Try Sutrisno was Indonesia's 6th vice president from 1993 to 1998.
Try Sutrisno was born on 15 November 1935 in Surabaya, East Java. His father Subandi was an ambulance driver, and his mother Mardiyah was a housewife. After the Indonesian Proclamation of Independence, the Dutch returned to claim back Indonesia as their colony. Try and his family moved out of Surabaya to Mojokerto. His father worked as a medical officer for the Poncowati Army Battalion, forcing Try to stop his schooling and find a living as a cigarette and newspaper seller.
Aged just 13, Try wanted to join the Poncowati Battalion and fight but no one took him seriously and he ended up being employed as a courier instead. Try's duty was to find information to areas occupied by the Dutch Army as well as retrieving medicine for the Indonesian Army. Finally in 1949, the Dutch retreated and recognized Indonesia's Independence. Try and his family then returned to Surabaya where he completed his education in 1956.
After graduating from High School, Try wanted to enlist in ATEKAD . He participated and passed in an entrance examination, before failing the physical examination. Despite this, Major General GPH Djatikusumo took interest of Try and summoned him back. Try participated in a psychological examination in Bandung, West Java and he was now accepted into ATEKAD.
Try's 1st Military experience was in 1957, when he fought against the PRRI Rebellion. The PRRI Rebellion was a group of separatists in Sumatra wishing to establish an alternative Government to that of President Sukarno's. Try completed his military education in 1959, when he graduated from ATEKAD.
Try's early experience in ABRI included stints in Sumatra, Jakarta, and East Java. In 1972, Try was sent to the Army Staff College . In 1974, Try was chosen to be President Suharto's adjutant. Suharto took a liking to Try and from then on, Try's Military Career would skyrocket.
In 1978, Try was appointed to the position of Regional Command Chief of Staff at KODAM XVI/Udayana. A year later, he would become the Regional Commander of KODAM IV/Sriwijaya, where he had started his career. As Regional Commander, Try moved to suppress the crime rate as well as stopping lead smuggling. He even participated in an environmental campaign to return Sumatran elephants to their natural habitats.
In 1982, Try was appointed to the Regional Commander of KODAM V/Jaya and was stationed in Jakarta.
Government pass a law which required all organizations whether it be political or non-political to adopt the national ideology of Pancasila as the sole guiding principle . It would also see Islamic dissent reached its peak as preachers began teaching against the adoption of Pancasila as the national ideology, what they perceived to be the Government's Christianization, the Government's family planning program, and the dominance of the Indonesian Economy by the Chinese Indonesian population.
On 7 September 1984, Sgt. Hermanu, running on an inspection run in North Jakarta, came across a mosque with leaflets which asked for women to wear the hijab. This was a leaflet which encouraged Muslims who read it to defy the Government's policy of not letting women wear the hijab. Sergeant Hermanu asked for the leaflets to be taken down but his orders were not followed.
The next day, Hermanu returned and stuck papers washed in dirty water over the leaflets to cover it up. Somehow a rumor began going around that Hermanu had defiled the Mosque by going into the prayer hall without taking his shoes off. This caused a lot of outrage and Hermanu's motorbike was burned. The Army then returned to arrest the 4 youths who burned the motorbike.
Over the next few days there were protests asking for the release of the 4 youths and preachers took advantage of the situation to preach against the Government. Finally on 12 September 1984, the crowd at Tanjung Priok began attacking shops owned by Chinese Indonesians as well as going after the headquarters of the North Jakarta District Military Command .
Try, together with ABRI Commander, Benny Moerdani agreed that troops should be deployed to contain the rioters. The riot continued to get worse, according to the soldiers, the mob refused to heed the warning shots and continued charging at them with machetes and sickles. Finally the troops were forced to open fire. The Government claimed that 28 people were killed but the victims continued to insist that around 700 were killed. This episode would continue to haunt Try for the rest of his career.
Try's career continued to advance. In 1985, he became Deputy Army Chief of Staff, before becoming the Army Chief of Staff himself in 1986. As Army Chief of Staff, Try started the Badan TWP TNI-AD to make it easier for Army soldiers to buy their own house.
Try finally reached the pinnacle of his Military career in 1988, when he was appointed ABRI Commander to replace Moerdani. As ABRI Commander, Try spent a lot of time putting down rebellions all around Indonesia. His immediate target was the separatists in Aceh, which he successfully suppressed by 1992. In 1990, there was the Talangsari Incident, in which Try repeated his actions in 1984 by cracking down on Islamist protesters.
