. In 1960, however, Suharto wasappointed first deputy army chief of staff and in 1961 head of the army's strategic reserve (Kostrad). In 1962 he commanded the Mandala military campaign which captured West Irian from the Dutch. He was still Kostrad commander at the time of the Gestapu (also known as the3Oth September Affair), an attempted coup d'etat, and as one of the most senior surviving generals he played a major role in defeating the coup.

During the following months, Suharto gradually consolidated his power at the expense of President Sukarno. On 11 March 1966 he obtained from Sukarno the Supersemar (Surat Perintah Sebelas Maret, Executive Order of 11 March), vesting him with authority "to take allmeasures considered necessary to guarantee security, calm and stability of the government and the revolution/' He was sworn in as acting president in March 1967, was elected by Parliament as full president in March 1968, and was subsequently reelected in 1973,1978, and 1983.

Suharto's New Order has been characterized by an emphasis on economic development and a relatively low profile in international affairs. Internally, Suharto has stressed political stability and considerably restricted political party activity. He has also sought to remove the basis for political conflict by insisting that all political organizations take the official national ideology, Pancasila, as their basic principle. In recent years accusations of corruption and abuse of position have been leveled against members of Suharto's immediate family, especially his wife Hartinah (Tien). [Excerpted, with minor editing, from: Robert Cribb, Encyclopedia of Asian History- reproduced with permission.]



Le Duan: (lay duan) 1908-1986. The most influential figure in the Vietnamese communist party after Ho Chi Minh's death in 1969, Le Duan was secretary-general of the Vietnamese Communist Party from 1956 until his death in 1986.

Le Due Tho: (lay duke toe) 1911-1990. Chief North Vietnamese negotiator at the Paris peace talks with the United States and co-recipient (with Henry Kissinger) of the Nobel Peace prize for 1973 for having achieved a cease fire. He rejected the prize. A founder of theIndochinese Communist Party, he resigned from the politburo on 1986 in one of the largest shakeups of the Vietnamese Communist Party up to that time.


Pham Van Dong: (fahng vahn dong) Born 1906. A co-founder of the Indochinese Communist Party, he led the Viet Minh delegation to the 1954 Geneva Conference. From 1950, he was North Vietnam's prime minister and retained that post after 1975.

bottom of page