In November 1991, in the then Province of East Timor, a group of students attending the funeral of a fellow student who had been shot dead by Indonesian troops took the opportunity to launch protests against the Indonesian occupation. At the funeral procession, students unfurled banners calling for self-determination and independence, displaying pictures of the independence leader Xanana Gusmão. As the procession entered the cemetery, Indonesian troops opened fire. Of the people demonstrating in the cemetery, 271 were killed, 382 wounded, and 250 disappeared.
The incident, known as the Dili Massacre, provoked worldwide condemnation from the international community. Try said two days after the massacre: "The army cannot be underestimated. Finally we had to shoot them. Delinquents like these agitators must be shot, and they will be....". Try was then invited to speak before the People's Representative Council to explain himself. Try gave a defense of his decision and maintained that the protesters were provoking the soldiers and that claims that the protests were peaceful was "bullshit".
Try was discharged from his position as ABRI Commander in February 1993.
In February 1993, the same month that Try was discharged from his position and a month before the People's Consultative Assembly was due to meet to elect a new President and Vice President, MPR members from ABRI nominated Try to be the Vice President. Technically speaking, MPR faction members were allowed to nominate their candidates for Vice President. But the unwritten rule in Suharto's regime had been to wait for the President to nominate his chosen candidate.
Members from the United Development Party and the Indonesian Democratic Party quickly approved of Try's nomination as Golkar struggled in telling its members that Golkar had not nominated Try as Vice President. Suharto was reportedly angry that he had been pre-empted by ABRI. but didn't want an open dispute. Suharto finally accepted Try and Golkar tried to play down the pre-emption by saying it had let the other parties and ABRI nominate their Vice Presidential candidate.
ABRI had gotten their revenge from the 1988 MPR General Session when Suharto chose Sudharmono, someone who ABRI didn't like as the Vice President. Benny Moerdani who in 1993 was the Defense Minister, he was determined that ABRI would choose a Vice President for Suharto in the 1993 MPR General Session.
It was speculated that had he not been pre-empted, Suharto would have either elected BJ Habibie as his Vice President or re-elected Sudharmono.
Although he had accepted Try as Vice President, Suharto's displeasure at having a Vice President he didn't ask for shone through as ABRI members within the Cabinet were kept to a bare minimum. For Try himself, Suharto showed little regard and didn't even consult him in the cabinet formation process.
Another show of disregard came In late 1997 when Suharto had to go to Germany to receive health treatment. Instead of leaving Try to execute Presidential duties, Suharto ordered State Secretary Moerdiono to come to his residence to receive Presidential duties.. An APEC Summit was also attended by Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Alatas.
Try was an extremely popular figure and many thought that he would eventually replace Suharto as President of Indonesia. Because he had a military background, he would be accepted by ABRI. At the same time, he was also an acceptable candidate to Islamist elements within Indonesia, having grown up with a Muslim school.
In 1998, with another MPR General Session to be held and South East Asia suffering from the Asian Financial Crisis, many wanted Try to serve a 2nd term as Vice President. Despite strong support, Try didn't assert himself and Suharto's choice for the Vice Presidency, Habibie was elected as Vice President.
In May 1998, on the eve of Suharto's fall, Try, together with Umar Wirahadikusumah and Sudharmono visited Suharto at his residence to discuss possible options.
In 1998, Try was elected to become the Chairman of the ABRI Veterans' Union . He successfully kept Pepabri united as one under his Chairmanship despite the prevalent mood at the time that each branch of the Armed Forces gets their own veterans' union. Try completed his term in this position in 2003.
Try also served as Party Elder for General Edi Sudrajat's Justice and Unity Party.
In August 2005, Try, together with Abdurrahman Wahid, Megawati Sukarnoputri, Wiranto, and Akbar Tanjung formed a forum called the National Awakening to Unity Movement . This forum criticized Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's Government for its memorandum of understanding with the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). This was followed in September 2005 with a criticism of Yudhoyono's decision to raise fuel prices.
Try somewhat softened his stance with the Government after a meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla in September 2005. Kalla was sent to explain the reasoning behind the policies taken towards GAM and raising fuel prices. At the end of the meeting, Try said that he can understand the Government's position and encouraged the people to back the Government in their decisions.
Try is married to Tuti Sutiawati with whom he had 7 children.